Tag Archives: confidence

Bob Update

Further to my post yesterday, in which I question how my Liberal opponent could justify propping up this government any longer, two prominent Liberals (both bloggers, one a sitting MP) weigh in.

A BCer in Toronto writes, in part:

Umm, how do you propose we wait Bob? I mean, everything else you and the caucus nervous nellies are saying makes sense. I’d love to get those by-elections done first too, get some momentum from hopefully having Bob and some other new Liberal MPs in the house. I’d love to wait until the economy has worsened. I’d love to wait until the Liberals are at 100 per cent in the polls, and Stephane Dion is more popular than The Beatles.

There’s a few roadblacks in the way though, besides Stephane’s lack of musical ability. First one: the budget. The first votes are going to be in a few weeks, well before the byelections. What does Bob propose we do on the budget. Does he want us to vote in favour of what’s going to be a minimalist budget that does nothing to address the worsening economic situation, and prop-up this government that stands for everything we don’t? Or would Bob rather we prop-up this government by abstaining, and look the laughing-stocks again?

…So, while I like Bob’s theory, it’s the practice I have some issues with. If he has some brilliant plan for getting us past the budget vote without looking like complete tools, I’d love to hear it. Maybe the leaker forgot to tell Jane Taber that part.

Nervous nellies, buck up. Find your cojones. The election train is moving out of the station. Get on board or get out of the way. We cannot prop-up this government any more.

And from Garth Turner:

Much has been made this week of an election call. If you believe the media, Liberals reacted by forming a coherent and fierce battle group around the leader. Then fired inwards.

True enough, some, a few, of my caucus colleagues just love to talk about how they fear going to the voters. I should know the refrain by heart, since I’ve heard it from a half-dozen of them for an entire year. Lately the Lib Pacifist Movement has even become a little organized, and found a champion in a former leadership contender. Miraculously, his words in our inner-most sessions have ended up on the front page of the next day’s daily.

Well, for us poor farm boys from Halton, this is all a little hard to understand. Seems to us you’re in politics for reasons of principle and passion, not just for partisanship. You know why you’re here. If you believe Stephen Harper is screwing up Canada, then you fight the guy. You take up arms for overtaxed middle class minivan moms, for laid-off auto workers, for aboriginals, for the suffering environment, for income trust investors, for those in poverty and those who thought by electing this guy they’d get a leader who would keep his promises.

You fight for those who believed his pledge of 125,000 new child care spaces a year. That he would honour the Atlantic Accord. That he’d treat First Nations with respect. That he cared about the environment. That he’d never tax income trusts. That he’d bring a new spirit of openness and accountability to Ottawa. That he’d treat everyone with equality. That voters mattered, and he’d bring them change.

Bob, This Isn’t About You

Jane Taber reports in today’s Globe and Mail that Bob Rae is urging Dion not to force an election until after Rae is done with our March 17th by-election.

Listen, I get that Bob wants to get to Parliament as soon as possible. And I understand, as previously discussed, that having our by-election cancelled to make way for a general election would be a huge administrative pain, and also an extremely tiring and exhausting experience. My legs and my knuckles are sore too, and my family isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves either.

But this is bigger than us. Stephen Harper is a dangerous prime minister, and his government is causing more and more damage by the day. There is no reason to believe that the House can continue to have confidence in this government. Meanwhile, our economy and our environment are in desperate need of new leadership. This isn’t about convenience, it’s about integrity and doing what’s right. We need to take a principled stand: if not now, then when?


I suspect that in the eyes of the general public, our leaders are suffering from a “boy who cried wolf” syndrome when it comes to threats of an imminent election. While those of us who are directly involved in party politics have been in perpetual election mode for the last two years, those trying to get on with their daily lives have been perpetually tuned out. (While canvassing tonight, one man told me, “I don’t vote for the bastards, it only encourages them.” Sure enough, he was not on our list of registered voters.) Constant hyper partisanship (which has always existed in some form, but, it seems to me, used to be less mean and destructive, and was at least confined to election campaigns) and an enhanced state of all that’s bad about “politics as usual” have left many people not only not knowing what’s going on in Ottawa, but not caring either.

And yet, we’re once again facing the possibility of a general election triggered by a vote of non-confidence in the government. And while that word—confidence—gets thrown around a lot, it has a real, weighty meaning that we should be cognizant of. While most political parties seem to decide whether or not to force an election based on if it is of political benefit to them, it’s much too important for that kind of cynicism. The real, important, honest question is: should the House have confidence in the government of Stephen Harper?

I should start be declaring that I have a strong personal interest in there not being a general election right now. We’ve already invested in and planned for a by-election. If the government falls before March 17th, then we have to file a return for an election that never happened and then re-register (100 more signatures, another $1000 deposit, a new bank account, etc) for the general election. It would also mean that what is already possibly the longest election campaign in the history of our country would be made even longer, disrupting the personal and professional lives of myself and all of my campaign volunteers.

But this is obviously bigger and more important than me. So while Harper plays games (one of his confidence motions appears to be at odds with a little thing called the constitution) and the other parties posture (the NDP just sent out a testosterone-charged email that amounts to Jack Layton challenging Stephen Harper to a fist fight) or try to make a decision based on what will get them the most votes (an unfortunately frequent preoccupation of Liberal bloggers), we should seriously consider if we can have any confidence in this government.

Let us therefore review this government’s two years in office. They were first elected primarily on issues of accountability and transparency. On both counts, their record is abysmal. For example, The Toronto Sun’s Greg Weston has illustrated how the Conservative “Accountability Act” could actually prevent another sponsorship scandal from being discovered. Speaking of which, Judge Gomery recently complained that Stephen Harper has “abandoned any commitment he once had to transparent government in favour of centralizing power in his own hands” and has “ignored [the Gomery Report’s] key recommendations.” Last week, scientists who work for Environment Canada were “muzzled,” told not to speak the truth to the media lest John Baird be greeted with any “surprises” when he reads his morning paper. A news report explains that this action was taken because “Environment Canada has been one of most open and accessible departments in the federal government,” and that in the government’s determination, that represents “a problem that needs to be remedied.” The list of unbelievable attacks on good government goes on and on (and on).

Going down a list of other issues produces similar conclusions. On the environment, this government has embarrassed us on the international stage, turning opportunities for diplomacy and leadership into wanton displays of childish partisanship and sabotage. They played a key role in preventing as much progress as possible from taking place in Bali and, domestically, have moved us backwards by creating ineffective “policy chaos,” which has also begun to damage our economy. On the topic of the economy, we have a Minister of Finance who appears to not understand basic finance, who tabled a budget that increased our vulnerability to the unfolding economic downturn, and pushed the wrong tax cuts (GST rather than income) at the worst time. When it comes to foreign policy, this government has demonstrated it is either intentionally misleading or incompetent. With regards to social justice, this government tried to rollback human rights by outlawing equal marriage and abandoning the goal of women’s equality.

Today Canada sits on the cusp of great opportunity, created by great challenges. We can take an international leadership position on combating climate change. We can diversify and strengthen our economy. We can resuscitate an independent foreign policy that makes us proud of our role in the world. We can rebuild our cities’ crumbling infrastructure and create the world-class communities we know are possible.

But can we do that with Stephen Harper as prime minister? Do I have confidence in this government? Should Parliament? Should Canadians? Absolutely not.

Democracy is not a game. It is both a gift and a responsibility. And it’s time to exercise it.