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Harper should have seen it coming

BY JOHN GEDDES


 

Harper should have seen it coming

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the reckless way Prime Minister Stephen Harper all but dared his opponents to form a coalition—providing them a catalyst for colluding and ample grounds for arguing their plan is legitimate—is that he has clearly thought through coalition scenarios in the past.

The fact that he contemplated forming a coalition of some sort with the NDP and Bloc in 2004 is now beyond dispute: along with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, he put it in writing. But there is also no doubt that he worried about the prospect of a Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition much more recently, during the fall election campaign.

About one week before the Oct. 14 vote, a change of tone took hold in Harper’s campaign rhetoric. Stéphane Dion’s campaign, after being written off by many early on, was showing signs of life in the stretch run. On the hustings in British Columbia, Harper suddenly seemed to sense danger, and he turned up the rhetorical intensity a few notches.

At a new conference in Victoria on Oct. 8, he caught reporters off guard by presenting the hypothesis that Stéphane Dion might actually become prime minister, but not necessarily in the usual way. “If you get Prime Minister Dion either directly or by the opposition parties helping him take power,” Harper said, “…interest rates are going to be going up.”

Leaving that interest rates warning aside, clearly Harper was thinking about something like the scenario we now face. Which makes it all the more surprising that he allowed it, or even caused it, to unfold. If he hadn’t really considered this possibility, he’d might seem less culpable. But since he demonstrably saw in various contexts how a coalition might emerge, his strategic blunder appears all the worse, and the damage to his reputation as a parliamentary strategist that much more severe.


 

Harper should have seen it coming

  1. Harper is fighting pre-emptive wars.
    Elections were called in October to prevent US Democratic spin masters helping Liberals to win election in Canada ( they were busy with US elections).
    After Obama won the plan was to triger no-confidence vote at the end of spring session of Parliament and have another election in summer with Obama as a President and US Democratic spin masters working full time on Canadian Elections.
    Harper pre-emptied them again by caussing current crisis with George W. Bush still in the Oval Office. That was a last minute call.

  2. Is this what the Vulcan 3-D Chess Master was hoping to provoke all along?

  3. The man who couldn’t care if “canada was one national government, two or ten” now pretends to be the saviour of the flag? Let’s not fool ourselves, the only flag this man truly cares about is one with his picture on it. As you noted, Harper has created this dilemma at the worst time, showing disdain for Canadian parliament, derision for his rivals and disinterest in the latest election results. It’s he who seems intent on overturning the last election results.

  4. Next time you’re on the Good show please speak on your point here. The Conservative-leaning show (which the chattering Conservatives have on speed-dial, despite the Lower Mainland’s decidedly middle-of-the-road political results) needs to hear more dissection on Harper’s role in this whole mess.

  5. I think Harper mused about a possible Lib-NDP coalition (that’s how I read it at the time) so that Dion would be asked about it and forced to rule it out.

    Which I think Dion then did. (not sure about the timeline here).

  6. “The fact that he contemplated forming a coalition of some sort with the NDP and Bloc in 2004 is now beyond dispute: along with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, he put it in writing.”
    I can’t help but be remined of that Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob runs against Mayor Quimby and accuses Mayor Quimby of being soft on crime because he released Sideshow Bob from prison.
    That is so Harperesque.

  7. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier, Danny Williams, is staying out of this fray and not taking sides but for anyone who remembers the ABC campaign during the last election it’s clear Mr. Williams was on the right track. He said well over a year ago that, “I’ve looked into the eyes of that man (Harper) and I can tell you he can’t be trusted.”

    Williams also talked of the lies Mr. Harper has perpetrated on the people of his province and how Canadians should be careful because, “…if he can do it to us he can do it to you…”.

    At the time many in Canada laughed at Mr. Williams and called him a loose cannon. With the perspective of time and after what the Harper government tried to pull in the House last thursday perhaps it’s time public sentiment on the wisdom of Mr. Williams has changed.

  8. Who knows what is inside Harpers head? My personal take – he didn’t think the opposition parties would have the guts to form a real coalition. He only wanted to wave the spectre of that possibility around and attempt to scare people by saying that any Coaltion would be dangerous for Canada. In fact, just the opposite is true. The internal push-pull of this coaltion, should it govern (and I hope it will) could result in some excellent legislation.

  9. If this coalition comes to power, I believe it will be the first time in my lifetime that the ruling federal government will represent the majority of Canadians, in MPs and the popular vote.

    That is why the Conservatives must stop it. Situations such as this, where the majority rules, would constitute the end of the possibility of Conservative majorities forever, if grassroots proportional representation, like Jack Layton wants, is enacted.

    Stephen Harper was so, so desperate to destroy the opposition and turn Canada into a one party state I’m not sure the realization of just how much it could backfire on him.

    Our Prime Minister says a minority appointed Prime Minister cannot be replaced by a majority appointed Prime Minister. I ask; and why not? Wouldn’t the will of the majority to form a government over that of a minority be in line with our electoral system?

    Harper now finds himself on the wrong side of our winner take all system and is demanding the rules be changed just for him AGAINGST the will of the majority of Canadians.

    Will the majority of Canadians accept the Prime Minister’s demand to sit down and shut up? I hope not. We are a prouder people than that, from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

  10. Thanks Karol, so the spin that this is somehow all the opposition’s fault, is just so much BS? Good to know.

  11. The concept of a coalition government may be an interesting curiosity, but the coalition that has been recently agreed to is laughable and doomed to failure. The idea of the Liberal party entering into a political pact with the Bloc Quebecois is a travesty, both in terms of the Liberal party’s heritage and the political tradition of this country. Throughout Canadian history, the Liberal party has been the most important in advocating and pursuing national unity. The party has been led by many great, multi-term, patriotic Prime Ministers, including French-Canadians such as Wilfrid Laurier, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. These men aggressively pursued national unity throughout their terms, despite separatist hostility from French Canadian leaders such as Henri Bourassa, Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

    Now the Liberals are led by a new French-Canadian who spits on the painstaking work of his pro-Canadian forerunners. He would ally Canada’s most nationalistic party with the separatist Bloc Quebecois. This is madness. Stephane Dion is not fit to run his own party, let alone this country. As even the Liberal faithful will admit, Dion is directly responsible for the worst election outcome for Liberals in decades, and has proved incompetent in leading his party forward. Dion is a desperate man, on his way out the door, looking to be replaced as Liberal leader within months. Desperate men resort to desperate measures, but can he really be so desperate as to unite with politicians so diametrically opposed to his party’s strongest principles?

    Canada has just gone through a long election process. Stephen Harper did not win 50% or more of the House of Commons. He does not have a majority government. However, the Conservative party clearly has the largest share of support from Canadians across Canada. They have formed a government. Would those belonging to the three losing parties of the last election seek to overturn the will of the Canadian people over sour grapes?

    When Canadians cast their votes, they voted for a member of a particular party that represented specific political ideologies and platforms, be they Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc, or others. Did Liberal supporters vote for this alliance? Did NDP supporters? Did the Bloc supporters? Absolutely not! Though the currently elected members of these three parties could mathematically make a majority government when mashed together, the real question is would Canadians vote for this mish-mash coalition over the unified Conservative party?

    In sum, the proposed coalition government may be constitutional, but it is not Canadian, not democratic, and not right. In addition, the proposed coalition triumvirate is sure to be short-lived as there is no conceivable way three parties and leaders with such different ideologies can co-exist for very long. The coalition conundrum is sure to further destabilize our political climate and add no promise for stability and resolution in the near future, other than, perhaps, a clear Conservative majority in the next election spurred on by disgruntled and disillusioned voters.

  12. I am sick of seeing Harper blamed for every little bit of this mess. What are the others then, some sort of Pavlovian dogs, who can’t help themselves? If there’s a demon in this situation it’s the media who echo each other ad nauseum in their hatred for Harper. If there’s any redemption in this situation, it’s that we the unwashed masses, are beginning to think for ourselves and see beyond the biased rhetoric. A pox on all your houses!!

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