Does Anyone Know Jack About Parliamentary Procedure?

I will give Jack Layton this: his proposal for a vote today (well, in about 2 weeks) for a dissolution tomorrow (well, in early January) is very clever. I suspect - without a shred of evidence, of course - that Broadbent and/or Blakie were the ones to come up with this.

My main concern is, will the Libs either ignore it, much as they ignored the fact that Parliament voted last spring to send a bill back to committee because the House had lost confidence in the government, or they'll say fine, you just said you have no confidence in us ... we're calling an election now, for Boxing Day.

When I can, I like to look at what non-conservative bloggers think of all this. You'll find 2 interesting and contradictory observations via Calgary Grit and Cherniak on Politics. (I know there's interesting debate going on amongst Blogging Tories and other centre-right folk, but since many visitors to this site already appear to come here via the BT website, I figured I'd give us all a link to what the other side's thinking.)

Personally, while I fear that Jason Cherniak is right, I suspect (and hope) that Calgary Grit will be proven right, and that Martin won't be able to ignore and/or screw around with the vote on the NDP's motion.

Actually, to be more precise, my main preference is that somebody says "enough's enough" and moves a straightforward confidence motion, while making sure everyone knows that even if the vote is held next week, there's no reason the election can't be held in January. But if that's not in the offing, something along the lines of what the NDP has suggested may do the trick.

More later.


At 5:08 p.m., Anonymous Larry said...

It seems to be a non-confidence motion with a stay of execution.

I can't believe that this would work. Either the government has the confidence of the House and it continues or it doesn't and the government resigns.

He wants his cake (First Ministers Meeting, etc) and to eat it too (topple the government).

Naw, he's grasping.

At 5:36 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was Martin I would bring a confidence motion immdiately after Jack's. Then what. If the opposition expresses confidence then the election will be in Febuary and the opposition parties look like clowns. If the opposition expresses no confidence (the likely scenario) then Martin will call the election right away. And the elction will be finished before the 2nd Gomery report is relased. He'll have no choice.

The opposition is bungling this big time.

Harper appears to be a man with no backbone the way he has scampered away.

At 5:55 p.m., Blogger Jason Hickman said...

Anon, maybe they abstain on any confidence motion, on the grounds that the issue has already been decided via the NDP motion.

Larry, I agree that he's grasping, but that doesn't mean his idea won't work. The reason they throw Hail Mary passes is because once in a blue moon, they're completed for touchdowns.

From a constitutional standpoint, I don't think Layton's motion holds water. But from a political standpoint, he may have something there.

At 6:30 p.m., Blogger RP. said...

A motion is just a motion. It'll say something like, "This house is resolved that we have no confidence in the government and an election should be called on January XX." It is of no effect in itself, EXCEPT that all of the opposition will have supported it.

PMPM would have to have just the right combination of balls and stupidity to ignore that. Let's give him credit: He's not stupid.

At 9:44 p.m., Blogger david artemiw said...

How short is my memory? What was the vote that Martin lost in the spring that was a confidence motion and he ignored it and then held his own vote a week later after negotiating with Boo-linda?

Of course Martin can ignore this saying it's not a true confidence motion. Which it's not. Layton has admitted as much.

But if the government loses a confidence motion that's it for them - they can't continue to conduct much in the way of business without consulting the Governor-General who'll say "vote early, vote often," or "Harper you've just become PM what're you gonna do next," or "PM Paul Martin today's you're lucky day you get to test the House once more."

Regardless whatever happens after that has to happen immediately. You can't postpone dropping the writ or anything like that.

But by setting the election date far out you can basically delay the start of the election. The date on which paid advertising can begin is counted backwards from election day - and everybody knows that's the real start of the campaign. So even if the writ dropped tomorrow for an e-day in February we'd technically be in a campaign but candidates would be foolish to spend whacks of money up front - the spending limits aren't altered any.

But what really surprised me about Jack today was his dismissal of the Estimates vote on December 8. He said the Estimates are basically a formality or something like that.

Somebody better teach Jack a thing or two about money bills. Sure the budget gets all glory being that's how the government raises money but the Estimates are the way the government spends the money and that's just as, if not more, important than the budget.

But with the parties waffling on the Estimates vote - Harper saying he won't vote against something he supports and Layton saying the Estimates don't matter


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