From the Star's coverage:
Sources say the NDP had no intention of accepting an offer that could spell political suicide.Rather than trying to win a better deal only by haggling with Harper himself, Layton instead brought other actors into the picture who had an interest in making sure the funding went through. The end result was that Harper went from making a ludicrous demand to caving completely, giving the NDP almost everything that Harper offered originally at absolutely no cost to the NDP. And it's hard not to think that Harper was worried about trying to work out a deal where the NDP gave something up for fear that Layton would keep the pressure up and get all the more for the NDP as a result.
Instead, the New Democrats quietly called the groups and governments counting on the cash that could be lost from C-48, such as provinces, municipalities and transit agencies, setting in motion a furious backroom lobbying effort to save the spending program.
"They were all convinced the money was secure and, in fact, it was already in their budgets," said one federal official.
It appears that effort succeeded. Last month, it was revealed the government will set up independent trust funds to distribute about $3.6 billion from C-48.
Naturally, this should be compared to Harper's contrasting strategy on softwood lumber. There, Canada seems to have gone in with a relatively strong opening position (presuming that Harper at least brought up the possibility of full repayment and no restrictions before caving). But as I've discussed before, rather than allowing anybody with a common interest to be heard, Harper deliberately left Canadian lumber producers away from the table...and got snookered in the deal as a result. The process seemed bad enough at the time. But now that it's clear that Harper had been on the receiving end of a lesson in how to get results out of a bargaining situation, it's all the more negligent of Harper to have refused to learn from that example.
Needless to say, Harper's apparent all-or-nothing style of negotiating has its downside...as has been proven by Harper's inability to win a deal of any kind with the NDP, or a deal worth signing on softwood. But it does have its uses when dealing with another party which doesn't seem to want to learn from history. And lucky for Harper (if perhaps not for anybody else), Gilles Duceppe seems to have ignored Harper's history of bluffing then caving when it came to the budget. And it's hard to see much reason for that choice other than an aversion to personal responsibility for any results: this way Duceppe can claim (to a point) that the budget was solely Harper's doing, whereas by getting a better deal he would be forced to take more ownership of the outcome.
So much for reviewing the negotiating styles used so far this Parliament. But what can we take from all this? First, it seems rather clear that Harper's negotiating style is one that only succeeds when he's in a position to bully the other side (and/or where the other side isn't playing attention)...which is hardly a position that Canada can count on too often on the international scene. Second, Duceppe would rather be bullied into a mediocre result than be given any responsibility for a negotiated deal.
As a result, only one of the current federal leaders who will lead his party into the next election has a track record of brokering moderately strong positions into good results. And given Layton's record of working his way to solid outcomes from all parties domestically, it's worth wondering just how much more Canada could get done internationally if he got the chance to occupy Canada's seat at the table.