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A sad day for Canada

By agreeing to shut down parliament, the governor general saved the bacon of Stephen Harper's besieged Conservatives

Michael Stickings

The political situation in Canada – coup, crisis, call it what you want – continues to take new and dramatic turns. On Thursday morning, as expected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seeking to avoid a confidence motion - which he would lose, given that his Conservative government only has a minority of the seats in the House of Commons - met with governor general Michaëlle Jean to ask her to prorogue, or end, the current session of Parliament. Instead of calling for another election or turning to the Liberal-New Democratic coalition (which, with support from the Bloc Québécois, holds the majority in Canada's House of Commons), Jean granted his request.

What this means is that there won't be another confidence motion until parliament resumes sitting late in January - seven weeks from now - at the earliest. The government may then lose a confidence vote on the Throne Speech, which will begin the next parliamentary session, or on the budget, but, in the meantime, both sides will campaign aggressively to woo public opinion – the Conservatives even more so given the fact that they have more money than the other parties. In other words, we're about to be sucked into an election campaign but without the election.

Read on...

Enquiring minds want to know what Crimbrary thinks about the Harper/Coalition catfight. Crimbrary was an early and ardent supporter of the Coalition. Crimbrary recognizes that the Conservatives have won the first round of spin. Harper's conflating the Coalition with Separatism seems to have succeeded. And Dion's pathetic appearance on tv failed. The Coalition cannot let Dion anywhere near a tv or microphone again. His voice alone grates on Crimbrary's nerves. The Liberals need an interim leader. This will void the major rallying cry of the Conservatives. Then there can be a rational debate on the issues. Harper has walked away as jobs are swirling down the toilet. By the time Harper comes back from his vacation thousands and thousands more jobs will have disappeared. Crimbrary saw the true face of Harper and the ideologues. The Coalition, minus the albatross of Dion, should be able to make their case. The rednecks, now screaming about the separatists and Dion attempting to steal the election, will be unemployed by January. Let a rested and tanned Harper face parliament then. Who you gonna blame?


Anonymous said…
On prorogation: Jean was in a bind. Either grant prorogation, and block the will of the House; or deny prorogation, and disregard the advice of the PM. It was a difficult choice, and I'm not sure she made the right decision, but I can't condemn her for it. She may have figured that if she denied prorogation, she would then appear to align herselves with the Coalition in ousting Harper, whereas granting prorogation merely delays the non-confidence vote until January.

On the Bloc: I don't agree with the article that they can be treated as just any other democratically elected party. Their goal is the independence of Quebec--and that's not in Canada's interest. Harper's ranting on this topic is totally hypocritical, given what we now know about Stockwell Day's negotiations with the BQ a few years ago, but nonetheless it is disturbing that the Coalition would be willing to rely on the votes of separatists--yes, that's what they are--to stay in power. What payment has Duceppe demanded and been promised?

On the significance of recent events: it seems to me that this crisis represents the triumph of the small parties of the left. The NDP and the BQ have forced the Liberals to the bargaining table at last. Presumably this means the Liberals now think they won't be able to win a majority in the House for the forseeable future, hence the Coalition.

Nouveau Canuck
Tom said…
Nouveau Canuck
The GG, I assume simply listened to her advisors. I don't blame her but wish she had taken a different course which could have caused a bigger crisis. Could a different ruling have been appealed to the Supreme Court, or the Queen. I dont'know.

Ed Broadbent, former leader of the NDP had a nice article in the Globe today. He points out that the Bloc has as much right in parliament as any other party. In fact the Bloc has been a pretty progressive influence in parliament. I'm not in favour of separation but I don't begrude them taking democratic means to try and achieve it.

If the Liberals can elect a popular leader, which isn't looking entirely likely right now, they will elect a majority. But right now the left is divided like the right was several years ago. To defeat the evil empire the left should come together. I'm still optimistic the left can pull this off but the polls are looking bad today. Dion has got to go.

Thanks for the comment.

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