Thursday, April 21, 2005

Prime Minister Paul Martin Offers to Call Election Within 30 Days of Gomery Report

The Globe and Mail has the following on the Adscam Scandel:

Prime Minister Paul Martin offered to call an election within 30 days of the final report from the Gomery commission, in an extraordinary prime-time address to Canadians Thursday night.

He made the speech in an effort to stem the damage the sponsorship scandal has caused the Liberal party and to appeal directly to Canadians.
"I commit to you tonight that I will call a general election within 30 days of the publication of the commission's final report and recommendations. Let [Mr. Justice John] Gomery do his work. Let the facts come out. And then the people of Canada will have their say," Mr. Martin said from the desk in his office, in a taped televised address in both French and English.
Mr. Martin said he takes responsibility for the actions of his party and is prepared to let Canadians judge his response to this test of his leadership.

"I will be politically accountable. But I believe that before there is an election, you are entitled to answers — to the answers that [Mr. Justice John] Gomery is working toward," he said.

The final report from Mr. Justice John Gomery is expected to be released in mid-December.
Mr. Martin said he recognizes that the choice to hold an election may not be his, as the opposition parties could bring forward a no-confidence motion and bring down the government.

"If the opposition forces an election before then, that is their choice. But I believe we can do better. I believe we can — and we should — use the coming months to pursue the public's business," he said.
Opposition Leader Stephen Harper did not respond positively to Mr. Martin's plea to wait until December to hold an election.

In a speech in the foyer of the House of Commons immediately following Mr. Martin's speech, Mr. Harper said Mr. Martin is the leader who called an election last year, before the Gomery commission had heard a single witness.

"We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle — a Prime Minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance," Mr. Harper said.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Mr. Martin's words did nothing to change the opinion of the Bloc on Liberal corruption. He said his party still plans to vote against the Liberal budget implementation bill when it comes to a vote.

NDP Leader Jack Layton, however, offered an olive branch to the Prime Minister, saying his party would consider supporting the Liberals on the budget bill if they were willing to make some changes.
The minority Liberals are outnumbered in the House of Commons and would need the support of the NDP to pass the bill.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also went over a number of steps that he took, beginning when he became Liberal Leader in late 2003, including firing former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano, setting up the sponsorship inquiry, cancelling the sponsorship program and launched lawsuits to try to recover some of the money that went missing.

He said the Liberal Party takes full responsibility for the sponsorship scandal.

Ok, he takes responsibility..... how about resigning?

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