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May 11, 2005
Martin Offers Eight-Day Wait, BQ Says 'Non!'

In response to the damaging loss on the contentious no-confidence motion last night, which the Liberals have refused to acknowledge, Paul Martin has now offered to table the budget motion for a vote on May 19th, eight days away. However, the Tories and Bloc Qubcois have refused this offer, demanding that the Liberals table the motion today if they continue their refusal to recognize yesterday's vote to dissolve the government:

Prime Minister Paul Martin has called for a vote on the budget for next Thursday, a move that could topple his fragile minority government. However, the opposition Bloc Qubcois and Conservatives refused to co-operate, saying they're not prepared to wait, and want a vote today.

"I am proposing that there will be a vote that day on the budget bill and that vote will be a vote of confidence," Mr. Martin told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday after an emergency cabinet meeting. ...

But Tory Leader Stephen Harper said he refuses to play "games" any longer.

Both he and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said they won't wait until May 19. If the Liberals want a confidence vote, they will agree to hold one today, the two leaders said.

Mr. Harper said Mr. Martin is simply engaging in stalling tactics.

"Face the nation, face parliament. If he has a vote he wants us to have, let's have it today," Mr. Harper said.

The Liberals need the extra week to get three more votes back into Parliament before tabling the budget motion. Two of its own members could not make it back in time for last night's vote, and one independent (Chuck Cadman) undergoes chemotherapy this week and cannot attend. Cadman has already indicated that he will support the Liberals.

Even with the extra three votes, the stall tactics may force some whose seats are at risk in the volatile political climate to think twice before voting to continue Liberal rule after the revelations already made at the Gomery Inquiry. Polls have shown public opinion to vacillate widely on support of the parties, but all polls have shown Paul Martin's support for remaining Prime Minister eroding constantly. MPs riding to Martin's rescue over the next eight days may find themselves answering difficult questions later about why they voted to keep a corrupt government in place to investigate itself.

Perhaps most despicably, the Liberal Commons leader Tony Valeri has now indicated that he may hold a new and non-partisan crime bill establishing a DNA database of criminals hostage to the confidence motion outcome. The Toronto Sun reports that the bill, which is expected to receive widespread support in Parliament, has not yet been scheduled for a vote. Valeri made it clear that it won't be scheduled unless the opposition parties back off of their threat to topple the Liberals:

KARLA HOMOLKA will be compelled to provide federal authorities with a DNA sample -- as long as the Liberal government doesn't fall before a new bill is passed into law.

MPs from all political parties agreed yesterday to fast-track Bill C-13 so Homolka and other violent offenders don't slip out of prison without their DNA being put in the national database. Currently DNA collection -- even for the most serious crimes such as murder -- isn't mandatory. ...

Conservative MP Vic Toews pressed Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to "step up to the plate" and do the right thing, but government House leader Tony Valeri was non-committal in the Commons. "When we co-operate and focus on the interests and priorities of Canadians, Parliament can in fact work," he said.

"I would ask the two parties opposite, both the Conservatives and the Bloc, that if they want to, in fact, be in Parliament and be in this Parliament for the interests of Canadians, then let us work together to ensure we can pass this DNA bill and other bills."

In other words, Valeri will refuse to schedule the bill in time for Homolka to be tested unless the Liberals win a confidence motion and are allowed to continue in power. Otherwise, the bill will have to be re-introduced in the next Parliament, delaying its implementation and allowing a number of parolees to escape its requirements, including Homolka. Even for a government that just spent $10 billion in tax money to buy off a province and a political party, this kind of political rugby seems highly cynical and utterly selfish.

This kind of activity may yet rile up a placid Canadian electorate.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 11, 2005 11:51 AM

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The Globe and Mail has the story on the contentious Question Period today: Prime Minister Paul Martin has called for a vote on the budget for next Thursday, but the Bloc Québécois and Conservatives refused to co-operate, saying they’re not ... [Read More]

Tracked on May 11, 2005 4:16 PM

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