Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Coalition If Necessary But Not Necessarily A Coalition

My mother left a message with me this morning recounting an interview Liberal MP and Liberal Party leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff did with Michael Enright on CBC Radio. When asked about the possibility of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper being defeated in the House of Commons on a confidence vote after it presents its budget on January 27th and the formation of the coalition government between the Liberals and the NDP Ignatieff said, "A coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition."

So the Liberals aren't so enthused about bringing down the government after all. Or at the very least should they bring down the government they don't want Stephane Dion as Prime Minister. A number of Liberal MPs have grumbled about the prospect of Dion becoming Prime Minister and want a new leader selected by the time Parliament resumes. It's understandable. The Liberals received 26% of the vote in the last election and won their fewest number of seats in nearly a quarter century. Liberal MPs were also angry at Dion's response to Prime Minister Harper's address to the nation on Wednesday. Dion's videotaped response was produced on a format inappropriate for broadcast television and looked like an old VCR tape.

John Manley, a former Liberal Minister of Finance, has called on Dion to step down immediately. At present, the Liberals are scheduled to select a new leader at the beginning of May in Vancouver. Manley would also rather the Liberals rebuild themselves rather than allot cabinet posts to the NDP. So maybe the Liberals want a new leader in place so they can defeat the government and have new elections called instead of forming a coalition with the NDP. If that's the case one wonders how much money the Liberals have. After all political parties that lose elections are usually in debt.

Ignatieff has said he is willing to hear what the Tories have to offer in January. His leadership rival Bob Rae is eager to toss out the Tories. Not surprising. After all, it was back in 1979 when Rae moved a vote of non-confidence that brought down the shortlived Tory government of Joe Clark after it delivered its budget. Of course, Ignatieff's open-mindedness might have more to do with the fact that Canadians have thus far sided with Stephen Harper and the Tories in this current row.

Who said Canadian politics was dull?

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