Motions recommending Liberals
[PoliticsWatch Updated 8:30 p.m. May 10, 2005]
OTTAWA — The
minority Liberal government lost a vote in the House of Commons
Tuesday evening that the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives say is
a non-confidence vote that should trigger an election.
The motion, which was an amendment to a report from the public
accounts committee recommending the government resign, passed in the
House 153 to 150.
The Liberals, however, are arguing that the
motion is not a vote of non-confidence, but rather a procedural
motion recommending the motion be sent back to committee.
All 153 Bloc and Conservative MPs were in the
House and voted in favour of it. Two Liberal cabinet ministers --
Irwin Cotler and John Efford -- skipped the vote due to personal
issues and Independent MP Chuck Cadman was unable to make it as he
is recovering in B.C. from cancer therapy.
After the vote passed in the House, Conservative Leader Stephen
Harper rose and challenged Prime Minister Paul Martin.
"I would challenge the prime minister if he believes he has the
constitutional authority to govern to rise in this place and call
for a vote of confidence if he believes he has it from this
The Speaker ruled the challenge out of order and Martin did not test
the confidence of the House.
After the vote, the prime minister made a
statement in English and French to reporters outside of the Chamber,
but did not take questions.
"The fact is this was a procedural motion,
sending a report to a committee. A procedural motion, according to
the expert opinion, is not a vote of confidence or lack
thereof," he said.
Martin cited four academics who he said backed this opinion.
Meanwhile, Harper, who also did not take
questions, suggested a crisis was taking place on Parliament Hill
and told reporters that Martin's behaviour was
"We have in office a corrupt party, which
is in the process of ruining this country's finances which is now
ignoring the democratic will of the House of Commons," Harper
said. "It does not have the constitutional authority to govern
this country because it will not seek the confidence of the House.
"I think this is a serious situation. Mr.
Martin's behaviour has gone from dithering to desperate and now to
dangerous. And this is a very serious situation."
Harper said the Conservatives would take
"additional steps" on Wednesday but would not elaborate on
what those steps were before leaving the scrum.
Conservative House leader Jay Hill was the most matter of fact in
his reaction to the vote.
"Parliament is over after tonight," he said. "It's
When asked if that meant the Conservatives would not show up in the
House on Wednesday, Hill said, "There's a chance that just
about anything could happen."
Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe vowed his party
would keep finding ways to remove Martin from power.
However, Duceppe said he is more committed to
the removal of the Liberals following the revelations at the Gomery
inquiry earlier in the day when a Liberal organizer testified that
he handed out $120,000 in cash to Liberal candidates during the 1997
federal election campaign.
"This is a government and a party that
accepts corruption," he said. "Paul Martin does not have
the qualifications to be the prime minister (or) neither the
The atmosphere on Parliament Hill was electric on the Hill early as
dozens of reporters were gathered outside the House watching the
vote on a monitor.
The non-confidence vote also attracted some unfamiliar faces to
Parliament Hill, including a crew from the U.S. Fox News Channel.
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