Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Great White North

The drama surrounding attempts by Canadian PM Paul Martin to hang on to power by ignoring a no confidence vote and then offering a Conservative oppositionist a Cabinet post to switch sides has taken an dramatic turn. Conservative Canadian MP Gurmant Grewal tape recorded an attempt by the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Tim Murphy to bribe him to change his vote. Andrew Coyne highlights some snippets of the recorded conversation which are best heard against the background of squeezebox music playing  'Speak softly, love, so no one hears us but the sky. ...'

Murphy: "if anybody is asked the question, 'Well is there a deal?' and you say, 'No.' Well you want that to be the truth. ... So you didn't approach. We didn't approach."

A recent Belmont Club post noted that 'victories' won by the Left with these tactics were more properly understood as acts of desperation by those who feared their long term decline, as if in slipping from the pinnacle, they despaired of ever regaining it again.

The survival of Paul Martin's government, shaken by scandal after scandal, has been bought at the price of violating the spirit of the Westminister system by ignoring what was effectively a vote of no-confidence until they could bribe someone to cross the aisle to square the count. Martin survived but only by bending the rulebook. A Canadian conservative victory without Martin's shennanigans would have been an unremarkable and narrow electoral triumph. But the Liberal Party of Canada's actions now mean that the issues dividing political factions in the Great White North are fundamental. By demonstrating a determination to hold on to power at all costs Martin is increasing the likelihood of a radical, rather than an incremental solution to the Canadian crisis.

Mark Steyn has more in his article A Constitutional Coup

In the forthcoming Western Standard , I make the point that “the big flaw at the heart of the Westminster system is that in order to function as intended – by codes and conventions – it depends on a certain modesty and circumspection from the political class.” Perhaps it was always a long shot to expect a man as hollow as Paul Martin to understand that. ... But the fact remains: by any understanding of our system of government, if the effect of “an extra week’s delay” is to maintain themselves in power by one vote they otherwise would not have had, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a constitutional coup. Like Robert Mugabe, Paul Martin has simply declared that the constitution is whatever he says it is.

What characterizes much of the Left today as exemplified by behavior from George Galloway to Paul Martin is the increasing necessity to maintain their position By Any Means Necessary. While that is dangerous and infuriating, it is a reliable indicator that they have lost control of the system. Things just aren't working the way they used to. And that, despite everything, is cause for hope.