Cons will call Canadian federal election over fate of bloated budget bill in Senate .. ya gotta be kidding?Jul 9th, 2010 | By Citizen X | Category: In Brief
[UPDATED JULY 10, 13]. It is a sign of the strange waters Canadian federal politics are in these days that the Harper minority government’s current omnibus budget bill may be stuck in the still unreformed Senate of Canada.
The Canadian Press reports: “The Tories are threatening a fall election after opposition senators stripped contentious provisions from the Harper government’s massive budget implementation bill … Senator Doug Finley, the Tory national campaign director, said a fall election is a distinct possibility if senators refuse to pass the bill as is.”
For some very good reasons “Liberal and independent senators” have broken up a “bloated budget bill” that parliamentary guru Professor Ned Franks has called “a dog’s breakfast.” It tries to sneak through contentious, essentially non-financial measures on the back of a money bill whose defeat could precipitate a fresh election. The Ignatieff Liberals in the elected branch of parliament were too afraid of an election to challenge what is a sleazy practice at best. But the politics of defeating the bill in the unelected Senate are different.
It is apparently likely enough that the Liberal and independent senators involved will not be able to gather enough votes to push their rebellion to a successful conclusion. But this cannot be because anyone elsewhere is afraid of Senator Finley’s sabre rattling about a fall election over senatorial obstruction. If Mr. Harper’s party were to follow through on such a threat, it just might do what nothing else seems able to do at the moment — and rescue the Ignatieff Liberals from a seminal low point in their long history.
Senator Finley claims that the fate of Professor Franks’s “dog’s breakfast” budget bill in a Senate to which PM Harper has just appointed yet another aggressively partisan Conservative would be a great election issue. Advice like this from the “Tory national campaign director” only helps explain why the Harper Conservatives have yet to win a majority government.
The latest EKOS opinion poll does suggest an alarming decline in support for the Ignatieff Liberals. But an Ipsos poll released just today has better Liberal results. And both polls show less support for the Harper Conservatives than in either of their last two minority-government election “victories.” The omnibus budget bill is sleazy. And the argument that the unelected Senate should stop obstructing government legislation falls flat in a red chamber dramatically re-shaped by PM Harper’s orgy of raw patronage appointments over the past year and a half. No wonder “Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman … played down threats of an election. ‘The Prime Minister is not looking to call an election this fall,’ Dimitri Soudas said. ‘And Canadians don’t want one either.’” Senator Finley better believe it.
UPDATE JULY 13: See: “Closure invoked to end Senate debate on budget bill” ; “Massive budget bill narrowly passes through senate” ; “Senate passes budget implementation bill” ; and “Travel commitments kept most truant Liberals from key Senate vote.”