From his September 27th column, Tory whip Jay Hill offers the Libs some advice:
The underlying myth in this debate about whether there will be an election this fall is that the Conservative Government must attract the support of at least one of the opposition parties to survive. They’re wrong. There is another option.
Conservatives set an historical precedent when we abstained from voting on the Liberal’s 2005 budget, allowing Paul Martin’s minority government to survive. At that time, our leader Stephen Harper said there were many aspects of that budget we fundamentally couldn’t vote to support. Yet, we respected the will of Canadians which strongly indicated they didn’t want an election.
Mr. Dion, as leader of the Official Opposition, could take the same, responsible course of action now. Canada’s economy is performing very well. Unemployment is at its lowest in 32 years. Taxes are down. Consumer spending remains robust and Canada is regaining its good reputation on the international stage thanks to the strong and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Harper.
Instructing his Liberal caucus to abstain from the vote on the Throne Speech is a lifeline that Mr. Dion may wish to grasp … and, more importantly, one that will save Canadians from an unwanted, unnecessary and expensive trip to the polls.
Interesting in that he got there a day ahead of this guy.
I am still torn on the notion of Dion's bringing down the government over October's throne speech, and the fact that the "enemy" is suggesting an abstention does not make this idea any more palatable. But, on the other hand:
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the Liberal Party at the moment, I suspect the outcome of a Spring election will be another (probably Tory) minority. There is nothing in the polls that makes me think that the Libs have plunged in support among the general populace (outside of Quebec) to anywhere near the extent that the morale of their hard-core supporters has suffered. And there is nothing to suggest that the Tories have suddenly become more lovable. Furthermore, since last year's budget was as goody filled as a Spring budget will likely be, and it got them nowhere, there is no reason to think that a replay will give the Tories their "winning conditions".
There is also the fact that it will look as though the Liberals have dropped another election into a busy election season. It will not play well in Atlantic Canada if Dion forces Newfoundlanders to pay attention to two elections simultaneously and it won't play well in Ontario if we have to start thinking Federal election a week after the Ontario version has wrapped up. The accusation will be (as Hill points out) that the Liberal party is putting its own best interests ahead of the nations'. And in this case the claim will have more than a bit of truth to it.
Yes, an abstention will look bad and will attract negative media coverage...for a couple of days. But the situation right now is the political equivalent of trench warfare--it takes tons of effort to gain you an inch. My instinct at the moment is to duck and cover and wait for the latest bombardment to end, which it surely will.