It now seems that a minority government in Canada needs to give consent to its own defeat. If they want to cling to power against the will of the majority, they can just cancel opposition days, ignore every other attempt to defeat them, and trade appointments, money and influence for votes until they have rigged a confidence vote held on their terms.
It is easy to say we reject the idea that the end justifies the means. In practice it takes a lot of integrity to turn down something desirable simply because the method of achieving it violates moral or democratic principles.
The NDP proved they lack that kind of courage. Jack Layton can try hiding behind rhetoric about supporting the budget but not the government, but the end result is a vote that supports a corrupt government. One minute the NDP claim their motives are altruistic, the next they talk about how in the next election they will win more seats because of their amendments to the budget.
For the Bloc there was no test of character involved here. They clearly stand to gain when an election is called, so the path of integrity doesn’t veer away from what they want. To be fair, Giles Duceppe has a reputation for being a straight shooter and if we had more federalists like that in Ottawa we would have fewer separatists there.
The Conservative Party had a much harder choice to make. Like the Bloc they concluded that the government had lost the moral right to govern and an election was needed for the good of the country. But polls gave conflicting results from day to day so they were nearly useless except that every poll showed that demand for an election was weak.
The Tories might be able to win a minority government, or they might wind up right where they are now or worse if there was a backlash against bringing the Liberals down. In some electoral districts Conservatives were not fully prepared for an election, some still had no candidate, or had rushed through the nomination process with sloppy haste.
Defeating the budget also risked being tarred as supporting separatism. It is the Liberal party that has rejuvenated separatism in Quebec and the west though, and the Bloc will come back from an election with more seats whenever the election is held.
The Liberals have voted with the Bloc far more often than the Conservatives have, and somehow I don’t expect the Liberals to suddenly vote against same-sex marriage just because the Bloc will vote for it. There is no quid pro quo deal between the Bloc and Tories, they just happen to agree on this issue for a change. Even so, the Conservatives would be foolish to expect the media to promote that view.
Although the Conservatives were not able to bring down the government, they were willing to risk voting on principles instead of polls. In the long run the loss may be the best result for them. Harper has more time to make inroads in Quebec and Ontario, they may yet get to call the election on their own terms, and they have more time to work towards winning a Conservative majority government.
Sadly it was not the best result for Canada. The principle of responsible government is seriously undermined and that will have serious consequences far beyond the fiscal irresponsibility of the budget.
Then there is Belinda, the woman who is a party unto herself in more ways than one. Some of the comments made about her treason were crude, but they were not inaccurate. I would point out that even before her defection I referred to the Liberal party as a brothel, so I will only add that if the fishnet stockings fit…
When the final vote was cast I wondered how long it would take for the Liberals to do something to show they haven’t learned anything from their brush with death. I wasn’t expecting to find the answer in my mailbox the very next day.
Every MP is entitled to send their constituents four mass mailings a year. When the mail came on Friday it included a new Parliamentary Report from our Liberal MP. If I recall correctly, the previous report was a small simple booklet that was probably laser printed. This time it was a sharp looking 8 page 11×17 newsletter produced with two-color offset printing on high quality paper.
Like all such mailings it was produced, printed and delivered at taxpayer expense, but it was also timed perfectly to benefit my MP as a candidate if the budget had been defeated. Are homes in all Liberal ridings about to receive an extravagant bit of publicly paid PR from their MP as well? I don’t have the resources to check that so I alerted others who do. Perhaps something will come of it, perhaps not.
It may seem like a small thing to many people. There is nothing illegal about the mailing, but it is significant in that it shows once again a pattern of using taxpayer money to benefit the Liberal party.
Changing leaders didn’t get the Liberals to clean up their act; neither did reducing them to a minority or bringing them to the brink of defeat. The only way to fix the rot that infects this party is to remove them from power until they have purged corruption from their ranks.