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Oops, the budget passed

I am not exactly sure how the procedural blunder came to pass yesterday in the House of Commons that allowed the Tory budget to pass unopposed, but ultimately it works in everyone's favour.

The Tories can't lose on a budget vote. If the budget were to have been defeated, they would have gone to an election where they would likely make political gains. With a budget vote win, their agenda proceeds forward on their terms. It's win-win for them.

The Bloc can't take an election right now, or possibly ever again. Their popularity is at an all-time low in Quebec and they would come back to Ottawa after an election looking kind of like the NDP. By having the vote accidentally pass quickly, they avoid being put in the position where they have to choose between supporting a government that they disagree with, and toppling a government that would eat them for lunch in an election.

The NDP has nothing much to gain from an election now, either. The left is split between them and the Greens, and the centre-left already sees them as responsible for Harper being in power and they're doing about as well as they ever expect to in terms of number of MPs in the Commons. Having the budget pass mysteriously is good for them, too.

The Liberals are in the midst of a long and deep leadership race. It is probably the first in forty years where the outcome isn't a fairly safe bet. An election right now would be virtually unwinnable by the Grits. It is not possible for a party to go to the people and ask for a mandate to govern without being able to say who the leader will be a few months down the road and thus where exactly the party stands on a number of issues. The budget passing by accident is good for us, too.

In short, everybody wins. Nobody loses, at least in the Commons. And in the long term, noone loses at all. If this budget were to have brought the government down, there would be a risk that the tories would come back with a majority government and damage the country much more severely than this one budget will. One Conservative budget is a lot better than four Conservative budgets.

There is, of course, also the matter of the Senate. It is rare for the Senate to be activist, but now is certainly an opportunity for it to act where the Commons apparently failed and carefully review and, if needed, amend the budget, away from the glare of the cameras. It is the Senate's job now to inspect the budget one last time before it becomes law without the partisan posturing of the House of Commons overshadowing the debate.

Posted at 08:28 on June 07, 2006

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