MacKay says its not the time to play politics
OTTAWA - Central Nova MP, Peter MacKay, says he's hoping cooler heads prevail in the House of Commons this week.
Opposition to last week's financial update thrust Parliament into turmoil - the opposition NDP and Liberal parties now say they are prepared to defeat the government in a motion of non-confidence and form a coalition backed by the Bloc Quebecois.
Yesterday, those two opposition parties said they came to an agreement on such a coalition and would not back down, regardless of concessions made by the minority Conservative government.
The minister of national defence reached The News for this interview in the nation's capital, but he says he spent the weekend in Central Nova.
"I heard from a lot of people - they don't want another election. They expect the government and the opposition to find a way forward," he said.
"They don't want to see Stephane Dion as prime minister, propped up by the separatists and socialists. Those are the three key messages I got."
And MacKay said he's hoping that government gets back to the business of governing, rather than focusing on "political gamesmanship and brinksmanship."
"We do not need a political crisis in addition to the financial crisis all countries are experiencing right now," he said.
He says his party is willing to put the aforementioned fiscal update back up for discussion prior to a Dec. 8 vote. So far, in response to harsh criticism, measures to prevent civil servants from striking and the elimination of a vote subsidy have been taken out of the document to match the opposition's demands.
"So clearly, we are responsive to the opposition," MacKay said. "We've asked for their ideas - and all we've heard from them is that we want to defeat you, we want to form a coalition and we want to go around the wishes of the electorate."
Taken in that light, MacKay calls it a 'power-grab.'
"It's about putting forward (Liberal leader) Stephane Dion as the alternative prime minister, which 75 per cent of Canadians voted against - and having a coalition government propped up by separatists bound and determined to destroy the country."
Should that happen, it would mean the first Parliamentary change in power - without an election - in over 80 years.
MacKay says he's not going to speculate on what might or might not happen.
"There's a lot of speculation going around, and I have to deal with the here and now. But we have a prime minister, we have a government that is focused on the economy and the best interests in the country. We have a mandate that was legitimately given to us by the electorate, just under two months ago. And, we are determined to make this parliament work."