Monday, December 01, 2008

Mr. Cullen, in the backroom with a ..... policy briefing

The Political game of clue continues in Ottawa, as the coalition forces plot their moves to take to the Governor General. All in a bid to claim the stewardship of the nation from the confused, dysfunctional Parliament that has just begun.

While the ethics, legalities and recriminations over their plans stoke the fires of debate in Ottawa, as well as radio talk shows and television news programs across the nation, the brinkmanship continues with the next move up to the Prime Minister to make.

As the drama plays out in the capital, the local politicos weigh in with their opinions on the developments and the possible outcomes for this most unusual political time.

The Daily News featured some of the thoughts from the local scene with a front page story in Monday's paper.

Nathan Cullen says opposition parties may make government fall due to budget
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, December 01, 2008

Pages one and three

According to reports out of Ottawa, the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have worked out an agreement this weekend to bring down the federal government, either leaving the country facing yet another election or even a possible coalition government.

NDP Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, who was recently named to the critic post for Natural Resource and Energy, confirmed Friday that talks would be ongoing all weekend.
A call for an update Monday morning was not returned, but by next week Ruperites should know whether or not another minority government has fallen early or if the Conservatives have backed off enough to push their government forward.

Cullen said that his party would be voting against Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's economic stimulus package because there was nothing at all for forestry and fishing communities and not because the federal government threatened to take away a tax subsidy given to political parties who receive more than 2 per cent of the vote.

"Things are going on of course," said Cullen. "Government is making all sorts of different noises but I think the course looks pretty set as it stands right now."

Cullen said it would be difficult for the Conservative minority party to cling to power unless the government changes what it has offered as part of its economic stimulus package.

"The Conservatives have really painted themselves into a corner. They are ruling by fear, dictation and they won't listen to anyone else's ideas or realize that they are in a minority government."

A coalition move is curious given that the Liberals are without a full-time leader, the Bloc Quebecois are a separatist party and the NDP have never run a federal government.
Cullen said that Ottawa was lit up with conversations about what would happen next but he claimed there were no formal discussions taking place as of Friday morning.

But apparently behind closed-doors two old politicos are leading the coalition charge.
Further reports out of Ottawa claim that former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and former MP and NDP leader Ed Broadbent have held discussions on how to bring their two parties together for a centre-left party bloc.

According to Northwest Community College political science professor Hondo Arendt, the political brinksmanship may have to wait until the coalition first decides whether or not it would support a decision to bring down the government first before any coalition could be formed.
"It's not like they could just take over the government," said Arendt.

If there is a coalition government, the opposition parties would have to make the Governor General confident that they, in fact, they had the confidence of the house to take over.

And the last time that happened it was 1925, Julian Byng was the Governor General and Mackenzie King was the Liberal prime minister with 99 seats. Arthur Meighen was the opposition leader even though his Conservatives had 116 seats. But because the Progressives at the time had 24 seats, they offered their support towards a King government.

That government lasted 11 months.

By Friday afternoon, the Conservatives had begun conciliatory measures to bring the House of Commons back to order.

By Saturday morning, the Conservatives had backed off even further, claiming they would pull the tax subsidy completely.

Transport Minister John Baird told Canadian Press that the government would not continue on with the plan because "it's not worth having an election over."

But Flaherty had remained resolute that his package would largely remain and that members of parliament would be asked to vote the package in.

He told the Canadian Press that any federal budget deficit would be temporary, adding that Canada has provided more economic stimulus than other countries by cutting the GST and other taxes, and allocating $33-billion for infrastructure spending.

So far, fiscal measures taken by the government amount to about 2 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product, well above what the U.S., Europe and other countries have done.

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