Skip to comments.Opposition threatens Liberals (Canada)
Posted on 04/09/2005 8:52:28 AM PDT by Teflonic
OTTAWA (CP) - Emboldened opposition parties are threatening to topple the minority Liberals, brushing off Paul Martin's request to let his fragile government survive until all the sponsorship facts are in.
The first strike could occur Thursday, with Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe saying he might table a non-confidence motion then. Other opposition sources doubted Friday that the move will happen next week, but all indicated the Liberal government might be just a few bad polls away from extinction.
A flurry of political speculation was touched off by new corruption allegations heard at the sponsorship inquiry and plastered in giant headlines across the front pages of the country's newspapers Friday. The allegations by ad man Jean Brault include descriptions of secret envelope exchanges and kickback schemes with Liberal officials.
A chastened Liberal government asked opponents to guarantee there would be no election until Justice John Gomery tables his sponsorship report in the fall.
It took the Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois mere hours to deliver a unanimous and blunt reply: No.
But before pulling the electoral trigger, opposition parties will be polling frantically over the coming days to see how they might fare in an election. They will also be listening to call-in shows, attending local events and gauging whether the country is in the mood for an election.
"Over the next few weeks, Canadians are going to tell us if they want more information (at the inquiry) first," said NDP Leader Jack Layton.
"Or (they'll tell us) whether they feel they want to render a judgment right now."
The main decision appears to rest with the Tories, who will be paying particular attention to voter reaction in Ontario.
If Ontario starts moving toward the Tories, Canadians can expect to be heading to the polls within weeks.
"The Canadian people will decide when the next election takes place," said Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Tory Leader Stephen Harper.
"And I think when people will want to have an election, that's what they're going to be telling us."
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe added that he'll announce Tuesday if he will table a non-confidence motion later in the week.
"There's no more moral legitimacy (for Liberals to govern)," Duceppe said. "We're looking. . . . We're considering and analysing the situation."
But officials in the other two opposition parties said they doubted there would be a non-confidence vote next week.
One source said the Tories, in particular, fear voters may punish them if the government gets toppled in an initiative led by the separatist Bloc.
Martin had asked his chief rivals to promise there won't be an election until fall.
"Will the leader of the Opposition give Canadians a guarantee that he will let Justice Gomery report his findings?" Martin spokesman Scott Reid asked earlier Friday.
"(Can he promise) that he will not force voters into an election until they have the answers that this prime minister has said that they deserve?"
The most recent Gomery testimony has already led many to draw their own conclusions over what happened to the $250-million sponsorship program.
"A Smoking Gun" was the headline in the Globe and Mail.
"Bombshell" read the National Post.
"Disgrace" said the Ottawa Sun.
The Calgary Herald summed up ad man Jean Brault's testimony in six words: "Extortion. Kickbacks. Fraud. Shady Deals. Forgery."
But the Prime Minister's Office insisted Paul Martin is the best man to deal with Liberal corruption.
Martin has already cancelled the sponsorship program, appointed the Gomery commission and taken legal steps to recover $41 million in taxpayers' money, Reid said.
"Paul Martin is the wire brush that will scrub clean this stain on Canadian politics," he said.
"Stephen Harper is afraid of this and therefore, it is he who is now talking about an election to pre-empt Justice Gomery. It is Stephen Harper who is calculating whether to put his personal political interest ahead of the wider public interest."
Both Martin and Harper were in Rome for the Pope's funeral and refused to comment on the Gomery testimony out of respect for the pontiff.
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale said the Liberal Party today is "strong and highly ethical."
"What went on in a previous time with people on the fringes was obviously unacceptable," he told reporters in Regina following a business luncheon.
He also said the party need support from the entire nation and he didn't see any signs of gearing up for an election.
"When you are in a minority government you don't put the signs too far away or bury the list too far in the filing cabinet because in a minority you never know. But there has been no acceleration of the effort in the last number of days."
The Liberals' Quebec lieutenant, Jean Lapierre, addressed the situation in a conference call this week with grassroots officials.
"Let's stick together. The storm is coming, and let's not falter," was how one Quebec Liberal summed up Lapierre's pep talk.
"I, on the other hand admire the American way of life. And I think George Bush is fabulous. His belief in the power of democracy and free markets to offer the poor better lives just makes so much sense to me. He is, in my opinion, a true leader because he doesn't change his course to suit the polls. And he speaks with respect TO the American people. I'd love a strong leader like him for Canada. I think he's the best thing to happen to the United States since Ronald Reagan. I think history will be especially kind to GWB. I didn't warm to Reagan until the enormity of what he, Thatcher, and the Pope had achieved had sunk in."
"With the passing of Pope John Paul , It got me to thinking " At this moment in time, Who is the most beloved figure in the World". I think George W. Bush."
"Bush's Lies?...Saddam had WMD'S, you know like the ones he used on the Kurds. Bush's mistake was playing the UN's waiting game, giving Saddam a chance to move them all to Syria"
I am really starting to think we will have a conservative neighbor to our north soon.
I live in Michigan and run into a lot of Canadians. Most of them I meet seem to be conservative so I haven't written them off.
The old Conservative party would have won last time if it stood on its own. I am fed up with the Liberal Party, can't stand the "Fairy Dust Fixes Everything NDP"; the new Conservatives would be good if they canned the homophobic rhetoric, dropped the racist bad eggs, and ceased all pandering to the wet-suit embarrasment that is Stockwell Day's arm of the party.
Of course, then they'd be the old party. It's going to be another write-in (yeah, write-off more like it) for me.
I voted for Pat Buchanan on 2000 and nearly ended up with Al Gore. Consider me scared straight.
At least this guy took the time to examine the past, not just take the pablum that the CBC feeds him.
That's not surprising. The ultra-liberal elites that dominate the Greater Toronto Area wouldn't dare step out of their region; they are hated everywhere else. That leaves the conservatives that run most of the rest of Ontario to travel freely - those are the people you met.
Unfortunately, it will be hard to turn those 40 or so GTA seats into anything other than Fiberal...