Last night the government delivered its hotly anticipated throne speech to parliament. The big question, will the Liberals under Stephane Dion support it and avoid an election that they likely cannot win, or will they defeat it and take their chances?
The swift, brutal kick in the head for Dion is the wording on the environment policy:
"At the end of 2005, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions were 33% above the Kyoto commitment. It is now widely understood that, because of inaction on greenhouse gases over the last decade, Canada’s emissions cannot be brought to the level required under the Kyoto protocol within the compliance period, which begins on Jan. 1, 2008, just 77 days from now."
By taking the alternative approach to tackling the environment ‘issue’, Harper directly challenges Stephane Dion to disavow all his previous grandstanding about the Kyoto treaty (even calling his dog ‘Kyoto’). It will require some really creative spin to avoid looking like a weak leader and all around loser if he supports this wording, or fails to defeat the government on it (tacit support). There is no way that Dion can vote down the speech and expect to either win an election or keep his job.
If he sends most of his MP’s away from parliament so that those present can vote against the speech without bringing down the government, well he chickened out of an election – and not because Canadians don’t want another election, but because the Liberals would lose.
Also, individual MP’s (those sent away to avoid defeating the government) may face very tough questions from constituents who feel that they had no representation at the setting of the political agenda for the session.
If Dion votes FOR the speech(he won’t), then he has sold out his Kyoto principles to keep his job. That won’t play well with Liberal voters, or undecideds.
This morning I imagine that PM Harper is rather enjoying the thought of the meltdown and arguing over at the Liberal caucus. If the PM wins this round, expect Dion to keep giving up more and more ground in order to keep his job. Stephane Dion refused to give up his French citizenship – that may be useful to him once the full retreat starts.