Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Casey At The Bat

Bill Casey is not cut from the same cloth as Garth Turner, but let's not kid ourselves into believing that he has sacrificed his political career to the dictates of conscience.

Casey's plans to retire at the next election have been an open secret for months; to grandstand on a budget vote costs him nothing except ending his career with a brief stint outside caucus.

Nor does his vote against a confidence motion make him a martyr for the cause of freer votes in Parliament: not even the most enthusiastic boosters of free range MPs have ever suggested that a government MP should be free to vote no confidence in his own government. Were it to be so, not even a majority government could survive without endlessly brokering side deals with its own caucus.

Had Bill Casey simply not shown up that night, few would have cared about his abstention after the vote, and he could have got the point across without being turfed from caucus.

Nothing turned on his vote and nothing will turn on it.

The offshore deal will fail, as have all other such deals, because the dynamic of federal-provincial relations between Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, that of grudging charity to an incessantly whining supplicant, will not change any time soon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bland Blue Machine

Shell shocked by massive defeat in 2003, the Ontario PCs came to believe the media line that everything that even remotely appeared to have a connection to the Mike Harris years had to be purged to save the party.

Thus the election of John Tory as leader, the quintessential red Tory Toronto establishment man, with nary an idea to disturb the status quo or a word to ruffle anyone's feathers.

Randall Denley would like him to offer some. Not too disturbing, mind you. Just something to show that he's doing something other than not being Dalton McGuinty.

But Tory has no ideas of his own. He's never had to. All the positions he has held--principal secretary to Bill Davis, partner at Torys LLP, CFL commissioner, CEO of Rogers Cable--have all offered him the opportunity to show visionary leadership, and he's gotten by with being a bland if reasonably efficient manager of the status quo.

This will show on the campaign trail, to his detriment. People want a steady hand on the wheel. They also want someone who can navigate rough waters. Tory hasn't shown that he can do that. And unless he can, he'll be another nice guy who couldn't quite measure up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Chicken Run

You knew that everybody just had to be blustering about forcing an election in Quebec three months after the last one. You just knew, because there was no way you could believe it possible:

The Quebec budget passed in the legislature on Friday, saving Quebecers from heading back to the polls this summer.

Premier Jean Charest's minority Liberal government remains intact after a 46-44 vote in the national assembly.

All Liberals in the legislature voted for the budget, while the 41 Action democratique du Quebec MLAs rejected it.

In a symbolic protest, three of the PQ's 36 MLAs showed up Friday to express the party's opposition to the budget, with the remainder abstaining from the vote.

So Jean Charest lives for now, but only at the grace and favour of the PQ. What's more, with the concerted opposition of the party ideologically closest to it. As soon as the PQ can finish coronating Pauline Marois, Charest's career as the golden boy of Canadian politics is done. Forever.

Would that he had stayed in federal politics, where he might be Harper's Quebec lieutenant today, instead a saviour for a cause that no longer needed (or had passed beyond) saving.

Source: CTV