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May 28, 2005
Will The Tories Come Out Fighting?

Conservative Party leaders indicated yesterday that they plan on continuing their efforts to drive the Liberal minority government into collapse. The Tories plan on using their alliance with BQ to form a majority in committee and kill C-48, the $4.6 billion budget addendum that bought NDP support for Paul Martin and kept the Liberals in power -- a move which may have NDP leader Jack Layton rethinking his options:

The Conservatives say they will attempt to block the government's two budget bills from being passed before the House of Commons summer recess to protest against what they say is excessive and unaccountable spending.

And Conservative Leader Stephen Harper warned yesterday that his party may make further attempts to force an election, although he doubts they would succeed as long as the NDP supports the Liberals.

Tory House Leader Jay Hill said Liberal pledges to pass the budget before the June 23 summer recess amount to a dream in Technicolor. He said his party wants to take its time studying the bills in committee, where the Tories and Bloc Qubcois have a majority.

I had not realized that the Tory-BQ alliance would result in a majority on the budget committees; I assumed that committee assignments would follow representation in the Commons. If they Tories succeed in bottling up portions of the budget, the Liberals could certainly paint Harper and the Conservatives as obstructionists and resurrect the "hidden agenda" argument against Harper once again. However, Adscam gives the Tories ample argument for a close reading of all budget issues. Martin's spending spree to hang onto power also bolsters Conservative efforts to slow down and carefully peruse the budget in committee, feeding their premise of cautious stewardship of taxpayer money in comparison.

In the case of C-48, the quick agreement between Martin and Layton resulted in a reported lack of detail which the Tories point out as a reason to take time for review. That may also be the excuse they give for killing C-48 in committee, pointing out that the lessons of Adscam teach that ambguity in budget issues inevitably lead to corruption. That would mean that the NDP wound up supporting the corrupt Liberal Party for no return whatsoever, making Jack Laytonthe biggest dupe in Canadian politics.

Layton is no fool, and he must have already seen this as a possibility. His finance critic, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, has publicly stated that any defeat of C-48 will end NDP support of the Liberals. That hardly sounds as if he's threatening the Tories; he's holding Paul Martin responsible for delivering C-48, and soon. That means Martin must somehow split the Tory-BQ alliance on the committee, or he must somehow get one or more members of the committee to cross the aisle.

Despite Harper's all-or-nothing rhetoric prior to the May 19th vote, this government still has no guarantee of survival. C-48 remains the keystone of their support, and control of it has passed to Martin's political opponents. If they choose to fight and remain united, they may still drive the Liberals out of power and get the election they want.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 28, 2005 9:04 AM

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The Conservatives seem to have shaken their post-Stronach funk, and are attacking the Liberals on multiple fronts. [Read More]

Tracked on May 29, 2005 5:35 AM

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