Journal: News & Comment

Friday, May 13, 2005
# 11:01:00 AM:

Whose advantage?

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Federal Canadian parliamentary opposition leader Stephen Harper of the Conservative party has some gall. He is angry that the ruling Liberal party is stalling a confidence motion on the government's budget bill until next Thursday, May 19. Harper's party accuses Prime Minister Paul Martin of taking advantage of ill MPs, since two Conservative members (as well as Chuck Cadman of B.C., elected as an independent after the Conservatives snubbed him as a candidate during last year's election) are undergoing cancer treatment and may miss the vote.

Since the Liberals are in a minority government, the Conservatives and other opposition parties can work together to vote down the government on the budget bill, and thus force a new election—but only if they have every possible voting member in the House of Commons that day.

The problem with Harper's accusations is, it seems to me, that he was the first to take advantage of his sick MPs, by calling them in to try to topple the government with another vote this week. That vote was not clearly a confidence motion (although Harper claims it was), so why did he not wait to call in his MPs battling cancer until the clear budget vote was scheduled, as it must have been soon? How can he say the Liberals are taking advantage of sick people, when he had the initial idea to do that? How can he demand that the Liberals hew to his schedule? And why is no one calling him on it, most especially the Prime Minister?


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