Canada: How to bell Martin the cat

Re Layton and Harper, they are being too cute. Layton's latest proposal for an election in February makes sense but is unlikely to succeed. They have to vote nonconfidence to force the election. Now they're trying to avoid irritating voters by having election campaign over Xmas. They should vote nonconfidence and force Martin to set election date.

The three opposition leaders are now working to find an acceptable compromise to bring down Martin. I hope they succeed. If voters give the Liberals a fifth term in the face of Adscam and Gomery, what will that say about the state of democracy in Canada? I foresee another minority(a slim one). This could be either Conservative or Liberal. In any case we could see the departure of either or both Martin and/or Harper before the follow-up election.

On Blogs Canada Calgary GritCalgaryGrit describes how Layton's scenario might work:

I still think Harper blew a golden chance by not going straight for the jugular, but Layton's timing works well for the opposition parties for several reasons:

1. It moves the vote up nearly two months, limiting the dissipating of Adscam anger.
2. They won't get blamed for triggering a Christmas election.
3. They won't get blamed for disrupting Paul's agenda.
4. The vote will likely be timed to be within a week or two of Gomery's second report. Although that report won't be damning, it will remind people of Adscam, giving the issue life down the homestretch of the campaign.
5. This will also prevent Martin from saying "why don't we wait for Gomery" - because the final report will be out by the time the vote occurs.
6. Most importantly, it won't allow Goodale to bring forward a budget before the vote.

Because Layton is framing it as a choice between an election over Christmas and a vote in February, I suspect most Canadians will see it as a reasonable compromise. And, because of that, it will be very difficult for Martin not to go along with it. Since the motion Layton will introduce on the 24th won't be an explicit non-confidence motion, I suspect the vote won't be binding. But will all the media attention that's sure to follow the vote, Martin really won't have an option but to accept it. And, if by some chance, he refuses to accept the vote, the stage would be set for the opposition parties to bring down the government on December 8th, or on their next opposition day, with all the blame resting squarely on Paul's shoulders.

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