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CTV reports that the Conservatives may try again to topple the Liberal government, this time focusing on the NDP budget amendment C-48 which gave PM Paul Martin a tie in the Commons, saving his grip on power by the single vote of the Speaker. The effort reverses an agreement reached earlier with the Liberals to delay action on C-38, the gender-neutral marriage proposal, until after the summer recess:
Ottawa is buzzing over word that the Conservatives may once again try to bring the minority Liberal government down before the end of the month.
The showdown could happen at the end of this week, or early next week, when the government's top priority budget add-on bill, Bill C-48, comes to a final vote.
"I expect we're going to have every member in our caucus here whenever the vote is," B.C. Conservative MP John Reynolds told CTV News on Wednesday. "Whether it's tomorrow or next week ... we will have every member here, and this government deserves to be defeated."
Known as the "NDP budget", C-48 would add $4.6 billion in social spending to the government's original budget. The shaky minority Liberals agreed to the extra spending in exchange for the support of the New Democrats.
It's an agreement that the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois staunchly oppose.
Reynolds told CTV that the two major parties had agreed to allow C-48 to pass through unscathed if the Grits delayed any action on C-38, although it doesn't seem that the Liberals should have wanted to speed up consideration of the latter. More than two dozen Liberal MPs have expressed their opposition to gender-neutral marriage, at least as structured in this particular act. Extra time for fine tuning would appear to help the Liberals more than the Tories, and a faster vote should have helped Harper in attempting to peel off enough Liberals to perhaps get his no-confidence motion, eventually.
And yet, the Liberals made the effort to extend the session instead of proroguing it in order to squeeze in C-38. According to Reynolds, that broken pledge has re-energized the Tory caucus, although it's still unclear why. Obviously the Tories oppose C-38 (and C-48, for that matter), but with the entire Commons riding on the edge of a knife, numerically speaking, the longer session could give them more opportunities to unseat Paul Martin, if they choose to try.
It appears to me that the Tories planned on escaping into recess, hoping to use the time to have Stephen Harper tour the country and build up his popularity, or at least rid himself of the negatives that have attached themselves to him. The longer session delays that, but it won't eliminate it altogether. However, if they can put the votes together to defeat C-48 when it comes up, the Tories can avoid the gay-marriage debate altogether and instead initiate the summer election they want. They'd better hope that the polling numbers are off if they get what they want, though.Sphere It View blog reactions
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