Harper dares opposition parties to
force an election
Politics Watch ® News Services
October 3, 2007, updated 6:15 p.m.
|Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA (PoliticsWatch.com) — Prime
Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday it is time for opposition
parties to "fish or cut bait" and either force an
election or support the key elements of the minority Conservative
government's throne speech throughout the next session of
Harper warned the opposition parties that he will consider
key elements unveiled in the upcoming throne speech as matters of
confidence when they later come to a vote in Parliament.
"It's not a choice between we obstruct you or we have an
election," Harper said at a press conference in Ottawa. "The choice is you either force us to election or give us this mandate."
"We will be interpreting a positive result, a positive vote on the speech from the throne as a mandate to consider the major elements of the throne speech and the major elements of the government's program to be matters of confidence going forward."
Harper's comments are sending a signal that the Conservatives will
no longer view just the budget and throne speech as the only
confidence votes in the Commons in the new session of
"You can't pass the throne speech one day and the next day say, 'Well, we didn't actually mean to do it' or
'We didn't give you a mandate,'" he added. "We will take it as a mandate and we will take it as an ongoing question of confidence to get those things done."
Parliament returns on October 16 with a speech from the throne. The
government will face three votes of confidence on the throne speech.
Due to the make up of the minority Parliament, the government needs
the support of just one of the three opposition parties to
receive enough votes to pass legislation.
The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have already signalled
they will not prop up the minority government when the throne speech
That has placed the Liberals in the awkward position of having to
vote against the throne speech and force an election or keep the
government in power.
The Liberals are currently in a state of disarray, especially in
Quebec, where candidates and potential candidates have decided they
will not run since the party lost three Quebec by-elections last
Bryon Wilfert, a Liberal MP considered close to Liberal
leader Stephane Dion, has publicly mused about Liberal MPs
abstaining from the throne speech in order to avoid an election that
the party appears unprepared for.
The prime minister's comments at the press conference Wednesday will
undoubtedly put more pressure on the Liberals throughout the session
As for the throne speech, Harper mentioned tax
cuts and criminal justice reforms as two issues that will be
included in the throne speech.
The prime minister said he has had meetings with NDP leader Jack
Layton and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe in
advance of the throne speech, but has not met with Dion.
Despite his willingness to receive some input on the throne speech,
Harper suggested the Liberals and Bloc were in no position to be
making demands considering the results of last month's byelections
in Quebec where each party lost a seat.
“I wouldn't have predicted the results of those by-elections would be a message to Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Dion to make non-negotiable demands and otherwise demand a general election,” he said. “That would not be my interpretation of the by-elections.”
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