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November 10, 2005
Promise Them Santa Claus, But Give Them Paul Martin

Paul Martin pulled out Santa Claus as a reason to avoid a no-confidence motion this month in the Commons and to save his shaky grip on power for at least another two months. Meanwhile, the NDP and the Tories came closer to agreeing on a strategy that will guarantee an election in the winter that should closely follow the release of the second Gomery report:

Mr. Martin said he didn't understand the current rush for an election. Mr. Martin has promised to call an election within 30 days of the release of the final report from Judge Gomery on the sponsorship scandal. That report is due in February. He also said Canadians don't want a Christmas election.

"You know, they want to see Santa Claus, they don't want to see politicians," Mr. Martin said. ...

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told reporters on Wednesday it was now clear that any agreement between the Liberals and the NDP had fallen by the wayside and he called the NDP proposal "innovative."

"I spoke to Mr. Layton," he said. "He is committed to bring down this government. It's a very innovative proposal that tries to address some of the concerns that we do share about the business of Parliament and the timing of the election."

Layton's plan would use an NDP opposition day to demand new elections from the executive. Instead of relying on a traditional no-confidence motion, the motion would be non-binding but could be used to build a precedent for a subsequent binding demand for an immediate call for elections. That would allow Parliament to remain in session for several weeks to get business accomplished. The timimg would force Martin to stick to his promise to have elections within 30 days of the next Gomery release.

Harper and the Conservatives appear to endorse this approach, which may be a mistake. They had an opportunity to end the Martin government directly and on the main issue of corruption simply by calling for a new government in a no-confidence motion, an honest and ethical approach that would contrast not only with Liberal behavior during Adscam but also with NDP's dirty agreement with the Liberal power brokers last spring -- the same ones in key positions during the height of the Sponsorship Programme, not so coincidentally. Playing footsie now may turn out to be necessary, but it does diminish the ethical quality of the electoral demands Harper so eloquently made earlier this week.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 10, 2005 6:11 AM

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