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NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe shake hands as then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion looks on after signing a coalition agreement on Dec. 1, 2008. (Adrian Wyld)
NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe shake hands as then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion looks on after signing a coalition agreement on Dec. 1, 2008. (Adrian Wyld)

Globe Editorial

Stop talking about why there's an election Add to ...

All four political parties in the House of Commons did their bit to bring about an unwelcome election; the Conservatives should stop blaming the opposition. Most notably, Stephen Harper did hardly anything to tempt Jack Layton, the NDP Leader, to support this week's stillborn budget.

The Prime Minister's insistence on leaving it to the opposition to move a non-confidence vote, rather than asking for a dissolution of Parliament himself, was transparently tactical. The Conservatives may not have been longing for an election this year, but they did not want an overlap with the Ontario election in the fall, which would have stretched their resources: better now than then.

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It is true that most of the citizens of Canada do not want frequent elections; they prefer to get on with their lives. But they know that minority governments are tenuous creatures. Canadians were neither enraged nor enthused by the four federal elections from 1962 to 1968. They should now put their minds to the election of 2011, free from the influence from two words much used by Mr. Harper: the adjective "unnecessary" and the noun "coalition."

On the other hand, the inclusion in the no-confidence motion of a contempt-of-Parliament finding against the government, though unprecedented, is less dramatic than it sounds. The Conservative government's passive-aggressive resistance to disclosing their projections of the cost of its "tough-on-crime" legislation is discreditable, but hardly outrageous. It's not, say, King Charles I's entry into the English Commons in 1642 to arrest five MPs, which led to civil war.

The Conservatives' criminal-law program should indeed be seriously debated in the election - as should other important matters, such as productivity growth, health care, major infrastructure, international competitiveness, and the return to fiscal balance.

The cause of the election, by contrast, should cease to be an election issue. All parties had a part in it.

 

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