MPs will vote today on a Conservative motion calling on the government to resign, after another wild day of procedural tactics.
Although the Liberals insist the motion is not one of confidence, two experts said the government would be expected to schedule a clear confidence vote in coming days if it loses today's vote.
"If that motion passes, I think they are -- to use the vernacular -- in deep doodoo," said parliamentary expert Charles Franks.
The Conservatives secured the vote yesterday through a surprise move that they had quietly planned days in advance with the Bloc Québécois.
Two Tory MPs who have cancer are being flown in for the vote, and all 54 Bloc MPs are in Ottawa today. B.C. Independent MP Chuck Cadman, who had chemotherapy treatment yesterday, will not be there to support the Liberals, so the Tories should have the votes to win.
It also looks like Paul Martin may have the same problem that Joe Clark did with counting votes:
Liberal Whip Karen Redman said two Liberal MPs could be absent today, for personal and medical reasons. But she insisted this is not a no-confidence vote.
Both Bloc Québécois House Leader Michel Gauthier and Tory House Leader Jay Hill confirmed yesterday that the two parties had met to plan for yesterday's surprise motion. The Speaker of the House ruled the motion in order, setting the stage for today's confrontation.
So let's see if I have this right:
The Liberals will lose a vote calling on their government to resign--as clear an expression of non-confidence as one can get--yet the Liberals will ignore it and keep on governing. So sure are they of their own interpretations of parliamentary and constitutional convention that they don't even see the need to have everyone in the house to defeat it.
Yet if they call their own non-confidence vote, and lose, will they also ignore that too?
Our parliamentary and constitutional conventions rest on the assumption that our elected officials will have the honour and decency to abide by them. If they do not, then all of the declarations of constitutional experts and parliamentarians mean nothing.
This government thinks nothing of stealing taxpayers' money for its own political purposes. What are mere constitutional conventions to it?