Monday, November 28, 2005

Canada's Liberals Fall; Election Jan. 23rd

Canada's slow-moving "Adscam" corruption scandal finally claimed a victim: Canada's Liberal government, which lost a no-confidence vote 171-133 early this evening. According to AP,
Canada's three opposition parties, which control a majority in Parliament, voted against Martin's government, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation.

The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons, likely on Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabinet would continue to govern until then.
Canada's Liberals have spent a year on the hot seat over questions about violations of campaign finance laws and outright unlawful "kickbacks" in connection with various advertising agencies. Early this month, the so-called Gomery investigation confirmed various criminal violations, and blamed Canada's Liberal Party and various party officials, including former Prime Minister Chrétien. Recently, Paul Martin -- current Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader -- has been bribing the electorate, especially aboriginal Canadians with expensive social program give-aways, hoping to purchase a political power extension. Opposition parties claim recent Liberal proposals were leaked prior to public announcement, allowing government supporters to profit from insider trading.

Canada's famously fractured conservatives theoretically are united behind party leader Stephen Harper. Yet despite recent scandals, polls show Liberals leading Conservatives. In a land where "neoconservative" is an insult, where the Liberals won every seat in Ontario as recently as 1997, and where -- despite opting out of the Bush/Blair Coalition -- the Iraq war remains a flashpoint, Canada's center-right Conservatives are anything but a lock.


Vodkapundit's Stephen Green:
I got a little schadenfreude thrill out of Martin's black eye, if only because he's been such a dipshit anti-American sometimes. But for fans of a Single Canada – like me – ditching Martin is probably nothin' but good news.

If there's anything with the ability to split Canada apart, it's Canada's Liberal Party. For years now, the LP has simultaneously flirted with Quebec Separatists while engaging in social and spending policies which constantly annoy everybody west of Winnipeg. If the LP keeps on this way, the Frenchies will eventually go their own way – and so might British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (as a group). Poor little Ottawa, along with maybe the Maritime Provinces, would be all that remained of Rump Canada. . .

Whoever takes power after next year's election, they'll still have Bloc Québécois to deal with, if they want to form a majority. My read of BQ is, at this time they're more interested in aggrandizing their Frenchness than in making a new nation-state. Assuming BQ can make a deal with the two other non-LP parties, the new government will represent a wider range of interests than the old LP-BQ chum-fest.

1 comment:

Len said...

Ah it's always fun to watch Americans pontificate on Canadian politics.

With respect to the BQ and PQ it all comes down to money and constitutional powers. The Canadian constitution allocated powers to the provinces and the Federal Government much like the US Constitution does. However, unlike the US where these divisions of powers are more or less respected, the Federal Govt in Canada likes to use it's 'spending powers' to get around areas of provincial jurisdiction, such as Health, Education, and Natural Resource Management (just look at the fight Newfoundland had to go through to retain some of the royalites in offshore oil). This pisses off the provinces to no end but so far, it is only Quebec and Alberta (and perhaps Newfoundland - Go, Danny, Go!) that have had the balls to face up to the Feds in their power grab. And yes, the Liberals are the ones with the most to answer for, what with Trudeau's Energy Program and Chretian's Millenium Scholarship programs being sterling examples.

Of course, the Adscam mess is about precisely that - the misuse of public funds for the purposes of 'Canadian Unity'. What crap! If the Liberals were so interested in Unity, they would simply have to respect the original division of powers in the Constitution; just doing this would go a long way in addressing many of Quebec's traditional demands, taking the wind out of the seperatist sails. But they don't do it because Anglo Canadians are a timid lot; they wring their hands at the prospect of 'losing Quebec' yet do nothing except express sentimental bullshit, which is then taken in by the Libs and translated into all these wacky programs.

The Conservatives actually have a pretty good program with respect to Quebec, but have a zero power base in the province, meaning that they can't communicate the alternative to Quebeckers effectively (the fact that Harper speaks such tortured french is another problem).

Alas, I am not optimistic about this election and as such, not optimistic about these relatively simple problems being addressed.