The NDP, who newly hold the balance of power in parliament, have agreed to look at the Conservative agenda on an “issue by issue” basis, but won’t commit to keep the minority government. So on what things would the NDP support the Conservatives on, given their more or less diametrically opposed political views? Not much.
So here’s the prediction: The NDP are going to attempt to press the conservatives on a climate change policy. They’ll get the support of the Liberals and the Bloc to do so. Why? Because inevitably, what the conservatives come up with will fall short of every other party’s expectations, much like the “Clean Air Act” did. And on this very topic, the government will fall, because all other parties want to make the environment a huge priority, and thus a political tool. And, quite rightly, the NDP will be blamed for taking down the government, just like they were blamed for the end of the Martin government. However, worse for the NDP this time is that they have little to no record of success to speak of in this parliament. Unlike when Martin was in power, the NDP are getting no press. Still worse for the NDP, they’ll find themselves squeezed on two sides during the campaign on what has been “their” issue : the environment. The centre-leaning NDP’ers will move to support Dion. The left-leaning NDP’ers are quite likely to jump to the surging and increasingly relevant Green party. Which leaves the NDP a very narrow strip of left-of-centre supporters, that will probably be just enough to leave the NDP somewhere between 3 and 8 “safe” seats, and nothing else. They will be pushed back into the political hinterlands, which should (although it probably won’t) mean the end of Layton’s term as party leader, and should (although it probably won’t) cause some hard re-thinking of what exactly the NDP stand for.