Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Setting the terms

The political maneuvering continues, as the opposition has found a way to push any non-confidence vote past the impending first ministers' meeting:
Federal opposition parties said yesterday they would resist the temptation to topple the minority Liberal government when it brings forward two personal tax cuts contained in its election-style economic update. Instead, the Conservatives and the NDP will proceed with a no-confidence motion next week to trigger a winter election...

So instead of being defeated on a popular tax-cutting initiative, the government will likely fall as a result of a Conservative motion next week that will say the government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The motion could be introduced as early as Tuesday, but the opposition parties will likely wait another two days, which would prevent them from being blamed for cancelling a first ministers meeting on aboriginal affairs scheduled for Nov. 24-25.

The actual vote on the motion probably wouldn't take place until Nov. 28 or 29. Election campaigns must be at least 36 days long and elections must be held on a Monday, so that would mean a Jan. 9 vote, or Jan. 16 if the parties take a break from campaigning over Christmas.

Mr. Layton still plans to introduce a motion tomorrow thurs asking Prime Minister Paul Martin to agree to call an election in early January for mid-February. If the Liberals agree, the Conservatives would not move their confidence motion next week. But Mr. Martin has made it clear that is not an option.
Well played so far, as the delay not only avoids interfering with the first ministers meeting, but also allows a few government bills (including the one on heating relief) to be fast-tracked in the meantime. And that possibility of fast-tracking will highlight the contrast between priorities which are actually important enough for the Liberals to push forward, and which ones were idly presented in an attempt to shame the opposition into holding off on a confidence vote.

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