by Michelle Walz
Canadians will be heading to the polls for the fourth time in seven years.
The three opposition groups – the Liberals (led by Michael Ignatieff), the Bloc Québécois (led by Gilles Duceppe), and the NDP (led by Jack Layton), joined forces to bring down Harper’s minority conservative government. The Liberal motion declared that the government has lost confidence in the Commons and, for the fist time in Canadian history, is in contempt of Parliament because they refused to share information about the budget tabled earlier this week.
Ignatieff declared: “We are the people’s representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques.”
Harper responded that there was nothing that his opponents should object to. He believes Canadians don’t want an election and thus the fall of his government disappointed most Canadians. He is visiting Governor-General David Johnston on Saturday morning to dissolve Parliament and to call the election for May 2.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Harper has fallen because he clearly demonstrated that he is not willing to work with the other parties in the house of Commons.
The federal government has been defeated on a confidence vote in the House of Commons for only the sixth time in history – previous falls occured in 1926 (Arthur Meighen government), 1963 (John Diefenbaker), 1974 (Pierre Trudeau), 1979 (Joe Clark) and in 2005 (Paul Martin).
The Tories will attempt to persuade voters in the campaign that the election is an unnecessary interruption of Canada’s economic action plan, which we wrote about recently. Ignatieff stated that this is time to change Canada’s direction: “After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say ’Enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.”
An Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by Global National and Postmedia News shows the Conservatives gained 43% support among decided voters, while he Liberals are at 24%, the NDP at 16%, the Bloc at 10%, and the Green Party at 6%. Meanwhile, according to a survey for The Globe and Mail, 41% of Canadians trust the Conservatives less than they did a year ago and only 6% trust them more. Now, it is expected the Tories will return with another minority government, but a dynamic and strong Liberal campaign could change any prediction.