Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Parliament Recall?

It might get messy:
Opposition parties want to trade in their barbecue tongs in favour of a good old fashioned political grilling on Parliament Hill, advocating the return of a Commons committee to study the much-maligned Canada-U.S. agreement on softwood lumber.

This latest partisan battle is shaping up to be one of the first real threats to the stability of the minority government. The Conservatives have already indicated that any vote on the softwood deal, finalized late on Canada Day, would be considered a matter of confidence.

The Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and NDP have all agreed they want to bring back the Commons trade committee, and their majority weight could make it happen as early as next week.

The only danger in this potential recall, Harper could manipulate it into a crisis to force an election. For the first time in this parliament, the opposition actually seems united against the minority government. Given the way Harper reacts to any challenges, with his constant threats and bullying, I would guess his strategists might see this as an opportunity. Speculation aside, it is nice to see a pro-active opposition for a change. This whole scenario could get quite interesting.


Anonymous said...

I actually could care less what any political party thinks, it's the industry that doesn't like it, that's what matters. Rework the deal, period. And THAT my friends is coming from a Conservative....

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible for a Lib/NDP/Bloc coalition to hold the gov together even if the Cons try to bring it down?

RossK said...

But DD--

There is at least one large company that is for it.

Oh, wait.

It's Canfor.


Anonymous said...

The alternative to the craven New Tory party's capitulation to Bush on the softwood issue is very simple.

The NDP, Bloc and Liberals have the majority votes in Parliament. They could agree to pass legislation which would direct the government to table the following revised proposal with the Bush government:

1. Term - The term should be ten years, with no early termination possible unless both sides agree, and the Canadian government is to agree only if a majority of MPs through a free vote (on a non-party basis) in Parliament for an earlier renewal.

2. Automatic renewals - Renewal period should be for automatic five year periods, unless notice of termination is given by either side 12 months before the end of a term (and the Government of Canada would need a majority vote of MPs to give such notice, through a free non-party vote).

3. Payment - Full payment of the $5 billion (yes, that is right, the amount owed under the applicable laws), plus interest on overdue amounts at 5% p.a..

4. No litigation - American lumber companies to agree not to litigate the settlement.

5. Reaffirmation of NAFTA - American government to reaffirm its commitment to the NAFTA treaty.

6. Failure of US to agree -

a. Should the US government not agree to this proposal, then Canada to continue with litigation.

b. Canadian government to fund such litigation by Canadian companies.

c. If the USA takes steps to penalize lumber imports from Canada due to failure to reach agreement as above, the Canadian government is to appoint a Royal Commission with a mandate to review what steps should be taken by the Canadian government to uphold the NAFTA, including whether to terminate the NAFTA (what is the point of an agreement with a government which does not honour its commitments?).

d. Royal Commission to report by February 28 2007.

e. Canadian government to review the findings of the Royal Commission and take such steps as the majority of MPs agree to through a free non-party vote.

f. Canadian government would use taxpayers money to assist Canadian companies who needed assistance due to the non-payment by the Americans of the debt they are refusing to pay.

So, you see: the answer is really simple. All you need is a bit of backbone as the Prime Minister of a country which entered into a treaty with another government in full expectation that the other government would honour its obligations, and not welsh when it suited it.

Our MPs would be in a position where they could reflect the views of their various constituents, as the later votes would be a non-party vote on the issues set out above.

Who will take the lead to stand up for Canada?