This is from the Toronto Star.Election hangs on Dion's call
In his one short response after the THrone Speech Dion just repeated the refrain of Ignatieff that Canadians want Parliament to work and do not want an election. This is transparent posturing to justify caving in on the throne speech. Do Canadians want the parliament to work meaning passing a Conservative agenda as if there were no minority and against much of what the Liberals stand for? That is what working would mean. Idiotic as well is the lying rhetoric of Ignatieff that the Liberals must consider what is good for Canadians. The first thing on their minds is saving their own hides. If that means passing right wing crime laws, allowing the mission in Afghanistan to continue and Kyoto to be abandoned altogether that is just too bad.
I guess that is collateral damage to the need to survive.
Over the next week there are three opportunities for the opposition parties to defeat the government over the throne speech and force an election:
Tomorrow at 5.30 p.m., the House of Commons will vote on a sub-amendment to the throne speech presented by the Bloc Québécois.
On Monday at 6.30 p.m., MPs will vote on the Liberal amendment to the speech.
On Oct. 24, the Commons will vote on the throne speech itself.
The Tories need the backing of at least one of the parties to survive a confidence vote. There are 126 Tory MPs, 96 Liberals, 49 Bloc MPs, 30 NDPs, three independent MPs and four vacancies.
Oct 17, 2007 04:30 AM
OTTAWA–Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion carries the weight of an election campaign on his shoulders when he delivers his verdict today on a Conservative throne speech that proposes a two-year extension to Canada's divisive Afghanistan mission and declares the country's Kyoto ambitions dead.
Dion will speak to his caucus this morning and then likely announce whether he will support the speech – already opposed by NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
The Liberal leader offered only one comment last night: "We know that Canadians want as a priority that this Parliament work. They don't want a third election in three years and a half."
Stephen Harper won a minority government on Jan. 23, 2006 for the Conservatives after a Paul Martin win for the Liberals in June 2004.
The Conservative government's agenda brings back a number of thorny policies that died in the last parliament, including an omnibus law-and-order bill and elements of a contentious environmental plan.
It also promises a number of new tax reductions, including a one percentage point cut to the GST, a northern strategy to enforce Canada's claim to the Arctic territory and formal limits on Ottawa's ability to spend in areas of provincial jurisdiction.
Dion has said he wanted the speech to outline a strategy to combat poverty, an issue that received only passing reference yesterday with the promise of a working income-tax benefit to help Canadians get back into the workforce.
It was an evening televised speech deliberately scheduled to reach more Canadian households than throne speeches in the past, which had been traditionally held in the afternoon.
Dignitaries and politicians crowded the Senate chamber to listen as Governor General Michaëlle Jean read the government's blueprint for the second session of Parliament.
While the atmosphere in Ottawa is politically charged with election speculation, the speech itself was even-handed, even workman-like, as Tories set out new priorities and pledged renewed action on promises unfulfilled from their first throne speech last year.
Despite the repeated pleas of big city mayors, like Toronto's David Miller, the document is silent on any solutions for meeting the cash crisis facing municipalities. The speech does promise a new infrastructure program but says nothing about the specific needs facing cities.
The speech contained gentle jabs at the opposition on issues like the environment, Afghanistan, crime and Senate reform but contained no deliberate provocations to bait opposition politicians into forcing an election.
Both the Bloc and NDP were quick to voice their opposition to the speech, leaving it to Liberals to decide whether they would oppose it as well and send voters back to the polls for the third time in just over three years.
Deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff called the speech "disappointing and vague" but wouldn't say how his party would vote on the agenda-setting document.
"We're going to have to think about that overnight. The leader is not going to keep people waiting," Ignatieff said. "Canadians will see us behave like a responsible opposition."
Dion plans to discuss the speech with his caucus this morning and comment afterwards.
The 16-page throne speech lays out five new priorities for the party:
Canada's sovereignty and place in the world
A stronger federation
Improving the environment.
One contentious element is the government's suggestion that Canada's divisive mission in southern Afghanistan should be extended by two years to 2011.
The government admits that Canada's efforts to train Afghan security forces to take over responsibility for the country's security won't be complete by 2009, when the current military commitment is set to expire.
"Our government does not believe that Canada should simply abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009," the speech says.
The speech pledged a parliamentary debate – and vote – on the future of the mission once a blue-ribbon panel headed by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley gives its own recommendations early next year.
"This decision should honour workers, diplomats and men and women in uniform. It should ensure that progress in Afghanistan is not lost," the speech said.
On the key Liberal priority of the environment the throne speech is both obstinate – asserting that Canada can't meet its Kyoto targets – and conciliatory, promising to revive elements of the Clean Air Act that had all-party consensus in the last session of Parliament.
Bill C-30 was a piece of government legislation that was heavily amended by opposition parties to include measures to allow international emissions trading, a "carbon budget" championed by the Liberals, strict emissions standards and an adherence to the Kyoto accord. The Tories opposed the bill in a special committee before letting it die when Parliament was prorogued.
The Tories are also promising new air pollution regulations, a national water strategy to clean up the country's lakes and oceans and improve drinking water quality for aboriginals, and measures to protect food and product safety.
If there is one battleground on which the Tories feel bullish, it is their criminal justice platform – an area they say will be a matter of confidence whenever legislation is voted on in the Commons.
A new omnibus crime bill will include Criminal Code reforms to bring in new impaired driving restrictions, an increase in the age of sexual consent, new bail conditions that put the onus on those charged with serious crimes, and mandatory prison time for gun crimes.
The Tories will also re-introduce a bill to scrap the long-gun registry and give money to hire 2,500 new police officers.
The Conservatives will launch a "truth and reconciliation" commission to look into the abuse that occurred in Indian residential schools. As well, Harper intends to deliver a formal apology on behalf of the government "to close this sad chapter in our history."
With files from Les Whittington