Monday, March 28, 2005

Don't Throw Me Into That Briar Patch

The Globe and Mail reports that Transport Minister Jean Lapierre fears a spring election because of the Gomery inquiry:

"Obviously, I wouldn't want to go to the polls at this time," Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said on CTV's Question Period yesterday. "This is no time to go to the polls, when you're in the middle of this."


(Lapierre) said the televised Gomery inquiry is harming the party significantly in Quebec. The probe moved to Montreal from Ottawa a few weeks ago, and has garnered substantial television ratings since then.

"I told everybody months ago it was going to become a soap opera," he said. "It's going to be a rough ride. This is not a very great moment to be in federal politics because, you know, people are judging us with a lot of cynicism and I can understand them."

Two points:

Liberal fortunes have little further to fall in Quebec, no matter how bad the Gomery inquiry news gets. They have 21 seats; 15 of those are rock-solid Montreal and Outaouais seats whose demographics assure Liberal landslides every time. Lapierre's Outremont seat, however, is not of them.

The Gomery inquiry fallout will be heaviest when it tables its report in the fall and blame officially gets laid. Some of it will fall on Paul Martin because of his lax oversight of the public treasury. His entire political reputation to date has rested on his performance as finance minister, balancer of budgets and scourge of spendthrifts everywhere.

If the Grits want an election, what better time and issue to have one than to be defeated on the Kyoto carbon tax?

Mr. Lapierre made his comments after Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Thursday that a Kyoto environmental provision in the government's budget implementation bill is tantamount to a carbon tax and that the Tories would oppose it. Spending items are considered confidence motions and a loss would bring down the government.

The carbon tax is a sufficiently obscure issue that the Grits can blame the Tories for forcing an election on a pointless ideological issue.

But at the same time, they can say: Hey, the Tories want our kids to choke on smog to save their corporate pals a few dollars of tax. Their American corporate pals driving the war machine in Iraq. Those aren't Canadian values. Clean air is a Canadian value. Canadian values are all about protecting rights. They're all about taking rights away. Just like they want to take a woman's right to choose away. And the right of gays to marry.

Bottom line: The carbon tax will protect equal marriage for gays.

It's the Charter, stupid!

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