Wednesday, May 18, 2005

For Every Misfortune, There's Opportunity: What to Do with Mr. Karygiannis?

It seems Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis left the House of Commons in an ambulance this afternoon, suffering from chest pains.

While I hope it's nothing serious (it could be tension-related), I can already hear the speculation machine on tomorrow's confidence vote start to rev up.

If Stephen Harper is smart, he'll offer to pair Karygiannis up with MP Dave Chatters, who's suffering from cancer. (Fellow cancer-suffering MP Dave Stimson is already paired with the NDP's Ed Broadbent.) If Karygiannis needs to be held in observation, it won't hurt to give Chatters some rest time.

If Harper is dumb, he won't even bother to make the offer, trying to take advantage of the numbers: without Karygiannis, the Liberal vote margin decreases by 1, meaning only one independent MP vote would be needed to topple the government. Not making the offer would enable both the Liberals (and the NDP, in future campaigning) to paint him as heartless and power-hungry, willing to take advantage of any tragedy to forward his agenda.

The ideal situation would be for Harper to make the offer, and the Liberals to refuse it in the hopes that Karygiannis will make it tomorrow, only to find that he can't. If Karygiannis does make it, Harper loses nothing; the situation will be exactly the same as it was last night after the Stronach defection.

It's up to you, Mr. Harper ...

UPDATE (17h55 18 May): Well, it turns out to be heartburn. Well, that's never fun (being a chili addict, I know all about heartburn) but in a way it's a relief. We don't want any more MPs dying on the job.

Still, it must feel a bit silly getting stuck in an ambulance and going like blazes to a hospital, only to learn that you're suffering from something that could be fixed with a glass of Alka-Seltzer.