The Harper government survives for another day (or week, or month, half a year, who knows? They like to live on the edge) as opposition Liberals voiced their pleasure at the Tories’ big spending, deficit-ridden budget, which also includes a measure that forces credit card companies to allow their Canadian customers extended grace periods on payments (something Obama may very well take back with him as he meets with Harper on Feb. 19). As a result, new LP leader Michael Ignateiff dropped his supposed coalition partners, Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party and Gille Duceppe’s Bloc Quebecois like so many sacks of garbage and pledged themselves to vigorously police the Tories so they live up to their budget promises. Or better yet, put them on “probation.”

In other words, as Layton put it, there’s a coalition government alright, between the Liberals and the Tories.

And why not? as Ignatieff would put it. The Liberals aren’t ready for new elections nor are they ready to govern anything at this point. Let the Tories take the blame for the bad economy. And since Liberals don’t like sharing power with anyone, there’s no reason to share a government with the NDP or the Bloc that they can’t run themselves in a year’s time if the economy continues to deteriorate and the Tories take the hits. Why legitimize them when you don’t need to?

The problem is, the next time the Liberals want to throw their weight around like they did by proposing a new government with the Bloc and NDP, Harper may very well call their bluff. The Grits will have no partners to dance with.