The weather in Ottawa is colder than normal this week, but Parliament Hill is certainly helping locals with their heating bills by generating all kinds of hot air – all of which may culminate in a Federal election call as early as Friday.
The Canadian minority government has been battered by a number of high-profile issues over the last few months. A committee has found the current government in Contempt – an extremely serious charge – for withholding financial information on big-ticket budget items such as their law and order agenda (where mandatory prison sentences would be increased and thousands of new prison cells built) and the purchase of new CF-18 fighter jets (which are rumored to be costing as much as three times the estimate provided by the government).
A cabinet minister is also facing a potential Contempt finding over allegations of doctoring documents and lying to Parliament. Other cabinet ministers and former ministers have faced accusations of illegal lobbying, violating election financing rules and improper use of government resources. The government even got a dousing of hot water over the aggressive branding of the current government as the “Harper Government,” rather than the standard phrasing “Government of Canada.”
In Canada, as in the United Kingdom, elections do not take place on set dates (despite the current Prime Minister’s attempt to enact a law to do just that in 2006, which he rapidly broke himself in 2008). Rather, the government sits for a maximum of five years, unless the Prime Minister chooses to have parliament dissolved and an election called, or if the government loses a vote of Confidence.
Confidence votes can take place on any issue the government chooses to deign a confidence measure, but they automatically take place on significant measures such as a budget. Which, as luck would have it, the government released yesterday, and which has been widely panned as out-of-touch by the opposition.
All opposition parties have signaled they will oppose the budget in a vote on Thursday. In addition, Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff will be tabling a motion of non-confidence in the government based on the Contempt finding.
In other words: Election’s a-coming.
By Makaristos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons