Prime Minister Paul Martin is openly encouraging the notion of a Liberal-New Democrat minority government on Jan. 23, recruiting the high-profile leader of the Canadian Auto Workers to back his plea.
CAW chief Buzz Hargrove, whose membership has a long-standing affiliation with the NDP, sent shock waves through the election campaign when he appeared at Martin's side yesterday and spoke in favour of a Liberal-NDP alliance.
"The overwhelming majority of our delegates endorsed what the Prime Minister stands for here today," CAW chief Buzz Hargrove told reporters after Martin laid out his election themes before 900 union members at a convention in Toronto.
In the event of a Liberal minority on Jan. 23, Hargrove would like to see a formal deal between Martin and the NDP to join forces to eliminate instability in Parliament. "It could be an accord on issues or it could be a coalition," he said.
And Jack's not taking the news of the unofficial leadership putsch too well:
Equally bad for Layton was the visual message — the sight of Hargrove and Martin sharing a stage, with Layton nowhere to be seen.
Layton, 55, told reporters yesterday, "Mr. Hargrove is well-known for having his opinions and expressing them. ... Our view is that the Liberals don't deserve people's support. We believe that having as many New Democrats as possible in this House produces the best results for working people. ... I think we've shown that in the minority Parliament."
Hargrove said he hasn't discussed his political stance with the NDP leader. "I haven't talked to Layton," he said. "I don't report to Jack."
Paul Martin's poaching of Buzz Hargrove from the NDP is little different from his poaching of Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison from the Tories, except that he doesn't have a cabinet seat to offer him, and that he's decided that Hargrove can do more damage to the NDP staying inside the party to force Jack Layton's hand.
Hargrove's annoucement will not likely translate into more Liberal votes; he can't deliver his membership the way he used to because his own union's success has raised many of them into the higher tax brackets, and more willing to listen to the Conservative message of tax cuts.
But it will force Layton to waste time and energy keeping the union bosses from joining an all-out revolt against his leadership. What will he have to promise them to keep them from following Buzz's call?
Source: Toronto Star