Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Desperate Canadian Liberal Party Put Off Opposition Days

Yahoo News has the following on the desperate Liberal Party teetering on the brink of collapse due to the Adscam Scandel:

Liberals move to control timetable that could bring down government

A minority Liberal government teetering on the verge of collapse moved to wrest control Monday over the timing of its own demise.

The Liberals choked off an opposition attempt to control the timetable for possibly bringing down the government. They postponed a so-called parliamentary opposition day on Wednesday in a move foes called a desperate attempt to retain power.

The Conservatives hinted they would no longer help the Liberal government remain afloat.

"When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern," said Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Tory House Leader Jay Hill went further.

He said his party will no longer display the type of co-operation that allowed the federal budget to pass a critical vote in the Commons.

Hill even hinted his party could topple the government.

"We will be looking at any tools that are available to us to consider holding this government accountable," he said.

"We have been endeavoring to work in a co-operative manner with this government . . . But now the gloves are off."

The dispute erupted suddenly late Monday.

Parliament Hill had been awash with election speculation in recent days as devastating revelations at the sponsorship inquiry battered the Liberals' popularity.

An emboldened Conservative party and the NDP considered joining an election-ready Bloc Quebecois to topple the government next month.

The Tories were preparing to use one of their allotted opposition days on Wednesday to arm themselves with a potent political tool.

They tabled a motion which would have allowed opposition parties to set the timing of future opposition days - and by extension the timing of a confidence vote that could bring down the government.

But just moments before a six o'clock deadline Monday, Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri rose in the Commons to cancel Wednesday's opposition day.

"It was an attempt to hijack the House and the operation of the House," Valeri said of the opposition motion.

"I could not risk this motion going forward."

Valeri was in such a hurry that he leaped up to interrupt a Tory who was speaking in mid-sentence.

He pointed out that the government must still guarantee six more opposition days - there have already been two - before the Commons rises at the end of June. But he refused to reveal his intentions.

"It is a very alarming and provocative action," said NDP House Leader Libby Davies.

"I'm just really stunned . . . I think they're desperate and they're now resorting to desperate measures."

Monday's announcement raises several possible scenarios:

-The government could allow opposition days to resume after next week's parliamentary spring break.

-The opposition could topple the government some other way, perhaps through an upcoming budget-implementation vote.

-The government could push back all eight opposition days to the end of June.

The Liberals could then prorogue Parliament two weeks early, suspending its operations and table another throne speech in the fall.

Or they could challenge the opposition to topple the government and trigger a rare mid-summer election.

Even Liberal MPs were caught off guard by the move.

"I guess we're having an August election," said one who was strolling past Parliament Hill, unaware of the late-evening developments.

"It means we'll decide when to push the button," said another.

Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters has his take on the situation:

"...The government has to provide for a certain number of Opposition Days in every session, but can usually schedule them themselves. Stable governments spread them out on a regular basis, but those which have significant trouble staying afloat could reschedule them for later to avoid no-confidence motions and to get a chance to gain more support later. Harper and the other opposition leaders wanted to strip the Liberals of that power in order for the opposition to control the schedule of these days.

This move allows the Liberals to push all remaining eight days to the end of June, the last month of this session. They then can prorogue Parliament -- in effect, adjourn prior to any Opposition Day, cutting off the ability of the Tories to bring down the government by a no-confidence vote. It's a legal but desperate move. The Liberals have bet that that Harper can't get a majority to defeat the Liberals on the budget or another issue that would cause the government to collapse and trigger elections, except on a no-confidence vote based on the Gomery Inquiry and the Commons investigation into Earnscliffe. Harper cannot schedule such a vote without control of Parliament, which he only has on Opposition Days. It would mean that elections would be unlikely until late summer at the earliest, and more likely autumn.

This move will probably backfire on the Liberals. The NDP, which had wavered on joining the Tories in recent days, now may join with BQ and the Conservatives in forcing an election on any issue as early as next month. Even worse, it portrays the Liberals in a grasping, desperate light that only underscores the testimony in the Gomery Inquiry. It shows the Liberals as a party willing to do anything to hold onto power, no matter how backhanded or arcane, rather than face the voters and be held accountable for its actions."

Well, it looks like the Conservative Party is FINALLY holding the government accountable. Do they smell blood in the water?

Look for new elections and a NEW government by Fall!

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