PM wants election, says MP Nathan Culllen

  • Nov. 5, 2007 2:00 p.m.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to want a federal election, while Liberal leader Stephane Dion is twisting himself into a pretzel in an effort to avoid one, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen. Mr. Cullen, a member of the NDP, said things have been very strange lately in Ottawa, with another two confidence votes held the last week of October, and every Liberal MP abstaining on Mr. Dion’s orders. Their abstentions ensured that the minority Conservatives survived the confidence votes, even though NDP and Bloc members voted against them. Mr. Cullen said the Liberals’ approach has coined a new term in Ottawa: the “whipped abstention”. “I’ve not seem them this dispirited or disheartened, ever,” he said of his Liberal colleagues. “I think they should be handing their paycheques in. They’re not voting.” Mr. Cullen was critical of the mini-budget presented by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Oct. 31, saying it hands $14 billion worth of tax cuts to big corporations and does nothing for the pine beetle-battered communities of northwestern BC. The Conservatives’ decision to cut the GST by another percentage point, to 5 percent, effective Jan. 1, also came in for criticism, with Mr. Cullen saying that every economist in the country has said lowering the GST is “boneheaded” and not an effective way to improve the economy. Meanwhile, Mr. Cullen said the outcome of his September complaint to the Ethics Commissioner has been “hugely disappointing”. He had written to both the Ethics Commissioner and the Prime Minister after Conservative MP Dick Harris advised Skeena-Bulkley Valley residents to take their federal concerns to Houston mayor Sharon Smith instead of Mr. Cullen. Ms Smith will be the Conservative candidate in this riding when the next federal election is called. However, the commissioner has ruled that “by the letter of the law, he’s allowed to do these things,” Mr. Cullen said. He’s calling for those rules to be changed, and added that his constituents have been outraged by the move. A committee of MPs is also looking at the issue.