Stephen Harper
3 min

Updated: Coalition Watch

The outrage and sniping over yesterday's Fiscal Update continued into the House this morning. While opposition members decried an attack on democracy, government backbenchers used their Members' Statements today to praise the government for its "prudence," while accusing the "greedy" and "corrupt" opposition of simply trying to "defend their entitlements." Oh yeah – it was going to be one of those days.

In fact, that's the theme that carried through Question Period – a question would be asked about everything that the Fiscal Update lacked (stimulus, credible numbers, rights for women or workers), the Parliamentary Secretary for the file would stand up and ignore the question and praise the government's previous stimulus measures (also known as the GST cut that every credible economist in this country denounced), and said that the opposition only really wanted to talk about their entitlements. As though the agreed upon means of taking party financing out of hands of corporate and union donations was some kind of perk.

Other things I noted from Question Period:

-Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez got a haircut, and the boy is looking fine.

-Don't piss off Maria Minna when it comes to status of women. She not only gave an impassioned question, but in her supplemental demanded that the Minister of State for status of women answer the question, when the government kept putting up the President of the Treasury Board (Vic Toews, for the record) to speak. They ignored that demand.

-Scott Brison rose to ask about Fiscal Update, reviving his epithet for Flaherty as Canada's "Deficit Daddy," taking taking the fatherhood allusions that much further while bringing up the way that Flaherty used the future sale of unnamed government assets in his calculations, and recalled his role in the fiasco of Highway 407 in Ontario.

-Mario Silva was up a little later to point out that while one in seven women lives in poverty, the Fiscal Update did nothing for lost jobs or EI. The Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resources and Skills Development responded by talking about the federal homelessness strategy.

While these attacks went on, the back room dealing is getting more interesting.  The Canadian Press reported that former giants Ed Broadbent and Jean Chrétien were trying to negotiate a possible coalition deal if the government were to fall over this fiscal update. And while they're now reporting that Harper has apparently "blinked" and isn't going to include the measures about ending the party subsidies in the Update legislation, the opposition still says no deal, as the update still has nothing about economic stimulus or job creation.  Or perhaps they haven't blinked, and are going ahead with it after all.  There's information flying from all quarters right now, it's hard to tell which is right (though I do tend to trust CP's record).

Stay tuned – things have definitely started to heat up.

Update: Hot off the Canadian Press wire, via Maclean's – The Liberals plan on moving a motion of non-confidence on Monday, and talks are in progress right now between all three opposition parties to propose a governing coalition, with word coming that they have agreed to let Stéphane Dion head it for the first few months. Harper could still stall, and Her Excellency is out of the country on a state tour of Europe at the moment, but she could be recalled shortly to deal with the upcoming crisis in Parliament.

Updated Again: Harper just addressed the media, and said that any attempt to form a coalition would be illegitimate because the voters explicitly rejection Dion. Um, last I checked, this was Canada and we don't vote for a Prime Minister directly. He also says there won't be a confidence vote until the 8th, but if Monday is still an Opposition Day, and if the Liberals move their own non-confidence motion on such a day, then it won't matter that Harper has delayed voting on his confidence legislation. (On Politics, Libby Davies seemed uncertain how Harper could manage such a delay). Expect Harper to try and mobilise voters to reject a coalition government by direct mail-outs, blogs, and so on.