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April 20, 2005
Martin To Plead Case On Television

Having exhausted every other possibility to keep his Liberal government from collapsing and facing a ruinous election as early as June, Paul Martin plans on making a speech on Canadian television tonight to convince voters to pressure Parliament to postpone a no-confidence vote:

"He'll address the sponsorship issue and the current parliamentary context," Amy Butcher, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's Office, told

She indicated the gravity of the address.

"He'll speak directly to what he thinks to address the current political deadlock in the House of Commons," Ms. Butcher said.
But she said the Prime Minister is not making a move toward calling an election.

"He will not prorogue the House, nor dissolve Parliament."

She would not say whether Mr. Martin would urge Canadians to wait until Mr. Justice John Gomery comes out with his report on the sponsorship inquiry, as his MPs have been doing during weeks of oppositon attacks.

"I'll leave it to him [to address that]." The Liberals have been battling to save their minority government for weeks now as more shocking revelations from the sponsorship inquiry, such as allegations of Liberal kickbacks, come out during testimony.

Mr. Martin will make the address from his office, speaking to Canadians for five to six minutes in both French and English, Ms. Butcher said.

I find the use of the term "deadlock" rather odd, since what has happened over the past two days amounts to more of a meltdown. The Liberals attempted to lock themselves into power for several months with their cancellation of Opposition Days. The Conservatives somehow found a parliamentary procedure to gain one back -- and one will be all that's needed. In fact, the deadlock never existed; all that has happened from the failed Liberal manuever is an assurance that the Tories will table a no-confidence motion on May 19th, as they know now that they will have no further opportunity to do so.

It is a measure of how far Martin has fallen that he has to now beg Canadian voters for assistance to hang onto his job by asking them to wait for the results of an inquiry he himself delayed earlier by closing a Commons case down. Four weeks ago, new elections so soon appeared unthinkable, and a no-confidence vote supported by all three opposition parties even more unlikely. Martin's collapse will reach its nadir at 7:45 PM ET, if he's lucky, and can inspire a resurgence of support. Otherwise, his televised plea for a second chance may instead be seen as a particularly pathetic chapter in one of the quickest political collapses in the recent history of North America.

Stay tuned ...

UPDATE: My many Canadian friends remind me that Martin could attempt to prorogue Parliament. Somehow I doubt that the Oliver Cromwell approach will win the Liberals any more votes and could seriously damage their long-term prospects, especially given their money laundering in Adscam. The Tories will point out that stealing a few extra months in office only allows for other thefts to continue unabated.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 20, 2005 4:32 PM

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