Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reading between the lies, part 1

Francois has invited me to continue to do here something that I've already been doing from time to time at the Graveyard of the Gods, which is to post articles about what I see and think about political goings on. Many of these, but not necessarily all, will be specifically about Canadian politics.

So, without further ado, here's a snapshot of the political shenanigans going down in Ottawa so far this week.

The leaders of the opposition parties got together this past weekend to work out a strategy for bringing down the Liberal government without triggering an election campaign that would interfere with the Christimas holidays. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (socialist), would offer the opposition's cooperation in passing a budget update bill this week (being a money bill, it's a confidence vote) in exchange for the Prime Minister promising to dissolve parliament after the Christmas break, causing an election campaign to start in January with a general election taking place in February. If the Prime Minister didn't go for that, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper would introduce a non-confidence motion in parliament at his next opportunity, which would probably be next week. The result of that would be an election campaign running through the holidays and the opposition would try to spin it so that Canadians would blame the government for the inconvenience.

Prime Minister Paul Martin's response to that was, essentially, that the proposal is irrational. He is saying that it's a binary question: either you do or don't have confidence in the government. He's saying that the opposition's proposal would mean that they do have confidence in the government but only for the next six weeks or so, after which time that confidence would magically disappear. I suppose there's something to that.

The reason that the opposition parties give for wanting the government to fall is the corruption within the Liberal party, as exposed in Justice Gomery's investigation and first report on the infamous sponsorship scandal.

Background on the scandal in general
Gomery's first report

However, the NDP members, in particular, are obviously not being honest in presenting Liberal corruption as their reason for wanting to bring down the government. They were fully prepared to continue to prop up the government as long as the Liberals passed legislation for certain items of social spending that are near and dear to the socialists' hearts. However, when the Prime Minister "no" to the NDP wish list, the government was suddenly too corrupt to continue. That's some funny kind of morality.

Justice Gomery's first report did clear Prime Minister Martin of involvement in and knowledge of the scandal but, as members of the Conservative Party have pointed out, the Liberal Party itself defrauded Canadian taxpayers of millions of dollars. The Conservatives have been fairly consistent in condemning the government, unlike the NDP.

So, anyway, it looks like an election campaign probably will be triggered soon. One of the funny things about it is that the Prime Minister had already promised to call an election within 30 days of Justice Gomery releasing his final report, which is due on February 1st.

However, the reason the opposition doesn't want to wait just a few weeks longer for an election call is that they don't want to give the government too much time to use the power of government in what they claim, with some justification, is partisan electioneering before an election is called.

A budget update was released today which could well be seen as a pre-election move on the part of the government. The update includes some significant personal income tax reductions and some spending which is likely to be popular (we are told that the government surplus was larger than expected). The Liberals are saying, "Merry Christmas, Canada. Here's some money." (Never mind that it was our own money to start with.)

Oh well. At least an early election call will kill a surveillance bill which the Liberals introduced today. It would give police and intelligence officials the legal ability to force telephone and internet companies hand over personal information about subscribers. They could get your name, address, phone number, cell phone number, IP address. The Liberals defend it, saying that it's merely an update of old wiretap laws. The death of this bill due to an early election would probably only be a temporary reprieve, though. (For more on the surveillance bill, go here.)

1 comment:

Aaron Kinney said...

Hey Brad great to see you posting here. Thats informative too. Looks like you also got your own "patriot act" style laws to deal with and defeat!