The two words Canadians dread most these days—federal election—reared their ugly head again yesterday with a newspaper report, citing anonymous sources, that said the Liberals will use their opposition day in the House of Commons late next month to move a motion of non-confidence in the Harper government.
The report suggested Nov. 9 as the election date.
“Pure speculation from unnamed sources,” thundered a spokeswoman for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
Maybe so, but the mere prospect that Canadians are about to endure another round of sabre-rattling and political brinkmanship is enough to send even the staunchest voter scrambling wide-eyed for the hills.
Come on. This would be the fourth wave of such silliness since the Tories captured a second-straight minority just last October. First, we had the constitutional crisis late last year when the prime minister—tripped by his own arrogance—was forced to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid a non-confidence vote over his government’s rosy—and flat out wrong—outlook on the gathering economic storm.
Election fever was ramped up again around budget time earlier this spring before Mr. Ignatieff, who had boxed himself in with his bluster and bravado, retreated by proclaiming he was putting the Harper government “on probation.”
And then, after similar histrionics only two short months ago, Canadians graciously were spared a summer election when the Tories agreed to create an obscure panel on Employment Insurance that would report back to the House sometime this fall.
Yet here we go again.
Frankly, how many times can the Liberals cry “wolf”? Mr. Ignatieff clearly has no appetite for an election since taking over from Stéphane Dion—quashing a proposed coalition government with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois and then meekly backtracking twice from the precipice after “wrestling” a few innocuous concessions from Mr. Harper.
Yet here we go again. And for what? Now that the worst of the recession apparently is over, what issue is so pressing that warrants sending Canadians to the polls for the fourth time in five years?
And even if there is an election sometime this fall, what makes anyone think the outcome will be any different than a fourth-straight minority government—and more of the same tired merry-go-round in the next Parliament?
But even more frightening is the very real concern that this continuous bickering in Parliament, at the expense of progress on solving the many serious issues facing our country, will cause voter turnout—already south of 60 percent—to plummet even further as the main parties jostle over when going to the polls best suits their interests, not those of Canadians.
Yet here we . . . well, you get the picture. Unfortunately, it’s not a pretty one.
So what’s the answer? Demanding a minority government that works? Embracing a coalition government that at least will promise stability for two years? Go back to electing a majority government after nearly a decade of no one really being at the rudder?
Whichever it proves to be, it’s time to find the exit ramp on this road to nowhere.