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The Globe and Mail

Jack Layton: Beer buddy or prime minister?

NDP Leader Jack Layton addresses reporters in Montreal on April 26, 2011.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

There is a good chance I am not alone in having the self-inflicted misfortune of suffering from a hangover. Unfortunately, temperance isn't always my strong suit. Like others, I appreciate a good party, getting swept away in the moment and escaping reality. However, when the diversionary dalliance ends the next morning, the personal pain quotient is often high and lingers longer than you'd like. Will and when will those who have recently turned to the NDP in pre-vote polls end their joyride with Jack Layton?

It might be time to slow-down a little on the Jack-otinis. Seems the NDP leader thinks that reopening the constitutional cocktail is a binge worth going on.

Mr. Layton himself seems to forget that that drink is filled with a whopping potion that can leave everyone floored and lost in a never-ending cycle of backward historical bickering, which is basically a fatal form of the bed-spins.

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I have not had a swig of anything harder than orange pekoe tea this afternoon, so call this crazy sober talk - but beyond some ill-devised pandering on Mr. Layton's part to court some Quebec voters, no serious candidate for prime minister would venture into this constitutional muck!

We have all seen those polls that say Mr. Layton is the politician Canadians would most prefer to have a beer with. Go have a 2-4 of Canadian with him for all I care. There are beer buddies and then there are people who we want to see as prime minister, people who have the ability to judge where to focus a government's priorities. The economy, not the Constitution, should be Canada's primary concern now.

Ironically, as more Canadians have this fling with Mr. Layton, Stephen Harper's message about a strong, stable majority has the potential to have more resonance than it did at the beginning of this election. Making a long-term commitment with Mr. Harper probably looks more appealing now to some who were resistant before. With Mr. Harper, you know what you are getting; with Mr. Layton, it appears things are less certain: yesterday's economic "calibration" has been replaced by today's constitutional quagmire. Tomorrow, who knows?

Jack Layton - beer buddy or prime minister? You decide.

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