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May 6, 2005
Will Liberals Refuse To Leave?

The Liberals may not leave office willingly if a no-confidence vote tied to a budget amendment succeeds, according to Liberal House leader Tony Valeri. The Globe and Mail reports that the Liberals intend on arguing that a failure on a budgetary procedural motion cannot equate to a no-confidence motion, making it more difficult for the Conservatives to bring down Paul Martin's government:

The House of Commons will vote within two weeks on a motion calling on the government to resign after the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled against Liberal attempts to scuttle the vote.

But government House Leader Tony Valeri announced the Liberals would not call an election should they lose that vote, because they don't consider it one of confidence.

That move was greeted with anger by the Conservatives and the Bloc Qubcois.

Conservative House Leader Jay Hill raised the spectre of involving Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, saying she would likely express her concern to Prime Minister Paul Martin if the Liberals ignored a defeat on such a motion.

The Liberals intend on pulling out every stop to keep themselves in power, apparently up to and including a basic disregard for protocol. They stripped the Tories of their Opposition Days to keep them from tabling a straight no-confidence motion, although Harper managed to get one back on May 19th, which puts the election squarely in the middle of summer. Now they claim that an amendment that passes the House which clearly and explicitly calls for the government to resign -- over a budget issue, which actually plays into Liberal electoral plans -- does not amount to a loss of confidence.

Technically and procedurally, they can make that argument. However, politically speaking, it sounds like a stupid and grasping way to deny people fresh elections after all of the revelations of corruption and electoral fraud coming from the Gomery Inquiry. Liberals outside of Martin's circle, who want to avoid elections more to keep themselves safer from prosecution, have to ask themselves if playing Clintonist word games about the definition of "confidence" really helps their party disassociate itself from the stench of the money-laundering conspiracy their party used to grasp power in the first place. It may keep elections at bay for a few weeks or even months, but the Gomery testimony appears to build a more coherent narrative depicting systemic Liberal corruption, and looks less and less like Martin's characterization of a few bad apples skimming the government till.

At some point, the Liberals have to ask themselves which is more important: hanging onto power now in order to protect the guilty, or fresh elections (in which they still stand a chance of winning) and an opportunity to purge Liberal leadership of the corrupt elements which have humiliated the party of late. If the reaction of Tony Valeri gives any indication, it appears that the Liberals in the end will stand only for a greedy grasp on the levers of power and closing ranks to cover up for the corrupt. In that case, the Liberals may even defy a clear no-confidence motion, which will rupture Canadian politics altogether and may result in the disintegration of the federation in the long run.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 6, 2005 6:02 AM

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