As we speak, Liberal leader Stephane Dion is meeting his caucus to decide how to respond to yesterday’s Throne Speech. This afternoon at 3:15 Dion will rise in the Commons to give his answer. Will he support the Speech and move on or will he defeat the Speech, bring down the government and plunge Canada into its third federal election in less than four years? It’s up to Dion because both the Bloc and the NDP have signalled they will be voting against the Speech.
Dion and the Liberals are between a rock and a hard place. Suppose Dion decides to support the Throne Speech in principle. That will buy him a little time to try to rebuild his party. But not much time. Because every time the Harper government introduces legislation to implement the Throne Speech, Dion will be faced with the same dilemma. Could he continue to prop up a government he doesn’t believe in? It would be a pitiable sight.
For example, in the next couple of weeks Harper will bring down crime legislation that will throw the book at young offenders and force judges to use mandatory sentences. TheLiberals opposed such legislation in the last Parliament. Can they afford to reverse themselves now?
Or take climate change. The Harper governmentnow acknowledges that the old emission reduction targets are unattainable in the Kyoto timeline. Could Dion, who wants to make the envirornment issue his own, officially repudiate Kyoto.
Furthermore, the Liberal party is in no shape to fight an election. Dion’s office in Ottawa is in turmoil and just yesterday two senior Liberals from Quebec resigned their electoral posts. Why in the world would Dion want to precipitate an election now?
Well, consider this scenario. Many of the Ignatieff people have never really accepted Dion’s leadership. Wouldn’t they be happy for the party to go now, lose the election, then force Dion out and Ignatieff takes over? Neat isn’t it?
Meanwhile, do you think Dion should bring down the government and force an election?
In his speech on the Throne Speech this afternoon, Opposition Leader Stephane Dion proposed an amendment involving the restoration of income trusts that certainly the NDP and perhaps the Bloc too could not support. Therefore it would seem that Dion who argued that Canadians do not want an election, will not precipitate one.