Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Better late than never

It took the Associated Press two hours to move a story on its northeastern U.S.
wires on the vote in Commons tonight.
Here it is (watch for errors, please):

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's Parliament passed a motion Tuesday recommending that
the ruling Liberal party resign, but Prime Minister's Paul Martin's government
and constitutional experts insist they don't have to.
The opposition has been angling for a technical maneuver to bring down Martinâ??s
minority government, which has been paralyzed for weeks by verbal brawls over a
corruption scandal within the Liberal Party.
The opposition demanded the Liberals resign after the vote passed 153-150. Each
member of Parliament stood to record their vote and the opposition Conservatives
and Bloc Quebecois cheered when the final tally was announced. They say the Liberals
have lost the confidence of Parliament.
But the Liberals, who are hoping to delay an election, dismissed the motion as a
procedural matter.
The motion by the opposition Conservatives asked a committee to amend a report from
last October to recommend the government resign because of its failure to address
deficiencies in "governance of the public service."
According to constitutional experts, it didn't trigger an election because it
was not an official non-confidence vote or a vote that defeated a money or budget
bill. But they say a Liberal defeat could have political consequences and lead to
paralysis in Parliament.
The Liberals are offering the opposition three days at the end of the month when
they can try to topple the government in Parliament with formal motions of no-confidence.
Martin has pleaded with his opponents to allow his 10-month-old administration to
remain in power until the federal budget is passed. That would kick in funds for
national child- and health-care reform, and new military and defense spending.
Martin has said that none of the programs would come to fruition if he is toppled
before the federal budget is approved by Parliament.
Martin recently made a deal with the opposition New Democrats, pledging another
$3.6 billion in social spending and a promise to delay billions in corporate tax
cuts. In return, NDP leader Jack Layton pledged his 19 MPs in the 308-seat House
of Commons to help prop up the Liberals.
The Liberals have 132 seats in the 308-seat Commons. The Conservatives have 99 seats
and the separatist Bloc Quebecois – who voted alongside the Conservatives –
have 54 seats. That leaves one vacancy and three independents, whose votes could
now make or break the outcome of a legitimate confidence vote if it is held later
this month.