By Rachel Ward
We’re heading to the polls.
A no-confidence vote found the government in contempt of Parliament. The government fell 156 to 145. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will now ask the Governor General to dissolve parliament and call an election.
This is a more strategic choice than bringing the government down over the budget, says Dalhousie University political science professor Lori Turnbull. Choosing to use the negative image of contempt in parliament over the mixed reviews of the budget was a wise move, she says.
“It’s really about framing. It’s about the focus of the campaign,” she says.
Listen as Turnbull explains why the contempt charge will frame the election [audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Effect-of-Contempt.mp3|titles=Effect of Contempt]
“To be in contempt of Parliament is not a good thing,” says Turnbull. “It’s embarrassing. It shows that the House doesn’t feel that the government is respectful of Parliament.”
“Instead of telling the House exactly what things would cost, the Conservative Government argued that it was sort of Cabinet confidentiality and they don’t have to be forthcoming with budget details,” says Turnbull, whose research focuses on Canadian parliamentary government.
“The purpose of the Parliament is to hold the government accountable for its spending, more than anything else, so there was no way the Parliament could do its job without that information.”
The government handled funding proposals secretively, says Turnbull. This includes money for Harper’s justice system reform plan, proposed F-35 fighter jet purchases and the corporate tax cuts outlined in Tuesday’s budget.
Listen as Turnbull describes potential voter response [audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Voters-Contempt-of-Parliament.mp3|titles=Voters – Contempt of Parliament]
It’s the first time in Canada or the British Commonwealth that a government has fallen after being found guilty of contempt of Parliament.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff introduced the no-confidence Friday. It passed Friday afternoon.
Megan Leslie, Member of Parliament for Halifax, says she’s received constituent support for the NDP’s decision to vote out the government. “There was a lot more vigorous support for our position than I expected.”
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