Last year Stephane Dion made the mistake of deciding to vote against the budget before reviewing it's contents. MP Joe Comuzzi declared that he would consider voting in favour of the budget because it benefited his constituents. Commuzzi was thrown out of caucus for his insubordination. After sitting as an independent for three months, he eventually crossed the floor to the Conservative party.
Stephane Dion has declared that he will not try to topple the government before seeing what the budget has to offer. In general it is good politics not to oppose legislation before you know what the contents are. On the surface it would appear that Dion has learned a valuable lesson from his blunder from last year.
Last month Dion predicted that the government would be toppled in the early part of the year. He even pondered the possibility of introducing a non-confidence motion of his own. Since his declaration the Liberals have put the government under heavy scrutiny for Chalk River, Bali, a tanking economy, reaction to Bhutto Assassination and the government not being critical enough of Israel's position on settlement expansion. All of the issues the Liberals could hope for aligned against the government. Once again Dion is backing down.
The Liberals need to either follow through with their declared strategy or keep their options open. Declaring outrage for the government taking Canada in the wrong direction and then backing down when it counts, will only further erode their creditability. Canadians will not resent the Liberals for forcing an election if and only if they offer a clear alternative to the current government. The only fear the Liberals should have about facing the electorate is that they are too similar to the Conservatives on centre of the spectrum and will be crowded out on the left by the NDP and Green Party.