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April 21, 2005
Martin Offers Elections ... In December

Paul Martin's political collapse may have turned from tragedy to farce tonight as he appealed to Canadians to allow his government to continue for another eight months, even as new allegations of corruption call into question the impartiality of the Canadian judicial system. Martin insisted tonight that he has acted to uncover the truth and deserves time to uproot the corruption in his own party:

"I commit to you tonight that I will call a general election within 30 days of the publication of the commission's final report and recommendations. Let [Mr. Justice John] Gomery do his work. Let the facts come out. And then the people of Canada will have their say," Mr. Martin said from the desk in his office, in a taped televised address in both French and English.

Mr. Martin said he takes responsibility for the actions of his party and is prepared to let Canadians judge his response to this test of his leadership. "I will be politically accountable. But I believe that before there is an election, you are entitled to answers to the answers that [Mr. Justice John] Gomery is working toward," he said.

The final report from Mr. Justice John Gomery is expected to be released in mid-December.

Not surprisingly, the request was not well received by Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader who had to fight this week to keep the Liberals from taking away scheduled Opposition Days away from the Tories in order to keep them from tabling a no-confidence vote:

Opposition Leader Stephen Harper did not respond positively to Mr. Martin's plea to wait until December to hold an election.

In a speech in the foyer of the House of Commons immediately following Mr. Martin's speech, Mr. Harper said Mr. Martin is the leader who called an election last year, before the Gomery commission had heard a single witness.

"We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle a Prime Minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance," Mr. Harper said.

I predict that this plea will do more damage than good for the Liberals, especially in light of their parliamentary actions this week. Martin and his party appear to be grasping at every last straw to remain in power, regardless of how it looks or what effect it has on democratic processes. Asking for the justice system to work before having voters make their decisions on the day that they find out the Liberals gave away judgeships for political favors is somewhat akin to murdering your parents and asking for mercy as a poor orphan. It not only looks terribly cynical, but it insults the intelligence of the audience.

Perhaps Martin has nothing left to say other than this pathetic plea. If so, he would have been better off keeping his mouth shut.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 21, 2005 6:47 PM

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