Opposition parties and political malcontents are threatening to bring down the Liberals when Parliament returns this fall unless Prime Minister Paul Martin tailors the agenda of his minority government to their policy demands.
The New Democratic Party and several Independent MPs are the latest to sound the alarm and their voices could carry increasing clout if Natural Resources Minister John Efford, who has diabetes, elects to quit politics -- a decision he is expected to make in the coming weeks.
Mr. Efford's resignation would further weaken the Liberals' hand in the House of Commons' numbers game and could lead to an early election.
As the Liberals begin a three-day caucus meeting, political appeasement and developing a survival strategy that will see them through to an election promised for early 2006, rank high on the government's agenda.
But the shopping list of demands is already growing and could include: a long-term fix to the so-called fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces; greater military involvement in Sudan's Darfur region; stricter rules to guide proposed bank mergers; electoral reform; changes to the Canada Pension Plan; and increased financial aid for Western cattle farmers.
There's something for everyone in that grab bag, mostly for the NDP however, but also a bone that Paul Martin hopes those Alberta troglodytes will chew on to shut them up about "Western alienization".
But to send troops to Sudan to keep David Kilgour onside--to send them without proper equipment, support, on an ill-defined mission to keep the tattered peacekeeping flag flying--is not merely a waste of money; it's a cynical abuse of our Armed Forces.
Soldiers who could be sent to the Arctic to enforce our sovereignty over Hans Island and the Northwest Passage are getting wasted on an exercise that will do nothing to stop the genocide in Sudan.
But who cares for the long-term effects on Canada's territorial integrity, as long as the Liberals stay in office for another day?
Anyway, here's the numbers that really count:
In the event of a confidence vote, it would appear those gunning for an election have the upper hand. The Bloc and Conservatives, who tried to defeat the government in the spring, have a combined 152 MPs. The Liberals have 133 MPs -- including the Speaker who only votes in the case of a tie -- and could vie for the support of the 19 NDP seats again. But if Mr. Efford does resign, something he will reportedly decide by the end of the month, the opposition would have a two-vote advantage. The July death of Chuck Cadman -- whose vote saved the Liberal government in May -- leaves one vacancy in the 308-seat Commons.
If Chuck Strahl's cancer worsens, his resignation or death will cancel out John Efford's resignation. Our country's future is now riding on such morbid calculations. How the hell did we ever get in such a state?
Source: National Post