NIAGARA FALLS – There's not much point waiting for the Gomery report now that Prime Minister Paul Martin has called the sponsorship scandal an "unjustifiable mess," says Niagara Falls Conservative MP Rob Nicholson.
"I don't know what Justice Gomery could tell us that (Martin) didn't already tell us," Nicholson said Thursday night.
But a local Liberal official supported Martin's belief an election should not occur until the report into the sponsorship scandal is completed late this year.
Like millions of Canadians, Nicholson watched Martin use a rare televised address to say he would call an election within 30 days of the final report by Justice John Gomery, which is due in December.
The offer of an election next winter, I just don't think will fly," Nicholson said."(Martin) admitted public money was 'misdirected and misused' and that it was an 'unjustifiable mess,'" said Nicholson, from his downtown Ottawa office.
Liberals saw Martin's move as "courageous" because it assures Canadians they will pass judgment, but only after all the evidence is in, said Mark Matthews, a spokesman for the Liberals' federal riding association in Niagara Falls.
"We need to let the judge judge and then let Canadians be the jury. That's the right way to put this thing together," Matthews said.
Opposition leaders including the Conservatives' Stephen Harper spoke live on TV from Parliament's Centre Block after Martin's taped speech was broadcast. He called the Prime Minister's speech a "sad spectacle" but didn't say whether his party was prepared to join Bloc Quebecois members to bring down the Liberals' minority government.
The decision to force an election or not has created "a great deal of difficulty" for Conservative MPs. Since the House of Commons is not sitting next week, politicians will be back in their ridings next week. Nicholson said he will be in Niagara Falls today.
"I'm going to be very interested to hear what people have to say. I'm going to gather my impressions over the next eight or nine days," he said.
When Conservatives return to Ottawa in the first week of May, they will have heard from Canadians whether they want an election now or to wait, he said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Canadians want Parliament to run effectively and his MPs are willing to work with the Liberals to bring legislation forward.
In Niagara Falls, NDP riding association president Mary Lou Reiman said an election seems likely sooner rather than later.
"It sounds like a last-ditch attempt to hold off an election," Reiman said about Martin's message.
Martin's request to let the Gomery inquiry continue didn't warrant the use of the nationally televised speech, which has been used about five times in the last 30 years, Nicholson said.
"Because the Liberal party is having a problem doesn't mean it's a national crisis. They are two separate things," said Nicholson.