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The Article

Martin could use devious charade in desperate bid to cling to power

I’m pondering whether the apparently washed-up Liberal Leader Paul Martin will resign with grace after the votes are counted or try to defiantly maintain his grasp on power.

This could be the scenario: Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s team wins just eight or 10 seats more than Martin’s beleaguered crew.

With that, Martin goes to Rideau Hall, sees Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean, and rather than hand in his resignation, contends he should be allowed to try and form a coalition government.

This gambit would be more or less constitutional, if somewhat unethical, and hardly playing by gentlemanly rules.

Now, in reality, Jean should immediately refuse to play Martin’s game, but, let’s face it, she is hardly an intellectual heavyweight when it comes to constitutional and political matters, and she’s in Martin’s pocket.

But for him, Jean would still be chattering about inanities on French-language CBC television.

So, she might well give him the go-ahead.

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton, who successfully blackmailed Martin once, may well see his chance to continue pulling the strings and throw his party’s support behind Martin.

A faultline in such an underhanded scenario is Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe would likely have twice the number of seats as the NDP, and being a decent sort of fellow might well throw his party’s support to Harper, thus doing an end-run around Martin and Layton.

With the Commons in a straitjacket, Harper and Duceppe could demand a meeting with Jean and insist she now had to give Harper the chance to form a government.

Amidst all this there might well be outrage across the nation at Martin’s nefarious ploy which would make Jean—and her advisers—flinch and finally play the events out honestly.

As an aside, when Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield seemed about to win the 1972 federal election by a seat or two, prime minister Pierre Trudeau asked his superb political analyst Jerry Yanover—a good friend of mine—what the outlook was constitutionally.

Yanover advised if Stanfield won by even two seats, Trudeau had to resign, while if Trudeau won by just two seats he had a right to try and stay on.

Trudeau accepted that assessment, and was saved when the Liberals actually did win just two more seats than the PCs, and David Lewis’ New Democrats sold their souls to the Liberals and kept them in power until 1974.

Why do I think a desperate Martin might try to pull off this little charade, somewhat deviously cling to power, and hope against hope he can do something akin to Trudeau in 1972, massage the NDP until optimistically Liberal fortunes turn around, and then, as did Trudeau in 1974, knife the NDP in the back and win a majority?

Because Martin has shown he is basically devoid of political principle.

He operates from no firm political compass, just switching positions when it suits him.

He savages Harper on the Conservative leader’s support of traditional marriage, on support of the notwithstandig clause, suggests Harper would have led Canada into the Iraq war, and on Harper’s doubts about Kyoto.

But we all know Martin supported a resolution affirming traditional marriage before suddenly switching positions and forcing his cabinet to support same-sex marriage.

Then, he assured religious groups if the Supreme Court decided churches, synagogues, and temples had to perform same-sex marriages, he himself would use the notwithstanding clause to override the court.

For a time, he didn’t know which side he was on when President George W. Bush pondered liberating Iraq, and he also couldn’t decide which side he was on when it came to the missile defence shield.

Bush was sure Martin would come on side, but when Martin changed his mind, the prime minister didn’t even have the class to tell Bush personally.

Same on Kyoto.

He was wishy-washy on whether he would back this bogus pact—and then, overnight, decided to do so.

Yet now he slams Harper for suggesting there may be better ways to combat greenhouse gases, particularly with Canada’s harsh winter climate and the need to heat our homes and run our businesses.

So, my friends, make every vote count come election day.

Harper needs a hefty victory to ensure Martin’s maundering Liberals get the boot in no uncertain way.

Paul Jackson
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