Friday, May 13, 2005

Thank you for the integrity, Mr. Broadbent

I am very grateful to the federal NDP (particularly Ed Broadbent - and Alexa McDonough, apparently) for their open offer to 'pair' with seriously ill Conservative MPs when it comes to the budget confidence vote next week, and simply abstain from the vote if the MP they are paired with cannot also vote due to illness. Stephen Harper accepted the offer as a decent and honourable gesture of Mr. Broadbent, considering the situation.

Personally, I think Mr. Broadbent is probably very happy to have an honourable way to absent himself from a sickening Liberal/NDP coalition vote. Sickening, largely because the NDP lost a lot of their moral 'high ground' in joining with the Liberals in the first place. Tactically, the NDP may be able to make major inroads into Liberal support on the left side of that party - although they have probably lost much of that opportunity by propping up the Liberals as much as they have. In any case, thank you, Mr. Broadbent, for doing the decent and honourable thing.

Earlier this week, after the first vote of four (so far) that can reasonably be interpreted as a non-confidence vote, Paul Martin offered an explicit confidence budget vote next Thursday, a full 9 days after losing the confidence of Parliament. Parliamentary convention requires that an explicit confidence motion on the Government's behalf be held within 2 to 3 days of losing a non-confidence motion. Stephen Harper's initial reaction was angry as he spoke against allowing Paul Martin to use the Queen's visit as a legitimizing back-drop, and even suggesting the Liberals were hoping a seriously ill Conservative MP wouldn't be able to make the vote. Who wouldn't be angry with games like that being played? Mr. Broadbent's action helps diffuse that legitimate anger, and ensure that a confidence vote will be held on a committed date.

A very sad part of the whole story is that the Liberals immediately accused the Conservatives of unfair accusations. The story is sad because they are now essentially saying it's too bad if certain MP's can't make it for a vote, no matter what the cause (in fact, it really appears as though the NDP are acting separately from the Liberals on the whole 'pairing' thing - again, good for them). Apparently there have been Liberal organizers in BC calling around to find out when the Conservative MP is having surgery and other treatment. The point being - the Conservatives were right to suspect the Liberals of playing dirty with these seriously ill MPs. I truly appreciate the integrity of the NDP in maintaining the fair balance that this Parliament properly has - I can't help but hope that their entire caucus will cross the floor to vote with the other opposition parties on next Thursday's non-confidence vote. This action alone could make this whole event the least partisan act of our Parliament in a long time.

I think Canada would have a much more interesting and necessary debate on all manner of issues if the two dominant Canadian parties were the CPC and the NDP. If the Liberals disappeared completely, I think we probably wouldn't miss them all that much.

Anyhoo, I intended this as a thanks for bringing (back?) some integrity to Canadian politics, Mr. Broadbent.


Anonymous Whitney said...

Jack Layton really dropped the ball for the NDP by agreeing to prop up our corrupt government. I think had he moved to defeat the Liberals, along with the other opposition parties, the Liberals would have headed into a death spiral from which they would not have been able to recover (1993 PC-style), and the NDP would have supplanted them as the alternative to the coming Conservative government, and positioned themselves to one day succeed the Conservatives as the government. But thanks to Jack, they'll stay mired in the basement for another 30 years.

Kudos to Broadbent as well. I knew there was a reason I used to like him while he was NDP leader, back in the days when I was young and foolish.

Friday, May 13, 2005 11:35:00 p.m.  

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