Television commentators interpeted the PM's demeanor as panic. Canada's leader is known as a devious politician, they said, but he overplayed his hand and now was seeing his plans for national domination crumbling.
The set of events that unfolded on Thursday and Friday are as complicated as they are controversial. Under intense national and international pressure to provide a fiscal stimulus to address the global economic crisis, the right-wing ideologue was apparently unable to bring himself to create a budgetary deficit or to increase the social safety net.
Pressured by the IMF, OECD, APEC, G7 and G20, among others, to join the rest of the world's wealthy countries in addressing the economic meltdown, and facing increasing domestic pressure to ease the recession, the PM attempted a risky ploy: an economic statement that combined a refusal to create a stimulus package with an unrelated announcement that he was cutting all funding to the country's political parties, thus bankrupting every party but his own.
The ploy was evidently intended to tie the hands of Canada's other political parties by making opposition seem self-interested.
Counting on the Official Opposition to be ineffective until they select a new leader, expected in May of 2009, the Prime Minister underestimated the will of all opposition parties to stand up to him.
It can now be seen that the PM made a grave tactical error. Canadians are already suffering from the recession, still in its first quarter, and quickly turned on a government that refuses to lift a hand to help them. The opposition speaks for all its constituents when it says that the government must fall and a coalition must take its place. The man who staged a successful hostile takeover of one of Canada's founding parties, a man long known as one of Canada's craftiest politicos, is poised to be toppled.