The Liberals have decided to vote against the Conservative bill that attacks human smuggling. They are joining with the Bloc and the NDP, with all three parties vowing to kill the bill. One can almost hear Conservative coalition rhetoric on this decision.
Have the Liberals put their finger on the trigger that could cause an election, an election fought on the Conservative’s terms? All it will take is for the government to announce that the vote will be one of “confidence”. Lose it and the Conservatives are handed their election.
Attacking human smuggling has been a consistent Conservative theme since the last boat arrived off the coast of BC. Jason Kenney is insisting that this bill will go forward, regardless of the fact that it might be defeated. Kenney is a very smart operator. He has spent the last few years working our various new Canadian communities. He better than anyone else in the government, knows best how these communities will respond if it comes down to an election on this issue.
I know from my own experience that when boats arrived in the 1980’s, the harshest criticism came from new Canadians. These were individuals and families that had waited many years to be selected to immigrate to Canada. They came legally, waited their turn and were furious at what they saw as queue jumping.
Ignatieff’s spin is that he is standing up for the Charter and for the victims of human smuggling. The government will counter by arguing against queue jumping, being in favour of secure borders and punishing those that abuse our laws. For once the Liberals will take the lofty intellectual approach and argue about the Charter and legal rights while the Conservatives will be making an argument that will appeal to the heart.
Perhaps this explains the rumours that the shuffle is planned for next week, rather than the more logical early January period. Complete the shuffle. Get their election cabinet into place. Put Fantino in as a junior minister so that he can return to refight Vaughan as a cabinet minister. Then, call a confidence vote on the bill the last week the House sits in December or the first week of February after the House returns.
The Conservatives won the last Christmas election in 2005-06. There is no reason for them to be afraid of one now, especially when they can ride the momentum from Vaughan. The Liberals will get blamed for a Christmas election and the vote could be in February. There is nothing wrong with that timing for the Conservatives.
It will be an interesting campaign, Liberals arguing Charter and the Conservatives attacking smugglers, the coalition for not standing up for secure borders and the immigration industry that profits from defending queue-jumpers. Olivia Chow of the NDP was quoted as saying “bring it on”. She might get her wish.