Tuesday, February 01, 2011

No confidence sideshow

This was an interesting pledge from the PMO yesterday that bears a quick look:
The Conservatives insist they don’t want an election and won’t force one, and as a gesture of good faith promised that no bills that come up for a vote in this session will be considered a matter of confidence, meaning the government would be defeated if the bill was voted down.
That promise was reported elsewhere in a slightly different manner:
Le bureau de M. Harper assure par ailleurs qu'il ne fera rien pour tenter de provoquer une élection. «Nous n'avons aucune intention de considérer comme un vote de confiance une mesure qui ne le serait pas traditionnellement», a assuré le directeur des communications de M. Harper, Dimitri Soudas.
They won't make upcoming measures confidence matters if they would not traditionally be confidence measures, i.e., largely money bills. Meaning that the Conservatives are retreating now to a more narrow position on confidence votes in our parliamentary system. Recall their old hurly burly strategy of circa 2007 or so when everything under the sun was declared a confidence matter, and the NDP happily applauded along. It's been a long journey with these Conservatives.

There had been some speculation late in the fall session that one upcoming piece of legislation on refugee claimants might possibly be made into a confidence matter, something that Jason Kenney wouldn't rule out in early December. So it seems that possibility is off the table.

You'd be tempted to say this promise from the PMO about restraint on confidence votes is an indication that they are reluctant to go to an election. That's likely why they went to the trouble of raising it in the media. Except that it only takes one confidence vote to get us to an election, and we'll have that vote with the budget. So it's still very much up to Stephen Harper as to whether we have that election, despite this shiny rhetorical bauble. 

Carry on.