Notes on a crisis: The End - Macleans.ca
 

Notes on a crisis: The End


 

It’s over: the day, the decision, the crisis, the coalition, and Stephane Dion’s leadership. After the abortive putsch — constitutional as it may have been — the field is strewn with bodies, and the bloodletting has just begun.

After a day of skulking in the corridors of Parliament, I can tell you that the Grits no longer have the stomach for this fight. You could see it in the their body language, hear it in their voices. Their comments to reporters were all variations on a plea to the government to “help us in off this limb we have put ourselves out on.” I’m paraphrasing, of course: they were actually itemizing the things the government had to do to keep them from defeating it in when Parliament returns in January. But a day or two ago, there was nothing it could do. The die was cast. The train had left the station. There was no turning back.

Apparently, they didn’t quite think this thing through — to say the least. In particular, they did not take into account the possibility of prorogation. That’s to their credit, perhaps: it’s a bloody awful business, certainly undemocratic and arguably unconstitutional (though the Governor General’s decision has presumably settled that), and perhaps it didn’t occur to them that Harper could be so unscrupulous. That they failed to foresee that is as huge a tactical error as Harper’s failure to foresee the emergence of the coalition itself.

With Parliament prorogued, the coalition is dead. The only way they were going to make this thing stick, even temporarily, was by way of a speedy assumption of power, the glue that mends all breaks. But having lunged and missed, they will be very much on their back feet. I repeat: The coalition is over. I’ll be surprised if it lasts the week.

But don’t take my word for it. Two polls out today show that the coalition has backfired on its two main participants — hugely. Ekos has the Tories ahead by twenty points, 44-24, while Ipsos Reid puts the margin at an astounding 46-23. This is after the Tories had supposedly disgraced themselves by the “provocation” of cutting the political parties off the public teat, and by failing to provide adequate “stimulus.”

Ipsos numbers show, further, that 60% of the public opposes the coalition, 62% are “angry” with it for trying to take power, while 68% support the Governor General’s decision. The Grits can read the numbers as well as I can. There is no way they will return to this well.

Indeed, the caucus, after a three hour meeting this afternoon, seems to have other priorities in mind — namely forcing Dion from the leadership ASAP, rather than wait until the May convention. That’s easier said than done, and is tangled up in the race to succeed him. For it only makes sense, if he is to be replaced quickly, to replace him with a permanent leader, and if the decision were made today it would almost certainly be Michael Ignatieff, and as Bob Rae can’t abide that, he will be doing everything in his power to see to it that Dion stays in place.

But assume that Ignatieff — notably skeptical about the coalition — does take over. Is it to be imagined that he would wish to submit himself, should he become Prime Minister, to the dictates of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe? Not that there’s much danger of that. The coming collapse of the coalition will mean the Governor General would have no choice, should the opposition defeat the government over its budget in January, but to call fresh elections. And these disastrous polling numbers, if they stand up, make it highy unlikely that the opposition will do any such thing.

So the Tories have won this round, but by the ugliest of means. Was the Governor General right to be their enablers? I’m not sure she had any choice. There’s only one real test of confidence in our system, and that’s a vote of the Commons. The last such confidence vote, on the Throne Speech, was less than a week ago. So while it was common sense to assume that Harper was proroguing just to avoid losing the next one, it would take a nervy GG to disregard the advice of her First Minister without absolute cut-and-dried proof that had he had lost the House’s confidence.

Still, while there appear to be few if any formal conditions attached to the prorogation, she may well have attached some informal conditions — after all, what else did they talk about in the course of their two-and-a-half hour tete a tete? The sovereign has the right, as per Bagehot, “to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn.” She may well have warned him what would happen if he didn’t bring in a budget — and face a confidence test — at the first opportunity.

Harper should never have put the GG in this position. It would have been better from a number of perspectives for Harper to have faced the music in the Commons. But it’s at least better than demanding the GG call an election, as Harper might have tired. And, while the end does not justify the means, it would take a hard heart indeed not to cheer the death of the coalition.


 

Notes on a crisis: The End

  1. While Ignatieff has certainly conducted himself with more dignity than Rae on this fiasco, he missed a golden opportunity to be a statesman today by positioning himself as the one ready to work with the governemnt until the May convention on stimulating the economy. Rae has already committed political suicide on this one.Perhaps Leblanc will now step up to the plate?

  2. Andrew,

    The only winner at the end of this horrible sordid mess are historians, and political science students & teachers. King Byng has been replaced by this debacle in the annals of political history.

    To say Harper won, would be to discount the millions of people in Canada who have lost respect for him, due to his willingness to sacrifice the welfare the country as a whole, for his own personal desire to see his opponents killed.

    He should be ashamed of his behaviour.

    That is all. Frankly I can do without politics for the next seven weeks.

  3. Mr. Coyne, I have a proposal to strengthen our democracy. Please tell me what you think:

    The government should consider amending our electoral act to create 31 seats, or 10%, ]that are awarded to the political party that wins the national popular vote in a general election. This would, in no particular order:

    – force parties to run national and not regional campaigns.
    – dramatically reduce the influence of the bloq in the federal parliament.
    – lead to the long-term settling of broad, consensus-building parties that seek to build national coalitions.
    – allow the prime minister to surrond himself with the top talent in the country and build a highly skilled cabinet. You have lamented in the past on the low quality of our cabinet members in comparison with our American friends.
    – encourage turn-out by making every person feels that their vote matters.

    It would be fought tooth and nail by the smaller parties, but it would encourage national political parties, discourage regionalism, encourage moderation, and increase turnout and interest in elections everywhere in the country.

    Your thoughts?

  4. The coalition was good to extract concessions but no more. I suggested it two days ago to drop the idea once it was clear that Harper had backed down and the focus of the media switched to coalition itself. This is where it became toxic.

    A new LPC leader need to be selected ASAP.

  5. I don’t see why they can’t put in an interim leader. Cotler, Mccallum, Dryden…anyone, really. A guy off the street if you have to. Dion must go. Now.

  6. Oh, Coyne. Your social mischief is becoming almost amusing.

  7. Yawn, another premature declaration of victory from the right. How many times do they need to be wrong before they put away such silly behaviour.

  8. Dion is done. I’m big supporter of him, but he is toxic. The media will need a new whippy boy, right Mr. Coyne? Maybe then some attention will be payed to Harper’s strange interpretation of Parliamentary Democracy,

  9. A hard heart indeed – I worry the scars born from this fight will not heal quickly.

  10. Ah mongoose, don’t be so sensitive. Surely anyone who undertakes a career in politics has a thick skin

  11. What’s Jane Taber up to right now? Looking for divisions within the Liberal Caucas?

  12. We have a crisis in this country stemming from Stephen Harper’s abuse of the powers of executive branch of this country, and this is now a clear and serious threat to Canadian democracy. With the precedent established today, Harper could have requested prorogation for a period of up to one year, and governed with no legal recourse available to Canadians and despite the stated lack of confidence in his administration by the House of Commons.

    The executive branch is out of control and needs to have its wings clipped.

  13. I bet Coyne would have been cheerleading Goebbels too.

  14. “Harper should never have put the GG in this position.”

    True. Of course he should never have put the nation in this position with his amped-up hardball games in the first place. Let’s not forget whose fault this mess is, whatever today’ polls say.

  15. Not likely, but Coyne would have been the first to declare that the American Revolution was finished.

  16. “With the precedent established today, Harper could have requested prorogation for a period of up to one year, ”

    Where did you get that from? I just saw the GG allow a prorogation for 6 weeks. And that was after a 2.5 hour discussion. If you think she would have assented to something longer, that is pure speculation.

  17. Insincere world-weariness and regret does not become you.

    Well, maybe …..

  18. Of course he should never have put the nation in this position with his amped-up hardball games in the first place. Let’s not forget whose fault this mess is, whatever today’ polls say.

    Let’s not forget either that the only actual moves that have been made are all from Harper. He introduced the rotten legislation, he delayed the vote on it by a week and he prorogued Parliament to avoid the vote altogether. All the opposition has done at this point is make some noise.

  19. “Harper should never have put the GG in this position.”

    He didn’t. The deal was cooked, in Layton’s words, a long time ago. They were looking for any excuse, first it was party funding and then corporate bailouts. You know that; you’re just being Canadian.

    What if he had announced a *real* conservative policy, like a public service hiring freeze? If the coalition goes running to the GG every time Harper tries to cut a thin dime from the budget, is he still putting the GG in a position? Or is he merely doing what is best for Canada, in his typical incremental manner?

  20. Robert good point. Why are we wasting our time talking about this at all?

  21. “Where did you get that from? I just saw the GG allow a prorogation for 6 weeks. And that was after a 2.5 hour discussion. If you think she would have assented to something longer, that is pure speculation.”

    Many are interpreting this as precedence that the GG should always accede to requests for prorogation by the Prime Minister regardless of political circumstances. There must not be more than one year between sittings of Parliament. Given this precedent, a Prime Minister may request and reasonably expect a prorogation for a period of up to one year, even if he faces imminent defeat. The GG is not to consider the context of the request for prorogation or the duration requested, as that would be interventionist and contrary to the precedent established today.

    We need a law passed that stipulates that no Prime Minister may request prorogation of Parliament without a successful motion to do so. Anything less leaves our democracy vulnerable to a rogue executive.

  22. It’s Not over. Mr. Harper stirred the unity pot. It’s too bad the media hadn’t called all Albertans separatists during the Reform days eh?

  23. “What if he had announced a *real* conservative policy, like a public service hiring freeze? If the coalition goes running to the GG every time Harper tries to cut a thin dime from the budget, is he still putting the GG in a position? Or is he merely doing what is best for Canada, in his typical incremental manner?”

    What would you say, Belfort, if Harper were to request and be granted prorogations each time his party was warned it would be defeated on a motion of confidence?

  24. The outcome of this will cause a major change to the Canadian political scene. I suspect you are right about the imminent bloodletting.

    DION: I have no clue if he is a man of dignity, but if he has any, Dion should leave ASAP. He was destroyed at the polls. And he’s repeatedly revealed himself to be a laughing stock. It’s a statement about the press’ love of the Liberal Party of Canada that this man has received such sympathy from the media… the same folks who held nothing back in their vicious and unwarranted characterizations of men like Joe Clark (pre-Captain Canada), Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper. None of them even registers on the ‘joke’ scale, when compared with Dion. Yet he is defended.

    RAE: Bob Rae is a lunatic. Shrill and unhinged are not traits you look for in a leader. Today’s performance proved where he is coming from. His embracing of the Separatists in the cause of grabbing the brass ring of power, was disgusting. His refusal to even pretend to be considerate and concilliatory… today… makes him appear unreasonable, verging on unstable. Like Dion, he is a dead man walking, in terms of his political future. In his favour, however, he never waivered and he never hid. More on that further down.

    LAYTON: Another goner. His words and actions proved that there is no need to vote NDP if you are anti-Conservative. If you hate Harper, voting NDP only muddies the waters and increases the odds that Harper will remain in power. What possible reason could there be for voting Dipper when Jack just told you there’s no difference between the Libs and the NDP? Jack Layton’s lunge for power has ruined him and his party.

    IGGY: AC, I don’t believe that he was “notably skeptical about the coalition.” I believe Iggy was for the coalition…. until he was against it. And then, only when it was clear it was going down. His campaign buttons say “Strong”. They should read, “Houdini”. He backed the coalition when it seemed it was going to work. And he disappeared into thin air when it started to turn south, hoping that his silence would wash the stain from his hands. It won’t. Iggy publicly supported the coalition, and no amount of backpeddaling at this point will make Liberal convention delegates (who can read the polls) forget his role in this disastrous folly. The only way he could have blown the Liberal leadership would have been to embrace the coalition… and then fail to denounce it prior to its unravelling. Iggy will wear this coalition with the separatists the same as the rest of them. He is supposed to have 55 MPs behind him, so why did he act like a coward on this? It makes no sense. Warren?

    HARPER: I think Don Newman’s head is going to explode once they show him the polls, which clearly demonstate that this episode has elevated Harper and his party in the eyes of Canadians. Canadians hate the coalition. They agree parties should not get government handouts. And they don’t think the Government of Canada should be comprised of recently rejected (by the voters) coalitionists, who serve at the pleasure of the Separatists. The Liberals’ dance with the devils (Duceppe and Parizeau) might actually sink them in Fortress Toronto. Memories are short, but maybe….

    DUCEPPE: He wants to destroy my country, and I despise him for that. But he’s not a stupid man. And he’s honest about his disgusting goals. I suspect he knew that his contract with the Libs and NDPs was doomed, but it will pay dividends for his cause. The Quebec media and the sympathetic CBC have spun Harper’s condemnation of the “Separatists” as a slam on all Quebeckers. This is ridiculous, but Quebeckers love to be offended. Hell, they view a nation-wide cut to arts funding as an attack on Quebec. The timing of this debacle will very likely benefit the PQ in the provincial election. I don’t think Duceppe thought he would ever have to vote confidence in the Liberal/NDP coalition in the House. I don’t think the timing of this deal – which hinged on Duceppe from the outset – was a coincidence. He joins Harper on the ‘winner’ list as a result of this crisis.

  25. “Many are interpreting this as precedence ”

    Who is this ‘many’? Whoever they are, they are speculating beyond what we saw today. They are free to speculate. But I will not get excited over their speculations.

  26. Andrew is increasingly becoming the lone voice of sanity on this blog.

    It’s frankly amazing how the other posters here simply refused to look at the basic realities of this situation, apparantly too infused with Harper hatred to notice the folly of their chosen side (being the left).

  27. Now Coyne’s on CBC, flogging the poll numbers.

    A little premature, really.

  28. Harper’s failure to foresee the emergence of the coalition itself.

    Coyne, Harper knew about the coalition already…his MP was dialed into the NDP call the Saturday before the fiscal update, remember?

    The cynic in me wonders if Harper deliberately created a poisonous fiscal update to explicitly draw out the coalition and kill it before it had a chance to fully gel. I guess we’ll never know…but if he did…well it seems he ended up the winner but at what cost?

  29. Ok most reasonable people could coclude that the coalitions goose is cooked. How could it be any other way with Dion at the helm. But Ac why are you already proceeding to the next chapter? Many of us who had some hope of seeing politic

  30. Andrew is increasingly becoming the lone voice of sanity on this blog.

    Bask in the glory, Mr. Coyne.

  31. “Harper stirred the unity pot”.

    Right.

    Handing the key’s of government to seperatists isn’t “stirring the unity pot”. Oh no.

    Daring to object to the notion of handing the key of government to seperatists.

    Welcome to the leftist bizarro world, where, no matter how you shake it, it’ll always turn out to be Harper’s fault.

  32. Ok most reasonable people could coclude that the coalitions goose is cooked.

    Heh.

  33. Great Coyne. Harper turns the West against the East, the Francophones against the Anglophones and basically turned our parliamentary democracy into an absolute joke and you are celebrating?

    Who needs Parliament, really? Let’s just make Harper President for life.

  34. Harper stood in the House of Commons and called the democratically elected representatives of the majority of Canadians traitors, the most serious crime in this country.

  35. It’s interesting, the different perspectives one can have about this event.

    I think that the shock of the GG’s decision has numbed many to the fact that Harper has been pushed on the ropes. From an NDP perspective, he has been forced to back off from some of the noxious policy positions he announced in the aptly named FU. Well and very good. Of course the NDP missed their chance at power, but that’s not unusual. What’s more important is that they, along with the Liberals, finally stared down Harper.

    From the Liberal perspective? Well they are certainly depressed and angry with themselves, because it’s about power for them. But let’s look at this. Ignore the polling that has been released today. Once Dion has been sent off packing (hopefully much sooner rather than later, and I say this with great repect for the man) the political landscape will be utterly different. Harper may think he has bought himself time, but he has also bought the Liberals time.

    And Harper bought time at the expense of the Conservatives’ capacity to win seats in Quebec. And in the urban Canada.

    Hmmm.

  36. This doesn’t set a precedent, it follows one.

    The GG is required to prorogue parliament if a PM who has the confidence of the house requests it.

    A PM is deemed to have confidence if he can pass legislation or motions of confidence.

    Harper’s Throne Speech was passed. The Liberals voted for it. This established confidence in the House; therefore the GG was required to agree to the request.

    If the Liberals had not voted for the throne speech, she could have turned Harper down and we’d have PM Dion right now.

  37. Looking at the poll numbers (which mirror the reaction I’ve been referring to all week) as compared to the media’s reaction, as I’ve also done,

    Kate at SDA accurately summarizes events thusly:

    “Meaning Canadians are in the process of rejecting the propoganda of mainstream talking heads and pundits. If you want the pulse of the nation, talk radio is where it’s at, baby. In all of this mess, they were the only ones who got it right. ”

    Note to the mainstream media:

    learn from the downfall of the New York Times. Continue on with your myopic worldview that ends at the Toronto/Ottawa coctail party scene, at your own peril

  38. “And in the urban Canada.”

    Could you explain that one?

  39. Ok most reasonable people could coclude that the coalitions goose is cooked. How could it be any other way with Dion at the helm. But Ac why are you already proceeding to the next chapter? Many of us who had some hope of seeing politicks done differently north of the border would like to see a settling of accounts that goes a litle beyond : and the winner is the one who is most shamelessly prepared to push the ethical envelope. The coaliton may have lost but things can never simply go back to the way they were.

  40. Great Coyne. Harper turns the West against the East, the Francophones against the Anglophones and basically turned our parliamentary democracy into an absolute joke and you are celebrating?

    I liked Scott Reid’s summation (to paraphrase) Harper ignored an economic crisis and went on to create a political crisis, a unity crisis and precipitated a constitutional crisis.

    And Coyne doesn’t care. He’s fopping around Versailles, powdered wig on his head, enjoying the whole thing.

  41. So now the Liberal leadership becomes a referendum on the coalition. Rae pour and Ignatieff contre. Bring it on (Allons-y)!

  42. “The GG is required to prorogue parliament if a PM who has the confidence of the house requests it.”

    Precisely. The Prime Minister could prorogue for one year, despite an imminent and sincere intent for the House of Commons to express a lack of confidence and remove him from office. This power is a grave threat to democracy, and must be curtailed by the Parliament, from which any claim to legitimacy the executive has must flow.

  43. Kody
    Is that the same talk radio that received all those conservative talking points. I suppose you would argue that the media were merely regugitating the oppositions talking points.

  44. “The Prime Minister could prorogue for one year”

    Says you. This is simply speculation. It took Harper 150 minutes to convince the GG to let him do it for 6 weeks.

    What we know for sure is that 6 weeks–6 weeks that span the Xmas holiday–is ok, after having faced a recent confidence vote and when the potential replacement government includes a signed support document with a separatist party. That is the precedent that has been set. Anything beyond that is speculation.

    I can also speculate. My speculation is that she would have said no if he had asked for one year.

    Finally, so what if the GG said ‘yes’ to a year? Me, I think that would violate most Canadians’ sense of democratic norms. In that case, the PM would be toast in the next election. If it did not violate most Canadians’ sense of democratic norms, the PM would not be toast. In that case, what would be your objection?

  45. macphear:

    Iggy was contre? Please post that link.

    I recall him speaking up in support of the coalition. It’s interesting that people characterize his disappearing act, when the heat came on in the kitchen, as a noble, anti-coalition stand.

    Iggy was for the coalition… and then he disappeared like a fart in a hurricane when the tide started to turn.

    I don’t interpet Warren Kinsella putting a muzzle on his boy… two days too late… as an act of statesmanship.

    There is absolutely no reason why Iggy doesn’t wear this shameful alliance with the Separatists equally with Rae, Dion and Layton. None.

  46. ‘Handing the key’s of government to seperatists isn’t “stirring the unity pot”. ‘

    We did hand the keys to the separatists. Albertans are separatists. All of them. Just as All Quebeckers are separatists. Where have you been???

    The Reform/Alliance/Conservative party are separatists. The Reform party was started because……Western Alienation and a goal to separate.

    If Quebec is a separatist province then so is Alberta. No difference from the two from where I’m sitting. And since Harper is an Albertan???

  47. Ti guy
    if you had read the whole post you would know why i think so, you disagree. Why not give some reasons. i’m open to persuasion.

  48. “I liked Scott Reid’s summation (to paraphrase) Harper ignored an economic crisis and went on to create a political crisis, a unity crisis and precipitated a constitutional crisis.”

    A logical argument that could only be made by the likes of Ol’ Beer and Popcorn and Ti-Guy… It doesn’t matter how much truth individuals like these are confronted with, what matters only to them is their “moral high ground” and burning hatred of Harper.

  49. How would the GG be justified in declining a request to prorogue for a period of one year? If not one year, where does the line lie, and should the GG have the right to subjectively decide which prorogation requests are reasonable and which not?

    It is clear that the government is facing imminent defeat and has decided to prorogue to avoid that defeat. Given the precedence that this is not grounds to deny a prorogation request, where do you draw the line on ‘too long’ or a prorogation, and why would there be any subjective limit to what is ‘reasonable’ for a GG to agree to?

    Parliament must not go more than one year between sittings. That seems to be the only grounds available to the GG to decline prorogation requests.

  50. I guess you couldn’t read it , apolgies.

  51. “Given the precedence that this is not grounds to deny a prorogation request, ”

    No. The precedent is that there is not grounds to deny a request for a 6 week prorogation when that 6 weeks includes the Xmas holiday and the potential alternative government must rely on the separatists for support. The rest is your imagination.

  52. One bright spot will be if this the stink from this putsch sticks to the idea of “stimulus”, massive or otherwise, as a government policy.

    As for the events of the last few days being undemocratic, unconstitutional, unethical, or whatever – who cares? That describes ninety-nine percent of what they do in Ottawa. They can prorogue for the next five decades for all I care.

  53. if you had read the whole post you would know why i think so, you disagree.

    I think it’s up to you to provide the evidence to back up your assertions. If you (and Coyne) framed their statements with “In my opinion,” I’d have less of a problem with any of it. But I simply don’t care for assertions being passed of as arguments.

    It’s gotten so bad that even our “journalists” don’t know the difference anymore.

  54. The real winner here? Trinity College – at least 2 of their alumnus are hard core coupscammers! That should pump up alumni pledge drives and homecoming week. I’m all giggly for Iggy.

  55. A logical argument that could only be made by the likes of Ol’ Beer and Popcorn and Ti-Guy… It doesn’t matter how much truth individuals like these are confronted with, what matters only to them is their “moral high ground” and burning hatred of Harper.

    Of course. Occupying the moral high ground and hatred are inescapable when dealing with low-brow liars and thugs like Herr Harper and the gang.

  56. Thank you Andrew. I heard you on Peter Mansbridge, stonight, say what I’ve been feeling for a long time. Why always whimper about Quebecs reaction to this crisis, or any other for that matter? Yes, there is the rest of Canada, and what they think matters too!

    Enjoy reading and hearing your considered opinions.

    S. Klassen
    Kelowna

  57. “No. The precedent is that there is not grounds to deny a request for a 6 week prorogation when that 6 weeks includes the Xmas holiday and the potential alternative government must rely on the separatists for support. The rest is your imagination.”

    It would be extremely improper for the GG to make a political consideration, such as an evaluation of the parties involved. I think we can be reasonably sure that this was not a factor in her decision.

    On what grounds would a one year prorogation be denied?

  58. “On what grounds would a one year prorogation be denied?”

    Well, we can start with the fact that there is no precedent for it. Then we can add that it most likely violates most Canadians’ democratic norms.

    You might be thinking ‘a 6 week prorogation violates democratic norms too’. It might violate yours. It might violate mine. But apparently in the judgement off the GG, 6 weeks is perfectly fine. If tonight’s polls are to be believed, she wasn’t wrong. Now had she allowed a prorogation for one year, my best guess is that the polls tonight wouldn’t look so good for that one.

  59. “Well, we can start with the fact that there is no precedent for it. ”

    To be clear, I should have said ‘ no precedent for 1 year’. We do have a precedent for 6 weeks that include the Xmas holidays.

  60. gwgm: Ignatieff is an amateur Rae is a pro. Rae is already and will continue to rally the coalition. Ignatieff doesn’t know what to do and frankly should go back to school.

    Lets do the math….the Bloc can NEVER support the Cons again…the NDP never have (secret agreement between NDP and Cons during election was loathesome but I digress)…the Liberals can’t support Harper forever so…these three parties will vote at some point whether in January or May or September 2009 to bring down this government.

  61. Harper’s tactical wizardry remains intact. His original assumption for challenging the opposition with the party financing jab was that few Canadians wanted another election and would punish the instigators. INstead of an election, they tried the absurd, a coalition and as the polls are demonstrating, it was a colossal failure. If they had gained power, the poll numbers would have worsened. The GG saved what little is left of Liberal support.
    Harper did not miscalculate; in fact, his move has provided numbers for a majority. The opposition is on the run now, there is no way they defeat the government in January, Harper will walk away with it if they do.

    Can Harper finish the job and insure losing confidence this January? Can he make the budget so unpalatable to the opposition that they defeat him and grant him the majority he seeks?

  62. I am fed up with your unrelenting cynicism Mr. Coyne. This fight is FAR from over I can assure. Ordinary Liberal and NDP members recognize the need for cooperation and doing politics differently under these extraordinary circumstances.

    Public opinion is much more nuanced that your selective use of polling data would suggest. In general, you rely far too much on polls to get a sense of how ordinary citizens truly feel about these issue. I can tell you there is a great deal of fluidity and mixed feelings out there and I don’t need any poll to tell me this.

    I see a real opportunity for a fundamental realignment of Canadian politics through this coalition, including the best chance in my lifetime to start engaging nationalist Quebecers in a constructive way in federal politics. The poisonous cynicism of journalists and pundits like yourself though is a significant obstacle for coalition supporters to overcome.

  63. I don’t think polls are reasonable grounds for a GG to decline a prorogation request.

  64. Hi Moe: If only Wells were here. Cue the ‘three dimensional chess’ meme again . . . tactical genius label–restored!!

  65. “I don’t think polls are reasonable grounds for a GG to decline a prorogation request.”

    No, but they do give a rough sense of whether a 6 week prorogation is a gross violation of Canadians’ sense of democratic norms. Apparently, according to the polls, 6 weeks is ok.

    To summarize: You asked what constrains the GG from assenting to any command of the PM. My response is that one constraint is that the GG will not do something that violates Canadians’ sense of democratic norms. The polls tell us that she did not err in thinking that 6 weeks is hunky dory with most Canadians.

  66. Andrew, you’re too hard on Harper on this one. He displayed two acts of mercy today.

    He offered the GG the lesser of two evils, deciding on prorogation or deciding on dissolution after a confdence vote. What Layton et al were trying to pull off was a parliamentary coup, overturning the results of the last election without seeking a mandate. Her Excellency would know this and have to decide on the least worst course of action, granting a writ or offering the job to Dion. She would have to decide whether it was better to install an illegitimate, but constitutionally correct, coalition government, or create a new convention by granting dissolution. Alternatively she could have offered Dion the Australian choice, a very limited mandate (long enough to pass his stimulus) followed by dissolution and an election, but I’m pretty sure Dion wouldn’t take her up on that, so it would be an election either way. Prorogation saves her from the more difficult choice.

    He also saved the Grits from themselves. If he was truly ruthless he would have pushed on to Monday’s vote and watched the Grits:

    a) explode into two or more factions
    b) cast their lot in with the coalition and run them into the ground in the soon-to-be-called election

    Harper knows the campaign, be it in January, March or May, would have been very ugly and would cost him in Quebec but he would press the Grits everywhere else. Vancouver, Toronto and the Maritimes. Good-bye Keith Martin, goodbye Ujjal, goodbye Brian Murphy, Geoff Regan, Ruby Dhalla, Andrew Kania, and Paul Szabo. He saved himself a lot of bother, but he saved the Grits from falling below forty seats. If you think todays polls were bad for the Grits, imagine what they would be like after Christmas, as Stephane and friends tried to cobble together something resembling a government. Harper did them a great favour today. It would be classy to acknowledge it.

  67. Harper won because in the race to the bottom, he had the experience, skill, and character to get there first.

  68. I don’t agree with Mr. Coyne’s politics but I agree almost completely with this analysis. I still think he’s a little biit in denial about the magnitude of the provocation constituted by the economic update that kicked the whole thing off, and i also suspect it’s a mistake to draw any solid conclusions from today’s polls.

  69. Can Harper finish the job and insure losing confidence this January? Can he make the budget so unpalatable to the opposition that they defeat him and grant him the majority he seeks?

    *Mwah* Superb!

    What kills me is that I think Conservatives really believe this kind of thing is genius. What is wrong with them? Do they all have brain cancer?

  70. “Do they all have brain cancer?”

    Well, apparently whatever ailment the tories have it is good for 46% in the polls. How did your side make out with the public over the past week?

  71. “i also suspect it’s a mistake to draw any solid conclusions from today’s polls.”

    Yes, because they will soon get even worse for the coalition. Most of the polls were taken Dec 2/3 before the video addresses last night.

  72. Andrew Coyne: You are right on the money, the coalition is cooked. It was based on emotion and once a week is passed it will die because its foundation is so weak. The worst element of all was the assumption that Canadians would accept Dion as the leader of the country when it was clear from the election, that’s the last thing Canadians wanted.

    gwgm: I liked your analysis. I disagree about Layton though, because in reality, part of what made the coalition possible is how Dion has been pulling the Liberals to the left into space occupied by the NDP. Dion is a big government interventionist kind of guy, with seemingly no economic sense. So it was more like the NDP sucking in the Liberals, than the other way around. Not only that, just the fact that the NDP was so close to being a part of government will save Layton from any backlash.

    The same is true of Duceppe. His followers are all impressed by the fact that he nearly managed to be pulling strings in the federal government, something nobody would have thought possible.

    I really believe it is the Liberals, all of them, that will take the hit on this one. They ignored the will of the voters expressed in the last election, based on pretenses that were flimsy from the beginning. They attempted to elevate an unpopular leader to power through the back door. And they truly embarrased themselves with that video last night, which will go down in the history books as one of the most embarrasing political gaffes of all time.

  73. gwgm
    In the interest of fairness if you are going to add iggies name to your list of shamefull collaborators with the sepratists i would like to add harpers. the lib/ndp shouldn’t get all the credit.

  74. Andrew:

    Your comments on the At Issue panel tonight were totally creationist in nature. What parallel universe have you being occupying for the last couple of days?

    Your partisan bias is clouding your thinking. Try to rise above it, and report the facts as they presented themselves and what really is at play here…..as per this account:

    New York Times: Canadian Parliament Closed in Bid to Keep Prime Minister in Power

    December 5, 2008
    Canadian Parliament Closed in Bid to Keep Prime Minister in Power
    By IAN AUSTEN

    OTTAWA — Canada’s parliamentary opposition reacted with outrage on Thursday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down the legislature until Jan. 26, seeking to forestall a no-confidence vote that he was sure to lose and, possibly, provoking a constitutional crisis.

    Mr. Harper acted after getting the approval of Governor General Michaëlle Jean, who represents Queen Elizabeth as the nation’s head of state. If his request had been rejected, he would have had to choose between stepping down or facing the no-confidence vote on Monday.

    The opposition fiercely criticized the decision to suspend Parliament, accusing Mr. Harper of undermining the nation’s democracy. “We have to say to Canadians, is this the kind of government you want?” said Bob Rae, a member of the opposition Liberal Party. “Do we want a party in place that is so undemocratic that it will not meet the House of Commons?”

    That sentiment was echoed by constitutional scholars, who lamented that the governor general might have created a mechanism that future prime ministers could use to bypass the legislature when it seemed convenient.

    “This really has been a blow to parliamentary democracy in Canada,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “It has lowered the status of the elected Parliament and raised the status of the unelected prime minister.”

    Etc Etc

  75. The Liberals aligning themselves with the NDP and the Bloc is a sure sign they have tilted too far to the left. Iggy offers hope, Dion has to go.

  76. Adios to the tres amigos.

  77. Mr. Coyne, bravo. While your fellow Talking Heads lost their composure and came out swinging against Harper, you offered honest and straightforward commentary. These numbers are your vindication. This is what you’ve been saying all along. I’ll be a regular reader of your blog from now on.

  78. Harper 1

    Coalition of commies, separatists, and power-at-all-costers 0

    The public, having elected the Conservatives to a near majority 6 short weeks ago is appallled.

    This trio of losers will have to wear this. True, the NDP never ever have a chance to get power via the electoral process, so it was worth the gamble from their point of view, regardless of the legitimacy of this coalition. For the Bloc, it was just another means to further their end of breaking-up Canada.

    The big LOSERS in all this is the once mighty Liberal Party of Canada, and their amateurish Leader Stephane Dion. This is a party that needs adult supervision, and quick.

  79. I’m sick about this whole episode.

    On the one hand we have a Prime Minister subverting the constitution and employing the most divisive possible rhetoric in order to stay in power and CRUSH all legitimate democratic opposition.

    On the other we have this INSANE coalition, hell-bent on installing a throughly discredited would-be Prime Minister and spending the country into oblivion.

    No matter what happens I’ve lost all respect for this country’s leadership.

  80. “You asked what constrains the GG from assenting to any command of the PM. My response is that one constraint is that the GG will not do something that violates Canadians’ sense of democratic norms. The polls tell us that she did not err in thinking that 6 weeks is hunky dory with most Canadians.”

    It is not up to the GG to adjudicate ‘Canadians’ sense of democratic norms’, especially through hastily done polling performed by private firms.

    I would also argue that prorogation in this case is by no means the consensus solution for Canadians and is highly contentious.

    If not one year, what of a six month prorogation?

    My point here is that the executive should not be able to unilaterally suspend the operation of the legislative branch. A one year prorogation would be fine had the Parliament of Canada expressed its support of such a prorogation. What we see here is the executive subjugating the legislative branch, and anything it does between next Monday and whenever the next confidence vote occurs will be of questionable legitimacy.

  81. Andrew nPnC: “On what grounds would a one year prorogation be denied?”

    Ah, man, that’s the $6 million question, eh? By way of avoiding it, I’d say the first thing is supply. Apart from that, there must be precedents on how long you can go. I know that the Stuarts were in the habit both of dissolving unfriendly Parliaments and of proroguing even friendly ones when they were getting in the way; been meaning to check out the details, but I’m pretty sure it would still be seen as tyrannical if taken beyond a certain point.

    What is the certain point, though? Where are the precedents? Where are the scholars? Don’t they read blogs? Don’t they suffer from insomnia?

    I mean, basically you can’t have the PM turning Parliament on and off like a faucet, right? At least, that would sure cheapen our democracy, even if it weren’t not quite Stuartesque.

    I can think of a couple of reforms:

    a) Have the PM declare to the GG beforehand what he intends to get done before the next holiday. If the PM’s intentions were declared beforehand, it would no longer be a political decision by the GG as to whether or not he was making a political decision to request prorogation: she could just follow his declared intention.

    b) More radically, as we were agreeing on some earlier thread, Andrew nPnC, the House should get to decide its own order of business and its own holidays, i.e. by vote. I don’t see why the Cabinet, i.e. the Privy Council, should get to determine how the House operates. I guess on prorogation the argument is that the PM gives Advice to the GG as the PM, not as the leader of the House; but again you could institute some (unwritten) formula like, “The GG shall ask the PM, ‘Have you consulted with the House on this matter?'” and expect an affirmative answer; if she doesn’t get it, she could then deny prorogation. That’s the beauty of the unwritten constitution.

    That’s all I can think of by way of getting us out of this frying pan / fire situation whereby we don’t want to give the PM carte blanche on prorogation and yet we don’t want the GG refusing Advice. It’s kind of lame, I know, but we await the scholars . . .

  82. Stephen B “by the economic update that kicked the whole thing off”

    Obviously you missed the part where it became known that the NDP and Bloc had been planning to initiate the coalition long before the economic update. It has also become apparent since then that 1) Canadians approve overwhelmingly the removal of public financing 2) Canadians continue to overwhelmingly prefer Harper’s economic leadership over that of the opposition, including the absence of large-scale interventionist spending favoured by the left.

  83. Ti guy
    I am duly abashed . In opinion shall be my watch word from now on.

  84. Ti guy
    I am abashed . In opinion shall be my watch word from now on.

  85. Today, Jack Layton was so angry he looked like he might explode! It was so obvious that this was his one and only chance to become deputy prime minister and it didn’t work! No one seems to acknowledge the fact that not one of these idiots had anything to lose in this pathetic bid for power. We have elections in this country for a reason and Stephen Harper won fairly. The PM is not totally blameless in this affair but I do not recall seeing a square on the ballot saying that “should the opposition band together we can choose whatever moron that suits us.” Canadians did not vote for a “coalition,” the polls show that this is not what Canada wants and that is why we are a democracy.

  86. And since Harper is an Albertan???

    He isn’t you twit. He is from Ontario. Born and bred. Bite it. Only a political idot would spout that crap.

  87. This is absolutely delicious; having suffered through days of reading the hard-left comments filling up the CBC comments page, and then piling up the comments here in the blogs, one began to wonder if perhaps the sky was falling. I can’t read Conservative blogs as they just attract all the right wing nutters who used this as an excuse to trot our their favourite causes (Facebook was even worse, incidentally) – Western Separatism, merging B.C. with Saskatchewan (forgot about Alberta being in between), or declaring war on the Post Office. Some fellow on myspace wanted to impeach the dog catcher in Lloydminster and figured it was Marcel Dionne’s fault. I didn’t have the heart to tell him his glory days with the Los Angeles Kings were well past him.

    But now that the Governor General has made the only choice I could honestly picture her making, it feels good. The coalition was a sham. Could PM Harper have been more conciliatory? Sure. Could he have put on a real smile during his broadcast? Yeah, sure – maybe pumped some of that novocain that they injected into Mr. Dion for his own Taliban TV appearance. (And what was the deal with that – Saddam Hussein’s hanging had better production values.)

    But the lefties are still whining. Parliament can’t debate now. Like they were going to be sitting in the House on December 25th anyway, instead of flying back home – on our nickel – for extended vacations with their families. And well deserved – we’re all human. They have a lot of weight on their shoulders. This is going to be a tough year, 2009, and I sincerely believe that no one has a right to judge another person’s job until they’ve walked in their shoes.

    The fragility of the coalition will be evidence enough that this decision by the Governor General was the correct one. Perhaps it is a case of the chicken and the egg, or of circular logic, but there it is. Canadian politics in a nutshell. The reasons for the decision will be debated, and Her Excellency will be blackballed by the uneducated masses in blogs and discussion forums from coast to coast as the foreign-born separatist married to a terrorist for years to come; the woman who vacations on our dime and has no concept of what her duties are. Let the sour grapes turn the ether purple. None of it will change reality an iota. The name-calling started well before the decision was made – and the polls show it hasn’t mattered a whit.

    Good for you, Canada.

  88. Whether or not we have come to “the end” of this fiasco depends entirely on Harper when the House resumes sitting in January. So far, he has proven incapable of working cooperatively with the opposition parties, placing him at a distinct disadvantage as leader of a minority government. As far as his meeting with the GG, one wonders whether his propensity for bullying might have been a factor in her decision to prorogue the House.

    For their part, the opposition leaders demonstrated a stark inability to sustain their newly acquired potency for more than a few days and were badly outclassed by the Refliance party in the war for public opinion. An ineffectual performance by weak tacticians. The coalition might have had more credibility had Dion stepped aside immediately and allowed the Liberal caucus to select an interim leader, preferably one without ongoing leadership ambitions (Ralph Goodale?). Even at that, the requisite support of the Bloc was radioactive and their participation would have split the country for generations.

    This has all been quite a contrast with recent U.S. political developments where one can’t help but envy the thoughtful, methodical approach being taken by the Obama transition team. Although America’s economic and security challenges far exceed those faced by Canada, it appears that some political grown ups will soon be in charge. I would bet on the Americans to resolve their problems. I wish I could say the same for our country.

  89. Conservatives are such sanctimonious blowhards.

  90. TG: don’t be hateful :)

  91. DRD Calgary, that’s an utter load of crap. The Americans have a two-party system. That’s the difference. I do not think they have any kind of a surplus or advantage over Canadians in the area of “maturity.” All we as the public see are 10 second sound bytes of the worst of Parliament – and you as a lay person are in no position to judge the nuances of the real political debates, strategy and tactics at play. You’re talking out of your fourth point of contact, purely and simply.

    Just like the rest of us.

    Envy Obama all you want. Demonstrate some true knowledge of the Canadian political system first, then maybe you would be in a position to judge our system more harshly.

  92. “Conservatives are such sanctimonious blowhards.”

    Yes, and apparently with brain cancer too. Clearly inferior humans. But wait–how does it feel to get your butt whipped by such mentally deficient people? That’s gotta hurt.

  93. “Conservatives are such sanctimonious blowhards.”

    Comments like that are the reason Paul Wells disabled comments on his blog a while back (imo). Can we please keep it civil on these blogs? They’re discussion boards, not an opportunity for name-calling or to vent frustrations of that nature.

  94. A sad day for democracy in Canada. The GG sets a dangerous precedent. Harper wins a Pyrrhic victory through lies and distortions, and by generating further divisions in a already fractious country. A leader he is not.

    Coyne, in the end there is nothing to cheer. In the current overheated political environment, polls are transitory and certainly don’t capture the underlying anger the vast majority of Canadians have towards Harper for creating this debacle. Harper should be ashamed of himself and resign, and he would if he had anything resembling a conscience. I for one continue to be ashamed to have him as my Prime Minister.

  95. I hope, if the coalition does come apart in the coming weeks, the Conservative caucus gets the impression it can go into another election with Harper at the helm. The public wants Conservative government. It’s disgusted by Stephen Harper.

  96. *that should be doesn’t get the impression of course

  97. Comments like that are the reason Paul Wells disabled comments on his blog a while back (imo)

    No. It’s because he was getting tired of being criticised.

    And I am being civil. Calling Conservatives “sanctimonious blowhards” is positively flirtatious coming from me. I actually really do believe that most of them are proto-fascists,

  98. Andrew,

    I truly fail to see how all this mess should be dumped on Harper. Nowhere in your write-up, for instance, do you question the illigitmate aspect of the forming of a coalition under the notion that 62% of the voters did not vote for the Conservatives,

    yet, the terms needed for forming the coaltion did away with most of the campaign promises of the opposition parties, except the BQ which platform is basically always the same: Quebec first and only.

    The following equation is a valid one:

    promises not kept = 0% pv

    How can the NDP and the Liberals ligitimately claim that they have the support of the people? What is that support based on? Is it based on platforms so presented to the voters during the Oct election? And if so, why are those exact promises dismissed when forming the coalition? I think most of Canadian people could easily see the validity of the above equation.

    I challenge you to explain that technicality (the loss of voter’s 62% when promises are tossed out for forming the coalitoin). Not many in the media dare tackle that conundrum, but it is THE question regarding the illigimacy for the forming of a coaltion on those particular grounds.

    You keep saying that Harper has got it all wrong. But he, too, may have his opinion. And I happen to think his opinion is based on a lot of reason. Whereas I believe the opinion of his opponents has been based mostly on sentiment.

    Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the opposition parties had never any intentions of coming toward the government when dealing with the financial update, and if so, what were those suggestions of coming closer? Does compromising for the PM only mean implementing the all the wishes of the opposition parties? I think not, and I think you don’t think so either.

    Why should 143 elected Conservative seats, from right across this country, now have to implement a NDP and/or Lib wish list? The voter obviously rejected those wish lists for the most part. And now the Conservative minority government should implement the vision of the parties which had won less seats combined? And if you say that, well, yes, there is the BQ, then Harper is correct by saying that the national outlook of that party differs greatly with the rest of the parties, namely all other parties have a national outlook, and the BQ does not. The BQ is a provincial party participating within federal elections. And if you see that differently, than pleas explain. How then to dismiss Duceppe’s remarks that Quebec will make major gains if the coaltion would come to govern. Those are not Harper’s words, but Duceppe’s.

    I think there is a real possibility that the NDP never intended to come toward the Conservative proposed innitiatives in any shape or form. And if the NDP had never intended to work with the government, then it is the NDP who should be held responsible for not making parliament work.

    Don’t pretend that all party leaders, except Mr.Harper, had noble intentions. I could quite easily defend my position in saying that Mr.Harper, out of all leaders, had the best of intentions for this country, namely, taking small steps toward economic stimulus now, plus partly relying on the ones which had been voted on shortly before, and do more when needed and when our partners to the south have more concrete things to talk about.

    To wildly throw around ‘stimulus now!’ seems a bit like a pre-calculated propaganda machine tactic: create an atmosphere into which to fit one’s urgent need for coalition……………..You can’t possibly see that picture?

    And grown-up politicians in Ottawa cannot handle it when another party challenges the notion of party public funding, all because some parties aren’t capable of fundraising? It is better to keep funding provincial parties campaigning in federal elections? Well, then maybe all of the provinces should start up provincial parties to run in federal elections. They get national financial support for doing so.

    It is a bit too much irony for my tastes, to pour financial assistence into the possibility of ongoing minority governments. It’s a bit like Parliament itself financing it’s ongoing problems. But hey, what a charade to put one’s own party’s failings behind! The Liberal party has a problem, a major problem, and they, as a party, need to solve that problem internally, not try and solve it on the back of other parties.

    I wish you were so forthright as to address some of the above mentioned concerns, instead of just blaming Harper ongoing. How would you have done things if you were in his place?

  99. >>>>>>>A sad day for democracy in Canada. The GG sets a dangerous precedent. Harper wins a Pyrrhic victory through lies and distortions, and by generating further divisions in a already fractious country. A leader he is not.

    He’s a brilliant leader. You know, so many Canadians hero-worship people like Jack Kennedy and Barack Obama, but if they were ever to find themselves in Canada, they’d simply get referred to as “dictator” and “bully” because people would whine about their leadership style. Our small-l liberals don’t like it when people are assertive, and Canadians are apparently sore losers.

    On both sides; the anti-coalition group on Facebook is pretty revolting – with morons there ready to burn flags and stop paying taxes and shoot the justices of the peace all because Mr. Layton’s face might appear on the next three dollar coin or something. I couldn’t read too many of the messages, but of course, I don’t think we need to worry about “serious” debate occurring there any time soon.

    Not that it is really taking place here with much alacrity, either, but at least one or two people are brave enough to use real names. :-)

    But Canada is apparently now a place where if you lose, step one is to demonize your opponent rather than just shake hands and brush yourself off and prepare for the next round.

    >>>>>>>>Coyne, in the end there is nothing to cheer. In the current overheated political environment, polls are transitory and certainly don’t capture the underlying anger the vast majority of Canadians have towards Harper for creating this debacle. Harper should be ashamed of himself and resign, and he would if he had anything resembling a conscience. I for one continue to be ashamed to have him as my Prime Minister.

    Wow. Talk about lies and distortions. Vast majority, despite that 40% thing, huh? Oh, I guess that’s what you mean by transitory. An election will tell. Does that vast majority who approve of this silly coalition include all the Liberal MPs? How about the Liberal audio-visual squad? Because apparently they were on strike last night too.

  100. I think in a sense, to refer to the above, we all missed Meech and Charlottetown as important precedents. No, they had nothing to do with a change in government, but they had a lot to do with legitimacy in Canadian politics. At the end of the day, Canadians want macro-changes to be supported by the people. Unlike Americans we don’t want to vote on everything from sanitation commissioners to Presidents, we just want to be asked our opinion when the chips truly are down.

  101. Its a great day for democracy – Canadian’s voices have been heard. We have Jack Layton to thank for this mess – like Mulroney he rolled the dice.

  102. The GG had no other choice. It was a forward-looking decision that will address a potentially fatal flaw in our Parliamentary system, thereby avoiding future crises.

    Now that we have 5 federal parties, the odds of any of them earning an electoral majority are slim.

    Had the GG gone along with this stunt, in the making just hours after the last election (right Jack?!), it would be very likely that future elections (that don’t produce majorities) would be regularly followed by the ‘losers’ ganging up on the ‘winners’… thereby guaranteeing that the party that wins the most seats in the House, won’t be part of the government.

    The GG’s decision will prevent this technique… I’ll call it “Layton’s Coup”… from being repeated.

    ***

    On another topic…. how bizarre to hear Quebeckers… who are in favour of Quebec SEPARATING from Canada… whine that they’re offended by being called “SEPARATISTS.” Especially laughable are the ones on TV saying, “Sure, I voted for the Bloc… but I’m not a separatist. And I take offence at being called a Separatist.”

    News flash. If you walk like a duck… and you quack like a duck… you’re a duck. And shedding crocodile tears when people calls you a duck… makes you a joke… no matter what Craig Oliver says. There are federalists, and there are separatists. If you vote for the BQ and/or the PQ, you are the latter.

    This technique reminds me of the CBC’s refusal to call people who strap bombs to their bodies ad walk into public markets as “terrorists”… because they might offend the terrorists.

  103. “like Mulroney he rolled the dice”

    Hear, hear!

  104. Francien, Harper categorically denied he would ever allow a deficit. His very first fiscal update asked Parliament to approve a deficit (thinly veiled by sale of yet to be determined government assets).

  105. Y’know, I’m getting sick and tired of this misrepresentation: “To say Harper won, would be to discount the millions of people in Canada who have lost respect for him, due to his willingness to sacrifice the welfare the country as a whole, for his own personal desire to see his opponents killed.

    Harper didn’t want the other parties to die. He just wanted to see what would happen if they were told they’d have to stand on their on their own two feet. Without exception, when faced with that option, the other three parties said “we’d die”.

    They’re maybe right, but that’s not Harper’s fault.

  106. Michael Dorosh

    Look at it this way: What if the prime motivation for some of the opposition members, for some of the voters and for some in the media, had always been to do away with Harper, period, regardless of anything else, regardless of party platforms, regardless of financial updates, regardless of anyting. Just plainly wanting him out.

    That then would set this entire debacle under a new light. But a light beam worth looking at.

    For me it is very important how a person reasons. Some may seem assertive when expressing their opinion but that is because the have one. I think Harper’s vision for this country is based on good, solid reasoning. Perhaps others cannot match him in that regard and need to resort to other tactics such as hiding behind old style politicking.

    Think back to the election debates, for instance, and when one of the viewers had requested for the leaders to say something nice to the leader sitting next. Harper was the only one who had responded in positive answers throughout. One party leader, by contrast, could hardly manage to utter one positive comment, and then finally resorted to calling Harper a good dad, I guess. And we praise that, but dismiss Harper as the baaaaaaaaaaaad one! It boggles the mind.

  107. Our small-l liberals don’t like it when people are assertive,

    Conservatives don’t understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive/obnoxious. And in any discussion, someone has to remain calm or it’s just becomes a dreary shout-fest.

    But if right wingers want small-l liberals to start screaming back, I’m more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately, it won’t get me invited to panel discussions, which, curiously, is never a liability for the Right.

  108. He just wanted to see what would happen if they were told they’d have to stand on their on their own two feet.

    And the Conservatives are standing on their own two feet by using public resources to fund their propaganda?

    Heh. That’s rich.

    What happened to the In-and-Out scandal, by the way?

  109. Andrew,

    “Francien, Harper categorically denied he would ever allow a deficit. His very first fiscal update asked Parliament to approve a deficit (thinly veiled by sale of yet to be determined government assets).”

    That is not correct. The finance minister has said that going into deficits is a possibility. And indeed it is a real possibility and may come to be. But that would be no different for any of the other parties, depending on what the economy will do.

    For catagorical denial on deficits: please refer to Mr.McCallum’s statement over the past few days.

  110. “A logical argument that could only be made by the likes of Ol’ Beer and Popcorn and Ti-Guy… It doesn’t matter how much truth individuals like these are confronted with, what matters only to them is their “moral high ground” and burning hatred of Harper.”

    LOL… at least they’re admitting that there is in fact a “moral high ground” and they don’t occupy it.
    Considering the first election was won with “transparency and accountablilty”… you’ve come a long way baby… too bad it went straight downhill.

    Talking points and the PR machine are all that keeps the simple minded from reaching out for reality. Eventually, even that won’t work. I hope I am there when “Mr. President” gets the boot.

    Keep talking Ti-Guy… I need the comfort.

  111. “What happened to the In-and-Out scandal, by the way?”

    That issue is before the courts. Are you trying to suggest that relying on the courts when in disagreement is a no, no? Because if you believe that, then we might as well pack ‘r in right now. Or would you prefer to give up your rights to defend yourself and call it what? A pretend democracy?

    When the courts speak, we will have the answer.

  112. cribqueen

    so loud, and yet not one reasonable argument for countering. Welcome to our modern mode of understanding democracy.

  113. AC,

    I think the GG had little choice. I think the GG did what was required to keep the crown from this mess, and for sure she warned and set conditions. She may have warned or offered opinions on Quebec, about the only topic I think she as a person can comment on with some authority, thanks Paul Martin for setting the bar so low for qualifications (he haunts us still)

    I quibble with the blaming of Harper for putting her in this position….he may have sparked the fire but this apparently was coming anyway, the escalation ladders were jumped. The opposition strategy relied, 100%, on the GG handing over the keys….so who tried to make the GG do something she probably shouldn’t???

    Final point, you mention this as an NDP Bloc projecty….agreed. Remember the NDP does not have an issue with Sovereignty Association, it was official policy for some time I believe, thats what this sets up whether they realize it or not. The Liberals are going to be forced to choose since LAyton is going too hang on to this, unless his Western MP’s revolt (a distinct possibility). Martin, Mulcair and Layton, not an air cooled neuron between them….they have a project in mind and they are going to do it. Up to the Liberals as to whether they will enable it.

  114. “They’re maybe right, but that’s not Harper’s fault.”

    Absolutely!

  115. AC

    A really, really good take !!

  116. “Y’know, I’m getting sick and tired of this misrepresentation: “To say Harper won, would be to discount the millions of people in Canada who have lost respect for him, due to his willingness to sacrifice the welfare the country as a whole, for his own personal desire to see his opponents killed.”

    I am also tired of the misrepresentation. No wonder the people in this country are confused. They do not get in depth reporting any longer. Most reporting is now basically done by skimming over the surface hopping from one surface wave onto another. Wave after wave and diving no deeper.

    First we hear that the opposition members had no problem with the proposed subsidy cuts as being the obstacle within the financial update. We know this because they said so themselves and the media told us second hand. But now it seems that the party subsidy cuts is THE biggest knife ever to have been wielded on Parliament Hill. And the government took the proposal out as soon as the uproar over ‘other ommissions’ had started.

    So which is it? Was trying to do away with the subsidy the main obstacle or not? And if it was the biggest obstacle, then why was it the biggest obstacle?

  117. So Francien, Harper never promised during the campaign that he would never run a deficit?

  118. During the elections, Harper fully expressed that he did not want to run a deficit. He still prefers not to run deficit. But future economic circumstances may tell us more in that regard.

    Now, I have answered your question. Your turn: How about that McCullum thingy on the deficit?

  119. Francien, I sense that you are on the cusp of enlightenment, so I extend one hand to help and beckon onward with the other.

    For Christ’s sake, isn’t it obvious that the real cause of the crisis was the planned cancellation of party subsidies? So the opposition parties had to take a stand. (Spare me the moralising about fundraising here.) But they couldn’t take a stand in the name of self-interest, so they picked the economy. By the time Harper backed off on party subsidies, they were already committed to the attack, so they pressed it as best they could.

    Does it make sense now?

    The real issue is whether or not it was justifiable, from a patriotic point of view, to utterly frustrate the business of Parliament. That was Harper’s sin, which he has yet to expiate. It is not about the economy. It is not about party subsidies. It not even about acting like a bully. It is about dragging the House of Commons down to the level of animal savagery. Obviously the opposition parties would react strongly to the cutting off of party subsidies — and again please spare us the pious platitudes about fundraising! Nevertheless, Harper doesn’t give a fig about “making Parliament work.” He hates anything ancient, noble, and civic — like the House of Commons. He hates his opponents. He didn’t act alone in this, but he took the initiative in reducing our best institution to smithereens.

    Come towards the light, Francien. It’s blissfully cool up here.

  120. Francis said: “Look at it this way: What if the prime motivation for some of the opposition members, for some of the voters and for some in the media, had always been to do away with Harper, period, (snip)
    Think back to the election debates, for instance, and when one of the viewers had requested for the leaders to say something nice to the leader sitting next. Harper was the only one who had responded in positive answers throughout. One party leader, by contrast, could hardly manage to utter one positive comment, and then finally resorted to calling Harper a good dad, I guess. And we praise that, but dismiss Harper as the baaaaaaaaaaaad one! It boggles the mind.”

    I had quite forgotten about that. What an excellent point, thank you for making it.

    Maybe a cooling off will be good for Mr. Harper, too. I was struck by what you just mentioned, by the way. Truly, he is a leader. And the Liberals do want a way out of this now. They want their dignity, and they’re entitled to some. I hope they get a way to keep it. But I hope we get our majority first.

  121. No deficit is sooooooo 2008. All the cool kids are wearing deficits now! Maybe we can get ine for Christmas, or the post holiday sales.

  122. I understand how democracy works, though it does indeed work in a slightly different way in a Parliamentary system.

    I’m just coming to terms with the idea that it gets a 6 week holiday. It is now six weeks until anyone does anything of value for the Country.

    The media will speculate, and I can hear the PR machine humming in the background, it will be relentless, but of little value for Canadians. It never had to happen, but for some reason, our PM feels it is more important to destroy the opposition than stimulate the economy.

    I was in favor of the Coalition, in as much as it was, and is, a LEGAL, and perfectly acceptable route for Parliament to take if the confidence of the House is in question. There is nothing undemocratic about it, and it is a sign of the power of the PR machine, that people could be convinced otherwise.

    I have respect for ALL … no no… let me change that… most of our Members of Parliament. It does stop at the current PM, for (among other things) grasping at straws to hold on to power. The Conservatives would be better off without that kind of representation.

    At least the “S” words will slow down for a while, thank God. We were going to take a drink every time a Conservative member said “separatist” and “socialist” in the same sentence… but we had to stop or would have died of alcohol poisoning… in the first hour, LOL.

  123. >>>>>>Conservatives don’t understand the difference between being assertive and being aggressive/obnoxious.

    That’s right. 5 million of us were extensively and laboriously brainwashed. Because Mr. Harper is on the one hand, a moron, as the left keeps alleging, but on the other hand, so ingenious as to be able to pull the wool over our eyes with his “PR machine” which the left on the CBC website keeps crying is funded by taxpayer’s money (it’s not, it’s private donations.)

    Or maybe us 5 million just represent the morons of the country. Whatever gets you to sleep at night.

  124. What’s wrong with you people?…I’m a believer in voting in the strongest candidate to govern our great country Liberal, NDP, Conservative or otherwise. Steven Harper was and still is that man. He may have the personality of a book-end but this is not a popularity contest. What would the corporate world be like if the main criteria for selection of ceo’s, cfo’s, presidents etc.. was that they were likable and could play well in the corporate sandbox? And to witness Dion and Layton have a tantrum and cozy with a separatist group that shouldn’t have a place in our parliament to begin with because they got sand in their eyes is was utterly despicable, self serving and quite bluntly just wrong for Canada.

    Harper presented a package that included the removal of our tax dollars for funding to political parties. Sure out of the blue I suppose but these are tough economic times and they will require tough economic decisions. The opposition had the power to reject and they did. This was for ALL political parties including conservatives. End of Story?…No! the opposition had pre-determined the so called coalition was their card to play prior to Mr. Harper presenting his package and moved forward with their scheme of non-confidence and thus sending us into this p#$@$ing contest. Let me see….Dion had already lost confidence in his own party. Layton knows full well we won’t see power in a lifetime and the pq, well lets do something to keep the separatist movement alive and get the country pissed at each other. Well, congratulations….

    As for Layton’s and Dion’s must have immediate bailout for our auto industry. Let’s throw billions of dollars to them without a recovery plan or consideration for the changes that might be thrust upon us by our big brother south of the border. (Remember they are still American corporations) No consideration for the inevitable conversion to alternative fuels and greener technology. And then when the changes happen and we have a direction, we suddenly have to buck-up again and put our country into deficit with unknown consequences for all Canadians. Demanding a budget in two weeks, give me a break. Stay the coarse P.M. Harper.

    Andrew, if I could I would shake your hand. After listening to you on Rutherford this evening I have renewed confidence and hope that as Canadians we will come through this disaster united. Please keep telling it like it is without the political sugar-coat Canadians have become numb to. Dion and Layton should be ashamed and resign as opposition leaders immediately if they call themselves Canadian. My thoughts not yours….

    HP.

  125. Harper has only delayed his inevitable fall from power. He miscaculated about the Liberals not being able to oppose him over the Economic Update. He never forsaw the possibility of a coalition(constitutionally legitimate but politically impractical) and he was forced to go to the GG on bended knee to save his political hide. So much for being the smartest man in the room. Once the Libs replace Dion, he’s toast.

  126. Amazing !! How can so many of you “know” that PMSH is not a nice guy ?

    How did you all get to know him ?

    Or are you just spouting the media’s vested interest line ?

    Partisan ?

    This guy knows Steve well. And he is certainly his political enemy. A self describe kick-ass guy too.

    And what does Warren Kinsella think of Stephen ?

    ———————————————–

    Me? Why am I – unlike too many Liberals, who are running around like deranged street corner prophets, hollering about an imminent conservative apocalypse – so unafraid of Stephen Harper? Well, for starters, I’m from Calgary. Even though I’m one of the two dozen Liberals who lived there, it annoys me – it pisses me off – that Central Canadians perpetually associate Albertans, out loud or not, with Jim Keegstra and hooded Klansmen. When they get impatient with persuasion and argument, and when they start to insinuate that Harper is a Nazi, they lose me and a few million other folks, too. I disagree with many of the man’s policies, sure. But I don’t feel the need to peddle facile bullshit to beat him on the campaign trail.

    The notion that he is a heartless automaton, too, doesn’t work for me. When my Dad died, Stephen Harper called my Mom, right out of the blue, and he talked to her for a good long while. I had been ripping him and his party for years, and I hadn’t held back – but he did that. My Mom is asleep in the next room, and I can tell you that neither she, nor anyone in my family, will ever forget that phone call. Cynics will sneer at that kind of gesture, but that’s because they’re assholes who have forgotten what feelings are.

  127. Ah, the coveted Warren Kinsella “Nice Guy” endorsement.

  128. site is new not working yet any web programmers want to help. donsmith1a@gmail.com
    hey! larry moe and curly aka jack-stephane-gilles.don’t worry. 3 brainiacs?maniacs? Oh let’s just call them financial wizards. you will be much in demand in the U.S.A. and world wide to solve the worlds financial problems.you should be able to command a high price for that kind of expertise. please do not delay, do not stop to dump $30,000,000,000 cdn.dollars into the us auto branch plants here in canada as they will likely be shut down in a few weeks anyway as the Yanks realize they need the jobs in America.
    great candidates for the senate: bearing in mind that our ex vancouver mayor campbell is a member, the bar is not set very high. first has to be homer simpson-his son bart should be considered to add some youth. can not leave out the 3 stooges larry,moe and curly.(yes I know some of my candidates are dead or not real. but being alive or real is not really a requisite for the senate)fred flintstone would fit in, as well as his daughter pebbles (if you listen real attentively you may be able to understand her)norm from cheers would be great for after the infrequent times they meet and they need a pal at the bar.tim allen from tool time is a shoo in as he fouls up everthing he attempts.to add a distaff member who could object to carol burnett as misses hawiggins to add a little more levity. I,ll leave the rest up to mr. harper.

    harper did a stupid but the coalition showed they are better than them at it.
    anything they can do stupidly we can do stupider.let that be their epitaph

  129. Rock on, Kevin Powell. Stevie’s got to go!!

  130. Iggy and LeBlanc have been statesmanlike in their “staying out of the media” – Rae is using for his campaign.

    I have a question – no taxation without representation – why would Harper tax federal taxes to the BLOC and their supporters if he feels they should have a voice in this?

    The are still Canadians because they haven’t separated but support a separtist group. If their vote is only about Quebec – should they pay taxes?

  131. gwgm:“This technique reminds me of the CBC’s refusal to call people who strap bombs to their bodies ad walk into public markets as “terrorists”… because they might offend the terrorists.” Too true. My favorite take on the CBC’s refusal to call suicide bombers terrorists and instead call them activists was from Mark Steyn:“Just make sure you’re not standing too close to an “activist” when he activates himself”

  132. “Andrew, if I could I would shake your hand. After listening to you on Rutherford this evening I have renewed confidence and hope that as Canadians we will come through this disaster united.”

    Andrew, I did not hear you on Rutherford, but I watched you on At Issue. I must say you and Cantel are getting closer. Peter is still surprised by how all this is unravelling but we will leave that for another day.

    You and Chantel are getting closer to the deeper problems underlying this latest show-down.

    The Liberal Party of Canada has a problem. It has had this problem for a long time. The party knows that and we all know that. And the party has had this problem for a long time, even since before Mr.Chretien had taken over the reins. But because Mr.Chretien was such a ‘skilled’ politician, the Liberal Party of Canada could pretend to have held its own. But look at what was happening behind the scenes: the Liberals were losing the Quebec vote before the adscam. The adscam was merely designed to prop up the failing support. And think about the Martin/Chretien vault lines.

    So years ago, they had practically lost most support in the West and then they started losing support in Quebec. For the Liberals, the province of Quebec had always been a major source of secure vote hauling. But no longer. The BQ and its position within federal politics is a complex issue to consider, and I will not go into that now.

    The lastes debacle could for a large part be considered as coming out of Liberal symptomatic problems. In other words, because the Liberal internal problems have not been resolved, (and here I am not just talking about Dion being their leader, although having chosen him as leader is a symptomatic Liberal problem) the debacle in the House could happen.

    I am not saying that only the Liberal party played a part in this; what I am saying is that if the Liberal party itself had managed to concentrate on overcoming internal problems first before trying to go head-strong against the Conservatives, we might have never seen the play we have seen unfold over the past week.

    Because when you think about it: it is not the complete dismissal for western concerns by the Liberal party, but it is also the lack of support in Quebec. Now where do the Liberals find their core support? The old days have disappeared, and it is the Liberal Party of Canada which needs to come to grips with this new reality.
    Harper does not need to solve that problem for them. If the Liberals are in a weak position because they refuse to see that they have an internal problem (much larger than having Dion as leader) than what else is there to say. The tables are turned for a refreshing change. The Liberals no longer hold automatic power over this country, and I think that is a good thing. I have supported the Libeal party in the past, and I would do so again if they prove to be the better choice. But at this time they are not, not for me at least.

    The latest debacle within the House is as accumulation of many things not having been resolved. Kinda like entering into a new era of how this country is in the process of aligning itself politically. The old lines have disappeared, completely, but somehow the Liberals are not yet aware of that. That short sightedness shows up in their policy platforms, it shows up in their choice of leadership, and it shows up within the House. And perhaps the mindset of the Canadian voter has not yet adjusted to this new reality. Has the CBC adjusted to this new reality? All of that plays a role in what we have witnessed over these past few days.

    Perhaps now the Liberals have seen the light: that they must regroup internally first before they can form a force to be reckoned with once again. Just do it! would fit the party at this time. And quickly doing away with Mr.Dion won’t do the trick.

    Your comments on At Issue were pointing in that direction, and I thought it was good to hear that.

    Now, where has Peter been all these days, weeks, months? Years, perhaps?

  133. Andrew,

    I see I’m late to the game.

    Someone asked why PMSH spent so long with GGMJ.

    Perhaps PMSH spent two hours showing GGMJ proof that the coalition started their diabolical plot before the last election finished. Then he went on to restrain her from dissolving parliament right then in order to call an election giving us poor undeserving morons a chance to vote them out. He restrained her and suggested the “Christian” thing to do would be to give them a chance to amend their ways. Then he convinced her that, should they be uncooperative and render parliament dysfunctional, she should allow him to call an election after they defeat his budget in January or early February.

    He stood steadfastly against these blowhards because he knew they had only one intention: to take by stealth that which they could not convince Canadian voters to give them in the last election.

    Removing the vote subsidy is still a good idea; PMSH is leading by example, on a policy where his party takes the largest hit.

    Despite aid from the CBC, Big Labour and the rest of the Three Stooge’s cheerleading squad in the formerly MSM, public opinion turned against these Coaliars. Card holding grassroots conservatives and former grassroots conservatives, including some who didn’t vote in the last election because they didn’t feel they could afford the $1.95 per vote per year tax increase to do so, have been reinvigorated. Bob Rae may find this group distasteful — was it Astroturf he called us? But if he really wants to survive in Canadian politics he should pay attention and learn.

    Those from the western part of our country should be calling out: Judy, Ralph, Ms. Duncan and Ujahl to explain their suicidal misrepresentation of that region. It’s amazing how a sniff of a cabinet limousine damaged their reasoning. Hopefully this is a sturdy nail in the coffin of the era of “enlightened” entitlement for these and their fellow coaliars.

    Sincerely,

    Caffeine Free

  134. Six weeks ago the media was collectively aghast that Dion was clinging to the Liberal leadership instead of resigning immediately. Numerous commentators spoke of how the decision to stick around “made no sense” whatsoever. Well, now we’ve seen what kinds of ideas he had floating around in that little head of his. The mystery is no more.

  135. gwgm comment above:

    brilliant.

  136. Why do they hate Harper?

    1) Most importantly because he’s a successful conservative. They can stand Joe Clark. But there’s no worse a conservative than a good one, for their role is singular: to gain power. Mulroney was just shy of being a political anti-Christ, but to the left Harper is turning out to be evil incarnate.

    2) Harper is a realist and a pragmatist. To the realist, belt tightening is prudent. To the leftist, belt tightening is mean and nasty. The left are our societal teenagers, and when their fun stuff is taken away from them, they’ll lash out like reality is your fault.

    3) Harper is a far better tactician than the left’s chosen leaders. What the left considers shrewd if done by them, is “bully” like when done by Harper’s party. Any “attack” (ie criticism) on them is unfair, unwarranted, and again, mean. It’s at the point where the left seemingly expects Harper to actually roll over and agree with them.

    You put the above together, and presto, you have Harper Derangement Syndrome. Shared by the far left and their compatriots in the media.

  137. It is not about the economy. It is not about party subsidies. It not even about acting like a bully. It is about dragging the House of Commons down to the level of animal savagery. Obviously the opposition parties would react strongly to the cutting off of party subsidies — and again please spare us the pious platitudes about fundraising!

    No.

    What is *not savage* (or, more generously, not childish–because I’ll stipulate to the lack of moral responsibility and authority either way) about saying you won’t play the game unless it’s with other people’s money?

  138. I think scary things are yet to come. Harper will read those numbers and believe they are in support of him and his ideologies. The Conservatives don’t believe they need to cooperate anyway – they only need 11 other MP’s to pass legislation. They will read those numbers as a mandate ‘from the people’ (even though it’s a poll of only a few 1000 that agreed to participate.) and he will once again run rampant over the values many of us think of as “Canadian” and pit region and against region. – Someone blogged that he is a rogue prime minister – in my most humblest of opinion, I think he is the worst Prime Minister this country has ever seen. Another blogger wrote somewhere that we won’t recognise Canada by the time he is through. I believe it.

  139. Our family has never earned a vacation. Hard to find financial room to save, but we tried. And it has evaporated. Our family does not have a doctor. Our home equity has plummeted. And we are fortunate. Still a job.
    And our fair punditry prognosicates about the coalition, the future of Dion…
    Perhaps our journalists earn money too easily. There are too many of you. Because you don’t get it.
    The size of the war chests of our political parties is being encouraged as it bankrolls your very jobs.
    But, the little people are not heard above your own noise and the thumping of Harper as he throws around his weight.
    Don’t bother with us. Go on with the show…

  140. I’m with you on that Catherine except where is comes to journalists…only a relative few are employed with pension and benefits. Most take contract work or are paid by the column and not very much. I know a few journalist both young and entering the field and a couple of ‘old dogs.’ They’re all driven and passionate with varying interests and ideologies themselves. But they work as hard as the next guy and for very little pay.

    I’ve been working contracts for almost ten years now and not for want but because permanent employment is still that fruit on the farthest limb. Government goes wonky like this and my contracts freeze….feast and famine. I’m expecting famine so have taken on two types of contract work. Now I’m a social researcher by day and a caterer by night (with kids to feed and clothe, a roof over their heads to provide,and food and bills…its crazy I know.) But I also think I am lucky – because I can diversify – I call it scrambling. But boy-o-boy am I worried.

  141. Nerdy Girl: I had no intention of minimizing your daily responsibilities and load. My apologies.
    My target was meant to be the punditry and their flavour of the day nonsense.
    They are missing the responsibilities that families are toughing through with the heavy heart that we are losing ground.
    They act like cheerleaders at a sports event….cutesy, kinetic, and largely fluff.
    Today, they have picked up on the “let’s bash Dion” schtick.
    Hope your contract work materializes into more stability for you and your family.
    We, the little people, deserve to have hopes and calm, too, for our daily labours.

  142. Harper still needs to get a whip on his side. We all know which party that is. It’s the party that must have learned over 2 1/2 years that turtling gets you nowhere.

    This is far from over.

  143. Oh thats cool Catherine – I was just empathizing. A person doesn’t have to be in the manufacturing industry to worry about making ends meet. A great majority of us are only a few paychecks away from not making a rent or a mortgage payment. And its tough when just when you think you’ve made it past the rough spot – you think you’re finally a grown up with a mortgage to pay – you’re back to thinking – pay the rent (mortgage) or feed the kids. I am greatful we have what few social programs we do – not that I need them….. yet (touch wood) but its a reason I will never support Consevative ideologies. I believe in a common social safety net.

  144. I think it’s a short term defeat for the coalition and a long term victory for progressivism in Canada. Dion will be gone, perhaps even faster now. Harper’s extremism has been exposed to the public. He will have to be more centrist and accomodating now. And Harper’s reputation for strategic brilliance is damaged. Plus, a global swing to the left and against the neo-liberalism that has caused the economic crisis (as well as toward climate change responsibility) is leaving Harper on an island. Let’s face it, no matter what happens, we’re tacking left – and that, as a non-partisan, is all I care about.

    It’s been a great week for the left.

  145. The Globe and Mail comes to its senses:

    If there is a saving grace in all this, it is that anger with the Conservatives is directed more toward Mr. Harper than his party. That raises the hope that, were he replaced as leader, the greatest barrier to inter-party co-operation with a Conservative minority government would be removed.

    Dump Harper.

  146. The Conservatives have to dump Harper, right Ti-Guy, those poll numbers out yesterday are devasting:

    Ipsos: CPC 46, LPC 23, NDP 13, BQ 9, GPC 8
    Ekos: CPC 44, LPC 24, NDP 15, BQ 9, GPC 8

    The Strategic Counsel: CPC 45, LPC 24, NDP 14, (no BQ numbers)

  147. Hmmm, I guess I’m not a very sophisticated reader of polls. All these smart journalists are taking them very seriously.

  148. “Dump Harper”

    It would be my luck that just as I get old enough to start wallowing in my own share of the spoils the party that would help me do that gets taken over by the likes of him. I really DO hope the Progressive Conservatives get their mojo back.

  149. Take out a membership Ti-Guy. Its only $10.00.

  150. Mr. Coyne, thank you for your lucid and insightful comments throughout this ordeal. It has been a pleasure reading this blog, and listening to you on the always excellent AIP..

  151. Andrew: I would have much preferred to see the non-confidence vote on Monday than to have the House prorogued. I have my doubts whether the coalition would have pulled it off, especially in the face of the latest poll numbers.

    But why do you say that the proroguing was undemocratic? It was certainly unprecedented. But the fact that it was unprecedented doesn’t necessarily make it undemocratic.

  152. I would guess, though of course I don’t know, that with a capable leader this week might have been a wash or a coaltion win in public opinion. Especially after Harper’s cowardly lion antics of yesterday (don’t forget, these polls were prior to Mr. Harper running behind momma’s skirt).

    I’m a coalition supporter but Mr. Dion is a total failure as a leader and by the end of the week I myself began leaning toward an election.

    Aside:

    “Liberals”, what were you thinking? Get your freakin’ act together! Now!

  153. Actually, all 3 parties DID expect the GG to grant prorogation. They all spoke openly about it Thursday morning prior to the fireside chat.
    Bob Rae now has approximately 54 days to sell the idea of a coalition to Canadians. It should be easy because that’s also 54 days for Harper to find yet another way of pissing everyone off.

  154. Thanks for the numbers, Jarrid. I actually expected even more loss of support for NDP than they are showing. As far as I can tell, the NDP/Lib partisans hate each other the most and I thought many die hard dippers would abandon party after Coalition was announced. And Dion can kiss good-bye to any positive legacy he might have had.

  155. Victory belongs to whichever side can play the blood-stained “Can’t we all get along?” card most convincingly.

  156. Jarrid, The Conservative don’t have to dump Harper. But it might be something they should seriously consider (and I’ll bet both MacKay, Prentice, Baird, and a few others are anxious for that crack in the door to appear) if they are serious about a cooperative relationships with the opposition. He will never earn my trust – I saw something ugly in Harper and I think a lot of average Canadians saw it too – we have been left shaken by what happened. The polls indicate support for the Conservatives…people were asked about the Party not the individual. When they were asked about Harper polls showed the majority did not trust him. Ti-Guy is only repeating what many people believe must happen if any kind of cooperation can be found. The poison released into the House this week is still wafting about….My fear is that Harper and others will read a ‘time-sensitive’ narrow focused poll, like you have, and believe it gives him a mandate based on ‘public opinion’.

  157. Talking Heads are saying nobody was a winner. I digress. Stephen Harper is a winner. The Conservatives are winners. Canadians are winners. That’s my partisan, ideological, divisive, scary, etc. opinion. When the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc lose… Canada wins!!!

    Harper! Harper! Harper! Wooo!!!

  158. Why can’t the Libs just get rid of Dion. Putting our Rae is not going to make any difference. With a new leader, maybe that could swing public opinion. Why can’t Dion see that? He’s already resigned, why not leave early?

    Is he really that stupid or arrogant that he can’t see what the polls are saying? He’s the reason the coalition isn’t selling.

  159. Wow, the ether is positively crimson with sour grapes this morning, isn’t it.

    Why would the Conservatives want to dump the person that not only united the right successfully (without the jet-ski or similar tricks, but on a working knowledge of how an economy works), but is making slow, steady progress towards a majority government at the same time as making all the right moves in the face of an opposition falling apart in the face of his every move?

    And moreover, doing all the right things for the country to boot? There’s some icing for your cake.

    The point above about Mr. Harper’s conduct when asked to say something nice about the person sitting beside him at the debate was telling. So was the fact he shook hands with his son on the first day of school – I still recall that too. The touch-feely Canadians were shocked he didn’t kiss his son in front of the cameras. You know, I was never a “hugger” in my family either, but I still remember shaking hands with my dad for real the first time the Army sent me off by airplane to a foreign country (not for combat duty, lest I mis-represent myself – four weeks of public-type duties in Scotland and England).

    As PM, Mr. Harper is not going to be warm and fuzzy, but I don’t want warm and fuzzy. I don’t want him giving hand-outs to every creep who asks for one, because that’s coming out of my pocket. I want him staring people down, be it the Americans on soft-wood lumber, or the Liberals on campaign contributions, or the media on their biased reporting.

    He’s a strategist, and so far, making some pretty good moves.

    Such a shame the polls are proving him right. That must hurt his detractors the most.

  160. When Harper and Flaherty waved the red flag in front of House of Commons peers, it seemed they’d made a colossal miscalculation- one borne of some mixture of stupidity and arrogance.

    Now it seems, once again, that Harper is dumb like a fox. Maybe the coalition took the bait of his master plan:

    1. Provoke opposition parties while weak Dion still in power
    2. Watch as they form a coalition of the incompetent
    3. Rail against their willingness to align with the Bloc
    4. Suspend parliament and begin 6 weeks of active campaigning
    5. Lose a January confidence vote
    6. Win a majority in a snap election

    Harper’s support #s today suggest the plan is working…

  161. Gilles Duceppe for PM!

    He best keeps his head whilst all around him are losing theirs, and he is a political judo master of consummate skill who understands all too well how good it is for Quebec to be part of Canada.

    Merry Christmas to All – even you paranoid / separatist Albertans,
    DF

  162. watch the talking points as Rae keeps flogging this dead horse.(coalition). It is now a coalition between libs and ndp. Grade 3 arithmetic says 114 is much smaller than 143.(seats) Poor Iggy, he can run but he can’t hide. His buyer’s remorse won’t work..his fingerprints and mug are all over this deal.

  163. Harper’s slow, steady progress toward a majority is over. It ended when he pitted Western knee-jerk public sentiment against Quebec knee-jerk public sentiment to save his sorry skin.

    A new Conservative leader taking over immediately would be the best of all outcomes. The opposition would still be disgraced, and their coalition would come apart, while the new Conservative leader would have clean hands and a clean start.

  164. >>>>>Harper’s slow, steady progress toward a majority is over. It ended when he pitted Western knee-jerk public sentiment against Quebec knee-jerk public sentiment to save his sorry skin.

    The Conservatives’ days of being a Western party are long past, despite the desperate attempts of sore-loser blogospherists to dredge up the past. The Liberals, on the other hand, have been reduced to a regional, largely urban, party focused in enclaves in Toronto and Montreal. 5 million Canadians weren’t “duped” into saving anyone’s sorry skin in the last election, they were genuinely concerned about their money, and will continue to be so in the next election.

  165. Before the election was over, Rae abandoned playing checkers and started playing Red Rover.

    This whole thing looks good on him.

    On a more serious note, this whole episode reveals how deeply screwed up this country has been since the inception of the Bloc.
    A party can only have a majority in this country now if one of the main parties (Libs or Cons) are severely damaged. So we either have the instability of a minority government or we have the instability of a mjority government coupled with an opposition in ruination.

    If Harper must destroy the Libs to gain a majority so he can remove the Bloc from Canada’s equation, then so be it. Maybe this country can become functional again after that. Perhaps Harper’s mission to destroy the Libs isn’t from vindictiveness, perhaps it’s because he has bigger fish to fry.

  166. Jim Brown, The Canadian Press, wrote today:

    OTTAWA — If there’s one point on which Stephen Harper has been adamant, it’s his claim that the opposition politicians trying to strip him of power are undermining democracy.

    “The Canadian government has always been chosen by the people,” the prime minister declared in his mid-week televised address to the country.

    But now, he told viewers, a coalition of opposition parties is trying to oust him through a backroom deal “without your say, without your consent and without your vote.”

    Just how valid is Harper’s claim that changing governments without a new election would be undemocratic?

    “It’s politics, it’s pure rhetoric,” said Ned Franks, a retired Queen’s University expert on parliamentary affairs. “Everything that’s been happening is both legal and constitutional.”

    Other scholars are virtually unanimous in their agreement. They say Harper’s populist theory of democracy is more suited to a U.S.-style presidential system, in which voters cast ballots directly for a national leader, than it is to Canadian parliamentary democracy.

    “He’s appealing to people who learned their civics from American television,” said Henry Jacek, a political scientist at McMaster University.

    Harper signed similar document in 2004

    In Canada, there’s no national vote for prime minister. People elect MPs in 308 ridings, and a government holds power only as long as it has the support of a majority of those MPs.

    “We have a rule that the licence to govern is having the confidence of the House of Commons,” said Peter Russell, a former University of Toronto professor and adviser to past governors general.

    “I’m sorry, that’s the rule. If they want to change it to having a public opinion poll, we’d have to reform and rewrite our Constitution.”

    Harper himself signed a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in 2004, claiming the right to form a government if Paul Martin’s minority Liberals could be defeated in a confidence vote in the Commons.

    His ostensible partners would have been NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe — now derided by Harper as the “socialist” and the “separatist” in Liberal Leader Stephane Dion’s coalition.

    “I was just as much a sovereigntist then as I am now,” Duceppe sniffed Thursday in a reference to Harper’s new-found aversion to any deals with the Bloc.

    Such facts are conveniently forgotten by some members of Harper’s cabinet who have been even more vocal than their boss in the current crisis.

    Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn has characterized the opposition effort to bring down the Tories as a “coup d’etat.”

    Transport Minister John Baird spoke Thursday of the need for the Conservatives to go “over the heads” of both Parliament and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to take their case straight to the people.

    There’s no doubt the central Harper claim — that he can’t legitimately be dumped from office without a new election — is dead wrong, said Jonathan Rose, a Queen’s University political scientist.

    But as a communications strategy it has the virtue of being simple, direct and powerful.

    “He’s using this bludgeon of an argument (but) most people just see the word democracy and have some intuitive connection to it,” said Rose.

    By contrast, the theory and practice of parliamentary confidence and responsible cabinet government take some explaining.

    But Harper may have undermined his own effort Thursday with his visit to the Governor General to get permission to shut down Parliament for seven weeks.

    It was the only way he could dodge a confidence vote that would have toppled his government next Monday. But it also presented the Liberals, NDP and Bloc with a ready-made response to the prime minister’s claim of democratic superiority.

    “You need something visceral and simple,” said Rose. “The opposition metaphor of locking the doors to Parliament does it. I think people understand that.”

  167. I’m EXTREMELY concerned about the prospect of the Liberals at the helm. Which is exactly why Harper has to go! He’s now a liability to the Conservative Party.

    In the short term, there’s still a chance the coalition will hold together if Harper clings on. With him gone there’s a 0% chance. In terms of the next election, Harper has burned all his bridges with Quebec, which makes it not just mathematically improbably for him to win a majority, but extremely unhealthy for the country were it to come without strong Quebec representation.

  168. Who would replace Mr. Harper in the Conservative party? He’s been the most successful leader on the right since Mulroney. He hasn’t failed yet. Why hit the chicken switch?

  169. Don’t be so hard on poor Stéphane’s video performance Wednesday night. He was just another victim of the Tory’s Arts and Culture cuts. LOL

  170. …indeed, the problem with dumping Harper is that nobody in the Conservative caucus seems to have the stature to step into the breech. I think Jim Prentice, Tony Clement, or Lawrence Cannon would make acceptable interim leaders, but I’m less sure about a leader for the long haul. Perhaps it’s Bernard Lord’s time to jump in? Jason Kenny is very young but he seems to have the media skills and sensitivity to public sentiment for it.

    Harper would make a great ‘Karl Rove’: someone plotting off to the side of the media friendly front-man. But as the face of the Conservative Party he’s just too prickly and divisive, with too much Reform baggage.

  171. Six weeks ago the G & M editorial teak were talking about how Harper had “grown into the job” and deserved to be re-elected, possibly with a majority. One political crisis and they’re calling for his resignation. Not gonna happen. Harper will emerge from this scarred but strengthened. Scarred because he’ll finally realize he can’t play reckless partisan brinkmanship all the time. Strengthened because he will now be fully aware of just how far he can push things without going overboard, giving him surer footing and allowing him to focus more on what needs to be done.

    As for the prognostications of Harper as dead man walking, that’s just daydreaming by the Harper-haters. Even Clark took three and a half years to disappear after losing the confidence motion in the House of Commons in December 1979, and then losing the ensuing election in Feb 1980. He stuck around as leader until the summer of 1983, when he was finally removed during the nastiest leadership race ever witnessed in this country.

    So Harper-haters, don’t get all excited. You’ve done nothing but strengthen Harper’s leadership, by giving him the only kind of warning he’s likely to heed – that of a near-death experience. He was quite scared earlier this week. You could see it in his face. You gave him exactly what he needed. He was becoming insufferably nasty and bullheaded even for us conservatives. Thank-you. Now go back to squawking or protesting or whatever ineffective activities you spend your time on.

  172. Re Jim Browns article.

    I am so glad that Profesor Russel thinks elections are mere opinion polls now…..I think his quote must be out of context.

    The comment is by no means meant to question Mr russell’s deep experience in the area, I just don’t think the quote is representative of the full meaning.

    Once again, nobody I have read is question the consitutionality of any of the mechanisms. The debate is always about legitimacy, of which the mechanics are only a part, an important part, but not he only part. It is incredibly important to let the machinery do its work, but there is judgement and interpretation and accountability built into that machinery that makes results not wholly deterministic form process.

    A law court has lots of mechanical processes, time tested etc, but they arent deterministic. You still need a judge and sometimes a jury.

    Prorogue was legal and constitutional, but ultimately it was the judgement of the GG to stick with what she deemed a higher order precedent, following PM advice. Refusing Prorogue would have been legal and costitutional as well, the GG would have been exercising judgement, in what could arguably be called a larger exercis of judgement than what she did.

    If and when the government budget dosnt pass she will have another judgement to make assuming Harpers advice is to go to election and either option of accepting or rejecting is constitutional and legal. Given that the outcomes are flexible it is hard to call something illegal as long as the advice comes from the PM and the GG makes the decision. How that decision is perceived by the governed in the short and long run is and always will be a judgement call. All answers, from accepting a coalition after a PM resignation to calling an election are legal and constitutional.

    An election, should it be the accepted recommendation is hardly an opinion poll, I am sure the good Professor didnt mean that.

  173. Stewacide, Harper is not going anywhere. This is a guy who came from nowhere, won the Alliance leadership, oversaw a successful merger, won the leadership to the Conservatives, kept both undesirable extremist wings of the party either muzzled or otherwise occupied (the Socons and the Red Tories), laid waste to the Paul Martin “Juggernaut” and became PM within five years. Now you want to pitch him overboard. I heard calls for his ouster after the Belinda Stronach crossing as well. They were bullshit then, and they’re bullshit now. Harper has his faults, some of which are near legendary in status. But he’s the best we’ve got, and he’s more than a match for ANY other leader of ANY other party. He’s staying.

  174. Let’s be honest, Ranter, Chretien laid waste to the Martin juggernaut dropping both AdScam and the funding changes into his lap.

    Harper’s success can be directly attributed to the Liberals own actions, not his own.

    Think about it.. had the conservatives a decent leader they should have had a slim majoirty in 06, given Adscam and Martin’s disastrous campaign strategy of not bothering to start until half way through. And in ’08, plagued by funding woes and plain (plane?) incompetence, the majority should have been even larger.

    Instead, hampered by a leader that most Canadians simply do not trust or like, they’ve been constrained to minorities.

    I mean, it’s not as if it’s impossible to pull off a Conservative majority. Mulrooney did it, and he was facing a much tougher Liberal party than Harper’s ever had to face. So the problem is obviously within the Conservative party, and given that the Conservative party these days is nothing more than Harper’s vehicle, the blame has to be laid with the driver.

  175. My one look dictionary defines putsch as a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force. Perhaps there are alternative usages that would include a constitutional version?

    It is a concern that misuse of language may result in erroneous characterization of persons or events. We should all be passionate about the events unfolding in this highly absorbing political drama. Fervour should not override accuracy of reporting, however.

    Regards.

  176. I’d argue that Harper has under-performed at the polls all along, considering the extreme weakness of the opposition over his tenure as leader. His great accomplishment has been uniting the right and keeping the crazies quiet, but he’s continually failed to grab and hold the political centre. He’s a George Bush style bring-out-the-base leader in a country where winning the middle is EVERYTHING and electoral landslides are the norm.

    The common defence of Harper is that he’s an incrementalist; he’s in it to slowly build up the Conservative base and make the Cons’ the ‘natural governing party’ with a built-in structural advantage (hence the attempt to cut the oppositions funding) and a manageable ‘minimum winning coalition’.

    The problem is Canadian politics don’t work that way!!! One wrong move, one big gaffe, one unpopular leader, and ANY party – including as we’re witnessing the LPC – can collapse at the polls. Conversely, a new or moribund party can shoot from irrelevance to government in a flash if the stars align.

    Not only is Harper’s strategy poorly conceived, but it’s terrible for the country. It accentuates divisions, and raises the political stakes far beyond what is healthy.

  177. “The Reform/Alliance/Conservative party are separatists. The Reform party was started because……Western Alienation and a goal to separate.”

    Another stunning lack of understanding about the Reform Party. The Reform Party was started because of Western Alienation and a goal to end that alienation by having the West truly feel to be part of Canada. The rallying cry of the Reform Party was “The West wants In”. This is in direct contrast to the rallying cry of the separatists, who I believe make up about 100% of the Bloc caucus, which could easily be described as “Quebec wants out”.

    “If Quebec is a separatist province then so is Alberta. No difference from the two from where I’m sitting. And since Harper is an Albertan???”

    Not sure who exactly is saying that Quebec is a separatist province, but there is no debate that the Bloc caucus is composed (exclusively?) of separatists. Again, this is in contrast to the caucuses of the Conservative Party and the old Canadian Alliance and the old Reform Party, in which I believe you would find no active Western separatists and probably no reformed separatists either.

    The people of Quebec vote for the Bloc (a party with no hope or desire of ever forming the government) presumably because of the Bloc’s stated goal of putting Quebec first. That doesn’t make the people of Quebec separatists. But it does suggest that the people of Quebec have largely opted to focus on their own desires and goals with little or no regard to those of Canada.

    I don’t have any time for people who make statements like the Bloc is guilty of treason or similar such talk. The Bloc plays by the rules and just so happens to be very good at doing this. However, let’s not pretend the Bloc is just another party like the rest. Its caucus is made up of separatists, its membership is largely made up of separatists, and should separatist sentiment in Quebec revive, the Bloc will be there actively promoting separation along with its sister party, the Parti Quebecois.

  178. Mr. Coyne,

    Did you have to pass some kind of a test to get a job with this magazine? Contrary to the National Post, this magazine is supposed to be serious. Apparently, there have been too many prime ministers from Quebec in the recent past, but having one from the West doesn’t seem to be the solution. Why don’t you promote Danny Williams for the job? A least we could have an extra civic holiday: The let’s-lower-the-flag day. Maybe not.

  179. “I mean, it’s not as if it’s impossible to pull off a Conservative majority. Mulrooney (sic) did it, and he was facing a much tougher Liberal party than Harper’s ever had to face. So the problem is obviously within the Conservative party …”

    History seems to indicate that Quebecors have a strong preference for voting for parties led by native sons. Mulroney was a native son, Harper is not.

  180. T. Thwim, Mulroney never had the Bloc to contend with. Had the Bloc not been around this time, Harper’s majority would have been similar to Mulroney’s in 1984.

    And whoever said that the Reform Party was separatist ( I won’t even bother trying to find out who made the comment) is right out to lunch. They were nothing of the sort. The Reform party was spawned of the 1986 decision by Mulroney to award the CF-18 maintenance contract to CanadAir in Montreal even after Winnipeg’s Bristol Aerospace had won the bid. Reform was, if anything, a rejection of Western Separatism, and an effort to create a new entity that could push western interests on the national stage. Calling the Reform ‘separatist’ might fit the neat little narrative that progressives have organized in their heads regarding Reform and Conservatives in general, but it is laughably inaccurate.

  181. Just for fun, here are some (completely worthless, meaningless, and unreliable, but amusing nonetheless) polls.

    COMPAS: CPC 51, LPC 20, NDP 10, BQ 8, GPC 6
    Ipsos: CPC 46, LPC 23, NDP 13, BQ 9, GPC 8
    Ekos: CPC 44, LPC 24, NDP 15, BQ 9, GPC 8

    If Bob Rae is going out on tour, he’s got his work cut out for him.

  182. That COMPAS poll is truly bizarre. How could Harper’s Quebec numbers not be collapsing? As a Tory Ontarian I’m indignant on behalf of nationalist Quebecers for what Harper has and is stirring up!!

  183. Compass numbers.!!!!

    Yowsers, those are huge and to borrow a phrase, unprecedented when you have 4 legit choices running.

    Anywya, they are just polls, and polls change. And yes the colaition is counting on no election so they ignore those.

    Anyway, they mean nithing since there is a budget comong, and even still they mean nothing because it isnt the day before an election. Just a fluff ball to bat around.

  184. I do not understand how so many millions of Canadians are willing to accept Stephen Harper’s dishonesty.

    He has broken his promises, twisted the truth, mislead, reversed his position, defamed Stephane Dion’s character and outright lied OVER and OVER again ~ most obviously since he broke his promise in the summer and called that waste-of-time election in an attempt to –guess what– GRAB POWER! Sheeesh!

    What’s with everybody? Is it that his beady little eyes have hypnotized Canadians over the TV screen? He’s so smarmy, guys ~ even Andrew Coyne says he hates it when he uses that “small voice”.
    Stephen Harper is a tricksy, dishonest fellow and I am sure the reason he hates Stephane Dion so violently is that Dion is as honest as the day is long.

  185. Harper doesn’t even have to produce a budget. He can put his feet up, enjoy a few months relaxation and call an election. He’s in the driver’s seat according to the polls.

    The polls indicate that Harper gets a free pass for the vicious divisiness, lying and distortions he offers as vision of leadership. I guess none of that really bothers voters.

  186. Stewacide, you’re “indignant” on someone else’s behalf? With progressive credentials like that, you might find yourself more comfortable in one of the other parties.

    Cathy, sometimes people don’t vote the same as you do. Get over it.

    Stephen, the Compas numbers are meaningless, fleeting, and quite probably derived from a biased sample that was put together in great haste. As you say, they are just polls, and polls change. Still, them numbers are fun to toss out there aren’t they? Kind of like the old days, when theatre patrons used to bring rotten tomatoes to throw at particularly bad performances.

  187. “The polls indicate that Harper gets a free pass for the vicious divisiness, lying and distortions he offers as vision of leadership. I guess none of that really bothers voters.”

    Either that or they don’t think like you, David F.

    Cathy

    Please read Wells’ most recent post about how Dion promised, over and over and over, to not form a coalition and please get back to us about how ‘honest’ he is.

    All pols lie to get their way, it’s just the way they are.

  188. Shame on all of them. The whole lot are worse than kindergarten kids arguing over whose turn it is at show and tell. These are the people we chose to represent our country?

    Shame on you Mr. Harper, for stirring up the bees nest with your moronic FU.
    Shame on you Mr. Dion, for getting in bed with socialists and separatists.
    Shame on you Mr. Layton, for being the most annoying politician in our government.
    Shame on you Mr. Duceppe, for wanting to break up our beautiful country.

    As much as I am certainly not a supporter of the Conservatives, the idea of a Liberal-NDP coalition scares me even more, especially with the backing of the BQ. Ironically, Duceppe is probably the only one who will come out of this situation no worse than he went in.

    What do I know? I just live here.

    Sincerely,
    A libertarian from BC

  189. As I’ve already said, polls are meaningless, if not downright infantile. But let’s have some fun shall we?

    From COMPAS:

    If an election were held today, Stephen Harper would win a large majority based on nation-wide support of 51% compared to 20% for the Liberals, 10% for the NDP, 6% for the Greens, and 8% for the Bloc. Harper would sweep seat-rich Ontario with 53% of the vote compared to 24% for the Liberals and 10% for the NDP in that province and would surpass Dion in Quebec with 32% of the vote compared to 19% for the Liberals and 35% for the Bloc.

    Key factors in this lightening speed transformation of public opinion:

    66% of Canadians oppose the Bloc Quebecois having a say in who forms the government;

    48% have confidence in Stephen Harper as Prime Minister in the current economic climate compared to 14% for Michael Ignatieff in second place, 11% for NDP leader Jack Layton, 8% for Stephane Dion, 4% for Bob Rae, and 3% for Gilles Duceppe;

    54% believe that the Coalition’s real motivation was a power grab while 28% perceive the Opposition as honestly believing that Harper is a poor manager of the economy;

    61% believe that the Liberals, following their drop in support in the October election, should not be trying to form a government.

    Now relax. I’m sure they meant to say “Harper would sweep seat-rich Ontario outside the 416“. You’re still safe Toronto.

  190. Conservatives at 32% in Quebec?

    And 51% across Canada?

    I hope the usual suspects within the MSM and punditry are paying attention here.

    ‘Cause they couldn’t have been any farther off the mark if they deliberately tried.

    Not that they would deliberately try, mind you…

    Uh, huh.

  191. Some international headlines:

    CNN: Canadian leader suspends Parliament to stay in power
    Guardian: Canada’s PM clings on to power as parliament suspended
    BBC: Canada halts parliament amid row
    Times (London): Parliament closed as PM clings to power
    Bloomberg: Harper Suspends Canada Parliament to Avert Defeat

    I’m sure one of the 4 Foreign Affairs Ministers we’ve had over the past 21 months (is that a record?) has the connections and credibility to improve our reputation around the world.

    I don’t like Layton. I’ve never had any faith in Dion. Duceppe, while an estimable politician, is a one-issue creature. We could certainly do better than one, two or all three of them.

    But Harper is not the answer. When the House reconvenes on January 26, they will have been absent for most of six months due solely to his machinations. He detests representative democracy because it gets in the way of imposing his will. He has lied repeatedly on the floor, on the stump and on television. When confronted with the errors and lies in his pronouncements, he and his most rabid supporters simply amplify and repeat them.

    Only in Canada could a minority party’s PM, running from a vote by 308 newly-elected MPs, use an unelected figure-head’s “reserve powers” to shut down Parliament — and call it a victory for democracy. Yes, the three stooges are not fit to organize a pot luck dinner. But Harper has proven himself to be a danger to our democracy.

  192. So you’re saying that Harper is a danger to democracy because he avoided handing over power to the “Three Stooges”?

    Which, BTW, by every measure available, was the overwhelmingly approved thing to do.

    Or, IOW: It’s about the law. Justice hasn’t got a damn thing to do with it!

    Right.

  193. JWL,
    Yes, it is true that Dion spoke against a coalition. Who would speak of plan “B” when aspiring to form the next government? Does a gentleman wishing to meet a lady in a bar discuss with her whom he will approach next if unsuccessful with the former? Circumstances have led to the opportunity to form a coalition government.
    To be unprepared to address changing circumstances is indeed the problem of the day.

  194. I wonder if StatsCan’s November labour market report, reported today, will impact these polls. Job losses in November were 71,000, way beyond the 40,000 to 50,000 that even the most pessimistic economist had predicted. 60,000 occured in Ontario’s manufacturing sector. Worst job loss in Canada in over a quarter century.

    I can’t imagine these newly laid-off, just in time for Chrismas, Ontarians are happy that their federal government is unwilling and unable to assist them. Certainly those citizens and the communities they live in aren’t thinking that our country doesn’t need immediate economic stimulus. Now we will start seeing the trickle down effect along with other indicators that we are not immune to this recession.

    Will they blame Harper? After all, he claims that the coalition’s move was strictly a political ploy, not due to grave concerns about our national economy as they have insisted. The economic facts however are going to start proving them correct.

  195. Deflated said “To be unprepared to address changing circumstances is indeed the problem of the day.”

    Absolutely correct.

  196. Deflated,

    To pull a Coyne….so it has come to that, our national leaders are held to no higher standard than bar lothario?

    Regardless of who the politician is, whether he lied or not is less important than the pasting the coalition is getting. I am sure in a few days we are going to hear about how the polls have moved up a point or two in their favour to calls of measurement error.

    So much noise, but I think the large point has been made, this is something a large number of Canadians currently say they do not want. Maybe they can be convinced, maybe events will turn equally in the coalitions favour…who knows.

    Politicians get there for a reason, and the MP’s will tell the tale. If they feel threatened they will back down, give them a week to smell the winds.

  197. “Not only is Harper’s strategy poorly conceived, but it’s terrible for the country. It accentuates divisions, and raises the political stakes far beyond what is healthy.”

    This is true. But his strategy is no worse than the other leaders.

    Since you seem to be a well meaning but possibly naive partisan, it is time you learned the truth. None of them have good policies. It is the divisions, the strife, the calculated victimhood and the willful mismanagement which is the bread and butter of politics. It’s how politicians make their living. High stakes mean high plunder.

    If it weren’t for invsolvent manufacturers, imprudent banks, spendthrift provincial and local politicians, and aggrieved minorities and regions then there would be no reason to have a huge government and there would be very little importance attached to the operation of the small number of residual functions. There would be very little remuneration paid to politicians and very little opportunity for graft and favoritism. Ordinary people would simply work and save and get along with each other.

    So if somebody wants to be a big cheese, without working very hard, and get their hands on a lot of other people’s dough without being particularly closely watched and without being very accountable for it – and they have an ego 100 times bigger than their abilities – then they have to create and exacerbate political and economic problems so that they can then sell themselves to the people as some kind of saviour.

    A typical politician’s career consists of working his or her way up gradually from campus politics at their school, through local, provincial and federal politics. At each stage they create problems, complain loudly about how somebody has to “do something” and then fight tooth and claw to be the big cheese so they can act like they’re everyone’s savior. Then they move up higher to cause even bigger problems. The worst of them move into U.N. or other international jobs when they leave federal politics, so they can reap the whirlwind on an even grander scale.

    I think that summarizes everything you’ve witnessed in the last week (and then some).

  198. To jwl:
    I guess the idea of a coalition would probably have crossed M. Dion’s mind, but I’m sure that when he answered Paul Wells’ question on the plane that day he was being quite honest and the idea of coalescing with the NDP and asking for the support of the BLOC (of all parties!) seemed to be a definite non-starter. To laugh at – ha ha.
    Also, the idea that Stephen Harper would have the arrogance and gall to drop that infamous Fiscal Update (and the whole thing was awful) and wave it in the faces of the Opposition would NEVER have entered M. Dion’s head that day on the plane. He should have said that circumstances would have to be pretty extreme before his party would join with the old-fashioned NDP. But, alas, I wasn’t there to council him. :)
    So, I still maintain his honesty and integrity.
    He has always been praised for his honesty. (However naivete and innocence go along with it.)
    If anyone suggested that Stephen Harper was HONEST?…. why the listeners would be rolling around on the floor and clutching their stomachs with laughter. Ha Ha.

  199. Folks, polls by COMPAS aren’t worth the bits it takes to send them.
    Conrad Winn, the founder and principle poller, is right wing even by right wing standards.

    Leading questions are just par for the course for this guy. All the guy proves is that if you fish hard enough, you’ll catch what you’re fishing for. I mean, come on, a question reading “The Governor General normally calls an election if that is what the Prime Minister wants. If Prime Minister Harper asks for an election, should the Governor General…”? I mean, why not ask “Charles II closed parliament whenever it was coming up to a vote he didn’t like. Now that Stephen Haper is facing a vote of non-confidence, if the governor general is asked to prorogue parliament should she…”

  200. I see there are coments that the GG has acted in an unconstitutional way. This is not true. Considering the time and circumstances she did the best thing possible. Second best would have been another election.

    There is however a very serious unconsitutional act by all members of the Coalition. Their act consititutes SEDITION. The planning, forming and presentation of an alternate government while the elected one is still in being is sedition. The Throne Speach confidence vote passed. No other confidence vote had failed. The indications are that the cabal were forming their Coalition for some six weeks; from shortly after the October 2008 election. Even after there is a vote of non-confidence were the government is ousted or the government resigns, it is the duty of the members to wait until the GG asks someone to form a government.

    Even during the very critical days of May 1940, though the outgoing Prime Minister had asked him to proceed and all members of the house were anxiously with him, Winston Churchill waited for the King to summon him to form a government, before he started to work. That is a serious part of Parlimentary Constitutional Democracy.

  201. A DARK CLOUD HOVERS OVER PARLIAMENT HILL or
    FAUST (CANADIAN VERSION)

    I don’t necessarily agree with you Andrew that the coalition is dead. One thing we can say for sure is that if anything, during the forced ‘recess’ (pardon the schoolyard pun) the coalition will either make it or break it.

    If they project themselves as being a strong, united, determined and committed alternative until the budget vote, and should the budget be defeated, I believe they would have an excellent chance at being asked by the Governor General to take a shot at governing, as opposed to her calling an election. My understanding is that an election would be called only if there was no viable alternative.

    In the meantime, during this forced ‘recess’, Harper the bully will surely engage in a full-scale Rove-style assault on public opinion backed by his well-oiled propaganda machine. He will try to convey the image that he is being proactive during the economic crisis, while repeating his mantra that it is the people who should decide whether or not the ‘separatist coalition’ should receive a mandate to govern. In other words put a huge spin on the idea that an election is the only option.

    Make no mistake, Harper is frothing at the mouth at the idea of obtaining a majority. It would be the saddest day for Canada, namely that a right-wing Bush-style Reformer would be given carte blanche to govern Canada with a majority. Harper would undoubtedly be remembered in history books as the most despised politician in Canadian history, far surpassing Mulroney in that achievement.

    Knowing Harper and his ideological stance, why would he change his style now? He has always ruled as a one-man-show and always will, plus he loves to push buttons, “it’s in his DNA” as one suggested. Consequently I am convinced the January budget will be drafted in the same spirit as Flaherty’s economic update. A few more goodies will be tossed in for sure, but the end result will remain a farce, totally lacking in substance. Of course Harper will see this as a win-win situation : if it goes through, great, and if it doesn’t, he’ll pull out his separatist card, sharpen his rhetoric, oratory prowess and persuasive skills to try and convince the GG (in the same way he convinced her to prorogue parliament) to call an election, an election he is surely to win, most likely with a majority.

  202. Exactly… put good ideas on the table and be generous about them, it is about time these people think about Canada the way the BLOC thinks about Quebec. In these tough econimic times (world) by looking after Canada we would be looking after Quebec (good for unity) and yes the world. It now appears that all our future governments will be in a minority due to more polariztion than ever…. so why not start now!

  203. Harper won’t change. I think he’s completely unable to. I certainly do not think this is “The End” – more like the beginning in a lot of ways.

    I got something in the mail today that makes me even more pissed off with Horrid Harper and his gang. I’m a senior citizen (65 this year) with a very low pension income and a very small amount of savings. In 2007 – note that year, I had to take money out of my one-and-only small RRSP in order to make ends meet between then and 2008 when I recieved OAS and could apply for GIS. Now, I took that money out in 2007 and I’ve ALREADY paid the tax on that money. It is not 2008 income, but according to the government – it is added into my 2008 estimated income though it IS NOT 2008 income and therefore I’m not eligible for GIS This is caused by Bill C-36 brought in by the conservatives.

    One example of how the Conservatives run things. There are lots more.

  204. Let’s not rest…politics is an ugly business and this coalition – or a new one – should not be allowed to attempt to seize power.

    Look at the TSX again today…It’s up :) now that some stability has been returned to the nation.

  205. I would think the coalition will sputter over the next two months, but could roar to life again on Budget day. On that day, the Conservatives will release some very modest stimulus, as well as some austerity measures to attempt to keep the budget in balance. The Opposition, and most economists, enamoured as they are of the whole concept of stimulus, will explode in anger, and the government will lose the budget vote.

    The economy is likely to be quite bad by then as well. (No amount of “stimulus” will change that, but shhhh, don’t tell the economists. They need jobs too!) The Conservatives will then be forced to defend their decision to prorogue Parliament while the economy was faltering. The Opposition will scream that with a massive $30 billion dollar “stimulus (i.e. deficit) they could have saved the day. That there is nothing any government can do to prevent recession is beside the point. The electorate won’t by that one, and the Tories won’t even try to sell it, certainly not in the face of “current economic thinking”.

  206. Just received the special edition dated Dec. 25 and was astonished that both it and the Dec. 8 issue had no mention of the government situation that has gripped the country for the past weeks. How far ahead do you go to press and are you truly our weekly news magazine?

  207. Part of me actually hopes Harper does get his majority. It would be nice for conservatives and libertarians to see the full effects of the things they propose.

    I think, for example, that it would do Albertans a world of good to finally see that the NEP meant nothing, and that the real problem is tying your entire economy to the production of a single resource sector.

    The danger is that trying to get out of it after it’s happened could be exceedingly difficult.

  208. Um Ron, the TSX goes up, down and sideways for various reasons. Pointing to the TSX on any particular day in defense of government policy (or lack thereof) is a bit like pointing at a full moon and saying, “See? I told you Harper would shed some light on the situation.” It’s best to ignore stock market gyrations as meaningless noise. It’s best to treat polls the same way. (Yes, I posted the Compas poll, but that was just for fun, as I readily admitted.)

  209. With 3 more soldiers deaths, just today, and now a milestone 100 of our brave troops dead and countless others injured in Afghanistan, I sincerely hope everyone who cares about the mission and the troops will call on all politicians to demand they receive better intelligence from their military spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Seven years into this war, and they’re still not providing the good intelligence our troops need to come home safe and sound, and successful in their mission.

    The government argues they are the best trained and the best equipped, but obviously, that’s not enough… and while Mr. Harper has decided to give each of our soldiers an extra half hour phone card, and talked about their families getting a Christmas tree, I strongly feel this is not enough!

    Those brave men and women deserve the very best intelligence necessary for the task we have given them – something the CSE has yet to provide! With the mission a success, the troops won’t need the phone cards, and, they can be home with their family picking out their own Christmas tree!

  210. Fred Stock, what good is a spy agency going to do with regards to an IED? They get set up in the middle of the night from out of nowhere by dirt farmers. I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody used our dead soldiers to make cheap political points. Disgusting.

  211. It seems to me that all of this crisis has come about because the leaders are unhappy with the election results. The mean-spirited “anyone but Conservatives” seems to me to have led to the acrimonious idea to eliminate tax-payer funded votes and the backlash in the supposed name of the economy by the leaders of the hastily cobbled-together coalition. I cannot respect leaders who are so blinded by ideology and personal antagonism towards Stephen Harper that they are vowing to bring down the government without even giving them a chance to bring forth a budget, period. They are being just as arrogant and stubborn and unwilling to engage in honest and constructive dialogue as they claim Stephen Harper is. How hypocritical! This is a ridiculous situation and requires true statesmanship rather than petty partisan politics. I am deeply disappointed in them all and am losing confidence completely in the whole lot of them. As an extra note, I am wondering why everyone seems to be so eager to bail out the auto industry. The big three, and GM in particular, have been in financial difficulty for many years and I doubt throwing a wad of cash at them will save the industry-especially if the US doesn’t have the will to do so. I would rather look at ways to diversify the economies of communities that will be hard hit by auto industry woes and also put funds into retraining or relocation to help those families, especially if this would only be a stay of execution of their jobs rather than a pardon.

  212. Our politicians are like Tweedle Dee and the Three Stooges. They can never agree on solving issues. Only bickering about doing it “My Way”.

  213. E.K.

    Expecting true statesmanship – a high ideal – even a minimal amount of civility appears to be out of the question.

  214. I love all the comments. I have a front row seat so here is some first hand information. I have been involved in all levels of government for 38 years in the background.

    Harper is a dictator and the only person not on a leash is Baird. The internal management of Harper and the PMO ( Kevin Lynch et al ) is one of bullying and intimidation. As one very senior person who deals directly with Harper told me “no one in Ottawa farts without checking with Harper first”. I really think Harper needs some time with a shrink…no joke. His 2 hr meeting with the GG is telling. When he made his address on TV a friend from Ottawa was visiting me and he asked my opinion of what this reminded me of…I said Nixon…exactly what he thought. No one should trust or believe anything he says…there is no consistancy.

    I worked in PQ for a French Canadian company for 4 years in the 70’s. Harper has blown the Conservatives out of the water in PQ. I agree the the coalition was a joke, given the players, but this is all perfectly correct. Every member is a canadian and every vote is equal. We do not elect a prime minister and minority governments can only govern with the confidence of the house. Like it or not a Block vote is as good as any other. Harper’s rant on the Seperatist Coalition was irrelevant and irresponsible. This entire exercise has devided Canada and Harper is to blame for driving the opposition to the brink. This exercise had nothing to do with seperation…the PQ leaders are windbags.

    Dion is an honorable person but he is way out of the league. Toast.

    Layton. I know Jack and have watched him up close for 20 years as a Toronto councillor, in is defeat against Mills the first time (mud slinging), I was at the FCM conference when he became President…others did not have a chance against “Smiling Jack”…he used the FCM to get the leadership of the NDP. I have been telling people of all parties how dangerous he is because all Jack wants is to have his face plastered everywhere, his name on a Jet, etc….he acts like he is running for President…his sole focus is power. He will say and do whatever it takes. After Harper, Jack needs a kick in the pants for what he has done….and some time with a shrink.

    How to solve the problem?

    Keep the Conservatives in power so we have stability but Harper must go and Baird with him. Let them sit as MP’s. We are in an economic crisis ( REMEMBER just before the election everything was just fine, nothing to worry about?). Dion is toast and Jack should go sit in a corner. Then the new PM and the new opposition leader just might be able to sit down and do what is best for Canada. There also needs to be staff changes in the PMO.

    When you look at Obama and what he and his team are doing…well, we just look like a bunch of jerks…so much for Canada’s reputation.

  215. There is only one thing wrong here. it is Stephen Harper. It was despicible that he put this onto the GG.
    And a second sin is his own lack of honour, self pride or integrity.
    How could any respectful Pm not resign immediately when he realized he did not have the confidence of the House.
    And why would he deny the results of the election and not grant the right of those who voted for the majority of the representatives to valididate the votes.
    Unconscionable! Not fit for any public office.

  216. Here we have 3 stooges (Sloppy Dion, HiJack Layton, “Who am I” Duceppe) and being watched over by “Mama (Elizabeth) May” will be a good coaltion for Zimbabwe. Did these guys happen to take any lessons from Robert Mugabe!!! I hope they didn’t.. but I can guess, they did…All you guys need a good spanking and a bit of grounding… Take a break.

  217. You’ll all get your chance to vote on a budget in two months. By then, we’ll be deeply mired in recession. No government wants to go to the polls during recession. Why do you think Harper called the early election? Things are looking up for progressive types if only you can wait two months. If you’re that impatient, too bad for you. And don’t give me the crap that the economy needs “stimulus” now. All the stimulus in the world isn’t going to make a difference.

  218. Lord of the Rings

    I am not totally crazy. I was off in two spots.of the conspiracy theory. Bob Rae surprised me by diving head first into the quicksand while Iggy is still trying to tap dance through it. In Vancouver former Liberal Cabinet minister and current talk radio host Christy Clark when confronted with this theory claimed that no politician is that smart to pull off a trap like that. My major error was underestimating Harper again. There are still two or three calculated moves left before checkmate. My undertstanding is that Steve offered the GG his resignation now or prorogue the house. I thought she might accept the resignation and dissolve the house, but she was too smart to fall for it The next two moves are to publicly out the timing of the plot by getting a Liberal insider to confirm Jack’s statements that is was initiated just after the last election and not after the economic update. Move two is to bring in the sweet and sour budget. It will contain lots of sweets for the public and enough sours for the opposition to defeat it although the reality of political annihilation of the Liberal Party will force them to no show or even support Mr. Harper. If the Government survives I can only begin to speculate about moves three and four.

    The coalition strategy wasn’t that bad as long as Harper never got wind of it. Spring a surprise nonconfidence vote on Harper, be outraged at something, and after he resigns come to the rescue with a “spontaneous” coalition. Two mistakes were made; it did leak to Harper and there no fall back position if it failed other than hanging Dion out to dry. To those of you who blame Harper, if you were about to be assassinated would you not plan a defense?

    Looney in Lotusland

    PS It was truly an honour to be publicly mocked by a former Liberal cabinet Minister

  219. The next election will be great. Can you just imagine the attack ads? I can’t wait.

  220. Any stimulus less than $100 billion will make little difference to the Canadian economy and we can’t afford it. The US is in very serious trouble with a $10 trillion debt much owing to China. We are in serious trouble for a few years yet.

  221. “I think, for example, that it would do Albertans a world of good to finally see that the NEP meant nothing, …”

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess that the writer of the above is not from Alberta.

  222. Here’s my 2 cents on what the GG should have done: she should have refused Harper’s request for proroguing Parliament. She then should have made it immediately clear to all that if the government loses a confidence vote, she would accept Harper’s request for an election. The result: no running and hiding for the PM, and no change of government without an election.

    The Canadian people would get the final say on whether the coalition is acceptable or not, as it should be.

  223. Why do people that vote and are good average Canadians act more resonable than the representatives that speak for them? I just wanted them to cooperate together to help us in these economic chaos. Instead, the leaders focussed the attention on themselves … what disapointing role models.

  224. The biggest loser in all this is the Governor General (GG). Surely it must have occurred to her that she was making a president and did not take time and care to set the president. One wonder as who did she consult, her staff, any legal scholars? She did not even hear out the opposition’s objections to prorogation or drop on the Queen on way back to Canada and get her wisdom or that of her experts in this matter. She simply allowed Harper to twist her arms? Did he offer (hint of course) to extend her term. Simply put was it a quid pro arrangement?
    Let us even give her the benefit of doubt and accept that she had a right to make a decision, whatever and how bizarre it is. Does she not have a moral obligation to come and explain her reasons? If she is not accountable to the Canadians and is there to simply rubber stamp the PM, while enjoying the life style of rich and famous, then what do we need her for? She does not seem to understand that the house she lives in belongs to the Canadians and not Harper. Does the idea of likes of Paris Hilton as GG strike any more bizarre than the situation we have.
    Unfortunately, because in all this Harper has bad mouthed so much Quebecers that a majority of Canadians are cheering her decision. That means absolutely nothing as there were not many objections to what Hitler was doing in Germany at that time. I do not like the idea of Separatists whether in Quebec or elsewhere, but for whatever reason they have chosen BQ as their representatives and they deserve the respect of the PM. If they are so vile than why not make BQ illegal. Their separatists view may not be as extreme but they are in the same vain as many Westerners, and no one questions there legitimacy. Under these circumstances why would they not vote to separate?

  225. Well said as usual, I may not agree with everything Andrew Coyne says but at least he puts it all out there. I am VERY concerned however about the skewed reporting Mansbridge et al from the CBC are presenting Canadians. It is no secret where Peter’s political heart is but my goodness, he was gleefully reporting the demise of the Conservatives and visibly shattered at the coalition’s failure. Andrew’s participation in the “At Issue” panel was the only voice to steer the discussion to the reality of the current situation. His responses to the questions basically paraphrased the above text.

    My specific concern is the omission by the CBC of the disater that preceeded the delivery of the Dion video, now infamous in other journalistic cirles. My point is regardless of the obvious collapse of this ridiculous travelling circus, why wasn’t this awful video and the ridiculous circumstances around it’s production reported more?

    This is from the Liberal communication folks. “I apologize for what happened tonight. I apologize for the poor quality and the lateness. I am livid and am doing an investigation as to how this happened,” Johanne Senecal, Dion’s Chief of Staff, said to CTV News.

    How it happened? Looks like a teenager with a cell phone camera. If they can’t produce and deliver a video, oh my, what the heck are we doing even entertaining these morons!

  226. For all those complaining about the proroguing of Parliament, relax. In seven weeks or so, a short time really, you will have another chance to defeat the government. If the coalition is as strong and determined as its proponents claim, then success in defeating the government should be a piece of cake. But if the coalition falls apart, then the wisdom of the GG’s decison will be most apparent – the coalition could not have provided either the stability or the longevity it promised. The piece of papaer they signed will be seen as a temporary contrivance to gain power and then worry about what comes next but ffrom the comfort of being the government. As politicians first priority is reelection, the poll results in the last two days cannot be good for those who want to hold fast. Much better would be for the Liberals to have their leadership convention and then wait for the opportune moment to vote against the governmnet. Of course, by then the Bloc of NDP may support the government.

  227. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Liberals couldn’t dig themselves out of their leadership ditch and Jack Layton, as the great saviour of the coalition, stepped up and presented himself as the best choice for leader? Then we would see how hungry these two parties really are?

    Was Harper pulling an Obama when he inserted that ‘no monies from government for each vote’ or just trying to push the buttons of the other teenagers in Parliament by pulling their allowance?

    Actually what they need are spankings and return to their playpens! I’ve seen better behaviour in a sandbox.

  228. “If they are so vile than why not make BQ illegal. Their separatists view may not be as extreme but they are in the same vain as many Westerners, and no one questions there legitimacy.”

    You do realize that Westerners, to the best of my knowledge, have *never* sent a Western separatist to represent them in Parliament. This is in contrast to Quebecers who recently sent about 49 separatists to Parliament.

    “Unfortunately, because in all this Harper has bad mouthed so much Quebecers that a majority of Canadians are cheering her decision. That means absolutely nothing as there were not many objections to what Hitler was doing in Germany at that time.”

    Hmm, a comparison to Hitler; guess that explains it.

  229. My suspicion is that Mr. Harper very deliberately used the economic update to force the opposition parties to lose confidence in the government so that he could go the GG for a new election. He has no intention of working within a minority government and will do anything to get another election. He does not care about democracy, the economy, our country or its people. He only cares about getting a majority in order to impose his extreme right wing agenda. Heaven help us if he does get one. He also wants to destroy and bankrupt the opposition parties. The next budget will not be an outreach to the opposition but will likely be another kick in the teeth. How can we stop him? Maybe we have to get out and march in the streets to demand that he resign but I doubt that he would respond to even the most overwhelming demonstrations against him. Any suggestions Andrew?

    What I don’t understand is why so many Canadians can overlook his complete lack of caring for the Canadian people and are seemingly prepared to let him bully us all, virtually all of the time.

  230. Prorogue parliament for 5 years and see if that makes any difference to anyone. Then prorogue the senate and see if the country hangs together. Then prorogue the GG, since she seems to like that idea. You know Stalin is more popular than ever in Russia, and his rule of thumb was tell a lie often enough and pretty soon it becomes truth. It’s still working. Worked for Hitler, George Bush, and very nearly McCain/Palin. We saw in six weeks of campaigning that Harper & Cronies had no idea, no policies, no actual platform, but had a wonderful attack machine capable of denegrating Mr Dion. Everytime Harper opened his mouth his popularity dropped five points, so they shuffled him around from pre-rehearsed photo-op to pre-reahearsed photo-op. The Canadian public are no different from any other. There is no global warming, birds poop on that funny man’s shoulder, and Mao’s doing boffo in China, ten million corpses is just another number.

  231. Scissorpaws is George Jonas (note how he brings it back to Stalin in *exactly* 4 sentences)!

    All that was missing from Gail’s post was a BushHitler reference, but Scissy makes quota with a bonus nod to Mao. Good stuff.

  232. I would like to raise a point that I have not heard anyone comment on as of yet. Up until two weeks ago the Liberal party of Canada was set to bring fourth two candidates for the leadership of the party, that were not electable(they had tried for the nomination before and lost)and were domed to failure in a Federal election in my opinion ” HOWEVER” Mr Harper has pulled off the impossible,they not only are electable now, but will be highly favoured in the next election!

  233. The coalition was doomed from the start. Canadians did not vote in the last election for a left-of-centre or socialist government, nor did they vote for a coalition that would be beholden to the Bloc, governing at its pleasure and subject to its veto. Depending for its survival on the support of a party representing a small proportion of the Canadin electorate and the interests of only one province, a Liberal-NDP government allied with the Bloc would have been viewed as little more than a puppet government with Mr Duceppe pulling the strings to extract concessions that may have been good for Quebec but not necessarily the rest of Canada. While these three parties combined garnered more votes in the last election than the Conservatives, they cannot argue that the alliance they are now proposing is what Canadians voted for. If they wanted a coalition, they should have formed it before Canadians went to the polls. And why all the fuss about proroguing Parliament? All the GG did was to lengthen the Christmas recess, which all the parties had agreed to, by a week. It’s extremely unlikely that the Liberal-NDP coalition would have been able to present a budget or stimulus package to Parliament any sooner than the Conservatives. To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

  234. When I was a child I loved watching them on tv.I was even happier to see that the Three Stooges had returned to tv.If you go to Hallmark you can buy a musical card…on the front there is a picture of them playing in a band.If you look closely you will see written the words…the”Origional Three Man Quartet.”
    How appropriate under the circumstances.

    “What the public thinks is irrelevant in a representative democracy.”…a quote this week from Bob Rae

    This line reminds me of an old story of the MP running for re-election.
    As he stopped at a voters door the voter yelled “here you are to kiss my *ss again”
    The MP replied ..”yes for the next three weeks I am going to kiss your *ss…and for the next four years you are going to kiss mine”

    It is clear according to the polling that the people (the public/general will) was with Harper.
    There is public support / and a clear consensus for a time out period.

    Quite frankly I am not impressed by any of them
    And if all these clowns dont turn down the rhetoric a little they might very well destroy the country that I am very proud to be a citizen of.

    Rob in Ottawa

  235. Fenton: what is the big deal? Parliament was suspended against its will at a time when the government has a crisis of legitimacy. That is the big deal. Anything the government does between Monday and its next confidence test (January? or will the House have its prorogation extended?) will be of questionable legitimacy since it is not at all clear whether the government could survive a test of confidence at this point in time.

  236. As an American friend of mine suggested:

    “One thing you guys up there might want to consider: Sarah Palin is available. My sense is that she is willing to run for any high office (in any country), as long as you give her a clothing budget and lots of air time. Since her husband is affiliated with the Alaskan separatist movement, maybe she would be willing to bring Alaska in as another province. That would ease the pain of losing Quebec.”

  237. I live in Qatar. When a Canadian news story is the lead item in the local news here you know its considered big by other countries. Kuwait and other countries will often shut down their systems but for Canada to do such a thing is considered by those outside of Canada as a major item.

    For shame Harper!

  238. Wow,

    the lefty quotient is out of this world on this board.

    for the dimwits who compare PMSH to a Fascist or Herr Hitler, Nazism was a Socialist Nationalist Party not unlike the BQ or NDP, and recently the Libs have placed themselves squarely in those quarters.

    The sheer hatred you have for this man is actually sad, and I think you need a new hobby or medication (both really!)

    and as you all obviously cannot understand the world of politics no one really care about your opinion the election already happened and you all lost.

    PMSH has taken the playbook from the ole’ lil guy from Shawinigan and has mastered it, as he had suffered year after year of character assassination from Hon. Jean Chretien, where even Rick Mercer made fun of the absurdity of the level they went to “Steven Harper owns a dragon”

    Now he controls the message and assassinated the character of Stephan Dion ( He helped the cause by having a weak platform, command of the English language, and being a all around patsy for the party)

    and as for this coalition, as the cat was out of the bag PMSH had only one option and that is play their game and in this case was give them time to self-destruct.

    for all you “people” who thought this coalition was a great idea, Canadian overwhelmingly said “NO” to Mr. Dion and the libs, Canada has always said no to the BQ, and as for the Green party their gambit was an epic failure.
    So why in all that is sane can you think a coalition that guaranteed a separatist voice in Parliament was in any way a “Good Idea”, why in all that is sane do you think that giving the purse strings in an “Economic crisis” to a group that has shown poor judgment with the taxpayers dollar (Adscam, HRDC Scandal, 2 Billion dollar Gun Registry), and to allow the NDP access to that dollar.

    Nuf said for now.

  239. If the Coalition ran on its platform in a national General Election it would be wiped out.
    Nobody in the coalition wants to pull that trigger.

    I just hate the fact that they the coalition has decided that they have the right to decide for Canadians after misleading them.

    Its the old people are sheep argument….. but the irony of this week is that the people have shown themselves to be more responsible than their so called parlimentary representatives.

    Shame on all of you for creating and fomenting this nonsense.

    As for saving the economy …if the fuzzy video is any indication Mr Dion would be lucky if he could save a file on his computer.

    Rob in Ottawa

  240. I love uninformed commentary. How did Harper lie? Well in the past year he has injected $200 billion into the economy as stimulus–check the tax cuts, including GST cuts that help every time you buy something even candy for your kids. Why is it that the IMF, the World Economic Forum and the OECD have said that Canada is in the best economic and fiscal shape of any of the G20? You can check it, as Chretien used to say. The Conservatives have injected liquidity into the system, freed up credit and mortgage money and thus the statements from the United Nations commitees and the OECD. So I guess the liars must be guess who? JACK LAYTON, STEPHAN DION & GILLES DUCEPPE. Oh wait a minute, Duceppe isn’t a liar. He said this is great for Quebec and sovereignty (the Separatists code word for separation).
    This is what we want to replace a stable, sensible group of economic managers with? Liars and separatists not to mention a group, the NDP, that have strewn the landscape with ruin in every province in which they have been the government. For instance, Bob Rae in Ontario. Ontario still hasn’t recovered from his administration. Ed Schreyer in Manitoba. It took successive Conservative Governments to put Manitoba into economic health. Glen Clark in BC. Clark’s NDP were the worst boondoggle in the Province’s history. BC went from the number two province in Canada to number ten in economic health, behind even Newfoundland, under the Clark government. It has taken six plus years for recovery. Finally, does anyone remember the Lewis/Trudeau debacle in the years 1972-74. In just two years Trudeau, acceding to demands from the Federal NDP under David Lewis put Canada into a twenty-seven year deficit/debt cycle from which we are just emerging. Granted Paul Martin in the Chretien Government balanced the budget; he did it by raising Canadian’s taxes by 54%. He didn’t pay any of the debt; Chretien and Martin then proceeded to squander the surpluses that they engendered by over-taxation. So this is the group we want in charge of the economy?

  241. I hate it when people say they love something when they really hate it

  242. Bob Rae in Ontario.
    Ed Schreyer in Manitoba.
    Glen Clark in BC.

    Elect a Proven Failure.

  243. I like Delinas’ suggestion up top. 31 seats awarded to the party that leads in total national votes each election. Much better than having to make deals with the Devil &/or or Duceppe.

  244. Rob
    Dec 5, 2008 23:29

    Its the old people are sheep argument….. …

    Rob in Ottawa//
    =======
    Sheep with fangs? Watch out!

  245. The Coalition never left the starting line , it was a dead horse before the race .
    Mr Harper played chicken with the other parties and they blinked …

    lets hope that they ALL come to their senses during the Governor Generals “timeout” and the few level headed ffom all of the parties convince their colleagues that it is better to rule as a minority than to be subjected to the wrath of the voting public and reduced to a rump party if we are forced once again to pay another 300 million for another un-needed election .Let the harper government steer us out of the financial mess with the input & support of the opposition parties , this is what the Canadian public wants now !
    They should All work together to get the economy straightened out and put the working public back to work …!

  246. “this is what the public wants now!”

    Actually, right now, the public wants a Harper supermajority.

    The difference, between now and the election?

    Folks never factored in the prospect that the opposition would not only not work with the Harper government, but would team up to topple it, with the Seperatists no less.

    The “stop a Harper majority” meme that still worked with a few centrist lliberals, has been replaced with a “stop a far left/seperatist coalition from ruining our country” meme.

    Given Harper is the most effective political animal since Chretien, there will be the election that gives Harper the supermajority.

    And it will happen sooner than you think.

  247. The election will happen in one of two ways:

    1) Harper simply calls one – utilizing a variety of reasons at his disposal, or

    2) The opposition miscalculates that the GG will give them a chance to govern instead of calling one, and they try to take Harper out.

    On the latter point, it was a long shot constituionally whether the GG would not listen to Harper and call an election as opposed to handing the keys to Dion, even abscent recent events. But given the overwhelming hostility to the coalition now being recognized in the polls, there is virtually no chance the GG would not “let the people decide” whether to accept the coalition.

    No GG will end their tenure as a shameful footnote in political history as the one who thwarted the will of the people.

    As such, expect an election call before mid February – most likely at the end of Jan.

  248. It is my understanding that this coalition was a non-starter from the beginning. The only time the Governor-General may ask a coalition to govern is immediately following an election and not after a confidence vote, she had to follow convention and allow the “time-out”. If the three wise men can maintain their coalition and if they vote down the Jan 27 budget, the GG will then agree with the request from PM Stephen Harper and call an election. The result of which would be a majority Conservative Government which would serve us well in this time of need for stability within our Country.

  249. Final point:

    The election will result in the near destruction of the Liberal party. The cause will be the convergence of political miscalulations creating the “perfect electoral storm”. They are, in temporal order:

    1) nominating Dion – he was far from the most popular or trusted among the Liberal contenders, and he was by far the least vetted. Two competing camps, unable to see beyond their own immediate desire to seize power, played a game of brinksmanship which resulted in the nomination of one who had only a tiny fraction of support from HIS OWN PARTY.

    2) riding the fictitious green wave – partly because Dion is stubborn, and partly because he existed in a “progressive” echo chamber with partisan members of the press stroking his ideas rather than challenging them, Dion greatly overestimated the country’s desire to make real sacrifices to “save the planet” on a plan that, mathematically and scientifically speaking, would have no real effect on the climate (even assuming you beleive wholeheartedly on AGW theory).

    3) creating the coalition of the damned – already reeling from the above two, the liberals succumbed to the “desperate people do desperate things” frailty. The coalition resulted in the Liberals losing support from both sides of the power base of the Liberal party. Martin/fiscal liberals were shocked by a coalition with the NDP – and rightly so. There was a reason Dion delcared just weeks ago he would never do it – the right leaning liberals would never stand for it.

    But it was the seperatist aspect of the coalition (one which their friends in the press desperately tried to minimize over the past week) which put the nail in the coffin. The Liberals stock in trade was their being the defenders of federalism against the seperatists. Decades of constituional wrangling, bitter battles waged, and of course the underlying reason for Adscam (forget the means, look at the ends!!). After all that, they then invite the seperatists to share power with them. In that one act of a desperate power grab they erased decades of efforts and washed away their brand.

    The Liberals largely now stand for nothing, except the naked desire to gain power for power’s sake.

    The latest compass poll that showed the once great party standing at a paltry 20% will not be the last, nor will it be the worst for the Liberals.

    Successive, converging blunders have created the perfect political storm which has taken the ss Liberal to the bottom of the sea.

  250. Your understanding is wrong, then, Jack.

    The GG has wide ranging powers, constrained by precedent and convention. After a non-confidence vote, it is the perogative of the GG as to whether to call an election or, if there is someone that the house believe it has confidence in, to see if that person can actually achieve the confidence of the House.

    Given that there was a motion of non-confidence immediately present on the agenda, the situation could be seen as unprecedented, which would have given the GG considerable latitude in her decision. That she chose the easy route of ignoring the actual situation I think serves as a poor precedent for future, but was certainly a legitimate decision.

    Whether Mr. Harper will get an election after having a parliament which accomplished exactly nothing at the onset of this economic crisis vot non-confidence in him remains to be seen. That situation again is unprecedented, which will give her latitude to make her own decision. I expect part of the two hours spent in the GG’s office was her saying, “If you don’t make serious attempts to govern as the people of Canada demanded — in concert with another party — I will see if there is another party in government who can.”

  251. The Liberals are dead if they pick someone who danced with the separatist devils.

    That includes Rae AND Iggy.

    By the time of the convention, Liberal delegates will have one goal in mind, and that will be to wipe this stain – and those who put it there – from the voters’ minds.

    John Manley’s head must be spinning to see the leadership set out on a platter, his for the taking. All he has to do is condemn Iggy and Rae… and remind people that these two threatened the very future of their party, over personal ambition.

  252. From a historical perspective, it is interesting to note that if Stephane Dion becomes Prime Minister, his legitimacy from the point of view of his party’s standing in the legislature will be far less than when Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933. At that time, his party held 100 more seats than any other party and governed by a coalition. In comparison, the Liberals hold 66 seats less than the Conservatives, after clearly losing the election, and yet would lead a coalition. So here in Canada we could have a government being appointed with far less voter legitimacy than when Hitler was appointed by President Hindenburg. So while Canada is unlikely to become a despicable dictatorship like Germany, we would become a joke, especially to investors. Hang on to your wallet.

  253. Rick Mercer was dead-on in the Globe today. The best way to end this is for Harper and Dion to hold a join press conference, both resign, and apologize profusely to the nation for what they’ve inflicted on us.

    This would leave the Conservatives and the Liberals both in a far stronger position going forward than anything that seems likely if Harper stays on and the Liberals stick to their guns, which is good for Canada (conversely, anything that’s good for the Bloc and NDP is bad for Canada)

  254. Back again. Look, the fundamental issue is that a minority government must have the confidence of parliment in order to govern. Everything else is meaningless. So, the objective has to be to get a government in place where there is confidence…that should be the sole focus. With Harper and the other leaders in place this is just not a possibilty…get Harper and the others out of the way seems to be the only solution.

    As far as the business community is concerned, many consider the guys in Ottawa to be bafoons and are barely paying attention to what is going on…just a bunch of kids playing in the backyard making a lot of noise and trying to pull each other’s hair out. The government’s real impact on the econonomy is minimal. The automotive issues will be resolved in the US and Detroit…nothing we can do here to change what is about to happen. We can do nothing about the price of oil and other resources. Our banks are in great shape…for now. All this stimulus talk is a lot of BS.

  255. The meme has moved from “it’s all Harper’s fault” to “both sides were equally wrong”.

    Actually no.

    There’s a reason conservatives have surged in the polls to the highest level in decades,

    and the Liberals have plunged to the lowest levels in their history.

    And it’s not because “they were both wrong”.

    The opposition made a naked grab for power, at a time when Canadians were overwhelmingly in favour of
    a) Harper leading us through these tough economic times
    b) Harper eliminating the public dole to politicians.

    The notion that Harper’s attempt to do the latter was some eggregious error, is frankly a fiction perpetrated by the leftwing media in this country – as we are now seeing in every single poll.

  256. “dead if they pick someone who danced with the separatist devils.” . . . comment above — give it up

    The way that the democratically elected members of parliament representing the people of Quebec, are being treated by the PM and commentators is little better than if they were terrorists. Where is the respect for Parliament and parliamentarians. Everyone will court the democratically members of the Bloc when they want to avoid a confidence vote but all of a sudden Liberals are tainted if they attempt to restore confidence in Parliament through establishing a coalition government.

    Lets face it this is not the US – our system no longer produces a simple two party musical chairs rotation – at least it hasn’t for three elections. If everyone things we are headed back into the era of strong majority governments – election after election – wake up. This is the reality of Canada that regionalism has produced multiple interests — mostly out of the West — things like the CCF/NDP — the Social Credit movement – and more recently the Reform/Alliance. Each has had a unique evolution but similar forces of regionalism and reform did not end with the Conservative consolidation Harper orchestrated – the forces are still at work and have produced the Bloc as a legitimate Canadian reality. As much as Canadians might wish they could trade their vote for one in an American style country this is simply not the current situation. We are closer to European models and the sooner we realize this – and begin looking for statesmen who can work with multiple interests in the best interests of the nation – we will start to see progress.

    After having three minority Parliaments we should be able to see that a government that can not maintain respect of Parliament is not going to last long. This reality of conflict and tension in the House is producing statesmen who are prepared to work together and at long last we are seeing that happen with the unity that the Liberals and NDP have shown – setting their differences aside for the sake of the country. Having been guaranteed by the democratically elected members from Quebec who identify themselves as members of the Bloc – that they will have a clear 18 months to make this new model for Canadians work.

    “Separatist devils” – they may be for some, but in this case where Parliament has lost all trust in Harper’s Neo-Con’s – as have most Canadians – they are assisting parliamentarians in heralding a new era for Canadians – when we recognize that our electoral differences, consistently produce parliaments that are no longer similar to the two party US system.

    At this stage we need statesmen who can navigate the new waters.

  257. …sorry Andrew, your dead wrong…. the coalition is not going to give up. these guys will take a beating no matter what they do and at a minimum, they want the head of the P.M. in exchange for their troubles. Harper could put the National Energy Project, the Green Shift, a national minimum wage and tax cuts exclusively for french quebecers in the budget…. The coalition’s imedidiate response will be to crucify this guy. I predict the last week of Jan. ’09 to be just like the week that has passed, minus only Dion.

  258. Were you to look at the analysis at the FAIR VOTE website you woulde see that the proportional representation should be the resolve for all Canadians.

  259. Ya gotta like the “Both Dion AND Harper resign” statements. It’d be like two teams going for a championship and someone says “you take your best player off the team and we’ll take out our worst”

    You can’t make this up.

  260. mynalee,

    I respectfully disagree. If it matters, I’m not a big fan of the current system. But a further fractioning of the parties, both left and right, will lead to more of the nonsense that is currently in place. The government needs to be focused on governing, not on the constant distractions that are evident today.

    I have my ideas on the concept of how to have good government, but it is book length, currently private and rather utopian.

  261. This is what bothers me the most about this article:

    “Their comments to reporters were all variations on a plea to the government to “help us in off this limb we have put ourselves out on.” I’m paraphrasing, of course: they were actually itemizing the things the government had to do to keep them from defeating it in when Parliament returns in January. ”

    So Dion tries to negotiate, to make a first tiny, tentative step toward some outcome other than a Coalition takeover, and he’s portrayed as a supplicant begging for mercy. Sometimes things can be diffused by giving your opponent a respectful way out – both can be open to negotiation in this case to help the other to climb down. Any move toward ending this situation should be applauded, not greeted with nyah nyahs from the chattering classes. And we wonder why both parties go careening toward the abyss.

  262. Caffeine free

    “Perhaps PMSH spent two hours showing GGMJ proof that the coalition started their diabolical plot before the last election finished. Then he went on to restrain her from dissolving parliament right then”

    I had thought about that, too. Suppose the rest of the Layton’s tapes had to be shared with the GG. That might have had something to do with it. The NDP is awfully quiet about them tape recordings.

    I also wondered if the person who had pushed the wrong bottons for sending an email off to the wrong party member that maybe that had not been an accident at all. Maybe someone within the NDP party ws not happy about what was going on either and wanted it go get out……..

    If that’s the way it happened than that had been a smart move and the NDP wistle blower; pretend it had been a mistake (pushed the wrong email sent button) but let the Conservatives do the dirty work.

    Interesting possibility.

  263. a real Canadian,

    “Ya gotta like the “Both Dion AND Harper resign” statements. It’d be like two teams going for a championship and someone says “you take your best player off the team and we’ll take out our worst”

    You can’t make this up.”

    Indeed, indeed. Hrrper is NOT afraid to speak his mind even if his opponents are weak. The opponent’s weakness is not Harper’s doing. And in no way, shape or form should he be asked to take the wrap for it.

    If the people of Quebec have chosen to overwhelmingly support the BQ, then that is their right. I will never take that right away if it is so prescribed within our institutional election laws.
    But they also have to realize, that when being asked to prop up the coaltion, that the ROC is not in favour of that. Why should the ROC support the will of one province setting the tone for the rest of Canada? Canadians are speaking up for a federal Canada, where federal parties are to represent the people.

    We have provincial governments and their premiers to represent the provinces. Period.

    Quebeckers are trying to sneak in through the back door and the Candian voters caught them on the spot! That is what this is about. That is what the party subsidies is all about, because even the Liberal party is in finacial difficulties because the support in Quebec has largely disappeared for them.

    The adscam was party due to try and “ke-ching” up support within Quebec, also through the back door.

    Canadian money spent to bring a provincial party within federal politics is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  264. Kevin,

    “All this stimulus talk is a lot of BS.”

    Then why was Harper’s financial update such a poisenous pill to take? Your argument doesn’t hold water. Either Harper did the right thing when bringing us up to date within the financial update, or he did far, far too little, as the opposition parties claim.

    As far as I can tell, the people in the country think Harper is taken the right approach cercerning the economic crises: do some things now, and they have done so, and see what might be needed next, which is exactly what they have told us they will do.

    Could it be that the opposition parties never had intended to consider the government’s finacial update in any meaningful way? That possibility is a very real one. And if it is the real thing, than their coaltion argument is meaningless. Better yet, then their coalition agreement is a naked grab for power.

  265. Harper defenders should also consider this: for Harper to cling to power, he’s going to have to come out with pretty much the free-spending budget the coalition would have passed if he’s to survive a confidence vote. If Harper were to do the right thing and resign, the Conservatives could pass pretty much any budget they wanted.

  266. Stew,

    If you were to head on up to 24 Sussex and explain to Harper those simple facts, that he should quit while he’s ahead, that even though you don’t know 1/10th of what he does, your rationalizations matter because…..well because…you’re stew. And even if the type of spending you want to happen hasn’t worked in the past, it will this time. And it will because with all that extra money….the Liberals….will use plastic bags this time?

  267. I don’t follow what you’re saying. *I DON’T WANT* a big stimulus package. But for Harper to stay on he’ll have to introduce one (otherwise it’s way too easy for the coalition to vote no-confidence). This isn’t me musing this is near-unanimous conventional wisdom.

    That is, Harper will be forced to deliver a Coalition budget to stay in power, whereas another Conservative leader could deliver a Conservative budget and get it passed, simply by virtue of not being Stephen Harper.

    So the question to small-c conservatives is: do you care more about small-c conservative policy, or Stephen Harper? Because for the duration of this parliament at least the two are in direct opposition.

  268. Stewadice,

    I understand the trap being set. But Harper is not that stupid. Don’t dismiss him that easily. If the opponents to Harper (country wise I mean and not just in the house) can cut off someone’s head that easily than democracy is in serious trouble. In fact I will say we won’t have any left at that point.

    If people cannot stand a certain person because of his policies and they want to do away with him, should they be allowed to pick up a blunt weapon and ‘club’ him, their opponent, out of existence.

    That sounds pretty primitive to me. But I am not sure what some consider to be a democracy these days.

    Also, if people across this country really believe that the government alone can help each and every citizen of this country out of economic distress, they better wake up soon and smell some strong coffee, cause they will need it.

    But all of that will play itself out over time.

  269. Harper has clearly shown himself to be that stupid. Then shown himself to be that self-centred. He’s doing MAJOR damage to the conservative movement in Canada, both in the short and long term, by staying on.

    Mark my words: Harper’s budget will be the biggest spending in Canadian history, with goodies for all his personal enemies so that they spare him personally.

  270. All you Harper lovers. have you conveniently forgotten that running against the most pathetic leader the Liberals have offered to date, he still couldn’t attain his majority that he has been salivating for. I don’t think the point was lost on Harper. That is why he presented the “economic update” with a kneecap to the opposition. IF he had any honesty this would have been part of the platform in the last election. It wasn’t about leading the way by shaving a paltry sum from the federal budget. Particularly when he lowered the amount of personal donations in his last government. No, instead he elected to stir up the oppostion, fan the flames of seperatism, divide the country. Of course the people reacted they way they did in “loaded” poll questions. Harper probably counted on that as well. The comments about Layton’s lust for power are probably spot on. I have never trusted him, he is cut from the same cloth (power by any means) as Harper

  271. Harper’s only sin is that he doesn’t come from Central Canada or better still Quebec. Quebec has held the PM’s position for 37 out of the past 40 years along with the majority of the strongest cabinet posts. This is not enough for Quebec and Ontario goes along with it; it cannot stand seeing someone from Western Canada being the PM. After all, all three of the opposition party leaders were born in Quebec. Ya just have to get rid of a Westerner don’t you, even if he is the best person out of the entire 308 to guide Canada through difficult economic times?

    Quebec will also have to make up its mind whether or not it really wants to be part of Canada. The BQ, sovereigntist party which is code for separatist, continues to do everything to blackmail the ROC into coddling Quebec. Now that Ontario has come into severe economic times, a “have not” province for the first time in its history, perhaps they won’t be so willing to continue to submit to this costly blackmail.

    Further, I truly believe that if you look at any other country in the world, there is no other place in the world that would agree to sit a party that is dedicated to the break-up of that country in its parliament much less consider putting it in charge of the government through a de facto veto. More likely the separatists would be convicted of treason. Only in Canada you say? Yes, quite, Mabel.

  272. For the record in Ontario nobody cares where pols’ come from. Harper could run and win for Premier of Ontario from his Calgary SW riding at no disadvantage whatsoever (i.e. there’s no favourite son effect). Very few here understand the regional victim mythologies in the rest of the country; we just want you to shut up about them.

    The same sort of dynamic as exists with the West (Alberta particularly) and Quebec exists – it has often occurred to me – in the US with the South. Northerners don’t care where pols come from just what they stand for (see: successful carpet-baggers like Hillary Clinton and Obama), whereas Southerners by and large distrust non-natives and particularly don’t like to vote for them.

    In the US this means most successful national politicians have to come from the South, and the North quietly accommodates the South’s insecurity to keep the country calm and united.

    In Canada it’s meant national politicians usually come from Quebec or the West. You think there are a lot of Quebec PMs? Look how few Ontarians there have been… you’d have to go back to Pearson!!! The West has been over-represented in fact (vs. Ontario and the East Coast), for exactly the reasons I described: a Westerner gets a bonus at the ballot box.

    The problem in Canada is it’s not really possible for someone to be from the West and Quebec simultaneously (the US just has to accommodate the one South).

  273. Will a 200 seat Conservative majority turn my son heterosexual?

  274. “Harper ignored an economic crisis”

    Only a leftist who runs around like Chicken Little The Sky is Falling about everything (global warming, global cooling, climate change) and starts throwing money in all directions as the one-size-fits-all “solution” could consider what Harper (whose degree is in economy) has done as ignoring a crisis.

    Canada is better positioned to weather the economic storm than most because of conservative management including pay down of debt. Stimulus was injected before the crisis hit with tax cuts but lefties don’t recognize the kind of stimulus where taxpayers are left with more money to spend as THEY see fit. Lefties believe the mediocrities elected by their party know better how to spend everyone’s money LOL when their pet cause is buying votes and these mostly MP/lawyers can’t tell the difference between a good and bad investment.

    Apparently all 4 leftist parties can’t get their voters to support them financially sufficiently that they don’t need to ding all taxpayers for Welfare. How are party leaders who insist they would go bankrupt without the conscripted $2 per vote credible managers of Canada’s finances?

    So lefties should stop insulting everyone’s intelligence including their own. Your ideology is making you stuck on stupid.

    Even you wouldn’t hire a bankrupt accountant to manage your personal funds but all of a sudden when it’s the entire country…sure…that’s a good idea. Get three bankrupt accountants…three times as good.

  275. Did all these academics miss the 1960’s?

    Normally a government is required by convention to resign ONLY if it is defeated on a Money Bill?
    Only the Government can introduce a Money bill into the commons.

    And even that convention was destroyed in 1968 when The Liberals, under Lester Pearson, introduced a Money Bill but were defeated in the House because not enough Liberals were in the House of Commons because many, including Mr. Pearson, had gone South for a week in the Sun.

    But Mr. Pearson refused to resign but continued to govern and a few weeks later introduced the same Money bill with some minor modifications and it passed.
    Pearson announced his retirement in late 1968 but not before he rigged the Liberal Leadership Covention to get Trudeau as his successor.

    And John Diefenbaker survived on interim supply for 11 months when Cabinet Resignations lost him his majority. Each interim supply bill was accompanied by a threat to shut the government down totally.
    The support of his former Cabinet defectors all voted to get him interim supply for 11 months.
    But the constitution does not permit interim supply for a 12th month.
    So he was compelled to introduce a ways and means to get the Main Estimates approved.
    But before the House could vote, he insisted that the lack of supply for the month of March meant that the first payroll in March legally could not be paid.
    On the Wednesday in question, no Public Servant, MP, Judge or Senator could legally get or cash their Pay Cheque.
    That day is seared in my Memory, because I was not Paid for a time.Then my Boss, the Comptroller of the Treasury remembered that the Interim Supply for February had not been spent. And so because all of the above recipients were paid with a one week delay, he ruled that the payroll in question was for services done in February and that nthey could pe paid as part of February’s Interim Supply granted by Parliament.

    Diefenbaker threatened to fire the Comptroller but he lost the Supply Bill and an election was called which resulted in a Liberal-led minority government.
    And I ended up in the 1980’s being the government expert on Interim Supply, Governor General Warrants and what could be spent under Interim Supply and other unusual situation for 1980’s.
    Even after I retired in 1990, I would get callsin the next 3 years from a very senior Treasury Board official on what the rules were on these issues.

  276. Stewicde reminds me of one of those Red Tories who still think the Progressive Conservatives are coming back. Either that or he’s Sinclair Stevens’ grandson.

  277. Ding Dion the hitch is dead! Hooray!

    The hitch that locked all opposition parties in tandem to sole unprincipled destination of defeating the leftist Tories has come out of it’s bearings. Of course, the pin holding it all in place was the huge ambition of political power marketed in the political shell game of majority opinion.

    That’s right, I said leftist Tories. For those individuals like me who are unapologetically and politically right wing, Harper as a leader represents liberal-lite. We don’t like what he has compromised. When the opposition ciriticizes him as the most right-wing politician this country has ever known- I laugh.

    Although it needs to be admitted that if bipartisan or even non-partisan politics is the goal, then Stephen Harper is the only leader in parliament who seems to be accomplishing this. No commentator I’ve read in the last week on this political crises has remembered that within the last 10 years, Harper came from the Reform party under Manning’s leadership, then the half merger with PC’s constituting the Alliance party, and finally the third merger swallowing up the last remnants of the PC’s now known as the Conservative Party. For old ‘die-hard’ political right-winger’s left behind in the smoke, Harper, and those travelling with him (ie, Stockwell Day), have become so entrenched in a centrist party they have given up too much on the ideological hand, yet, on the other are keeping a growing amount of Canadians satisfied with pragmatic politics. Canadians should realize that comparatively speaking, the Conservative party merger is here to stay and has lasted centuries longer than this pseudo-coalition because of Stephen Harper’s leadership. Realizing again that if another election were called this past week, Harper just might have bordered on winning a majority. And this party itself pulls together by representing the most ethnic and gender diversity the Commons has ever seen.

    Anyone on the pro-coalition side who does not like the GG’s call to prorogue, should remember she did exactly as Dion asked in his feeble address to his cronies on Dec 3. Leading the coalition he asked the GG to “reject any of Harper’s plea to suspend parliament, until he demonstrates he has the the confidence of the house.” Although it was plain that the coalition was formed days before because they lost confidence of the house and were already committed to bringing down the government no matter what. Begs the question when Harper was going to be given the chance to demonstrate this confidence between the address the evening of Dec 3 and the meeting with the GG the next morning? Perhaps GG thought the prorogue would allow the recently elected Conservatives the chance to substantiate the voter’s minority choice so the budget can be delivered and voted on as a matter of confidence then.

    Now we hear rumours the coalition is not only dead, but that many in each of the parties didn’t support it in the first place. Inner-Liberal leadership turmoil, factions and divisions, back-biting, slander are rampant. The coalition can’t deliver a tape to the nation on time, they don’t even know what they’re asking the GG for, and this is the coalition that is to work collaboratively, collectively with consensus putting partisan politics aside. Again, the BQ’s part in all this is to only support the Liberal-NDP coalition on matters of confidence, yet forming the coalition is a democratic given since they have the majority of votes now? Sorry Stephan Trion, but when will you make up your mind between these lies? You nearly led Canada down the path of democricide.

    The world economy has been over-correcting itself faster than Michael Phelps. It is hypocritical on the part of Harper’s opponents to accuse during the election campaign that he will base all his decisions on what America and follow their line. Now only two weeks of post-election parliament, these opposition parties accuse him of not giving up billions to stimulate the economy, they way they witnessed in D.C.

    Scotty wrote a new statesman is needed to navigate these new waters. I couldn’t agree less. This failed attempt at a coalition has made many more Canadians aware again that there are indeed checks and balances in our Canadian political system and the need to abandon the MMPR system. MMPR will not be the answer we briefly thought it would. Nor is reducing the Canadian political climate as mere regionalism. Perhaps those voters who wrongly conclude “if only Canadian’s could agree on more issues than they disagree, we could be a long-prosperous and peaceful nation” and delivered that message to our political leaders need to answer for this mess. We continue to see that canadians’ will never agree on ideological and party lines. Why to we continue to aim to bridge them? In times of peace we are left to amuse and to be merry. When each colour blends into the same brown we dumb down until we have nothing left to think about and we fall sleep. The system is can only be solved with continued long and hard, nail and tooth battles, on the issues (not name-calling, or ad-hominen arguments) that are of supreme importance. It is only with the intensified and heated crises like the one we witnessed this past week, that wakes us up and educates us to what we really believe. In times like these we don’t need mixed parties, mixed ideas, nor compromised issues. We need One voice.

  278. The end of round one brings the inevitable search for who was to blame for this mess in the first place. You may as well try and nail jelly to the wall. However, blaming only Mr. Harper is akin to blaming Hitler for the fire bombing of Dresden.

  279. Who fault is it? First, Harper. Arrogant, bully, power by fear. Second, Dion. Weak. But most of all, it’s us. The first question the press or pollsters should ask of the people they interview is “did you vote in the last election”. If they did not vote…they have no right to an opinion now. Our complacent ignorance of current events and Parliamentary Democracy will be our undoing.

  280. >>>>>”The notion that Harper’s attempt to do the latter [doing away with party subsidies]was some eggregious error, is frankly a fiction perpetrated by the leftwing media in this country – as we are now seeing in every single poll.”<<<<<<<<

    The Liberal party has been in trouble. Not for weeks, not for months but for years. They know it, we know it and the media knows this.

    I think Harper had been testing the waters couragously when he introduced the party subsidy cuts: it is now abundantly clear that some media outlets would rather let the Liberal party linger longer within their illness (a great detriment to the well being of this country) by letting them hide from reality.

    Some media outlets have taken on the position that party fundraising, and good grass roots volunteer donations is a baaaaad thing.

    Within adscam, the Liberal party had tried to take the top-down approach once more: you can’t win Quebec from the bottom up, therefore their votes had to be bought top-down: old politics, Liberal style.

    Meanwhile, change was occurring within other parties, namely the Conservative party, and good grass-roots bottom-up support was happening.

    It is not Harper’s problem that the Liberal party is a very weak party at the moment. The Liberal party needs to heal itself. The Liberal party is practically bankrupt. That is not Harper’s problem. For some of the media to stand behind the weakened Liberal party by coming down hard on Harper’s subsidy cuts proposals, shows how difficult it is to demand some real change within this country. It is Harper who wants change, not the Liberal party.

    And it is Harper who points to this Liberal weakness time and time again. And still the Liberals will not get the hint. And still, some in the media will not get the hint. They Liberals have been so protected by some media outlets within this country, that they actually believe they can be saved by being held in perpetual denial of internal problems.

  281. The opposition parties conveyed the notion of Harper having some hidden agenda, which is yet to rear it’s head from Harper’s side of parliament. From the opposition side, and their talks of forming a coalition even before the last election all the while denying it, now proves theirs is the only hidden agenda in parliament.

    Also, this idea that Harper’s leadership style is a bullying one has originated from the opposition parties as well.

    Might as well believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy because our parents told us this to keep us dreaming against the harsher realties of the world.

    The real harsh reality is that Harper and the Tories are not right-wing, nor socially conservative and near centre-left to centre-moderate at best.

  282. Back again (again)

    re “stimulus talk is BS” – my point is that the government can do little short term to solve the major problems
    1. Automotive – I spent 4 years in the industry as an executive. The decisions in the US will determine what happens in Canada for the Big 3 (not so big anymore)…what products they will build and where. It is foolish to support anyting in Canada because this is unanswered. Time for a correction in this market and Chapter 11 is the best way to do it…the end result will be an eventual healty industry rather than keeping companies on life support. In three years the net drop in employment will be about another 10%-15% from where it is now…but in between it is going to be a lot higher.
    2. Resource based industries – we do not controle the world price on anything…oil is dropping like a stone…stimulate what? create jobs how?

    So my point is that in the key areas that will have the biggest downturn there is nothing short term that can be done. Forestry? Do what? Mining? We can pump money into infrastructure projects but the gains over and above those currently employed will be mimimal in the big picture.

    But what we can do is to support the industries where we are winners and build on this strength….but you are still looking at 2-3 years out.

    I am an investor and I am betting on RIM, Bombardier, Potash, Manulife, CN & CP, Toyota, GE, etc…go with the winners and forget companies that are on death’s door.

    All our leaders need to be replaced so that we can have all parties in a frame of mind where they can sit down and work together. Trust and mutual respect is dead and nothing of consequence can happen untill there is confidence in Parliment.

    Our banks are in great shape…I am not a Conservative but I agree with the “wait and see” approach and save the money if we need it rather than piss it away just to make people think something is being done.

  283. Mark,

    very nice write up. With the unique word of “democricide” you hit the nail on the head.

  284. Kevin,

    >>>Our banks are in great shape…I am not a Conservative but I agree with the “wait and see” approach and save the money if we need it rather than piss it away just to make people think something is being done.<<<<

    and you state all of this after you have proclaimed this: “All our leaders need to be replaced ”

    That doesn’t make sense. The only leader who proposed exactly what you believe is the correct course of action must be dumped? That is absurd.

  285. If there was real integrity in our politics Harper and the Conservatives would be making the ‘wait-and-see / most stimulus doesn’t work’ argument (which I think is the factually correct argument). Instead he’ll come out with a nominally big spending budget, and hope that he can delay the stimulus measures therein until the economy is over the hump and then quietly kill them.

    What I’m particularly fearful of is structural changes, like making UI more available, since they’re much harder to renege on then one-off stimulus projects.

  286. Kevin F Dec. 6th.

    Please explain to me why Ont. voted for the most pathetic leader the Lib’s have had in years? Wearing your heart on your sleeve’s is admirable but suggests Canada ends @ Kenora.

  287. How typical of Canadian politics. Our economy is headed into a U.S. like meltdown and our politicians are going off on an extended Christmas vacation thanks to our Governor General. Michaëlle Jean should be sent home to the Queen for further training. She should never have dissolved parliament at Harper’s request as it was clear that Harper did not have the necessary majority to do this.

  288. I’m not a political scientist and I definitely don’t pretend to have all the answers to the current economic situation. However, there are a number of things which seem to be an absolute necessity if we are to improve our lot. As an aspiring politician once said, “If you are in a hole one of the first things you have to do is stop digging!”. We are still digging into a deeper hole…
    * Why such a push to bail out the big car companies, the forestry, the fishing industry, or any other group for that matter. If we choose tax-payer-funded bailouts for failures, we are in effect, saying that these particular ‘gimme’ groups are somehow better or more worthy than other working Canadians. I would guess that there are at least as many, if not more, private or non-unionized workers who are having every bit as difficult a time as boisterous business groups and abusive unions. Private workers are simply going out each day doing the very best they can by themselves to support their families.
    * At least three of our Federal political parties are huge supporters of unions and other massive socialist groups. How can these parties possibly represent the private citizen when they openly clamor for greater and greater tax-payer subsidized perks far beyond reason or what is available to other workers?
    * How can we possibly lend any credibility to a group (e.g. the Coalition hooligans) who include among their members, a bunch dedicated to the destruction of Canada? (What possible reason could Canadians have for directing money to the Bloc under any circumstances? What are we thinking? Are we thinking?)
    *Have we not leaned anything from the past? If my reading of history is in any way accurate, I understand that we’ve never been able to ‘buy our way’ out of a recession or the coming depression? Therefore, why are we wasting precious resources on such an obvious misdirection?
    * We have a spending (wasting money) problem. Many are quick to shrug their shoulders and simply pass on the cost of our horrific mistakes to our children and let them deal with the fallout from our squandering ways. Is this really the legacy we want to pass on?
    It’s obvious I don’t have the cure for this mess but I do have some ideas for beginning in the right direction. Things won’t get better by wasting more of ‘our’ money. Therefore, if we REALLY want the situation to improve, we have to send a strong message to our leaders that we want them to curtail spending and to stop wasting our money. Stop spending it on unreasonable perks for themselves; stop giving it away (to any noisy and/or special interest group), stop hamstringing our successful people and businesses with outrageous taxes, useless paper work, and other built in obstacles to their advancement and finally, chase those millions of freeloaders away from the public trough.
    We must learn to separate our ‘wants’ from our ‘needs’. Only when our needs (those items which are or may be potentially beneficial to EVERY Canadian) have been satisfied (e.g. health care, education, infrastructure, etc,) should we then consider doling out any money for the frivolous and special interests.
    Until then, let’s focus our resources and attention on what we need and then proceed accordingly.

  289. Have any liberals attended college, or high school for that matter?

    It was in high school that I learned to back up statements. To verify claims. Not to merely give an opinion of something but to substantiate it. Hence research, citations, and every other known essay writing technique. Postman said it, “Any fool can have an opinion; but to know what one needs to know to have an opinion is wisdom”, and my math teacher always said, “show your work!” (BTW, I find modern journalism very shoddy at this too – how many times during 11 o’clock do we hear them lead off with “Anonymous or undisclosed sources…”)

    So I kindly challenge any of the liberals out there reading this comment to do the country the common courtesy we would otherwise find in the more mature halls of the high schools in the land. Instead of heralding your opinion that “Harper is a bully” -show your work! Instead lambasting the Cons for some perceived undemocratic measure (in your mind) in successfully requesting of the GG to prorogue, give a why and refrain from further blasts- after all winter’s already here. Please provide the country some exposition justifying why we should believe Harper is everything his opponents believes he is, and how you know this to be true. Thank you.

    Sociologist Os Guinness wrote the following which you may wish to ponder:

    “If we cannot paint well, we destroy the canons of painting and pass ourselves as painters. If we cannot or will not read, we dismiss linear thinking as irrelevant and dispense with reading. In area after area, if we are not inclined to submit to the rigors of discipline, we destroy the standards and pass ourselves off as acceptable.”

  290. Michael Ignatieff said he wanted to reach out to the west. Western Canada has heard that BS from every newly elected Liberal leader going back to Trudeau. When they find out westerners won’t be taken for granted they’re quite willing to throw them under the bus. Michal Ignatieff will be no different. The liberals only acknowledge the west when they want votes at election time. Certainly the 3 stooges never gave western Canada a thought when they planned their little scheme. Ignatieff won’t be the savior the liberals think he’ll be.