Martin government defeated
[PoliticsWatch Updated 8:30 p.m. November 28, 2005]
OTTAWA — Prime
Minister Paul Martin's minority government was defeated Monday
evening in the first ever straight vote of non-confidence in
The three opposition parties used their majority to defeat
the government by a vote of 171 to 133.
Martin's government survived numerous confidence tests in the
spring, but finally fell after NDP Leader Jack Layton joined forces
with the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservatives.
Martin will visit Governor General Michaelle Jean Tuesday morning at
9:30 a.m. ET where he will dissolve Parliament and set an election
date. Reuters and Canadian Press are both reporting that date will
be Monday, January 23.
The defeat of the government ended an acrimonious session of
Parliament and has set in motion what is expected to be the most
unpleasant election in recent memory.
Both Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Martin walked out of the
House of Commons Monday evening for perhaps the final time as being
in near full control of their parties.
If the election ends with a Liberal majority or minority then Harper
most likely is finished.
Martin will likely lose control of his party if the Conservatives
win a minority. And second minority government for the Liberals
would likely hasten calls for the departure of the man who told
reporters in his first week in office that he would like to be prime
minister for 10 years.
But that was before the sponsorship scandal when Martin and the
Liberals were polling in the high 40s.
Pre-election polling showed the Liberals with a slight lead over the
Conservatives, but not enough national popularity to cross the 40
per cent mark likely needed to win a majority. Sitting government's
tend to drop in the polls after the writ is dropped.
After the vote, Martin spoke to a rowdy meeting of the Liberal
caucus on Parliament Hill with reporters standing in the back of the
Martin appeared in high spirits after losing the vote and pumped his
fist in the air with a broad smile on his face as he received a
three-minute long standing ovation from his caucus.
"I just want to say a few brief words to you all before you
head back to your ridings to get fitted for snowshoes," he
"All of us, we have a lot to be proud of
and I can't tell you how proud I am of you," he said to the
caucus before receiving one of the dozen standing ovations.
"You have made the Liberal party proud, you have made Canadians
proud and I am very proud of all of you."
He began by reminding his caucus of the Liberal track record,
focusing on social spending and Canada's strong economy, before
launching an attack on Harper and the Conservatives.
"The Canada that is imagined by Stephen Harper and the
Conservatives is starkly different from the Canada that we want to
build," Martin said.
"Stephen Harper sees no positive role for government, not in
improving the lives of Canadians, not even for standing up for
He accused Harper of being "silent" while Martin waged a
battle with the U.S. on softwood lumber and suggested Harper was
soft on separatists.
"Let me tell you something, Stephen Harper: You made an
alliance with the Bloc, not me, and I will never shy away from
defending our country."
While Martin made the speech, across the hall on Parliament Hill
Harper was in another room filled with Tory MPs, Hill staffers and
As he stood on stage with a number of the younger, ethnically
diverse, telegenic members of his caucus, he warned them that Martin
and the Liberals have already planned "to come after us."
In the 2004 federal election, Martin surged ahead of the
Conservatives in the polls after campaigning negatively against the
Tories and putting doubts in voters' minds by repeatedly claiming
Harper had a "hidden agenda" for the country.
"Canadians have seen this movie before," Harper said.
"They know when the Liberals scream about us it's just a
"It's like the thief who cries fire in a crowed restaurant so
that when no one's looking he can clear out the cash register."
The 39th federal election will be fought on three main fronts.
There will be a battle in rural Ontario between the Liberals and the
Conservatives, the Bloc Quebecois will try to pick up seats in the
remaining Liberal strongholds in Montreal and the NDP, Liberals and
Conservatives will be a number of three way races in British
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