Canadian Politics. It's not so boring.

November 16, 2005

Martin stands firm, no 'grey zone' on election call

You would've had to have been living under a rock lately to not have heard the gerrymandering going on Ottawa.

First, Gomery I is released (the first of two reports). Stephen Harper claims the government no longer has the moral authority to govern but that he won't try to bring down the government unless the NDP is with him.

The NDP and the Liberals try to negotiate what is required for the NDP to continue supporting them. The main point of contention is that the NDP wants the Liberals to admit healthcare privitisation is taking place and to commit to stopping it. The Liberals admit the first vaguely but refuse to do anything other than send "letters expressing concern" to Premiers. Jack Layton says the NDP can no longer support the Liberals because of a lack of will on the part of the Liberals and will vote against the government if a non-confidence vote is called (what Harper wanted).

Harper backs down suggesting that Canadians don't want a Christmas election and suggests they can't be sure they can trust the NDP. The NDP, Conservatives and BQ meet over a weekend to discuss strategy.

Layton comes up with a compromise. He will move with united support of all the opposition parties that the government call an election in January to be held in February. And here we are now.
Speaking with reporters after a meeting of his cabinet, Mr. Martin said — even though he has agreed to call an election within 30 days of the Feb. 1 release of the final report on the sponsorship scandal — that rules of parliament and traditions and common sense all dictate that he cannot accede to the Opposition parties' demands.
OK, a couple of points first. Gemery I was delayed by over a month so it wouldn't be all that surprising if Gomery II is released late as well meaning it'd be released in March or April. Since the PM has 30 days to call an election and 33 days minimum are required for an election campaign, that could put the election off until May or June.

I love the reasoning of the Prime Minister of why he's sensible and the opposition isn't:
But the rules of Parliament and our traditions and common sense, you know, dictate that, in fact, you either have the confidence of the House or you do not have the confidence of the House, and there's no grey zone."
It's certainly not that black and white. There is nothing that prevents the Prime Minister from asceding to the majority of House which would be to have an election after Christmas but sooner that he would've rather had it. I'll quote Bill Blaikie, NDP member for Elmwood-Transcona (from Hansard on Nov.14, 2005):
Mr. Speaker, one of the other principles of Parliament is that the government should respect the will of Parliament, especially in a minority situation.

If the Prime Minister has the right to say when the election should be, Parliament has the right to say when the election should be and we all have the right to say when the election should be by mutual consent.

There is somebody who says that he is against the democratic deficit. Have him stand and say why he would reject the will of Parliament and put the interest of his own party first.
I'm going to be helping my party in this election and I really don't want a Christmas campaign. Slugging through the snow to do canvassing doesn't sound much like fun to me. I'm sure the Liberals don't want one either, seeing as how less than 100 of their candidates have been chosen.

Jack Layton puts forward his motion Thursday.


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