Monday, May 09, 2005

Desperate House

Let me just say that anyone in Canada who claims to know whether or not tomorrow's vote is valid is either:

a) Full of it
b) An individual who has spent the last decade reading up on parliamentary procedure

Which tells me that we're going into a week of both sides arguing parliamentary procedural rules (fun, fun fun!). It's safe to say there won't be an election over this but it will change the discussion for a while which will have two effects:

1. It will change the channel away from Gomery, at a time when Benoit Corbeil is going to be brutally tearing the Liberal Party to pieces.

2. It will make the Liberals look really, really desperate.

It's also going to be a bit of yoke on the face of Paul Martin. In a leadership campaign that was all about coming out in favour of sunshine, rainbows and lollipops, there was one promise Paul Martin made above all others: The Democratic Deficit.

I guess the one thing Paul forgot to mention was that addressing the democratic deficit would involve canceling opposition days and failing to recognize non-confidence motions. A strong democratic reform package might be the kind of non-scary policy Harper can bring forward during the campaign to show there's some substance behind the candidate.


  • Calgary Grit, love the blog. One of the least partisan political blogs I visit. Yoke(s) go on oxen. Yolks are the middle of eggs, and do indeed have an afinity for PM PM.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:16 AM  

  • Anon...

    You know that old adage that goes, "Be careful when you point a finger, because the other three fingers on the pointing hand point back at yourself"? The same holds for spelling nitpickery. It's 'affinity".

    By Anonymous mike, at 9:11 AM  

  • Thanks Mike, I should proofread, thanks especially for the word "nitpickery" I am going to make it my word of the day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:42 AM  

  • Hell, I don't know either. My vague suspicion (based on my old poli-sci days) is that it's not technically binding.

    More importantly, I think Martin is making a mistake here. I suspect the Liberals would be better off facing the Gomery music than looking like desperate losers.

    Gomery has done all the damage it can to the Liberals now--anyone who will refuse to vote Liberal because of corruption is already doing so. Looking like desperate losers gives people a DIFFERENT reason not to vote for them and so should be avoided at all costs.

    By Anonymous Kevin Brennan, at 11:11 AM  

  • The problem with Harper pursuing this kind of strategy is its Karmic consequences. If the Tories bring down the government on a non-confidence vote that technically isn't, the genie will be out of the bottle. We will have votes of non-confidence every day by the Liberals should Stephen Harper become PM. This is dangerous ground we are treading here.

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:02 PM  

  • The question which arises in any vote in the Commons is whether or not the government has the confidence of the House. All Budget votes and votes on the Speech from the Throne are confidence votes.

    However, the vote itself is not the issue, the confidence of the House however expressed, is the issue. Losing a vote which demands the government's resignation suggests a loss of that confidence.

    By Blogger jc, at 1:34 PM  

  • To be fair, Mike, hononym confusion is a different beast than typos and misspellings, and can be an honest mistake. I'm sure CG was just tired, though. :)

    As to the substantive issue, I think the Libs are getting perilously close to no-win territory. I don't see any good options for them. The Neo-Tories aren't playing much smarter, though. Mutual suicide pact, anyone?

    By Anonymous Wrye, at 4:26 PM  

  • Confidence votes are a parliamentary convention. Conventions are grounded in past practice, and have substantive meaning.

    While a Canadian government hasn't resigned following such a procedural vote, as I understand it King resigned in the face of the same sort of vote. But Stanfield, having won a substantive vote, did not force the immediate fall of the Pearson government.

    I pause to draw out two points: the procedural/substantive dichotomy is irrelevant, and parliamentary conventions are context-driven.

    Confidence in the government is required because the government's raison d'etre is to legislate. If it cannot, then an election is necessary.

    Certain bills, i.e. budget and throne speeches, are so fundamental to a government's function that they must be confidence bills. Other bills may be proposed by the government, but not be fundamental to its program (for an example in reverse, consider the confidence attached to Diefenbaker's nuclear arms defeat).

    Otherwise stated, if the government is no longer able meet the democratic mandate with which it is vested by the people following an election, it is obligated to resign.

    Now, consider the current parliament. Confidence measures are postponed for fear of defeat. A majority of members have said the government should resign. Given the above, it seems obvious where the intent of the convention comes down.

    By Blogger matt, at 12:48 AM  

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