Martin And Stronach: “Banana-republic power tactic”

Colby Cosh revisits the opinion of Canadian constitutional expert Michael Bliss on the legality of the Paul Martin government in light of today’s events;

The lede here–that this move pushes the constitutional crisis which began last week into full-scale red-alert mode–hasn’t just been buried, it’s been taken out and shot. It is arguable whether Stronach’s defection is a “blow” to the Conservatives in either the short or the long term. What’s not arguable is that the delay imposed last week on a formal non-confidence vote in the House of Commons has now–with the balance of power in the House teetering on the razor’s edge–visibly become a banana-republic power tactic.


The whole point of the tradition that the confidence of the House will be tested at once, upon the government’s defeat in a supply-related division, is to prevent exactly the sort of shenanigan just perpetrated. Martin has used the delay he imposed unilaterally to purchase the services of a disaffected Conservative leadership candidate–one, it bears noting, elected by her constituents as a Conservative. (She’ll be in charge of “democratic renewal”, says Martin–never let it be said the man lacks a taste for irony.) “I am not sure,” Bliss concluded, “that Canada has ever had such a serious parliamentary crisis.” There can be no doubt about it now. If the Liberals win Thursday’s confidence vote by virtue of Stronach’s presence on the government benches, we will continue to have a government openly acknowledged to be illegal by most if not all of the major constitutional authorities in the country.

Via Damian Penny, who has a collection of pithy reaction.

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Kate McMillan
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Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. bithead says:

    In listening to the local talk shows in Ottawa and Tornonto last night, The conservatives are furious, particularly in Stronach’s riding.

    But more… the liberal rank and file are equally angry. I heard at least three calls last night from liberals annoyed on idealistic ground… apparently angry that Martin would take on such a person… someone who was clearly not a liberal, just so as to stay in power.

    I don’t think that Stronach’s is the boon Martin thought it would be.