Does anybody remember the pseudo-vote of confidence that was held during the last few months of Paul Martin's time as PM? The Bloc and the Conservatives ganged up and voted on a motion that stipulated that one of the house committees (I forget which) should change the recommendation of its report to recommend that the government resign because the house had lost confidence in it. The motion was intended to be a de facto
Vote of non-confidence in Paul Martin's government, and of course the Liberals did not win the vote, even though it had the support of the NDP. There was absolutely no question that under Canada's constitution, this was not an official vote of no confidence however, it was argued that there was a strong moral obligation for Prime Minister Martin to ask the Governor General to dissolve parliament and declare a general election. It was for this reason, that when Prime Minister Martin refused to do so, our then leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper, announced to the entire nation that the PM had proven himself to be "dangerous". Our soon-to-be Prime Minister then reassured us all that he would not allow the Liberals to hijack democracy (this is not a quote, but I'm sure you get the gist of it).
Now it appears that the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. Bill C-288, which was proposed by liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, sets a limit of 60 days for the government to draft legislation that brings our nation in line with the Kyoto protocol, has just passed the House of Commons and is awaiting senate approval. According to Alexander Panetta of the Canadian Press, the government is hinting strongly that it will simply ignore the legislation if it is made law.
There is also the matter of Bill C-292, which was proposed by the right honourable Paul Martin, who still holds his seat in the riding of Lasalle-Emard. This bill has already passed its second reading in the house and currently sits at the committee stage. The effect of this bill is to force the government to implement the Kelowna Accord, which is meant to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal-Canadians nation-wide. While I am unaware of what the Harper government plans to do if this act is passed, I'd say they are already setting a dangerous precedent with Kyoto. The Harper government has already declared that they have no intention of implementing the Kelowna Accord, so frankly I am not optimistic.
The extent to which Prime Minister Harper is willing to be hypocritical defies one's imagination. Unlike the non-binding vote that was intended to bring down the Martin government, the two bills mentioned above would actually have the effect of creating a legal obligation for the Harper government. And yet despite his big words as leader of the official opposition, our Prime Minister seems set on ignoring the will of our duly-elected representatives. A pretty bold move for someone whose party claims to "obey the law" (a phrase they frequently employ when justifying their decision to cut the court challenges program).
As alarming as the degree to which the PM is willing to reverse his stance is, it is not nearly as alarming as the speed that he is willing to do it in. First there was the Emerson appointment, then his failure to allow parliamentary committees to appoint their own chairs (in contradiction to promises he had made), and the list goes on.
According to the above-mentioned report from the Canadian Press, a high-ranking government official (who requested anonymity) actually dared the opposition to propose a vote of confidence over the matter. To do so now, would be playing into the Tories hands, as the law has not yet passed and they have not actually gone so far as to announce that they will ignore it. If I were one of the opposition party leaders, I would be waiting for the government to either come out and say they intended to ignore parliament or until AT LEAST one of its laws had been violated. It seems to me that the Prime Minister would have a very difficult time convincing Canadians that he is not dangerous by his own definition.