Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On self-inflicted wounds

Senate Opposition Whip James Cowan, quoted in the Hill Times posted yesterday morning:
Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan, who represents Nova Scotia, told The Hill Times last week that...there will be a whipped vote at report stage and third reading to try to send the bill back to the House of Commons amended.

"This is a serious venture. As I said, we're making a statement that this is the wrong way to do a budget bill," Sen. Cowan said. "We think that what we've done here is the right thing to do. We're going to encourage all of our members to be there. We do the best we can. I'm not sure what's going to happen. But we do intend to put the whip on, and we'll get as many as we can."

There are 105 seats in the Senate, including 52 Conservatives, 49 Liberals, four independents...If all other Liberals and Independents show up to vote, the combined opposition is still able to keep the bill amended.
The results of the vote yesterday:
Seven missing Liberal senators allowed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 880-page omnibus budget bill, which critics argue includes everything and the kitchen sink, to pass late Monday night.

The Conservative government defeated changes the Liberals and three of the four independents wanted by a vote of 48 to 44.

Seven Liberal senators failed to show up to vote giving Harper's Conservatives the slight majority.
Now, nobody should be particularly surprised that the Libs managed to come up short on yet another budget vote. But Cowan's choice of public message looks to be especially bizarre given the ultimate outcome: was there really any point in declaring that the Libs would do their utmost to oppose the bill when the only result was to ensure he'd be seen as having failed once again by the end of the day?

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