All three opposition parties have complained that the Conservative government is taking Canada in the wrong direction and must be stopped. The NDP & BQ have taken the approach that it is time to face the electorate to allow voters to decide for themselves. The Liberal approach has been that Canadians are not in the mood to vote right now and therefore the government can do whatever it wants until Canadians are ready. The latest green light from Dion was that Canadians "don't want to vote between a snowstorm and Easter."
The difference in approaches has caused a great deal of friction between the Liberals and the NDP. While the Liberals were trying to make progress on the Cadman scandal the NDP choose to attack the government on NAFTA-gate. The government agreed to open an investigation into NAFTA-gate. The Cadman scandal is still spinning it's wheels. Some of the Liberal facts have been proven to be inconsistent and none of the parliamentary committees are willing to investigate. In fact the NDP promised to block any attempt to have the ethics committee investigate. This is the same comitee that has devoted a great deal of time to investigating the Mulroney-Schriber affair. The Liberal amendment to the budget offered criticism for being fiscally responsible like the NDP. Only 7 Liberals showed up to back the amendment.
On Monday the government announced plans for instituting the carbon capture and store solution to reduce green house gases. This is probably the second worse strategy for dealing with pollution and the environment.
On Monday night the NDP had their chance to fire back at the Liberals. When Stephane Dion won the Liberal leadership race he wrapped himself in the flag as champion of the environment. He would be able counter act a decades worth of Liberal inaction after signing the Kyoto accord and save the environment. He has already lost some creditability by making special arrangements to try to get Green Party leader Elizabeth May elected. In order to take some more lustre off of the environment armour the NDP proposed the following confidence motion:
"That the House regrets this government’s failure to live up to Canada’s international climate change agreements, and its refusal to bring forward for debate and vote, the Clean Air and Climate Change Act, the climate change plan called for by a majority vote of the House, and that therefore the House no longer has confidence in this government."
The motion was easily defeated 121- 84 (43 BQ, 30 NDP, 10 Liberal, 1 Independent). The Liberals that showed up to give token support for the motion were:
Dion (Party Leader), Ignatieff (Deputy Leader), Goodale (House Leader), Jennings (Deputy House Leader), Proulx (Deputy Whip), McGuinty (Enviornment Critic), Scarpaleggia (Water critic), Godfrey (Chair of the Caucus Committee on Environmental Sustainability), Regan (vice-chair of the Liberal Caucus Committee on environmental sustainability), Rodriguez (vice-chair official languages committee).
Dion has tied his hands with the elections can't be held before a certain date excuse. The NDP have shown themselves to be the more effective opposition party. If the Liberals want to hold back votes to not force an election don't tip their hand months in advance and at least make the votes close. Minority governments work best when the government is would prefer not to have an election and know that parties holding the balance of power are willing to topple the government if legislation does not accommodate their demands. The Liberal green light has given Harper the ability to put forth his agenda. As long as he can move the government in the direction he wants their is no need to go to the electorate for a clearer mandate.