One-trick pony

For opposition parties, a confidence vote is a tricky thing to manage. On one hand, a party may wish to bring down a minority government if it perce ives that the time is ripe for an election. This is exactly what happened in Jan. 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives sensed a weakness within the Liberal ranks, mired back then in the infamous sponsorship scandal.

For opposition parties, a confidence vote is a tricky thing to manage.
On one hand, a party may wish to bring down a minority government if it perce ives that the time is ripe for an election. This is exactly what happened in Jan. 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives sensed a weakness within the Liberal ranks, mired back then in the infamous sponsorship scandal. The polls showed that Canadians were ready to give Harper’s Tories a chance, and the Conservatives toppled Martin’s Liberals.
On the other hand, though, it is important not to be suspected of doing anything of the above. Elections are, after all, very costly ordeals, both for parties and for taxpayers – and, some might argue, for ordinary citizens, bombarded by daily political briefings in every conceivable form of media.
A party must not be seen as using the apparatus of democracy for its own political gain. Canadians love their democracy, but only every four years – unless necessary.
It is therefore important for a party to choose a rock solid point of contention with which to remove its confidence in the ruling government. In 2006, the opposition parties chose to base that motion on – what else? – the “culture of entitlement” within the Liberal party that Justice John Gomery had found to be at the root of the sponsorship scandal.
But now, in Quebec, school boards?
The National Assembly’s Opposition Leader Mario Dumont proposed a censure bill last week, meant to bring down the Charest administration less than nine months after the last provincial election.
The reason? The Liberals’ refusal to abolish school boards in Quebec. A second election within a year, just because no one bothered to show up to last week’s school board elections.
True, perhaps in light of last week’s election, Quebec’s primary and secondary school board system might need to be rethought; but it would be political suicide to send Quebecers to the polls over something so, well, trivial.
What is Dumont thinking? Not only is the cause not good, but the times aren’t either. A CROP poll published on Oct. 5 showed Dumont’s ADQ has slipped back into third place, behind the tied Liberals and PQ. Perhaps Dumont was counting on his opponents being weakened by recent events. Marois’ québécois citizenship project is far from consensus-building; and the Liberals have another Orford on their hands with the Rabaska methane port, which they have chose to build regardless of ecological groups’ opinions or Quebec’s real natural gas needs. But, obviously, these weaknesses pale in comparison to being leader of the ADQ.
If Dumont can so brashly play dice with his own party and with taxpayers’ money, can he ever be a credible PM? What is the ADQ, other than a one-trick pony? On Nov. 9 , La Presse published a statistical study showing that, while Mario Dumont is the second most visible Quebec politician in the media, the next most popular ADQ member comes in at… seventeenth place, behind most of Charest’ cabinet.
Which pretty much paints Dumont as the smiling, cheerful captain of a wayward ghost fleet, manned by anonymous political lost souls, heading straight for oblivion.

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