Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crunch time in Canada

Two months ago, Canada's Conservative minority government lost the confidence of the House, after the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois formed an alliance to vote them out of office. In response, Prime Minister Stephen Harper got the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament, undermining the key metarule of the Westminster system and allowing him to govern without a mandate for two more months.

Those two months are now at an end, and the Canadian Parliament has reconvened to consider a budget, after which there will be the obligatory confidence vote. Unfortunately, in the intervening time, the Liberal party has elected a new leader - who seems strangely reluctant to become Prime Minister:

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who succeeded Dion, has not appeared keen on that idea. He has said he wants to see what's in the budget, and won't say whether he will support it until Wednesday.
The other parties have already announced they will vote against the budget, so it is essentially down to the Liberals: will they vote to change the government, or will they chicken out again? We'll know today or tomorrow, depending on how long the debate takes. But the reports from Ottawa are not promising.