Election likely, say area MPs 

Weston, Strahl reluctant but ready to fight again

 

A federal election may be coming soon and Sea to Sky's MPs say they're reluctant but ready to fight.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff indicated to Canadians on Sept. 1 that his party will no longer support the Conservative government, vowing that "we can do better" by holding the Conservatives accountable and opposing them in Parliament. The Liberals could trigger another election if the NDP joins them in voting down a confidence motion in the House of Commons.

In a media conference call on Sept. 10, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl, who also represents Pemberton and Mount Currie, said he thinks an election "very likely, unfortunately" and worries about the impact a vote could have on the operations of government.

"(Liberal Leader Michael) Ignatieff came out of their caucus meeting and has been speaking in terms and using language that's hard to misinterpret and doesn't give him a lot of outs, which is unfortunate," Strahl said. "I think useful language for an opposition party to use is if we don't see progress on the issues that are important to us, we'll have to bring the government down.

"What he said now is they will vote against the government at every opportunity and they will bring forward their own votes of non-confidence as well. Once you get into language like that, it doesn't become about the issue, it becomes about a pre-determined decision to bring down the government."

Strahl went on to say that having an election now could have a major impact on the flow of stimulus money that has been announced for various parts of the country. In B.C., May's provincial election has already stunted the flow of infrastructure grants to communities. That includes the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, which is now waiting on the results of an application to Build Canada to upgrade a dyke on the Signal Hill/B.C. Rail properties near the town centre, which are slated for development of over 1,000 homes.

That application is currently held up at the provincial level, likely because the May election delayed the process of reviewing and approving requests for funds.

Strahl said a federal election could have a similar impact.

"An election holds things up," he said. "It doesn't matter who's going to get re-elected, it takes months to get the machinery going again. We had great success (with the stimulus funding), I think the first agreement we had was with British Columbia, so we got a lot of money out in a hurry. Then the provincial election comes and there's always a slowdown and it takes months."

John Weston, Conservative MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, echoed Strahl's concerns. He said he's having trouble finding a Canadian who wants another election just a year after the last one but he's ready to fight if it comes.

"I am ready but reluctant to do something which is not in the best interests of Canadians," he said. "It will cost us over $300 million and distract businesspeople, government workers from doing what we should be doing, which is creating jobs and spurring on the economy.

"Now is not the time for an election, even Liberals don't want an election, therefore I have to suppose Michael Ignatieff is posturing and hoping against hope that someone will save him from the fate that he is seeking because it's not good for Canada."

An election isn't up the Liberals alone. There's also the opposition Bloc Quebecois and the NDP to contend with. If both parties vote down a confidence motion with the Liberals then Parliament will have to be dissolved. The Liberals and Bloc voting together won't be enough to bring the Conservatives down.

Ken Halliday, president of the Liberal Riding Association in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, said Liberals in the riding aren't quite as ready as they'd like to be, but that if an election was called then people would respond enthusiastically around the riding.

"There's a real groundswell of interest and support in the riding that I think in an instant we can turn into an effective campaign team," he said.

 

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