For all Stephen Harper’s handiwork, the performance of Stéphane Dion, who must resign now, was worse. The Liberals had the government on the run. They let the occasion pass them by – and won’t get another chance like it.

Through their ineptitude, they brought Gilles Duceppe, having said he wasn’t a coalition member, to the coalition-signing agreement.

For a critical national TV broadcast, they brought in an embarrassing video of their dazed leader. They kept star player Michael Ignatieff in the shadows. They let Stephen Harper set the terms of the debate.

In the Commons they were pitiful. When it was apparent that Mr. Harper would break his vote promise and cut and run to the Governor-General for mercy, they could have had him. Like the Conservatives who used most every question in the House to lambaste a separatist coalition, they should have used every question to label Mr. Harper a coward, a leader too scared to face the music, a leader who was indeed about to dip into Third World tactics – going beyond even his own dirty-tricks handbook – and shut down Parliament. They could have had him so embarrassed by week’s end that he would have looked shameful in running off, tail between his legs, to Rideau Hall.

Lawrence Martin: Our Robert Mugabe moment, and other unpleasant memories, theglobeandmail.com

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