Saturday, November 12, 2005

Timing is everything

So much for waiting for an election in the new year, as the Cons are apparently looking to take down the Libs next week:
The Conservative Party wants to introduce a non-confidence motion in Parliament on Tuesday, CTV News has learned.

If all three opposition parties support the idea and it passes, the Liberal minority government will be defeated. This will put Canada into an election, with the vote to be held about the third week in December.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP Leader Jack Layton will meet Sunday afternoon to discuss how best to topple the government.
I can certainly understand a desire from the opposition to prevent the Libs from putting a series of popular bills before Parliament in the meantime, then blaming the opposition for halting their progress. But there are downsides to an immediate campaign too, notably the upcoming events (including the first ministers' conference and the climate change conference) which will be affected if the campaign happens now. And it's pretty clear that there are alternative strategies available to force an election in the new year.

While I suspect the Cons and the Bloc will be eager to push for the immediate election, my hope is that the NDP will insist on the February election date. Granted, that'll allow the Libs to do a lot more transparent campaigning in the meantime. But strategically that shouldn't make much difference, as no amount of politicking in Parliament is likely to put more votes in the Liberal column than Gomery II will take away. Meaning that the choice is whether to throw some worthy initiatives out the window in order to avoid a negligible advantage to Martin.

There's no doubt that there's a lot of empty Liberal bluster on its way in the near future, and that bluster deserves nothing but criticism from a good-governance standpoint. But there are also obvious substantive issues that need to be dealt with. And the NDP has the chance to be the only opposition party which pushes for good government without the gimmicks, rather than merely valuing an immediate election above all else.

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