I was working and offline all day and evening, both Tuesday and yesterday, so I missed out on the fun. Most of the blogs listed on the right have had many interesting things to say. Here are some late comments from me:
I don't think Shakespeare could have written a more fitting fate for Peter MacKay. It is interesting how his betrayal of David Orchard connects to what Belinda has now done, in terms of competiting visions of what the Tory party should be about.
I can see two sides to her defection. On the one hand, I can see how she could disagree with the party's direction in terms of electability, and how it addresses concerns of ridings like hers, and those more urban. The hard line against same-sex marriage and Kyoto, as well as the disinterest in municipal concerns, must not have been looking good for someone facing a battle to win in Ontario and the GTA.
Here's the other hand. I don't normally think it is unacceptable for one to cross the floor. However, Belinda Stronach isn't just any MP. She was a recent candidate for the leadership, lost, and then commit herself to supporting and building the party anyway. Whatever she doesn't like about Harper's leadership she should have already known about before she ran in the last election.
Whatever the causes, this has to hurt the party, especially in Ontario and all the other places that felt uncomfortable voting blue last time around.
As for Belinda's comments about her concern over the Conservative-Bloc alliance, I'm not sure how believable I find them to be. Still, Ian Welsh has been warning us that Harper's policy does lead to a further decentralized and weakened Canada. The problem is that we don't have much by way of strong federalist alternatives.
Harper's team is going to vote for the main budget bill today, but against the Layton-Martin negotiated second part. Martin has said that both measures are confidence votes, but I don't entirely trust him. I wonder if he can change his mind about Part 2 after (and if) Part 1 passes? I wouldn't put it past him. The Liberals have obviously been willing to take any possible measure to survive this crisis and extend the government.
In the end, my position remains the same. I'd like to see this budget and its amendment passed, but I also want to see a change in government. However, it is starting to be clear to me that my predictions of April 21 may very well be wrong. I seem to have underestimated the ability of Paul Martin and the Liberals to squirm their way out of a jam, and to have overestimated Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.