Tories toppled, forcing Canadians back to the polls

Canadians will return to the polls on May 2 following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s meeting with Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall on March 26 to ask him to dissolve Parliament.

The Harper government was defeated on March 25 by a no-confidence motion, which was supported in the House of Commons by a vote of 156 to 145.

The motion also declared the government in contempt of Parliament for failing to provide cost details for Conservative prison and stealth jet programs.

It is the first time in Canada’s and the British Commonwealth’s histories that a government has been toppled by a contempt of Parliament non-confidence vote.

Conservative Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod says this is an “inopportune time” for an election.

“The actual motion was a partisan committee with a predetermined conclusion. I think our government made every effort to comply.”

She adds the Conservatives will campaign on the strength of the Economic Action Plan Phase 1, the recently tabled phase 2 of the budget, as well as their record in many areas, particularly in “seeing a steady hand at the helm of what we are now calling the great recession.”

“I think we tabled a fantastic budget, I’m really proud of the budget, and now it’s up to the people of Canada to decide.”

The riding’s NDP candidate Michael Crawford says Canadians are going into an election where it’s likely people are asking themselves if the Harper government can be trusted.

When the finance minister explained he was not going to consider amendments to the budget, it didn’t look like a government that wanted Parliament to continue, Crawford says, adding he thinks Harper wanted to stop that discussion.

“It’s hard not to think Harper is secretly quite pleased he has an election now because he needs to change the channel on the discussion about the scandals and so forth that have erupted in the Conservative Party.

“It looked like a government that was a bit of a bully, and saying really, it’s my way or an election.”

Murray Todd, the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Liberal candidate, notes the non-confidence vote is really a bad outcome for any government.

His party tabled the motion after asking for the past four months for costing information on new prisons for a proposed crime bill and on the potential procurement of 65 stealth fighter jets, Todd explains.

“This government, the Tory party, is making a habit of not telling people what they’re doing, and how much is it going to cost.”

He adds the contempt of Parliament ruling was the right thing to do because the Conservative leaders “violated” the basis for democracy.

“In my opinion, the budget that was delivered on Tuesday was never intended to come to a vote. There were a lot of things missing in it; there was nothing about housing and there was nothing about child care.”

The volunteer firefighter tax credit isn’t refundable, he notes, so those lower-income volunteers, who don’t pay income tax, won’t get the credit as a refund.

Green Party riding candidate Donovan Cavers is jumping back into the political pond, after last running in 2008.

However, Cavers says he thinks the Liberals made the right decision to bring up the motion.

He adds it’s a good exercise for people to think about what they want out of their country, and where they want it to be in the future.

“I know elections are expensive endeavours, but I don’t know how functional Parliament was, how many opinions were actually being allowed to be expressed, or how many viewpoints were being represented.

“So, I think the fact that there’s an election is fine.”

Cavers notes he won’t be travelling around and knocking on doors during his campaign, but he will always have his cell phone handy.

“I was just thrown into this at the last minute. I’m going to be campaigning as much as I can, but I have a lot of other commitments.”

Cavers says that when he is operating his catering business at a few out-of-town events prior to the election, he’ll talk to people while he is there.

The Green Party candidate adds he offers people an “option on the ballot.”

By Carole Rooney/100 Mile Free Press