Monday, July 04, 2005

Summer in Ottawa

With parliament done, I suspect most of the summer’s political news will be confined to Stephen Harper’s exploits on the dance floor and his ever-improving hamburger flipping technique (“notice…he now can flip with his left hand…and his elevation has improved…this man should be our Prime Minister”).

But, luckily the Hill Times is here to provided gossip from Ottawa. Among the (free) stories this week:

1. Election Speculation: It now appears that several Liberals want Paul Martin to break his promise of calling an election 30 days after Gomery. D’oh! I think it’s fairly safe to say that even Paul Martin isn’t dumb enough to do this. The article is still worth a read, if only for the so-stupid-they’re-funny comments from Liberal backbenchers. Among the highlights is Allan Tonks who believes all parties would support this and Jim Karygiannis who says voters “will freeze” if they go to the polls in the winter…as if Canadians can’t handle a 2 minute drive to their polling station.

I do however, still think there’s a good chance for a fall election. The final Gomery Report will be harmless enough since it will detail ways to prevent future abuses in the system – yawn. The juicy interim report might still come out November 15th and I can’t think of a more appetizing prospect for the opposition parties than a report like that being announced in the middle of an election campaign. So the temptation to bring down the government in October to force a, say, November 28th election will be very real.

2. Tony Valeri: Valeri has been drawing a lot of praise in the press for his performance this session. In my opinion, the jury is still out. Sure, the government survived, but this man has poisoned relations with the opposition parties to the point where he won’t even talk to Jay Hill. A lot of the tactics used to ensure survival were heavy handed and little was accomplished. We also saw Valeri take a page from his boss by repeatedly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. This parliamentary session had to go into overtime to get anything accomplished after months of filibustering their budget and dithering on SSM. But they’re still standing, and for a government that has switched slogans from “The Politics of Achievement” to “The Politics of Survival”, that’s saying something.

3. Jean Charest: There’s no real substance in this article but the fall of Jean Charest has been remarkable to watch. In a province that always gives Premiers two chances, it’s really hard to explain. I know a few of the regular visitors to the comments section of this blog live in Quebec, so I’d be very curious to read their thoughts on why Charest has turned into such a dud.


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