Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Following up from a previous post, in which I suggested that Canadians have no appetite for a Christmas federal election campaign, I watched with some interest at the puck handling of the major party players over the past few days.
Jack Layton withdrew his support for the minority Liberal government of Paul Martin on the premise that Martin had not offered the NDP a "full plate" on a health care initiative.
He had previously stated, (the same day), that he no longer trusted the Martin government based on the findings in the Gomery Inquiry. When asked if he was going to allow the government to fall, he provided a non-committal answer. He so much as said he was going to squeeze Martin for all he could get. Except Martin didn't pay. Poof... Layton is out in the wilderness, but if the government falls he'll be able to put it squarely on the shoulders of the Conservatives who seem intent on introducing a motion of no-confidence sometime around mid-November.
The Stephen Harper Conservatives, who have made all the appropriate noises about "corrupt government", including their own plan to clean it all up, seemed poised to toss a "no-confidence" spear as early as 14 November and plunge the country into a Christmas election campaign. For a while it looked like Harper actually meant it... which would have made him one of the five stupidest people in Canadian politics.
Martin responded to the NDP withdrawal from under the satin sheets about as expected: do what you will; your deodorant has worn off and the average Canadian is aware of the smell. (Remember, it was a Martin/Layton deal that cost small business a much needed tax cut).
Harper, who has watched the polls and sees his party in the lead, starts to rattle his sabres. Only there's a problem. The polls are actually all over the place. On any given day, he retains his lead for only 48 hours and the next poll puts him either tied or behind. An election would be a risk, particularly a Christmas-time vote. He hasn't got Quebec, British Columbia is fickle (and has rising support for the NDP) and Ontario keeps bouncing like a thawed puck at a pee-wee hockey game. What to do?
This. Harper makes up the excuse that he won't table a no-confidence motion because he can't count on the NDP to support it.
But, why not? The NDP has already said they won't support the government in such a vote. (They would also be as reliable in the face of a minority Conservative government. You think they tried to make the Liberals pay?)
The truth is a tough one. Whoever puts the country into a Christmas election campaign will become the dragon to be slayed by the Canadian electorate. All three of them know that. They also know that the Bloc Quebecois will take a majority of Quebec's seats.
Score one for Martin. There will be no Christmas campaign.