Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Having lost a confidence motion, the Liberals are still running the show. Or pretending like it, at least.

The loss of this motion is quite a bad move for the Liberals to ignore for a few reasons:

  1. It looks terrible. Nothing looks worse than a government disregarding precedent.
  2. It gives the Conservatives and Bloc legitimacy to campaign. The longer the Liberals delay a vote of confidence, the more desparate they look. This desparation can be used by opposition parties to paint a vivid picture of Liberal tyranny. As Monte Solberg commented on his blog, Martin really has nothing to lecture Mugabe about on democracy. Perhaps this is why he shut up when he visited China recently.
  3. It makes Martin look like a liar. Already 63 percent of Canadians believe he is dishonest. Yikes. Martin now looks like a liar for what he promised: to clean up Ottawa and fix the democratic deficit.
  4. He will not have constitutional experts' backing if he waits for a vote. The Liberals are now justifying their decision based on a few professors of law. However, this will backlash unless they put forth a confidence motion soon -- as these same professors said that if they lost this vote, they must immediately prove that they hold the confidence of the House.
THE TORIES are now considering shutting down the House with a motion of adjournment. Politically, however, I am not sure how clever this is. Shutting down the House is almost akin to shutting off debate, which is what the Tories want to paint the Liberals as doing. Essentially, I think it is a battle of reasonableness. It is more reasonable to quit after a motion of no confidence, but the Liberals are not doing so. So it makes them look less reasonable, and hence less legitimate. If the Tories were to shut down the House, essentially the Liberals could say that the Tories are afraid of a budget vote, that they don't want to make the House work, etc.

The Tories need to do two things, I think:
  1. Hammer away at the legitimacy of the governing party, asking them not to commit any more money until the government can prove confidence. Asking them to resign. All the time.
  2. Employ academics and scholars who can logically and legally argue the opposition position -- that the government lost a confidence vote. That seems to be the only pillar that the government is resting on -- that the Liberals are keeping with convention. CREATE DOUBT about that, and they could possibly chew the legs that the Liberals are standing on. One such scholar, "Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall law school, interviewed on CBC this morning, said the government must bring in a confidence vote "within a couple of days."" (via Coyne).

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