Harper’s version

Though it’s not reported exactly what question was put to him, Stephen Harper seems to have explained this morning what he meant when he asked Adrienne Clarkson in 2004 to consider her “options.”

“What was the option? The option was very clear. It’s the option we did. Which was as opposition leader I was seeking to put pressure on the government to influence its agenda without bringing it down, without defeating it and replacing it.”

Harper said that at the time, Martin was saying that any change in government policy, no matter how small, would be treated as a confidence measure and he would go to the governor general. “My position was if he did that the governor general should come to us. I would have told the governor general we in fact are not trying to bring the government down. All Mr. Martin has to do is sit down and talk with us. And I’m sure we will find a resolution.”

This, though it would seem to involve dabbling with the confidence convention, is similar to what Mr. Harper said when asked in 2004 about the letter to the governor general and whether he was interested in forming government. Except that at that time, he described the possibility of forming government as “extremely hypothetical.” Both Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe maintain Mr. Harper was interested in the possibility of forming government at the time, despite being one of the “losers” of the 2004 election.

Nonetheless, if this answers the first of those two questions for Mr. Harper, that leaves only the second in need of a response.




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Harper’s version

  1. You and your party now argue that only the party that wins the most seats can form government. (from Wherry's Sunday post)

    I don't think he's saying that. If I'm mistaken, then please provide a link or quote.

    I don't think Harper ever stated that a coalition is illegal, or cannot form government. He's arguing that if a majority Tory government is not formed, then the opposition parties will come together and form a coalition.

    I think Wherry's putting words in Harper's mouth, but that's just my opinion. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  2. ''… as opposition leader I was seeking to put pressure on the government to influence its agenda without bringing it down…''

    This could just as much apply to the motivations of Dion/Layton/Duceppe. Before the ''coalition'' threat came down, Harper's gang had a bit of a laissez-faire attitude towards the economic crisis (and stimulus related response). In fact, his plan was to tend to it months later (if required).

    This did not suit the Opposition and they sought to change that approach. They did what they had to do… And just like that, Harper went about it differently, mostly borrowing from The Opposition's stimulus plans and then marketing it as his own.

    The Opposition succeeded in influencing the Government's agenda without bringing it down…

  3. Somebody get a fire extinguisher….Harp's pants are on fire.

    And so Duceppe and Layton will tell him….publically, loudly….once again.

  4. Mike,

    Harper said "Losers don't get to form coalitions. Winners are the ones who form governments." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta
    This was part of Harper's attempt to discredit the Liberal-NDP coalition that was agreed to in 2008.

  5. We would be splitting hairs on semantics – illegal vs. illegitimate, but this is what Harper said on Saturday

    "First of all you don't try and form a government if you lost the election. That is not legitimate. If Canadians elect the other party, even by a minority you respect that judgement. It is illegitimate to attempt to overturn that and if you want to overturn it, you go back to the people and get a mandate to do so."

  6. Has Bob Rae ruled out a coalition as well? What if the Liberals lose and quickly dump Ignatieff. Rae would not be bound by Ignatieffs promise…would he?

  7. The question is, what happens if the "winner" decides he doesn't want the job anymore?

    That is the situation that Harper's "coalition" was to address. Never once did they threaten to defeat the government and install themselves in its place. The whole thing came about because of Martin threatening to go to the GG and dissolve Parliament only a few weeks/months after winning the 2004 election.

  8. I think it is hard to argue that they did not want to form a government. They even pre-allocated cabinet positions. It was a very real coalition. I don't think that is the issue.

  9. My sense continues to be that Harper is speaking to a situation where the Conservatives win a plurality, but then the other parties do not even give the Conservatives a chance to govern, but simply set up their own government immediately. I'm not saying that Harper has valid reason to imagine this is what would happen, and I think Ignatieff's letter should make it difficult for that kind of thing to happen, but that's how I see Harper framing it.

  10. Will Tories now ask that every possible future leader of liberals pledge never to form a coalition I wonder?

  11. Harper's answer in no way answers the first question, Mr. Wherry.

    The context Harper's "cooperlition" letter was what happens if Martin asks for dissolution. Harper knows full well that the GG's only options at that point are to ask the Leader of the Official Opposition if he can obtain the confidence of the House or dissolve Parliament.

    The GG does not and has never said his or her advisor 'thanks, but I'm rejecting your advice and implementing my own solution'. Not once in Parliamentary history anywhere, as far as I am aware, has a GG rejected the advice of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister not resigned immediately.

    It would be unthinkable and Say Anything is being extremely disenguous in suggesting he actually thinks she had any other option or that he was asking her to consider any other option.

  12. If Harper was merely trying to influence Martin's government without bringing it down, the three amigos would have been meeting with Martin (or would have written a letter to him) instead of writing to the GG. There would be telling him that if he did not amend his Throne Speech, they would be writing to the GG. Simple answer to a simple question, no?

    Would QMI carry out an exclusive poll to determine if Canadians believe Harper was not trying to replace Martin without an election? Here is my vote: he was. LOL

  13. Oops .."They" would be telling him … not "There" …

  14. "That 2004 coalition letter? I was just sayin', keep your options open, Honey. Don't let me tell you how to do your job."

  15. Do I really look as stupid as Harper thinks I am?

  16. Do opposition leaders often write the GG to keep her informed that they are NOT bringing down the government?

  17. Harper's gone Homeric:

    He's writing fiction with his mouth.

  18. So, the 'all options' Harper wanted Clarkson to consider were to do absolutely nothing when/if they voted no confidence in the government? That's not very credible. We have two other people who are contradicting Harper's incredible reinterpretation of his past motivations. This is just such a gad-awfully stupid debate–we should really just agree that the second party can legitimately form government if the first party loses confidence and move on to issues of substance. This whole debate isn't helping anyone.

  19. *sigh*

    Why just Rae? We should have every Canadian sign such a promise, just in case they might be Liberal leader in a couple months. Anything short of that means a perfectly legitimate outcome may come to pass after all.

  20. I'm sure Harper would love to have this coalition issue put to bed permanently. Another few days of the TSX dropping 150 points and that wish might be fulfilled.

  21. Troop-hater!

  22. Duceppe seemed to want to make clear back in 2004 that it was emphatically not a coalition. He's on record about that, with nifty press conference footage CPAC's been running today. How that squares with his claiming secret proof of Harper hypocrisy on coalitions now, I have no idea, but I'm sure you people will find a way.

    Put more bluntly, he was lying then, or he's lying now. Which is it? And which doesn't also suggest he might be lying both times?

  23. Just as it is hard to argue that, in 2004, a fairly blunt letter to the GG reminding her of her ''options'' was done as a simple courtesy (as if somehow the GG wasn't quite aware of her job description).

  24. "Indeed, if Harper does not win a majority, that is the almost certain result: though it's always possible Harper might try to strike a deal with them himself, and not impossible they would accept, the greater probability by far is that a Conservative minority government would soon be defeated in the House. Depending on the numbers, and assuming Ignatieff could give the Governor General some assurance, sans coalition, of its stability, a Liberal minority government would then follow."

    This is from Coyne: http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/03/27/iggys-continui

    And it does a good job of capturing what I think Harper thinks will happen.

  25. "If Canadians elect the other party …"

    Canadians elect MPs in ridings. We don't have a party list system (I can think of only two countries that do — both in the Middle East).

    MPs in the House vote confidence in a Government. First swing of the bat goes to the party (or parties) with the most MPs.

    Failing this, the House can vote for another party or group of parties to govern — or venture back to the polls with the GG's say so.

    Harper's willingness to distort how our system has worked for 144 years is unnerving. His denial of Westminster convention is laughable.

  26. That is exactly what is going to happen. If you listen to the Liberal's messaging on this, they have been very clear. The party with the most seats needs to "try and get confidence of the house" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, this will never happen in a million years).

  27. I wish he would just say the truth which is just as good for him.
    The party with the most seats gets first chance to form a government and meet parliament. So a party with one seat less than the party with the most can't go first even though it has some agreement to get support. I think that makes political sense if not legal sense.
    If Harper would just try to tell the truth it wouldn't hurt him all that much on this issue, and he could still make his political point. But he's looking a bit desperate and panicky the way he's going on.

  28. Only when Bev Oda is asked to draw up the letter.

  29. Harper's lying both times.

    Duceppe said HE would never enter into a coalition. He didn't with Harper and he didn't with Dion. He said he'd support a coalition in the house.

  30. In 2004, when Evan Solomon asked Mr. Harper… are we to assume that therefore you're working to form a coalition? He could have done a Bev Oda and answered, I am NOT working to form a coalition.

  31. Except this is what happens after every single Canadian election.

  32. http://www.canada.com/news/Tory+support+stays+hig

    Keep at that "Harper's a liar" meme that folks have been pounding at for a couple of years now.

    Meanwhile Harper's trust numbers are soaring, and Iggy's are rock bottom and even well below Laytons.

    I say if it hasn't worked all year, keep trying. It's bound to work now.

  33. Okay. I assume your referring to the "The party with the most seats needs to 'try and get confidence of the house'" part. Yes, you are right, this happens after every single Canadian election.

    What does not happen after every single Canadian election, is a pre-determined plan by the three parties that have lost the last two elections (please don't tell me MP's are elected, not parties, i know this) to refuse to show confidence in the party that has one the last two elections, no matter what. This is what Harper thinks will happen, and alfanerd seems to think will happen also.

    So, to clarify, in the event of a Conservative plurality, the opposition will simply refuse to have confidence, and will form their own government.

    This kind of thing absolutely does not happen after every single Canadian election, though I grant you it will be two in a row if it happens after this one.

  34. Yes. It is a great question to ask all the local candidates. More so some of the so called front runners to replace Ignatieff. They should be record before we vote.
    I will be asking my local candidates at the forum.

  35. Man, you had me right up to the very last line. In fact, I was thinking to myself, "could they really think this? I can see where they'd be upset if they actually believed this. I'd join the Conservatives in feeling THIS was illegitimate". But of course, the last line proves the lie, unless you simply meant a coalition was formed within a few weeks of an election. Because that was NOTHING like refusing to take the will of the Canadian people and plotting ahead of time to disregard what voters said before voters had even said it. Remember, Harper's big out allowing prorogation was that confidence was expressed after the speech from the throne.

    It was the surprise, no-mention-in-campaigning stuff of the FU, along with a complete disregard for people facing the recession head-on. You don't sincerely believe they concocted the plan before the FU, and before the election!, do you?

  36. Why stop at the candidates? You should be asking the homeless guy on the bus, your child's school teacher, your neighbours and your granny whether they would enter into a coalition if they were to hypothetically become Liberal leader after the election. If even one of them says yes, you know that we're going to have a coalition after the election. In the bag!

  37. More to the point, I don't see why you should ask anyone. I get the distinct impression that your opinion won't be swayed. Everyone else will be puzzled why you're even asking. You might want to preamble with the conspiracy theory, just so people know where you're coming from. Don't forget to blame the Zionist media.


  38. So, to clarify, in the event of a Conservative plurality, the opposition will simply refuse to have confidence, and will form their own government.

    Precisely.

    I hope Im wrong, but I have very little doubt that this is what is going to happen, and the Liberals will say 'look, no coalition'.

    If the throne speech is essentially non-controversial, and the opposition votes it down, what you will have is a coalition in everything but name.

    If Harper provokes the opposition parties like he did in November 08, then he will have brought it on himself and I wont fault the opposition parties for bringing him down.

  39. A proof option is a proof option.

  40. The Conservatives "know" what will happen if they don't get a majority. Is that because that is what they would do if they were in the same position?

  41. So Harper expects us to believe that when he asked the GG to consider her options back 2004, what he meant was that she should insist on an election? For that he sought the cooperation of the two other party leaders?

    I'm sorry, but has Harper had a drug test lately? I've heard more coherent stories from meth fiends.

  42. Yeah, that last line was meant sarcastically, specially against Bill M and his deliberate misunderstanding of what was being talked about in this thread. Alfranerd says, pretty clearly, that the opposition is already planning not to have confidence in the Conservative plurality (that was the wink wink nudge nudge part), and Bill M comes back to say this is how it always goes? So, I was just trying to make fun of that.

    So I happily retract that last line. I was even going to write a clarification about how I knew that situation in '08 was not exactly the same as what the Conservatives think will happen this time, and I should have used the sarcasm font (second time today I forgot that).

  43. Are you implying that the NDP and Bloc will conspire with the Cons in the event of a Liberal Plurality? If so, no, that is not what I think will happen.

  44. Shouldn't we be asking Harper's potential replacements? How about Baird, or Prentice or Deanie Del Mastro? Would they form a coalition with the Liberals to bring down an NDP minority?

  45. Thanks for the clarification. The problem is that sarcasm font is so hard to find!

  46. Ah. Found it, I see :)

  47. Endlessly repeating this doesn't seem to help. Maybe we could just arrange a tape loop and broadcast it from the Peace Tower.

  48. Seconded.

    Harper's explanation is complete hokum in the context of what the GG is allowed to do, given convention. She could:

    1) call an election; or
    2) ask another party to gain confidence of the House.

    That's it. There is no third option. The above two were all the "options" Harper asked the GG to consider, as there are no more.

    I agree if Martin went to the GG and asked for and was refused an election, his only option would be to resign and Harper would have become PM.

    I hope our Fourth Estate pushes him further on this, this answer reeks to high heaven.

  49. So, lets take Harper at his word.
    (For this exercise only, his word is worth about two Nortel shares in the real world.)
    Harper says his 2004 machinations meant that:
    In a minority parliament the Gov't has to work with the opposition who are a majority (his own words) and that non-monetary issues should not be confidence votes. Now contrast that sentiment with the last few years of bully-by-confidence and what you see is the biggest hypocrite in Canadian political history.

  50. Honestly, those are the signals the Liberals are sending, they emphasize that the government must pass this huge test: to get the confidence of the house. And, I dont mean to underestimate the significance of the house's confidence, but it is customary in Canada to give a government some reasonable time to govern.

    In essence, the general assumption in our system has been that by giving a party a plurality of seats, the canadian people have shown confidence in the government, and that the opposition ought not to take such a drastic measure as this right out of the gate.

  51. Why not put it on the application for new immigrants? Never know…some upstart arriviste might aspire to leadership of the Liberal Party some day.

  52. "This whole debate isn't helping anyone."

    I'm with you on that one. It's deflecting from debate about more substantive issues. Let's move on.

  53. I think most people are not particularly interested in running for leadership of a faltering out of touch party.
    Bob Rae on the other hand was a huge booster of a coalition and leadership contender until Ignatieff outfoxed him.
    And Andrew. Most people are not angry partisans like yourself. So I suspect people at the forum would be very interested in the answer. There were 70 some Liberal MP's who signed the last agreement in 2008. They did not go to the public before they signed.

  54. You should probably have just ignored my comment. It was intended for people with a sense of humour.

  55. I am pretty convinced they are planning a coalition as we speak. Chretien and Broadbent have been working behind the scenes on this. Why else would an election be called that looks so unpromising for opposition parties? I also suspect (and there is some evidence) that a coalition was being planned in advance last time around also. While proroguing was held against Harper, the Opposition could easily have continued to pursue the coalition when the house was back in session. I think they backed off because many Canadians felt it was illegitimate, particularly since the two parties involved had fewer votes between them than Conservatives.

    In fairness, voters do need to know how things might shake out. Mike514 is correct in interpreting Harper's message as "if a majority Tory government is not formed, then the opposition parties will come together and form a coalition." That has an impact on how many people will choose to vote.

  56. If I didn't have a sense of humour I would not be reading the comment section full of Liberal partisans.

  57. While your assessment of of how the Westminster system works is correct, it entirely misses the point. You are leaving politics out if it entirely. Parties can easily gang up to decide that the government needs to fall at the first swing of the bat. They will decide this — probably using "ethics" as an issue to bring the government down (didn't that just happen?) Harper is distorting nothing. He is just making people aware of political realities. If you are o.k. with a joint Liberal/NDP coalition — fine. If that makes you nervous, you need to have a realistic assessment about whether or not a coalition will likely happen without a Conservative majority. Many think it probably will.

  58. Better known as trolling. Carry on.

  59. Here's the truth: ""if a majority Tory government is not formed, then the opposition parties will come together and form a coalition."

    I don't think Harper is overdoing it in highlighting this as an issue. It's an issue. Part of the problem is that people remember that in 2008 we were not talking about a party with "one seat less." The two parties attempting to form the coalition together did not have enough votes to establish such an entity without the support of the Bloc. This in particular left a bad taste in the mouths of many people. Many people would rather see a Harper majority than risk a repeat.

  60. It does not matter what was said or understood in 2004. Coalitions can be a legitimate option (2004, 2008 . . . whenever). Certainly they are legal. With respect to the current situation, however, voters need to determine if they are comfortable with a Liberal/NDP coalition (maybe propped up by the Bloc or not), possibly similar to that formed in 2008 — and if they are not, they are safer to vote for Conservatives. Lots of people will be quite o.k. with the Liberal/NDP coalition idea. And many people are not. Because people are divided, it is a central issue so far in this campaign.

  61. Rose215, you seem like a nice sort–at least I love the flowers.

    Chretien and Broadbent worked on the coalition agreement between Dion and Layton–that is true. And I just saw media coverage of that 2008 event posted on a facebook page five minutes ago, so you might be reading old news and thinking its current.

    As hard as it might be to believe when you believe politicians always, always only look out for their own interests and never think of the country, we are having this election because Parliamentarians believe the Conservative government was in contempt of Parliament. The only one who wanted an election right now is the guy who has spent the last three months bombarding our TV airwaves with commercials to get his polling numbers up.

    You have been convinced by looking only at one side of the argument. There is no evidence to support your belief, since they aren't planning a coalition. I know you don't believe Harper lies, or that he thinks we all are stupid, but if you could, try to look at the "evidence" again remembering that you believe politicians always, always only look out for their own interests and never think of the country.

  62. They might. This is a political chip for them that works in their favour at least with some people who were disturbed by the coalition attempt in 2008. That is still fresh in people minds and still a very real part of the current political landscape. Why should Harper ignore this?

  63. This is getting silly.

  64. I agree that whatever was intended/meant/planned in 2004 is not worth discussing. Also, I think everyone agrees that if the first party loses confidence, the second party may have a shot at governing, pending agreement from the GG. The issue of substance in all of this, however, is the likelihood of a quick move on the part of the Opposition (possibly for political, rather than substantive reasons) bringing down a newly elected Conservative minority. This possibility concerns me, and it gets folded into the range of things that will influence my vote. This is exactly what happened in 2008 and anyone who was upset about the context for the (still standing) coalition agreement of 2008 should be concerned.

  65. Leave Bev Oda out of this. Even Pat Martin has now "come clean" and admitted that "perhaps" she did not lie after all.

  66. he coalition agreement is no longer standing from 2008. Please do not spread falsehoods, it's unbecoming.

    The swift move to defeat the Conservative government was a result of a completely tone deaf line taken by the conservative government after the election. They proposed sweeping changes they hadn't mentioned in their election campaign a few days before, including a rigging of the election financing system in their favour, effective immediately. I don't think a coalition attempt was inevitable after the 2008 election, and was triggered by overreaching on the part of the conservatives.

  67. That video shows Harper not denying when asked whether he'd form a government with support of the Bloc and/or NDP.. He hedges and calls it hypothetical. Thanks for sharing.

  68. It's not about forming coalitions, it's about the 'loser' (second party) forming government after defeating the 'winner'. Harper was a-okay with it in 2004, but decided it was illegitimate and probably criminal (he called it a coup, which coups attempts are generally addressed with bullets to the back of the head in most countries).

  69. Do you have any evidence that Chretien and Broadbent are currently working on a coalition deal for after the 2011 election? Because that sure sounds like blatant fabrication to me.

  70. Well, no. The speech from the Throne has to lay out an agenda that a majority of the house can express confidence in. It matters not a whit that a plurality of MPs were elected on a particular platform. If that plurality can't make their platform appealing enough to garner majority support, they deserve to be replaced by any other group that can garner that support.

    You could make that argument if they had a majority. You're arguing that there is no difference between a majority and a minority, and that the opposition should automatically roll over. That's not how parliamentary democracy works.

    I'd say winning only a minority is not a clear expression of confidence in the government. Remember, every MP is in the House because they won a mandate from their voters. Everyone there is a 'winner'. It is up to the government to cobble together the confidence of a majority of the house from the beginning, and on every day.

  71. Maybe it says something about how the Conservatives govern that the opposition parties know they can't work with them in a minority context. David Cameron is busy demonstrating how responsible conservatives run a minority government. What we have in Canada is a government by university frat boy politicians (often literally) with all the sleazy tactics and and disingenuousness that that entails.

  72. There won't be a coalition after this election. It's been made abundantly clear. I see no reason why Harper could not continue to govern the way he has if he wins another minority government. I see no reason why he should not be able to earn the confidence of the house if he works with one or more of the opposition parties. The Bloc, in particular, is usually willing to cut a deal.

  73. no im not saying there is no difference between a minority and a majority. im saying that in a minority situation, the opposition ought to allow at least the first speech from the throne to pass, unless the circumstances are exceptional.

    im not talking about a legal obligation, but there is a moral obligation to do so, and that is how previous minority governments have been treated in the past. in fact the shortest lived minority government was Joe Clark's and it fell after 9 months on a budget.

    if the Liberals simply vote down the throne speech out of spite and bitterness, and try to take power, they will have no legitimacy.

  74. The constitutional convention is that if a government is defeated, but not 'soon' after the last general election, the GG ought to call another election rather than ask the opposition to form a government. How is the opposition supposed to form a government if they aren't supposed to do it by defeating the throne speech?

    2008 is instructive here. Many observers at the time accused the opposition of not genuinely having lost confidence in the government because they had supported the throne speech just a few days before, and thus they couldn't try to form a replacement government ('they had just expressed confidence'). So, either the Throne Speech is a formality that carries no real weight in terms of the confidence of the house, of the opposition is legitimately allowed the weigh the government agenda laid out therein and decide whether to defeat the government.

  75. This is going to come as a major disappointment:

    It is exceedingly rare for a losing party to form a government. You know why? Because they are losers, and they lost the election, and in order to govern, you need to win.


    How is the opposition supposed to form a government if tehy aren't supposed to do it by defeating the throne speech?

    Oppositions are not "supposed to form a government".

    They are supposed to form the opposition. That's what happens when you lose the election.

    So its not impossible, but you need exceptional circumstances.

    I cant believe this point actually needs to be made.

  76. Well, you're speaking out of both sides of your mouth on this one. Oppositions are perfectly entitled to oppose in a minority context, except they aren't actually allowed to defeat governments for the first what, 12 months? This is nonsense.

    How parties do in an election is largely meta to how our democratic institutions work. Everyone in the House of Commons won the election, and as the winners, they decide who forms government. If that government consists of the second largest party with support from other parties, it's perfectly legitimate: it must be able to gain more support than the previous government can muster. It's what Harper was talking about in 2004, and Dion in 2008. It's been rare because minority governments have been rare until now. Our current political situation makes them rather more common.

    All of this is a long winded way of calling bullsh!t on your claim that the opposition cannot legitimately defeat the government on the throne speech. You're just wrong–I know this will come as a disappointment. I don't expect you to like it, because it means your ideologically isolated conservative minority won't be able to govern as a de facto majority.

  77. How parties do in an election is largely meta to how our democratic institutions work.

    I understand this is the current line of the Liberal party, for obvious reasons.

    The opposition can defeat the government on the throne speech out of spite, if they so desire. In doing so they would be setting a new precedent, and would be trampling on more than a century of democratic tradition in Canada. I would consider a government taking power like that to be entirely illegitimate, but I realize thats just my personal opinion.

    However, what is not my personal opinion is that such a government would in all likelihood the support of 2 parties to pass anything, which is highly unstable. Since the Liberals have ruled out a coalition, the Liberals would need the support of both the NDP and the Bloc on everything, as I dont foresee the Conservatives supporting such opportunistic usurpers of power. This government would not last a year and would be subject to ridiculous demands from the NDP and the Bloc.

    So, I look forward to the day when Iggy the American loser goes to the GG and asks "Sorry, this government hasnt done anything yet, but we dont like Harper, so we're voting it down, and in its place I can provide you with a highly unstable Liberal government which will require the support of both the Bloc and the NDP to do anything at all? What say you?"

    And this is why people like you make me sick, and this is why im ashamed to share a country with Liberals.

  78. It's the current liberal line, perhaps, and the truth. The Liberal party hasn't been great defenders of the primacy of the House, which is a shame. Parliamentary democracy works pretty well, but we seem to be running things are a pseudo-presidential system, with the House as an electoral college. If that's the way it's going to be, get rid of the MPs–they are just meat puppets representing the party.

    As I recall, the first Harper government required the support of two parties in order to govern if the official opposition refused to play ball on any issue. Was that an illegitimate government?

    I really don't understand what the heck you're saying. You seem to be suggesting that minorities either get to be de facto majorities operating unopposed, or they should be repeatedly defeated triggering a series of elections.

  79. The posting has been removed….hmmmmm
    Could be a prank?
    Could be real.

  80. everyone seems to think it was a fake…….it wouldn't surprise me if it was real

  81. The Liberal party hasn't been great defenders of the primacy of the House, which is a shame.

    Indeed.

    but we seem to be running things are a pseudo-presidential system, with the House as an electoral college

    We have.

    they are just meat puppets representing the party.

    In practice, they are.

    First Harper gov had 129 seats or so. The NDP had around 30. So they needed only one party for passing legislation, but it was cutting it close. Had they needed 2 parties, it would have been a very unstable and short-lived government, but it would not have just unseated a more stable government who had won the election.

    What Im saying generally is that minority government should get a decent shot at governing before losing the confidence of the house. The previous record is 9 months. I dont think there's much to gain in the long run by making a gov fall before that, specially in the current climate of minority govs. it's not a legal requirement, but traditionally the minority gov gets about 1 year to govern before the opposition considers toppling them. that's not a de facto majority.

  82. Alfanerd was fear mongering about the supposed coalition when saying "That is exactly what is going to happen", and was suggesting that the conservative will never get confidence of the house and the opposition parties will form a coalition. He neglects to mention that Ingatieff specifically said that he would not form a coalition, and that through the Conservative "dumbing down" of the electorate any coalition would be political suicide. As Jenn stated, the formation of the coalition agreement in 2008 was as a direct result of Conservative policies (or lack of) that would have negatively affected Canada. To suggest that the agreement in 2008 forecasts a coalition in 2011 is, at best, an attempt to deliberately mislead. If the opposition parties were going to form a coalition, they would have a long time ago.

    The only way the Conservatives would know for a fact that they would be unable to gain the confidence of the house is if they were already planning on deliberately throwing some poison pills in the Throne Speech. Any thing else, and it will be "what happens after every single Canadian election".

  83. "If the opposition parties were going to form a coalition, they would have a long time ago."

    I can't believe you really actually just said. Sure sounds similar to something Mr. Harper said about the likelihood of a certain recession not to long ago.

    "The only way the Conservatives would know for a fact that they would be unable to gain the confidence of the house is if they were already planning on deliberately throwing some poison pills in the Throne Speech. Any thing else, and it will be "what happens after every single Canadian election"."

    Look, this is exactly what we were discussion. And I and others were claiming that Harper's view on this is that the Opposition will not even need a poison pill, that they will simply grab power anyway. There was no poison pill in the budget, and they all decided to oppose it anyway, right? This is how Harper is framing the question: No Conservative majority equals the opposition parties grabbing for power, no matter what.
    http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/char

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