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November 17, 2005
Tories To Jump The Gun?

Despite having reached an agreement with Jack Layton and the NDP to wait for November 28th to attempt a no-confidence motion, Conservatives may try to push the Martin government out next week if Liberals try to pass any tax-relief legislation through the Commons:

The electoral gamesmanship on Parliament Hill has taken yet another turn, with Conservative Deputy Leader Peter MacKay hinting his party could try to bring down the minority Liberals a week earlier than previously anticipated. ...

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper made it clear Wednesday he was setting his sights on Nov. 28 as the date to bring down the government, sparking an election campaign that would run through Christmas.

On Thursday, however, Liberal House leader Tony Valeri signalled that he could call for votes next week on a series of motions to implement tax cuts and other measures arising from Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's recent mini-budget.

Layton wants Martin to agree to elections in January rather than force him from office, while Harper wants to call an election specifically on the issue of corruption. Calling an election on a tax cut seems rather strange for the Tories, but what they fear is that the Liberals will prorogue Parliament after passing a couple of tax cuts, bailing out before any of the scheduled Opposition Days can be used to introduce traditional no-confidence motions. That option may extend the Liberal executive, but if the Gomery conclusion due on February 1 has any more bad news for Martin, his political career will not survive it anyway.

Harper needs to make sure he has the kind of cards he needs to make a non-confidence attempt work if he tries it next week. Layton's adverse reaction to this suggestion -- he told the Tories to re-read their agreement -- makes it appear otherwise. The Tories cannot afford to lose another one of these attempts.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 17, 2005 10:46 PM

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