Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Hyper-speed prediction-falsification is not the case with my earlier thesis that the Liberal government wouldn’t fall as a result of being defeated on Thursday’s budget vote. As if this should be news to anyone, Belinda Stronach, former CEO of Magna, former Peter MacKay flame, perpetual political neophyte, did a fancy two-step across the figurative floor of the House of Common to join the Liberals. So astounded was I with this development that I literally (literally) jumped out of my shoes—my feet returning to the ground minutes later. Now my reaction should come as no surprise since, as has been stated prior, I’m a Liberal partisan.

(This is for no other reason than the electoral viability of the NDP is, well, feeble. Though they are considered the most ethical political party in the country, the NDP aren’t likely to form government in my life time.)

And now a digression, if you’ll indulge me. The jilted lover meme is stirring and incredibly poignant. Whether it’s purely political strategy or an honest account is difficult to assess; though, to be fair, the two can’t be mutually exclusive in this case. Seeing Peter MacKay nearly in tears as he spoke of the close affection he had for Belinda, her children, and her family, and then speak of the inexplicable betrayal (although he didn't use that word) of her decision was decidedly plaintive. The cameraman attempted to focus onto MacKay’s eyes as he fought back tears—a person shudders.

But on with the political machinations. The Liberals and NDP are now up one seat to 152, which ties the Conservative and Bloc seat count. Two independent MP’s, Chuck Cadman and David Kilgour, will determine the outcome. Kilgour looks serious but undecided and his appeals for increased attention and funding to Darfur is worthy political quid pro quo. However, there is something about Kilgour that strikes me as being incredibly flaky. Cadman, a jovial, ready-to-please type, appears more pliant. He’ll bring home the vote. Everybody that thought they had clout yesterday is doubling back, understanding that falling in line with the governing party is canny political strategy.

Apres Nous, Le Deluge. Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams is one voice among many advising two regional MP’s, Loyola Hearn and Norm Doyle, to vote yea on the Liberal budget, as it would assure the passage of the Atlantic Accord act—an act that means $2 billon for the Atlantic provinces. This seems to be working. And what of the remaining Bloc and Conservative MP’s who, after realizing it unlikely they’ll defeat the budget bill, consider the electoral calculus of voting against a healthy pork budget? If they’re smart, thoughtful to the necessity of political survival, they’ll vote for the bill.

Let me explain: the budget bill is a beautiful document because it’s like a pristine brook that reflects a sumptuous image. A person looking at the bill sees what they want— since it’s essentially designed to be everything to everyone. Vote against the bill -- when it’s going to pass anyway -- and leave yourself vulnerable to the argument that “You voted against childcare, against the municipalities, against monies for health care, against struggling students, against the environment, against the west, against the east—you sir, or madam, voted against Canada.” Very persuasive indeed.

So even if the Liberals do call an election after the Gomery inquiry adjourns -- the public outrage from which, by that time, would have already dissipated -- the Bloc and Conservatives will be open to this line of attack. However, the Conservatives, logic says, would be more vulnerable to this than the Bloc.


Funny how things change so quickly. It wasn't even a week and a half ago that the Liberals lost two consecutive confidence votes on Bloc and Conservative motions. Procedurally these motions weren't considered actual confidence votes and, therefore, the Liberals weren't required to disslove government. But they nonetheless made the Liberals look feckless--notwithstanding the house work they also impeded. And now, a week hence, the Liberals scooped Ms. Stronach, secured the vote of Chuck Cadman, and passed a fairly socially progressive budget bill.

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