The Blame Game, Reprise

In Gary Mauser’s response  (The Now, Coquitlam, September 18) to my earlier letter, he commented that when Mr. Ignatieff  “… rashly threatened to bring down the government this month, their coalition partners the NDP and the Bloc, rescued them from their foolishness. …”

In point of fact, Mr. Ignatieff did not threaten to bring down the government, rashly, or otherwise. Mr. Ignatieff did announce that Mr. Harper’s government, despite our many overtures and countless opportunities offered them, has failed to earn our confidence. Having no confidence in them, and having lost even the faintest of hopes for their redemption, we cannot further support them in matters of confidence. This is not a threat. This is a straight-up statement of fact.

It is, first and foremost, the Government’s responsibility to earn the confidence of the House if they are to retain any mandate to govern. Propping them up is not, properly, the opposition’s job. In order to best serve Canada’s interests, however, we have worked hard to achieve a reasonable balance, which, given that this requires the willingness of both sides to cooperate, has regrettably proven fruitless. Mr. Ignatieff’s announcement means that we can now focus on our assigned primary role as Official Opposition, which is to oppose the Government, and hold it fully to account. If that means an election ensues,  so be it. This is not a threat, either. It’s just the way the system works.

But, again, the Liberals alone quite simply cannot “bring down” the Government, (let alone “bear responsibility for it”). The arithmetic is not difficult: it takes all three opposition parties to do this, and it takes a governing party that cannot inspire confidence in at least one of them.

But worrying about who “causes” the election is pointless and counter-productive; it is yet another red-herring. Elections are one of the costs-of-doing-business of our democracy. And the financial costs, though not insignificant, are reasonable in the context of asserting appropriate management of a budget in the vicinity of $600 billion, a projected annual deficit that’s creeping now toward $60 billion, and counting, and a reeling economy that, if it is indeed recovering, is doing so despite the current Government, and despite their failure to deliver much-promised stimulus funding in any timely or effective way.

And, finally, it should be noted that our “coalition partners” were the very same parties, and the very same party leaders in fact, with whom Mr. Harper himself concocted a similar coalition agreement four years ago.  Given that fact, the corrosive Conservative rant against our coalition and partners is just more incomprehensible gibberish.  If there’s criticism due to us in any measure for being involved with such a coalition  (which I don’t accept in the first place) the selfsame criticism must be applied in at least equal measure to the Conservatives themselves.

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