Stephen Harper
2 min

Updated: Coalition Watch- Weekend Update

Being as there have been so many developments in the past thirty-six hours, I didn't figure I'd make you wait until Monday to let you know what all has been going on.

The question as to how Prime Minister Harper plans to put off the vote of non-confidence that was due Monday is to move the planned Opposition day a full week until the following Monday, December the 8th. No word as to just what Parliamentarians will be doing the whole week – according to NDP House Leader Libby Davies, the Commons calendar had been geared around debating what was to have been the new Bill C-2, which would have implemented the measures in the Fiscal Update. Well, that's not going to happen, and it looks like Monday's projected order of business is more debate on the Fiscal Update itself. Do they plan to keep that up for the full week?

In an attempt to look conciliatory, the government has since dropped the plans to eliminate the party financing subsidies as well as the provisions that would have made it illegal for public servants to strike for the next two years. Is that going to be enough to soothe the savage opposition? Not hardly. They also promised to deliver an actual budget early – January 27th, in fact. The day after the House returns from the December break. Is that enough? Probably not either, since no one liked anything that was in the fiscal update, and the means in which Flaherty was trying to cover up a deficit in it.

Coalition talks are proceeding, and the question of who will lead it still looks to be like it'll end up being Stéphane Dion. On CTV's Question Period this morning, Jane Taber tried to get all of her guests to somehow say they had a problem with this, but Michael Ignatieff, Scott Brison nor even the NDP's Paul Dewar would bite. They kept saying "Dion is the leader," and left it at that. Does this mean that we could see Prime Minister Dion after the December 8th confidence vote?  At least until the leadership convention in May? That is looking like a distinct possibility at this point.

Jack Layton is already taking credit for the coalition, by admitting to his caucus a secret deal with the Bloc even before the fiscal update was delivered. But then, he takes credit for everything, so I'd be curious to see the other side of the tale.

But don't expect the Conservatives to be taking this lying down. They're trying to mobilise their grassroots base, first by asking them for "emergency donations" in case they need to fight an election, but also by giving them talking points to call into radio call-in shows with. The Montreal Gazette's Elizabeth Thompson plugged in her postal code into their talking points generator, and posted the results here. Of course, they make a coalition government sound like it's a coup d'etat, when in fact Harper himself broached the possibility with then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. 

As for Her Excellency, she's keeping an eye on the situation while on her State visit to Eastern Europe, ready to return home at a moment's notice in the even a crisis does erupt. Suffice to say, it looks like it's going to be quite a week in Parliament. 

Update: Transcript from the "secret deal" tapes can be found here

Update the Second: Thunderbirds are go