Today, Stephane Dion held a press conference in the National Press Theatre in Ottawa to address recent comments by the Prime Minister regarding the dysfunction of Parliament, particularly in reference to the Ethics committee which wrapped up a round of meetings last week without much accomplished.
The leader of the opposition started his press conference by responding indirectly to the Prime Minister’s ultimatum given in at the Conservative caucus retreat in Lévis, Quebec when the PM said that Mr. Dion has to “fish or cut bait”, meaning that Dion either has to instruct his members to contribute to a working atmosphere in Parliament or indicate to the PM that its time for an election. Dion made reference to fishing, cutting the fish, eating the fish and fishing for victory… or something. The Liberal leader was certainly fishing, however, not in the way the Prime Minister had hoped and rather was searching for a reason to defer ultimate judgment on this Parliament.
His tough words were empty as he told gathered reporters that the PM was wrong on climate change, irresponsible on the alleged Cadman affair, on the so-called In-and-out election financing scheme, but as Richard Brennan from the Toronto Star asked, why don’t you just say “bring it on”?
Dion was non-committal and responded that Canadians have indicated that they want an election, that there will be an election but there are by-elections to win first. Asked whether his indecisiveness will make him look weak to Canadians, Dion non-answered that his job isn’t to respond to the Prime Minister’s taunts but to replace him.
The opposition leader asserted that this is the most partisan government for some time and reflected a non-partisan tone claiming that while the Liberals are the party of multiculturalism and the Charter that no party has a monopoly on that. Similarly, on the topic of national unity, Dion responded that a right-wing government doesn’t make him feel less Canadian and that the Prime Minister should set a non-partisan tone on the unity file.
Despite these concessions, irresponsibility was the charge that Dion laid against the Prime Minister during the press conference and said that the PM’s tactics in the 39th Parliament were “unacceptable”.
Stephane Dion has had over 40 opportunities to offer more than words on the “unacceptable” state of Parliament. Will he stop fishing and finally cut bait?