It's up to New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois to see that the minority Conservative government survives its first throne speech, says Opposition leader Bill Graham...
"I did point out (that) his is a minority that is even less strong than ours and on many of these issues he knows that not only (does) he represent a minority of members of the House, but also in terms of the electorate,'' said Graham
Graham's defiant demeanor is completely appropriate given the dynamics of the new parliament. The Liberals do run the risk that they will look like belligerent obstructionists. However, it is crucial that the Liberals clearly define their role and put the Conservatives on notice. Graham sets the table for a scrappy opposition, that will not be strong armed into supporting any measure that doesn't consider their position. In laying the onus of support on the other parties, Graham effectively allows the Liberals free reign to vote against the government.
Graham's stance finds support in the words of the former opposition leader Stephen Harper:
"The Liberal party can't expect to walk in and simply propose its own program that only one-third of Canadians supported and expect that everybody's going to vote for it.''
I suspect the looming battle will revolve around the child care question. All the other parties are on record rejecting the Conservative's proposal. Harper has repeatedly placed the child care issue within his top five priorities. The Liberals have made it clear that they will not support the Conservative plan, which leaves the Bloc and NDP to decide the government's fate. Graham offers a strategy where Liberals vote with their conscious, and the question of confidence is secondary. It is as though Graham is saying "if they fall they fall, we are acting in our interest". Graham looks eager to continue the Liberal tradition of feisty opposition which should make for an interesting parliament.