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May 12, 2005
A Demonstration Of Liberal Powerlessness

Since Paul Martin and the Liberals refused to recognize the no-confidence motion of Tuesday and the adjournment yesterday as valid signs that the Liberals can no longer effectively govern, the Tories have decided to take a different tack in proving how little power they have left. Conservatives shut down the Commons today on an early adjournment after the Liberals refused to bring their budget motion immediately, and have now started boycotting committees:

The Conservatives succeeded in a bid to adjourn the House of Commons for the day, in another move to paralyze the proceedings of government and force an immediate confidence vote in the government.

The motion that the House be adjourned until Friday at 10 a.m. passed in the House of Commons before noon on Thursday, 152 to 144.

It was supported by the Tories and the Bloc Qubcois, part of a strategy to block or stall the activities of the government.

Harper and Duceppe have formulated a rather interesting strategy to get the message across to the Liberals and to Canada in general about the will of Parliament. They have refused to allow Parliament to do business with the executive, making Martin's claims that he has the confidence of the Commons transparently empty. The only reaction left to them is Tony Valeri's lame complaint about Tories and BQ voting themselves a holiday, but everyone knows that time off isn't what this vote was about. If the Liberals won't bring their budget motion forward immediately -- and the no-confidence opportunity it clearly brings -- then Parliament won't debate anything else.

For Americans, this will bring back memories of Newt Gingrich shutting down the government in a showdown with Bill Clinton, a battle that the Republicans lost. However, in that case we had two co-equal branches of government vying for power against each other. The difference for Canadians is that their executive branch answers to the Commons, and the Commons has the power to essentially fire the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Doing so carries some political risk, of course, but in the Parliamentary system, this is a normal function. The political risk falls on the executive who won't leave, not the Parliament that fired them in the first place.

Watch for tomorrow's action in the Commons. If Harper keeps the heat on, the Liberals may wilt quicker than the May 19th date Martin wanted as a launching pad for new elections. He won't get anything else done in Parliament until then.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 12, 2005 1:48 PM

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