Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The government won't fall...

On Thursday May 19 Parliament will be tasked to vote on the Liberals proposed budget bill. If it is voted down, Canadians are back to the polls—again; and only 10 months after the last election. As the heat and humidity rise in this unusually hot month of May, so does the political rancor and vituperative rhetoric. The Conservatives and Bloc are affecting all the right histrionics of the politically indignant, anxious to defeat the visibly damaged Liberals.

This is only made worse by the daily revelations of further and more troubling Liberal misdeeds coming out of the Gomery Inquiry. Meanwhile, the NDP, our country’s erstwhile marginalized social conscience, is doing what it can to help buttress the Liberals seat total, against that of Bloc and Conservatives combined. Some suggest that by acceding to a few of the particulars in the Liberals re-amended budget – the delaying of the corporate tax-cuts being one; which were initially taken out of the budget as per Jack Layton’s request – the NDP are playing useful idiots to Liberal hegemony.

I, on the other hand, see this differently. Before Jack Layton, in Stephen Harper’s words, made a deal with the devil, the Liberal budget allotted only $10 million for student loans and student debt relief, and $250 for social housing and miscellaneous social project. Those numbers, respectively, jumped to $150 million and $1 billion after Layton’s Faustian bargain.

I like that math.

But still, a push is being made for an election call even before the Liberal’s budget bill can be voted on. The Liberals lost a putative non-confidence vote yesterday – a procedural motion emanating from the public accounts committee – resulting in Conservative and Bloc demands that they step down and call an election immediately.


As matter of form, constitutional convention dictates that a government only falls on a loss of confidence from a vote by a majority of the house—when this vote deals specifically with a money bill. The precedent here is the Mackenzie King government resigning after a motion of non-confidence that was unrelated to a money bill. However, since then, money bills -- the budget specifically – are considered the only legitimate confidence votes.

So why aren’t Bloc and Conservatives willing to wait for a legitimate confidence vote, like next week’s budget?

One reason: the budget will pass. And here’s why. During the last month the Liberal government has scattered the seeds of its success all throughout the country: $3 billion dollars to the Provincial government in Ontario, $338 million to British Columbia, child care monies for various Canadian municipalities, redistribution of the gas-tax to the cities, %100 royalties from offshore drilling to the eastern provinces. The Liberal government will not fall for all of these reasons and much more.

The Bloc and Conservatives know this. In fact, though the deciding vote will come down to the speaker of the house – Milliken, a Liberal – count on a number of Bloc MP’s to support the Liberal budget; a budget that is so incredibly socially progressive that it would hurt their constituency cred if they voted otherwise. So this is my prediction—the vote will be 155-150 for the Liberal budget.


Anonymous said...

I like your odds.

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