Thursday, May 19, 2005

All Right -- What Now?

Well, it was a squeaker, but the Liberals are still standing. Barely.

There will be a breather of sorts. There's an Opposition day scheduled on the 31st of May, but by then the Liberals may pick up another seat due to a by-election. And two weeks is far too soon to stage another non-confidence vote.

Still and all, this was useful. Ben over at The Tiger in Winter has posted a few consolation points, along with useful quotation from the MSM right-wingers. I'll try not to repeat his points, but I'll just extrapolate on a couple and add a few of my own.

First, understand that this was not a defeat either for Stephen Harper or for Gilles Duceppe. Last week's non-confidence action forced the Liberals to deploy their worst tactics--from parsing the rules to outright bribery--just get the votes to survive. (It is a tribute to the integrity of our Opposition that there was only one crossover vote.)

If one thing is demonstrated, it's this: the mindset that allowed the festering of corruption as revealed in the Gomery Inquiry is still infecting today's Liberal leadership. The opportunity for the Opposition parties is to demonstrate, time and again, that Liberal corruption doesn't have to be the price of unity.

Second, with the budget passed, Don Laytone and his New Democrat family have completed their favour to the Prime Minister. The Stronach incident probably didn't impress the Don, who is now free to attack Liberal corruption. He and the NDP also gain brownie points for civility and keeping on the high ground during this matter--something that people will remember at the next election. (Voters remember people, not policies.)

Third, there's Belinda Stronach. (Sorry, but we do have to discuss her.) You can bet that the press is going to keep an eye on her future performance, especially in a ministry that's in charge of everyone's EI benefits. The circumstances of her appointment guarantee that she--and her department--will get far more scrutiny than the norm. Doing well at the job is the only sure way she can get the memories of her defection to fade--and with the high public scrutiny, doing well is going to be tough.

Fourth, there's the PM's commitment to hold an election after the release of the Gomery report. Funny thing about it: he never made any statement that it was contingent upon the Opposition not calling a confidence vote, nor was there anything said about whether its findings would clear his government. Which means it's still on the table--and what do you bet that people will let him off the hook on that one?

As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much." But there's always a next time ...