Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois, suggested yesterday that he might table a no-confidence motion against the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper and its policies regarding Canadian forces in Afghanistan. The Toronto Star adds:
New Liberal Leader StÃ©phane Dion said yesterday he’ll “consider” voting the government down on Afghanistan, though he said he wanted to see any motion the Bloc would put forward. “But I know that this government could fall at any time,” he said outside the Commons. “And my duty is to help my party be ready (for an election) at any time.”
Initial polling for the Liberals under Dion is quite favorable, though given that Dion’s election at the recent party convention was something of a surprise and thus Canadians are just getting to know him, can the strong poll numbers last till an election that probably would not happen before March?
The Star further suggests that “having the Bloc provoke the Tories’ defeat, rather than the Liberals doing it themselves, could prove strategically convenient.”
Predictably, Harper retreats to the “playing politics on the backs of our soldiers” response to talk of a motion against his government. However, as the Star notes, Afghanistan is not the only issue:
Bloc House Leader Michel Gauthier even mused about toppling the government over a combination of issues of disappointment to Quebec: failure to live up to the Kyoto accord or to fix the fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces.
Whatever might be the ultimate political trigger, a new election before the middle of 2007 is hard to bet against, given that the current minority government has the smallest plurality of any federal cabinet in Canadian history (and second smallest in my data set of 187 plurality elections), and that the average Canadian parliament without a majority party in the last 49 years has sat for a little over 18 months.
The current parliament was elected on 23 January, 2006.