Chantal Hebert makes her case in the Toronto Star this morning that the Bev Oda affair and Harper’s refusal to sack her because of her misleading Parliament is a far better reason to be pulling the plug on this government then even the Budget:
If Harper was the leader of the official opposition, he would already be taking steps to withdraw the confidence of the House from the government. In the spring of 2005, he reversed his support of a Liberal budget to step in front of an opposition parade to oust Paul Martin from office over revelations pertaining to the sponsorship scandal. At the time Harper argued persuasively that the damning evidence presented to the inquiry presided by Justice John Gomery cast such doubts as to the integrity of the Liberal government that he could not justify continuing to support it.
..What was true then is as true now. The Prime Minister — by virtue of his role and his authority — defines the culture of his government and Canadians deserve to decide whether a culture of ministerial deceit is what they expect from a party that came to power promising to restore the integrity of an abused system. …Surely the integrity of Canada’s democratic system — to borrow Ignatieff’s phrase — is an even better reason for an election than the tax regimen of corporate Canada or the need — as promoted by the NDP — for pension reform and home heating cost relief.
Everyone points to the polls being currently bad for the opposition parties. If you remember, however, the polls weren’t great for Harper either when he decided to do this. It would be a very good opportunity to stand on principle – Parliamentary principle – and take that to the Canadian voters. Obviously, the Liberals (whom my particular post is aimed at) would need NDP and Bloc support to down the government on a non-confidence vote. At the very least, however, proclaiming that this latest flagrant abuse and contempt of Parliament meant the Liberals would be withdrawing confidence – as Harper did once – and proclaiming that the polls in this case don’t matter – that principle does – might be a help to the Liberals (and other parties) not a hindrance.
Perhaps there is a temptation to wait until the Speaker rules on this, or to see if Oda will finally be pushed out due to public pressure.. but I urge the opposition parties not to wait too long on this before it fades from view again.
UPDATE: I think this decision is made even more compelling by the fact it appears Harper and his PMO may be the ones behind all this.
This furor raises a number of questions. Did Oda initially approve the funding, as her signature on the document suggests? That’s what some suspect. “None of this washes,” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said this week. “The most plausible explanation . . . is that Bev Oda signed the approval and the “NOT” was inserted subsequently.”
Did Harper or his office overrule her? Has Oda been a loyal trooper, carrying the can for her boss? Is that why Harper is defending the indefensible?