Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Circus in Ottawa Around the Near Miss on October 7

There were two very different views of the winners and losers in Ottawa around the Thursday October 7 drama in the House of Commons summarized on

On the one hand was the column of John Ibbitson in the Globe: “The one unequivocal winner was Jack Layton of the NDP…. He, of all political leaders, is the one who demonstrably acted to preserve the Parliament, rather than play political chicken. And now he'll get his beloved citizens assembly on electoral reform. Not bad for a leader in his first week in the House.”

On the other hand we have Chantal H├ębert in the Star who was harshly critical of Martin and Layton and more charitable to Duceppe and Harper.

My view is that that ordinary citizens would see any behaviour that provoked a crisis this early in a new government’s life on such a weak basis as completely unacceptable – Harper himself said a government should fall on submarines not sub-amendments . They would place the blame on those causing it, primarily Duceppe and Harper, but also Martin for governing as if he had a majority. It seems to me that Layton’s words are the ones that would resonate with voters.

I saw part of Ed Broadbent’s speech during the debate and in answer to a question on this he said:

Hon. Ed Broadbent: Mr. Speaker, I would like to use the occasion to at least address part of what the question is intended as I see it. The subamendment did in fact refer to a citizens' assembly of the kind my party has advocated and I hope the government will take it seriously under consideration.

My reason for coming back to politics, by the way, was to get away from playing games. Canadians are fed up with the politicians who come here, whatever side of the House they are on, playing nice little rule games that they know the outcomes are going to be different from the words they use. If we were to accept the subamendment that is before us, the government would be defeated, and the people on the other side of the House, both the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois, know that very well.

I did not return to federal politics to indulge in this hypocritical, silly kind of politics and I will have nothing to do with it.

Further evidence that Harper’s position did not play well can be found in the October 8, 2004 Toronto Star, which reported on a number of provincial premiers who lambasted Harper for getting too close to Duceppe, including Conservatives Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Bernard Lord of New Brunswick.

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