Friday, September 4, 2009

 

HIGH NOON AT THE RIDEAU CORRAL

Though I am hesitant to say this: Perhaps it is time for the real Parliamentary session to resume rather than the confrontation of "swinging dicks" we have all witnessed this week.

As crude a description as "swinging dicks" may be; It seems appropriate to what appears at least from my vantage point as a testosterone fueled gambit of high stakes politics with the real potential of accidentally plunging Canada into another national election. Yikes!

Sadly yes, I too am venturing into the now well travelled territory where everyone else has been since Micheal Ignatieff blurted his: "Mr. Harpper, your time is up!" call to the political battlefield even before his own Liberal troops had caucused on Tuesday in Sudbury, precisely to - whether or not - make that decision.

Ignatieff's withdrawal of Liberal support means Mr. Harper's Conservatives, with just 143 seats of the 308 in the House of Commons will now somehow have to cajole votes from either the Bloc Quebecois or the New Democrats on an ad hoc basis to pass legislation...the most contentious of which is a "Ways and Means" motion on last spring's budget to allow the very popular home improvement rebate credit program to kick-in.

In Parliamentary terms a budget related motion is a "vote of confidence" in the Government. The Tories (as many are increasingly suggesting) may be tempted to test every one's resolve over the Ignatieff challenge by introducing the home improvement rebate motion shortly after the House resumes on September 14.

In the confrontation of "dicks", Mr. Ignatieff's latest ultimatum to the Tories was as much a rallying cry to his own fractious Liberal caucus lest the Party's own internal divisions become public during or after this week's Sudbury caucus. Mr. Ignatieff has determined to gamble that the Bloc and the NDP really don't want an election - Probably no more than he wants one himself - but his message is that it's someone else's turn to prop-up the Harper's Tories. The truly cynical have suggested that with 100 Members of Parliament from all parties with less than the mandatory six years served in the House to qualify for the "gold-plated" lifetime pensions - No one wants to jeopardize losing their seat in yet another election this fall.
(About 40% of the Bloc Quebecois' 49 Members fall into that category - Get the picture?)

In raw numbers, the Conservatives are really only about 15 or so votes from of an absolute majority in the House of Commons. And, there is the threat of a national outbreak of the H1N1 (Swine) Flu by early fall. Real or imagined, of 308 Members in the House of Commons, odds are that a dozen or more could easily come down with Flu like symptoms and stay home on any given day a crucial vote is scheduled in Parliament.

Of Mr. Ignatieff "ballsy" outburst; writing in the "Calgary Herald" earlier this week, Columnist Licia Corbella quoted an unidentified Liberal insider's description of the Party Leader..."to know him is not to love him." I suspect that's part of the message party faithful communicated to their elected representatives over the summer political BBQ season; and why there is no way Mr. Ignatieff can now back away from his threat against the Harper Government.

But reality dictates that this "Showdown on the Rideau", like the others over the past year; also will pass particularly as electors forcefully communicate their disdain over yet another election which would halt the business of Government at a crucial moment in our economic recovery.

Otherwise; as we prepare to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, and arrange next spring's Summit of World leaders (The G-8) in Huntsville, Ontario: From an International perspective; Canada risks displacing Italy as the world's "poster child" for the pre-eminent fractious and dysfunctional of democracies. Justifiably, the Italians have had more than 70 elections since the end of World War II. But just three national elections since the year 2000. Canada has had a total of four...and may be on the way to number five!

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