Canadian Leader Begs For More Time
Martin Gives Rare Nationwide Address
Watching Canada's ruling Liberal Party slowly and painfully collapse isn't always easy. After all, it's usually preferable to make a dignified exit, when the writing's on the wall.
That's not the case, however, for Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority (coalition) government, busy making excuses to remain in power until the last possible second.
Parliamentary proceedings are now rowdy to the point of being nearly out of control. It's hard to imagine much work is getting done in this environment.
Yesterday, Martin made a rare concession, in an even more infrequent address to the Canadian people (10 years since the last one). He apologized, sort of, for his party's actions but it was soon clear to citizens that it was little more than a cheap stalling tactic.
Martin promises to call elections in December, a month after Judge Gomery's report is released, which will spell out in detail factual findings in the corruption scandal involving outrageous misuses of millions in taxpayer dollars, for party coffers.
But opposition parties, including the Conservatives, can call for parliamentary poll of confidence in the government at any time and if the result is a vote of "no confidence", then elections are held soon after.
This means Martin's cynical use of a meaningless apology was really an attempt to get six more months of power. He repeatedly has called for restraint until the report is released, but to increasingly impatient Canadians, it seems they've heard enough.
Martin intends to use that time to push his liberal agenda as much as possible. He doesn't care if public support has dropped to zero, as long as he holds the reins of power, he's going to use it.
It's very reminiscent of a certain governor from the stealth Canadian province of Washington state, Christine Gregoire, who's been forcing a laundry list of changes onto its people while awaiting a court's decision on her political future.
Who knew Olympia and Ottawa had so much in common? Well, actually, lots of people.
At the Radio Equalizer we've been utilizing a few Canadian blogs for the latest: Brent Colbert, CIVITATENSIS and Small Dead Animals. All three have exceptionally good coverage of the situation tonight.
Colbert, meanwhile, has announced he'll attempt to stand for a House of Commons seat as the Conservative Party nominee for the riding (district) of Halton, Ontario, which includes several Toronto suburbs. Partisan nominations take place shortly. Good luck, Brent!
(Fox News- AP- 21 April 2005)
"Those who are in power are to be held responsible, and that includes me," Martin said of the charges, which have disgusted Canadians and prompted the opposition Conservative Party (search) to threaten a no-confidence vote that could take down the government.
Martin called on the nation to wait until the investigation headed by Justice John Gomery is finished and give his government time to pass critical legislation on such issues as health care reform, gay marriage, improved border security and the federal budget.
"Let Judge Gomery do his work," Martin said in taped speeches in English and French. "If so much as a dollar is found to have made its way into the Liberal Party for ill-gotten gains, it will be repaid to the people of Canada. I want no part of that money."
It was Chretien's national unity program, designed to bring Quebecois back into the national fold, which is at the heart of the current crisis. The scandal contributed to the Liberal Party's loss of its majority in Parliament after federal elections last June.
An auditor general's report found millions of dollars in a national unity fund went to Liberal-friendly advertising firms to promote national unity in Quebec following the narrow defeat of a separatist referendum in the French-speaking province. The firms apparently did little work in return.
Martin's opponents called his address a desperate, last-ditch attempt to remain in power, and demanded equal air time.
"We've all just witnessed a sad spectacle, a prime minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he's unable to do his job and lead the country, "Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper told reporters immediately after Martin's address. "A party leader playing for time, begging for another chance."