On what otherwise seems a relatively slow news day, it seems a big winter political storm is brewing in the Great White North.
A corruption scandal forced a vote of no-confidence Monday that toppled Prime Minister Paul Martin’s minority government, triggering an unusual election campaign during the Christmas holidays.
Canada’s three opposition parties, which control a majority in Parliament, voted against Martin’s government, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation.
The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons, likely on Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabinet would continue to govern until then.
Opposition leaders last week called for the no-confidence vote after Martin rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament in January and hold early elections in February. Monday’s vote follows a flurry of spending announcements in Ottawa last week, with the government trying to advance its agenda ahead of its demise.
Martin is expected to dissolve the House of Commons on Tuesday and set a firm date for the elections. Under Canadian law, elections must be held on a Monday â€” unless it falls on a holiday â€” and the campaign period is sharply restricted.
“The vote in the House of Commons did not go our way,” Martin said. “But the decision of the future of our government will be made by Canadians. They will judge us.”
The Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper joined with the New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties to bring down the government â€” prompting the first Christmas and winter campaign in mostly Christian Canada in 26 years. Recent polls have given the Liberals a slight lead over the Conservatives, with the New Democrats in third place.
“This is not just the end of a tired, directionless, scandal-plagued government,” Harper said after Monday’s vote. “It’s the start of a bright new future for this country.”
The opposition is banking on the public’s disgust with a corruption scandal involving the misuse of funds targeted for a national unity program in Quebec.
An initial investigation absolved Martin of wrongdoing, but accused senior Liberal members of taking kickbacks and misspending tens of millions of dollars in public funds.
Canadian Damian J. Penny of Daimnation! suggests his personal six-part strategy for the Conservatives in the pending elections. Here’s a little taste (hat tip to Viking Pundit):
The Conservatives are behind in most of the polls, but this election is ours to win. My advice:
1. Don’t let the Liberals set the agenda. They have betrayed the public trust, and the onus is on the Martin government to show why it deserves to stay in power – not on Stephen Harper to prove he isn’t “scary”.
2. Don’t be afraid to run as Conservatives, not a “Lite” version of the Liberal Party of Canada. Canadians are much more open to new ideas in areas such as health care and immigration than the CBC or Toronto Star would have you believe.
Go give the rest a gander.
Meanwhile, nearly-Canadian Captain Ed of Captain’s Quarters (hey, Canada, Minnesota, same thing from a Texas vantage — besides, the good captain has had the blogosphere’s best coverage of the recent Canadian Adscam scandals) thinks he has divined the Liberal’s strategy for the upcoming campaign.
I’m listening to the aftermath on CPAC, where the Liberal apologist wants to tell Canada that Adscam involved “a few Liberals”, but that “no one believes that it involved the party as a whole”. That apparently will be the line that the Liberals take in this election, along with a scolding tone about all of the great work that the Commons could be doing instead of holding another election seventeen months after the last one.
I’m still holding out for reaction from two of my favorite bloggers from our neighbor to the north: Small Dead Animals and Angry in the Great White North. If we’re truly lucky, Damian Brooks of Babbling Brooks will briefly rouse himself from his blogging hibernation.