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October 30, 2005

The long-awaited Gomery Inquiry report comes out on Tuesday, November 1st, and already the politicians have begun to believe that no one outside of Ottowa will notice or care. At least, that's what the Liberals hope and the Tories fear, as Canada's worst political corruption case seems destined to slide into oblivion due to scandal fatigue:

Stephen Harper would have you think it's all up to Jack Layton to help him pull down the government next week after Mr. Justice John Gomery's sponsorship report. The New Democrats would rather you believe that Mr. Harper's the coward for promising not to force an election to be held over the Christmas holidays.

And the Bloc Qubcois says it would be happy to participate in an election at any time, before or after Judge Gomery's report.

But behind the bravado, all three opposition parties privately suggest that no one really wants to pull the pin after Judge Gomery releases his long-awaited report in the sponsorship scandal next Tuesday, and that the report will not blame Prime Minister Paul Martin.

No one really expected Gomery to implicate Martin, however, as the public testimony never quite touched Martin specifically. It doesn't mitigate the fact that his predecessor and his party took full advantage of a money-laundering and political payoff system it created specifically to extend its power and its grip on the Commons. The lack of outrage from Canadians shows that the Liberals may have scored on their calculated strategy to keep postponing their day of reckoning. The voters appear dissatisfied with the Liberals' performance during Gomery, but unwilling to put the Tories in charge as a consequence.

Unfortunately, the Tories have not had much success in finding an effective partner in pushing for new elections -- and at times, they have appeared as though they're not terribly interested in bringing down the Martin government. They allowed themselves to get outfoxed in the spring, when their polling had them riding highest, and the setbacks affected the confidence that the Canadian electorate had in Tory leadership. Now they have three parties willing to pull the plug on the Grits, but none of them can come up with a formula for the necessary no-confidence motion.

Can the Canadian electorate trust a coalition that clearly could demand elections on the basis of Adscam and corruption in general but for whatever reason fails to do so? It seems that such an outcome would automatically neuter Adscam as an effective argument against Liberal government and give away the best case for removing the Martin executive. With an overwhelming majority in the Commons between the three opposition parties, their failure to act implicitly endorses the average Canadian's apathy about corruption and undermines their best case for a change.

After Tuesday, we will know if the Tories mean business.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 30, 2005 1:54 PM

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