Monday, December 1, 2008

Canada's Conservative Government Could Collapse

Over the past several days, Canada's opposition parties have been in negotiations to bring down Canada's newly re-elected Conservative government.

The negotiations were sparked by a financial statement released by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty which did not include a stimulus package. The ire of opposition parties was heightened when the Tories planned to eliminate government subsidies for political parties used to hire staff on Parliament Hill. The Tories have backed down on this latter provision.

Flaherty has announced he will deliver a federal budget on January 27th; more than a month ahead of schedule. But that might not come to pass.

A vote of confidence is planned for December 8th. If the government loses the vote, Governor General Michelle Jean could ask opposition parties to form a new government less than two months after Stephen Harper and the Tories were re-elected.

When Harper called an election earlier this fall I warned there would be risks if he didn't achieve a majority government. While the Tories increased their number of seats in Parliament they did not win a majority.

The Liberals and NDP would form a government with the support of the sepratist Bloc Quebecois. The question is who would be the Prime Minister?

After leading the Liberal Party to their worst performance in a quarter century and their lowest vote total ever, Stephane Dion announced his resignation and a successor is scheduled to be chosen at the Liberal Party Leadership Convention next May in Vancouver.

Word is that Dion wants to be Prime Minister. But Liberal leadership contenders Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc might not be so eager for that to happen. Would they accept Dion as an interim Prime Minister? Or could the post go to NDP leader Jack Layton?
The NDP is supposed to get 25% of the cabinet ministers. While the NDP would not get Deputy Prime Minister or Finance they have not ruled Layton as a possible PM. If Dion or Layton become PM one wonders what happens in the spring when the Liberal leadership vote takes place? Could the government collapse again and force the fourth federal election since 2004.

Unless something happens in the coming week there will probably be a change in government. But one would be unwise to underestimate Prime Minister Harper. A week is a lifetime after all.

No comments: