Last week saw the unification of the three Opposition parties. This weeks sees the results. If you ask me, it's a fine example of making Parliament work.
No party really wanted an election campaign over Christmas. Let's face it; the apathetic Canadian public would rather stay at home. Whatever party forced an election would likely take a hit at the ballot box.
So, why not make that party the Liberals?
The three opposition party leaders struck a strategic deal Sunday that gives Martin an unpalatable choice:
He can agree to call an election on his own in the first week of January, or he can face a non-confidence motion that would topple his government before the end of November. The first option would see voters cast their ballots in mid-February. It would also see Justice John Gomery deliver his second report on the federal sponsorship scandal in mid-campaign. The second option would launch a campaign that overlaps the Christmas-New year holiday season, although the actual voting day would be Jan. 9.
Possible voting days are as follows:
An election must be held on a non-holiday Monday after a campaign of at least 36 days. According to the opposition plan, a no-confidence vote triggering an election could happen on one of several dates:
The opposition could decide the Liberals rejected their proposal, and go ahead Tomorrow with a no-confidence motion that would trigger a vote Dec. 27.
The Conservatives could put forward a motion Nov. 22 to defeat the government, triggering an election Jan. 2.
The Conservatives may have a second opposition day Nov. 24. The Liberals can defer that vote until Nov. 29, leading to an election Jan. 9.
A confidence vote on a government money bill is scheduled Dec. 8 and a defeat could trigger an election Jan. 16.
However, the Liberals could try to stall making a choice.
The Liberals could respond by proroguing the House of Commons but they would then have to explain that decision to Canadians in light of the assertion that they are working on a full agenda of important legislation.