16 February 2005

Sphincter tightening moment

Party house leaders in the Commons are likely looking askance at the action by the federal Conservatives last night in blocking a bill that would divide Foreign Affairs and International Trade into two distinct departments. Bits of their anatomy are tighter today than they were this time yesterday.

Only last week, the Conservative industry critic, Belinda Stronach, had indicated that of course her party would vote for the bill.

From the outside looking in, there isn't any obvious reason for the switcheroo, especially since minority parliaments thrive on some co-operation and predictability.

Swinging back in time to 1979/80, though, we have to recall that sometimes Opposition parties in minority parliaments like to be unpredictable when it comes to budget bills. Elections follow and the incumbent government doesn't always win, let alone win big.

As I busily check my notes, I see a comment by Loyola Hearn telling local media in St. John's that of course the Conservatives will be voting in favour of the new offsets bill.

While normally I am not a pessimist, I won't be trying to cash Loyola Hearn's assurance cheque at any bank. A letter from Ralph Goodale to Loyola Sullivan also doesn't allay my concerns since it reveals bags of loose wording still left in the deal signed on Monday, which, by the way, Premier Williams' has dismissed as having no legal weight.

I will feel a whole lot better when the Governor General nods at the end of the session and signs the enabling legislation.

Until then, I shall remain vigilant to the likelihood that where it can, excrement will occur.