THE AFFAIR OF THE CHAIRS
Early in November 2002, a political tremour shook Parliament Hill — fifty-six Liberal MPs voted against the will of their leader and with the opposition parties in the House of Commons. At issue was a Canadian Alliance motion to change House rules to allow chairs of committees to be elected by secret ballot. Purple prose and fervid speculation followed: Had the unthinkable happened and the Prime Minister “lost control of his caucus”? What did the future hold now that his caucus had “tasted blood”? How much of a personal humiliation was the vote for Jean Chrétien, and was it enough of one to cut short his interminable long goodbye? Or, was it evidence that the official opposition had coalesced sufficiently after its own leadership turmoil to carry through a successful divide and conquer mission? Could more of the same strategy be expected?
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