Friday, February 8, 2008

Existential Crisis Of The Day: Apparently, Not All Liberals Are Idiots

I just don't know what's going on anymore. When Dion won the Liberal leadership I was happy. I was comfortable. I was safe in the knowledge that Dion's Liberals would jump into bed with the Greens or NDP (or both) and immediately abandon the center allowing the Tories to squeaze a majority government out of the Canadian electorate in no time flat. But lately I've been experiencing the strangest sense of disequilibrium and I think I've finally founds its source. Particularly since Keith Martin defended free speech last week - or "Nazi rights" as many in the leftarded blogosphere have begun to call them - it has become all too clear that not all Liberal MPs are idiots. And it's thrown my world into chaos.

The Chronicle Herald has the story:

Robert Thibault is among a small group of MPs pushing Liberal Leader Stephane Dion behind closed doors to take a more hawkish position on Afghanistan, sources say.

Mr. Thibault won West Nova by only 512 votes in the last election, and his riding is home to 14 Wing Greenwood, the largest airbase on the East Coast.

In a free vote in 2006, along with all the other Liberal MPs in Nova Scotia, Mr. Thibault voted to extend the deployment of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan until February 2009. Most Liberal MPs voted against extending the mission.

This week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that this spring he will hold a confidence vote in the House on extending the Afghan mission once again, meaning Canada could be plunged into an election if the motion is defeated.

Mr. Dion has refused to change the Liberal party’s position, resisting pressure from Conservatives and commentators who suggest he should endorse the extension, suggested by John Manley’s expert panel. Mr. Dion wants Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan but step back from the lead role in combat in Kandahar province.

In a Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday, Etobicoke North MP Roy Cullen is reported to have urged Mr. Dion to change the Liberal position on Afghanistan. British Columbia MP Keith Martin — a former Reformer whose riding includes the Esquimalt navy base — has called on Mr. Dion to allow a free vote on the motion and has released a position paper that endorses Canada staying in a combat role.

On Thursday, Le Journal de Montreal reported that Mr. Thibault stands with Mr. Cullen and Mr. Martin, something confirmed by another source.

On Thursday, Mr. Thibault wouldn’t say whether that’s true.

"I never comment on what goes on within caucus and I don’t know where Le Journal de Montreal got those things," he said.

Mr. Thibault hopes that Mr. Dion and Mr. Harper can reach a compromise.

"I think there may be some way that we can work towards reconciliation of our position with the Conservative government," he said.

In question period Thursday, Mr. Harper said: "The choice for all parties in this House will be clear: to support the military mission or not to support it."

Mr. Thibault wouldn’t say whether he might abstain from voting if he disagrees with the party’s position, as Mr. Martin has suggested he may do.

My best to Roy Cullen, Robert Thibault, and, of course, my new favourite Liberal MP Keith Martin. I hope they manage to have their voices heard within their party.

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