Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More budget developments to suit whatever narrative you want

As we reach mid-day on budget day, three hours before the press corps is released from lock-up to crash twitter with budget details and the finance minister rises in the house to speechify, there have been a number of developments that add little in the way of clarity to the likely outcome this week but, as always, can be woven to support whatever narrative tapestry you fancy.

When last I left you last night, the widely held "everybody knows" consensus was an NDP cave, but there have been plenty of nuggets since to allow you to either support that thesis, or argue the opposite.

*Last night CTV's Bob Fife reported Jack Layton told him he "wasn't blown away" by NDP-friendly budget leaks, called them "half-measures" and said Layton needed real action on pensions, which Fife said Conservatives said was a no-go. Chalk up a point for the NDP will vote no, will be spring election camp.

*Then there's the, frankly bizarre, conspiracy theory that began floating on twitter that posits a pre-planned NDP/Conservative deal to avoid an election, so Jack Layton "within weeks" for health reasons. A leadership race would follow, Tom Mulcair (in his mind, anyway) wings to victory, and then maybe an election at some future point. That sounds like mischief-making from someone's camp to me, frankly.

*But what's this, the Conservatives are separating the opposition parties in the lock-up for the first time, so the BQ and LPC can't pressure the NDP? Point for budget deal predictors.

*Oh, but Pat Martin is quoted as saying he thinks an election is probably unavoidable? Well, if Pat Martin says so...still, point for election predictors.

*But wait a minute, Jack says he's not only going to read the budget before deciding, he's going to sleep on it a night? That's such new behavior it's hard to classify it...

*What's this you say, though, a special meeting asked for with the NDP by Conservative MP Ten Menzies, minister of state for finance, and no other parties? They must be negotiating a deal, two points for no election!

*But wait, what are they going to negotiate exactly, the budget is written. Subtract a point!

*And what what, Menzies is meeting with the other parties too? That means no special deal with NDP, point for election predictors! Or he's just having those other meets as cover for the real NDP meet, point for no election restored!

*New poll from Harris-Decima shows race tightening. Clearly the opposition will want to go now, point for election! Clearly the opposition will want to wait for the numbers to keep moving, point for no election!

*The Conservative offers to negotiate clearly show they're weary of an election! No, it's all a ploy to make us think that, they're playing chess you fools!

*NDP willingness to play ball shows they really want to avoid an election! No, it's all a clever ruse so Jack can dominate the media cycle!

And I'm sure I missed 30 other contradictory pieces of information.

Wake me when it's over...

And just for fun...

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