What's stopping you?
I'm a fan of neither the perennially-aggrieved NDP nor of left-leaning Liberals who haven't the courage to join the party that best represents their views just because they would spend the rest of their political lives out of power. I think the flag-flying flap was overblown. I believe deserters from an all-volunteer military south of the border should show the courage of their convictions by standing up defiantly in front of a court martial and putting some steel into their resistance instead of scampering timidly up here to hide behind Canadian skirts.
And I dislike Thomas Walkom.
Having said all that, even the blind squirrels at The Star stumble across the odd acorn. What's unusual about this story is that Walkom promptly fires said acorn straight into Jack Layton's eye:
If Jack Layton wants Canada to let in Americans trying to avoid the Iraq war, he has a simple remedy: He can persuade the Liberals and Bloc Québécois to join forces with his New Democrats and change the law.
If the majority of parliamentarians want to pass an amendment to the immigration act that would allow U.S. deserters to stay here, they could do so — with or without the Prime Minister's consent.
They might have to jump through some procedural hoops. But they have the votes if they want to use them.
In fact, the deserter issue is just one place where the opposition parties could force the government's hand in this minority Parliament.
Here's another. Opposition MPs claim they want the flag on the Peace Tower lowered to half-mast every time a Canadian soldier is killed in Afghanistan. But if that's so, why don't they order this done? They have the votes.
Walkom's right. If Jack! really believes in this and thinks the Canadian public will back him on it, he has a perfect opportunity in this minority parliament to scrounge the votes required to make the changes he says he wants.
I very much doubt Harper would turn the flag issue into a confidence matter, and I'd flip a coin on whether the deserters issue would force an election. Governments tend to be fairly touchy about immigration as their exclusive domain, so that could be a bit risky for Layton and his fellow-travellers. Of course, if he could turn the Iraq war into a Canadian campaign issue, he might just want to bring the Conservatives down over it - isn't that a Dipper's wet dream?
Here's the bottom line, though: Jack! hasn't got the balls to try it. Behind the inflammatory rhetoric and the porn-star moustache, he's too addicted to sniping consequence-free from the sidelines to throw himself into action. Layton understands with a second-generation politician's instinct that bleating costs him nothing, whereas going over the top of his political trenches yelling "Follow me!" carries significant risk to his reputation and electoral future.
No, Jack! will do precisely nothing except smile at every mirror he passes, and flap his lips at every microphone within earshot. Which, as a Conservative, couldn't make me happier.