The Liberal Party is considering a snap confidence motion in the House of Commons that could plunge the country into an election over one of several recent Parliamentary confrontations and a series of affairs that go to the heart of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's pledges for transparent and accountable government.
Should Mr. Milliken rule against the government on a privilege claim from Liberal MP Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, N.S.) on the crime finance details, Mr. Brison would have the opportunity to propose a motion that normally would send the issue to the Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee for an inquiry and recommendations to the House for possible censure of the government.
But sources said Mr. Brison might instead move a motion that would call for a vote of "no confidence" in the government instead, which could be worded in such a way that it could touch on a series of recent controversies.
This revelation comes on the heels of a Liberal fundraising plea, wherein we stress the lack of transparency and authoritarian nature of this government:
The Ignatieff Liberals have issued a scorching assessment of the Harper Conservatives as an instinctively anti-democratic group that subverts Canada’s governing institutions whenever it suits their interests.
In a fundraising letter that underlines a new theme in their election strategy — entitled Our democracy is on the line — the Liberals warn that given more time and, particularly if given a majority government, the damage to the country’s social fabric and governing principles would be immeasurable. The appeal to party supporters says recent controversies are part of a sustained assault on Canadian institutions.
Assume the Liberals are still content with an election, why not force on the ground of your choosing? I entirely agree with this strategy, while it remains to be seen if transparency, democratic want, etc are electoral gold,-these issues do represent the "soft underbelly" for this government, they are vulnerable, people do have a certain unease. This thrust is particularly relevant because this is the government that rode to office, NOT on the economy, but on their pledge to bring accountability and transparency to Ottawa. A bit of a full circle argument to now see the Liberal opposition using the former rationale against this government.
It is becoming abundantly clear that this budget will avoid the "tough choices" that the deficit demands. As I suggested last fall, the deficit situation is now slightly improved, which means Flaherty doesn't need urgent action, he can massage numbers, offer some token belt tightening, but really a budget that will be entirely palatable to the public. Why give the Conservatives this opportunity, particularly when the central theme will be the economy? No, it is quite wise to attempt a pre-emptive strike, even more attractive when you bring unseemly developments to the fore.
We all know election campaigns become their own animals, but I would be quite comfortable jumping off with the Liberals championing our democratic institutions and a disturbing pattern of secrecy and stonewalling by this government. A question of character, questions that potentially resonate with all the anti-Harper sentiment currently fractured. In other words, the issues surrounding transparency and accountability could be a rallying cry.
If events unfold in such a way that the Liberals are given this opportunity to bring a non confidence motion, I say go for it, no better argument available to start an election campaign. The examples are now endless, you can weave a coherent, consistent, intentional pattern, put together to argue a powerful case.