Harper backs down.
From Wells comments (Jeff Jedras, I think):
Harper will back down. He’s not leaving 24 Sussex any time soon. He’ll carve the party financing stuff out into a separate, non-confidence bill, throw in a little earlier stimulus to mollify one of the opposition parties, and live to fight another day, his bluff having been called.
Some Liberals catch a flu:
Liberal finance critic Scott Brison said it would be "premature" to discuss the prospect of a coalition or even to firmly state that all Liberals will vote against the update on Monday. He was happy, though, to attack the Conservatives.
As I argued yesterday, if the point is to kill the subsidy cuts, this might work. There has to be legislation introduced, it has to go through various committees, to the Senate, etc. At some point it could all die in the night. And, as Kadey notes, there is no sign of this legislation in the update or elsewhere:
According to the Man in the Striped Tie who is in charge of explaining stuff to confused journalists, the legislation will be introduced “soon”. How soon? Well, before the House rises for Christmas, although he admitted that it was unlikely that it would make it through Parliament before the break — which means that we may not have an election showdown until the New Year. Oh, and remember all that stuff about belt (or, depending on your perspective, noose) tightening beginning at home for all political parties? The specifics of those cuts/freezes/whatever to MP and ministerial salaries are also left to the imagination; presumably that, too, will be in the magical mystery Bill C-2. (I’m assuming it will be C-2, since there’s no indication that the government plans to break its perfect record of not introducing legislation between now and whenever the bill is finally tabled.)
Now, I am not one of those who thought the Lib's abstaining did them much harm last election. At least it did less harm than Dion's trying to explain the Green Shift in garbled English. And with respect to any number of contentious bills (C-6, C-10, C-484), the process worked. In this case, however, the optics may be too awful to contemplate.
Weird Shit Happens
If the Liberals do the right thing and oppose these cuts, along with the rest of the opposition, I suspect we are more likely to see an outcome such as this:
Canada’s constitutional law dealing with minority governments was altered in 1968 when Pearson’s government was unexpectedly defeated on a matter of confidence. While this should have led to an immediate dissolution of parliament, none of the parties were ready, and Pearson was in the process of being replaced as leader of the Liberals. By mutual agreement among the party leaders, a new motion was passed that retroactively declared that the budgetary matter on which the government was defeated was not a matter of confidence, setting a new precedent.
As a final note, if these sudden events inspire the Liberal Party to get a new leader in place on the cheap and before May '09, then some good will have come of it. At this point I don't give a crap who it is. If its Iggy, hopefully Kinsella will make a man out of him (teach him to drink beer and say eh), and I will always be around to provide character building ridicule on occasions when he says things like "The Spotted Boa is a noble animal, which consumes its prey head-first and eats it whole, later excreting it in compact pellets and thereby reminding me of me."
Update: Tories take option number 1--They Cave!