Day 2: Return to the Coalition Crisis
Initially, the opposition parties played along. Jack Layton made it perfectly clear the NDP was for sale or rent. Gilles Duceppe prattled on about his 2004 deal with Stephen Harper - yes, it makes Harper look like a hypocrite, but it keeps people talking about coalitions, so I don't think Steve minds too much.
For his part, Michael Ignatieff dodged the question, talking about red doors and blue doors. One reporter shouted out "if you don't answer this now, we'll ask you every day this campaign!". Stephen Harper must have been grinning from ear to ear.
Left with no option, Ignatieff issued a statement yesterday categorically ruling a coalition out. So the real question is whether this lances the boil, or if Iggy will have to carry the coalition gorilla on his back for the entire campaign?
Not surprisingly, Harper refuses to take no for an answer, so we're going to keep hearing about the coalition boogeyman in stump speeches and Tory attack ads. I suspect some people will believe what they hear - the coalition is still fresh in the public's mind and, as Tom Flanagan says, it doesn't have to be true, it just has to sound plausible. Still, the media can't very well ask Ignatieff about it every day and, if they do, he has an easy answer. The issues of the first few days rarely become the issues of the campaign when they're dealt with properly. How many times was Harper asked about same sex marriage in the 2005 election after he gave a clear answer on day 1?
Like Harper in 2005, Ignatieff now needs to take control of the narrative - talking about coalitions doesn't do him any good, even if it's about Harper experimenting in a hotel room with the socialists and separatists with it in his youth.
Hopefully, Ignatieff's clear answer to the coalition question will let him move on.