The GG can say no (redux)

Roger Gibbins offers a way for the Governor General to get us all out of this mess: Just Say No. Don’t call an election. Don’t hand power to an unstable and potentially destructive coalition. Simply refuse the Prime Minister’s resignation, and send him back to Parliament, with instructions to find a consensus on his economic plan. Discuss.




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The GG can say no (redux)

  1. In the face of a non-confidence vote that’s unlikely to be a realistic option.

  2. Hasn’t that already been happening to some extent? The Conservatives pulled the party funding cuts and the removal of strike rights for the publc service out of the fiscal update. But if the other side doesn’t want to compromise for whatever reason I don’t really see how this can be resolved without giving the coalition a chance or calling an election. The GG can try to force the issue but both the Conservatives and the coalition have to be willing to play ball. And that doesn’t really look likely at the moment.

  3. Or she could just toss out the constitution and appoint him PM for life. I seriously find it delicious that the Conservatives are so desperate to find a way out of a crisis that is ENTIRELY on their own making, that they’re advocating unprecedented activism by the office of the GG. Yes, the same office they have for years taken pains to portray as unelected, undemocratic, uncountable, unnecessary, spendthrift, and more. Now they want the GG to ignore convention, to ignore hundreds of years of parliamentary precedent and practice, by having the unelected GG overturn the will of the elected representatives of the people? I tell you Andrew, that’s how I like my irony. Delicious.

  4. The coalition seems far more stable and less dangerous than the desperate government we have right now.

  5. Interesting option.

    This could save face for some Liberals who are leery of the coalition, but who don’t want to be seen backing down.

    And it wouldn’t be completely undemocratic – if the opposition is absolutely determined to bring down the government they could demonstrate that they are unwilling to take the GG’s advice with their next vote in Parliament.

    It’s basically a way for the GG to say to the opposition “Are you SURE you want to do this now?”

  6. Harper = EPIC FAIL.

  7. And really, Gibbins deploys some pretty piss-poor “logic” in dismissing the coalition:

    After arguing reasonably that an election would not be good right now, he writes:

    “The problem is not the nature of the two parties themselves, but that such a coalition could only govern with the consent of the Bloc. Every action of the coalition would therefore be measured against two touchstones: does it transfer enough money to Quebec, enough being defined by the Bloc; and does it lead in the long term to the destruction of Canada? To place every act of Parliament in the hands of a party dedicated to the end of Canada would be folly.”

    Seriously, is that reason enough to throw precedent out the window and force the house to function without confidence in the government? The Bloc is a legitimate Canadian political party – albeit one with a horrible policy foundation – and denying them full standing in the house would be an insult to the parliament and to Quebecers who cast their votes for the party of their choice.

  8. She could ask him the details of the secret deal the Lib-Dip Mutual Admiration Society has to buy support from the Bloc.

    How many $billions have they promised Duceppe to get his party’s votes ??

    Curious Canadians want to know the price of treason.

  9. She could say no. However with the lack of confidence in the House wouldn’t that be even more detrimental to Canada? Conservatives have proven they don’t have any interest in working with all the parties. If they all do reach concensus? What of the next time? Every one knows there will be a next time.

    Election call? Why not piss the electorate off even more? We’ll end up with another Harper minority. I have no doubt Quebecers will be voting they same way. What then?

  10. We have to keep in mind that whatever choice the governor general makes will be rooted in her deep-seeded seperatist beliefs. (sarcasm)

    I am personally very frightened that if she invites the opposition to form a government that the Tories will wage a full out war against the GG and irreversibly damage the position.

  11. While the GG could theoretically ignore a non-confidence vote or a resignation, it would be wholly at odds with the principle of responsible government upon which Canadian democracy is built. The executive (in both the form of the GG and the PM) would no longer be responsible to Parliament, creating all manner of problems. She might conceivably be able to say, “Go see if you can work it out and come back if you can’t,” but I just don’t see her refusing to do anything for much longer than that.

  12. I would say that if you’re going to throw “unstable” and “potentially destuctive” around…the only place it is giong to stick is on SH.

  13. If the coalition of the idiots votes non-confidence, I don’t think Jean can keep Parliament up. What she can do, however, is drop the writ on yet another goshdarned election. There’s no doubt, though, even to me (who is feeling an increasing pull to move to Switzerland as this debacle advances), that if Parliament declares no confidence, the Governor-General can’t just say “too bad, we voted six weeks ago you pansies.”

  14. Ahhh, I see that the Conservatives and their supporters are now repudiating central tenets of parliamentary democracy? Last time I checked, if a government fails to maintain the confidence of a majority of the House, it loses its putative authority to govern.

    Nah, let’s just tell the Governor General to pat the PM on the head, ask him to buck up, and give it another try, right?

    Awesome!

  15. Or Stephen Harper could just call the election. It’s been 4 years since the last one, right?

    I do enjoy your blog entries, Mr. Coyne. It’s quite the magical world: the economy is robust, a carbon tax is welcomed eagerly by the public, and minority governments rule like majorities.

  16. Sure, that works. But the opposition has no incentive to compromise unless they believe she would dissolve. Without that threat the Opposition wont compromise.

    The temp way out is to inicate to both a credible threat that she might call an election or hand over power, it all depends on what she “senses” the people will want. Election threat needs to be credible to discipline opposition, Reserve power needs to be credible to discipline Stephen H.

    Prorouging is a way to call a time out, let govt present budget and see if he plays silly buggers, even then. It ultimately isnt up to her, she is the embodiment of “we”.

    I am not convinced the cons want an election either, especially if they are blamed for it. Right now they wouldnt be, but some soft noises from the opposition that go unrequited from the cons would flip that pretty quickly.

  17. Reading this verbal vomit from establishment lackey Andrew Coyne gets so tiring, and this theory is idiotic. If Jean says no to an election and to a coalition and sends Harper back to Parliament, the Opposition will just vote no confidence again.

  18. As shown by John Ivison last night, anything that comes off the pages of the National Post should be treated with a large pound of salt. This is just more conservative pundit desperation realizing their guy has screwed up royally.

  19. Andrew,

    What you have thought of is a great idea, the only problem is that its too simple! Sadly what is simple never seems to work out.!

  20. Seriously now, does anyone really think that Dion would risk an election (slaughter) if he had NOT ALREADY been assured of a go from the GG ??

  21. Just make sure in the second no-confidence motion, the opposition adds “and we really mean it this time.”

  22. Or Harper offers his resignation as leader, Flaherty steps aside from Finance and the Conservatives continue their Minority. They seem to be the problem as much as anything.

  23. Not only can she not say no, she can also have Harper flogged in public.

    It’s true. I read it in The National Post.

    Allez-y, Mme Jean. Crissez-y une bonne!

  24. Gibbins’ scenario fails because if the Governor General refused Harper’s resignation, he would effectively be governing without the confidence of the House. How many votes would he have to lose before she would have to accept his resignation? I think the answer is, one clear loss on a clear matter of confidence (e.g., a motion of non-confidence, or a fiscal matter). Otherwise, we will have jettisoned the notion of responsible government that is at the heart of our system of government. Of the three options — calling an election, asking the coalition to form a government, or allowing Harper to stay on without the confidence of the House — the latter seems to me to be the most dangerous constitutionally.

  25. Scott Tribe et al.: Roger Gibbins isn’t a CPC hack, nor a National Post hack. He’s pretty legit. For example, this:

    Certainly Mr. Harper did not think twice or even once about the economy when he made his appallingly dumb decision to bundle the elimination of public financing for parties into his financial update

    Read his argument, rebut it if you can, but your whole “once something appears in a paper I don’t like it automatically makes no sense” shtick is wearing thin.

  26. I think the analogy of a non-confidence vote to the PM handing in a resignation is part of the problem here. It’s totally inapt. The PM isn’t deciding to step down. He’s having that decision made for him by the majority of parliament (or at least it looks like that will happen soon). So it’s fairly misleading to liken this to a PM rejecting a minister’s resignation, as Gibbins does.

  27. Denial:
    Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me!”
    Anger:
    Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can this happen!”
    Bargaining:
    Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”
    Depression:
    Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
    Acceptance:
    Example – “It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

  28. ron in kelowna: “Seriously now, does anyone really think that Dion would risk an election (slaughter) if he had NOT ALREADY been assured of a go from the GG ??”

    Seriously now, are you accusing the GG of conspiring behind the scenes with the Leader of the Opposition?

    That’s way beyond the pale. Have some respect.

  29. Also, if anybody in the Conservative Party were in any condition to laugh right now, they’d find the premise “Andrew Coyne, establishment hack” to be utterly hysterical.

  30. “potentially destructive coalition”

    Problem Coyne, Harper isn’t potentially destructive, he is destructive. Harper resignation, might be a first good step.

  31. Well, so much for responsible government, then.

  32. Some have noted correctly that for the government operating without the confidence of the House creates a host of problems and does not square with our tradition of responsible government. I do think she could get away with saying “No, not until January”. If the lack of an economic plan is the primary reason for the loss of confidence, then she could justifiably point to the expected January budget as an opportunity for consensus. So she could force them at least try to cooperate in the very short term.

    She could not say no indefinitely though, as this would effectively mean the government is allowed to go about it’s business despite having lost the confidence of the House. That fell out of style in the 1840s.

  33. Ron,

    I dont think Mme Jean would do that. This is dream palace thinking, its constitutional, just not a fait accompli.

    Re the fear the cons will wage war on the office and the person. If there isnt a good justification from her to refuse the advice then yes you can expect that to happen. Not advocating that, just saying this is what happens when you go for nukes, totally foreseeable and totally preventable.

    The GG’s power is substantial and tenuous. She needs the protection of electorate, since her power is meant to protect them in extreme circumstances. So either she presents a formidable case that will stand up to the assault, thus preventing the assault, or she avoids the battle and seeks other paths.

    I keep saying her best option, for her, her office and the countries sake is, unless polls strongly say otherwise, is an election, now or after the government is defeated on a throne speech. The sooner the oppsoition realizes the position they are putting her in the sooner they will find a way to make this work a little while longer and avoid the whole mess. That may just not suit certain players, Mr Dion’s and perhaps Mr Laytons requirements.

    Bloc doesnt care, DIon is pressed for time, and Jack is hopped up on andrenaline. The people will be pissed, who they take it out on isnt clear right now.

  34. andrew (not any of them)
    Dec 1, 2008 15:45
    So it’s fairly misleading to liken this to a PM rejecting a minister’s resignation, as Gibbins does.

    ****

    It’s beyond misleading, it’s ridiculous to the extent a credible journalist would not repeat it as a blog post.

  35. Lord Bob writes: “Also, if anybody in the Conservative Party were in any condition to laugh right now, they’d find the premise “Andrew Coyne, establishment hack” to be utterly hysterical.”

    Please look up the difference between “Conservative (or conservative; your choice) hack” and establishment hack. You’re telling me Andrew Coyne isn’t 100% establishment?

  36. Why can’t the GG insist on a FREE VOTE in the Commons on this confidence vote, instead of a vote dictated by the party WHIP???

  37. sorry, I think it’s important that I correct myself on my last post by changing “should not” to “would not”. Coyne hadn’t been very impressive these last few days, but I wouldn’t put him at that level yet.

  38. oh crap, i got my correction wrong. I should have said change “would not” to “should not”.

    MY KINGDOM FOR AN EDIT FEATURE!

  39. Yeah : It’s called RE-Read B4 U post

  40. Laurie53 writes: “Why can’t the GG insist on a FREE VOTE in the Commons on this confidence vote, instead of a vote dictated by the party WHIP???”

    (a) Because the G-G has no power to dictate how votes are carried out in the House of Commons;
    (b) Because there is no reason to believe, even if the G-G did hoave the power to dictate that this must be a free vote, that the outcome would change.

  41. I do not think that this crisis could be dissipated by just trying to call it off.
    I would say that War Measures Act should be invoked and some MP and their flunkies should be tried for sedition if not for an outright treason.
    Of the top of my head I could easily name at least three people who should be put in jail for sedition; Scott Reid former Communication Director of Paul Martin, for his article published on November 29, 2008, “Why the opposition can’t back down now,
    Angelo Persichilli Toronto Star journalist for his article published on Sep 07, 2008, “Best to bomb the other party’s weakest link”
    and some homosexual clown from downtown Toronto, Franco Boni for his words during a “Stop Harper” meeting held on Sep. 30, 2008 reported in Xtra Magazine.

    I am quite sure that if we went looking that we could find many many more people as bad in not worse than the three that I have mentioned above..

  42. Isn’t Andrew Coyne supposed to be good at this stuff?

    Let’s take a step out of the partisan bubble for a second. I wouldn’t even know which party to support in this situation, unless I had some sort of nonsense allegiance to one or the other that was independent of policy. That’s the kind of allegiance more appropriate to morning call-in shows. Leave it there.

    There are a few things here I find ridiculous for completely non-partisan reasons. The first is that the government of Canada has/had no plans to take immediate action on what could be the largest global economic slowdown in our lifetimes. You can argue the policy specifics on this, carefully consider whether there’s anything that can be done, or should be done. You may even come down on Harper’s side. But you’ll still be forced to acknowledge that when Canadian citizens are bombarded daily with news of the drastic and unprecedented action taken foreign governments, it’s politically sensible to propose action of your own. The result of this could be nothing more than the placebo effect. There are few moves in politics so politically obvious.

    I’m sorry, Coyne, if you want to blame the Liberals/NDP for this, fine. But you’ll do it without explaining the most foolish political move made by a Canadian government in my memory. Come on, they think they’re going to solve a $50bn problem with $30mil in public elections financing money?

    I’m not a Liberal, by any means (I live in Toronto Centre and you will never, ever catch me voting for Bob Rae) but I am the proud owner of two economics degrees. Doesn’t Stephen Harper have one of those?

  43. A few years ago, I would have thought the GG ignoring confidence vote and telling the parties to carry on as they were would introduce all kinds of constitutional problems. But since PM Martin ignored a confidence vote and carried on governing when he felt like it, maybe the GG can use that as a precedent.

    Let the Cons present their budget in late January, let the oppo’s decide what they are going to do, and then see where we are.

  44. Oh, Karol! You’re such a card! Hasn’t anyone told you that troll is a dish best served incoherent? Your semi-coherent trolling is way too comprehensible.

  45. I’m in no way an expert on any of this, but it seems to me that GG will want and need to act in a manner that has the least potential to be cast as either politicially biased or needlessly interfering (in a broader governmental sense).

    Add to that whatever minor history or tradition that may apply to current circumstances, and I expect she’s left with the options of dissolving the house or giving the Liberals a shot at it.

    Sending Harper back to try again seems like the third-best option for the office of the GG.

  46. Read his argument, rebut it if you can, but your whole “once something appears in a paper I don’t like it automatically makes no sense” shtick is wearing thin.

    If only you’d lecture a few ConBots in this manner as well.

    What’s wearing thin, Olaf, is your authoritarianism.

  47. Just a note Andrew, before it starts, I think you and other major pundits should discourage the inevitable
    ridicule of Dion which all goes back to the path established by the Tory War Room ‘Not a Leader’ and other personal hate campaign tactics.
    He’s a decent, intelligent, honest man so why don’t we follow the Obama example this time, and just not go down that dirt strewn, muddy road.

  48. ahhhhh the fascist points of view when they are scared say “she can JUST SAY NO”

    why not keep going?:

    we can just ‘JAIL THE OPPOSITION”

    Stephen Harper can “JUST BE OUR KING TILL THE DAY HE DIES”

    we do not “NEED ELECTIONS, WE CAN JUST LET THE RICH TO CHOOSE FOR US”

    and so on…………………….

    And you call the coalition THIS MESS? well it ain’t so, and if anything Harper did it himself.

  49. My feeling is that the governor general should be reluctant to hand over power to a group that has excluded the party that won the election, considering how that is a snub ot the will of the voters.

    The fact is, she has any and all options at her disposal. While the opposition may wish to take over power, they should only be able to do so if they can convince her that the current government cannot function. Considering that we now know they intended to vote no-confidence no matter what the government may have done, that weakens their argument.

    If they claim that the government refuses to take the actions they feel are necessary, then the government can argue that their improved showing in the election validates the fact that they are fulfilling the wishes of the voters.

    The governor general must do her utmost to satisfy the will of the Canadian people.

  50. Karol – Nothing like an outrageous comment to encourage people to see things from your perspective, eh?

  51. sf writes: “My feeling is that the governor general should be reluctant to hand over power to a group that has excluded the party that won the election, considering how that is a snub ot the will of the voters.”

    The will of the voters was a House with no party in a majority position.

    sf writes: “While the opposition may wish to take over power, they should only be able to do so if they can convince her that the current government cannot function. Considering that we now know they intended to vote no-confidence no matter what the government may have done, that weakens their argument.”

    A vote of no confidence is, by definition, evidence that the current government cannot function. If the government loses the confidence of the House, it doesn’t matter why it lost it, only that it no longer has confidence.

    sf writes: “If they claim that the government refuses to take the actions they feel are necessary, then the government can argue that their improved showing in the election validates the fact that they are fulfilling the wishes of the voters.”

    Irrelevant. That is not how our system of government works.

    sf writes: “The governor general must do her utmost to satisfy the will of the Canadian people.”

    The governor general must follow the law.

  52. sf
    Dec 1, 2008 16:20

    The fact is, she has any and all options at her disposal.

    * * *

    I dispute this “fact” heartily. She can let the other party form government or dissolve parliament. Neither gibbins nor Coyne has made a plausible argument to the contrary.

  53. Mike T. writes: “Neither gibbins nor Coyne has made a plausible argument to the contrary.”

    Remember whom it is you’re asking for a plausible argument here.

  54. Coyne is so wired of late that he put out two identical posts. Can someone drag the man away from his computer and force him to get some fresh air?

  55. Suppose the House votes non-confidence next week and the GG asks the Libs and NDP to form a government. Many Conservatives seem concerned that the Bloc could hold the coalition ransom. Wouldn’t one solution to this be for the Conservatives to say that they would support the coalition, at least on a case-by-case basis, rather than let the Bloc dictate terms?

    Never gonna happen, I agree. But if the Conservatives’ primary concern is protecting Canada from the Bloc, rather than looking out for themselves and their power, why wouldn’t it?

  56. Why so hard on Coyne? He offered a topic to debate, he didn’t espouse it as the gospel according to Andrew Coyne, “What The GG Should Do.”

    Can the Conservatives turf Harper and avoid a trip to the GG?

  57. It won’t work, because there’s no precedent for it. If this has happened before, in any parliamentary democracy, then the GG might have something to go on, but I can’t think of an example. If anyone out there can think of one, great – let us all know. And that doesn’t mean a PM refusing a resignation from a minister, like Gibbins suggests – that means a head of state sending a PM back after a loss of confidence.

    In the meantime, the most recent precedent is still 1985 in Ontario. Miller was defeated at the first opportunity, and the opposition had a plan to present to the LG. Miller (as I recall) asked for an election, and the LG said no, I’m going to ask this Peterson fellow to give it a try.

    It’s the same here – Harper would be defeated at the first opportunity, and the coalition has a plan. I would also caution everyone – just because the coalition looks unstable, that doesn’t mean that it is. The GG can’t actually know, for certain, that it can’t work. The coalition is going to present evidence of majority support, plus a plan of action. With that assertion in front of her, on what possible basis could she determine that it won’t work? Precedent suggests that the GG must at least let the coalition give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then I think we’ll all find out pretty fast.

    Also keep in mind that all the noise and argument really doesn’t come into the determination for the GG. Some may think it should, but it really doesn’t. This is a very legal, constitutional process with procedures and precedents. She will listen, get advice, and she will act using those procedures and precedents.

  58. Doug Smith
    Dec 1, 2008 16:39

    Why so hard on Coyne? He offered a topic to debate, he didn’t espouse it as the gospel according to Andrew Coyne, “What The GG Should Do.”

    * * *

    But he appears to be suggesting it is within the actual means of the GG to actually do so, which is almost certainly untrue. it makes him look bad as a person who makes a living by giving an analysis of Canadian politics.

  59. Here are some questions for people more astute than I. If a coalition was in place, is it an advantage for the Bloc to have special demands? If the coalition fell because of the Bloc, what effect would that have on them in a new election? In other words, how much can we realistically fear that the Bloc will gain with a coalition that they would not gain otherwise? And the things that they do gain, would they be beneficial to all Quebecers (which a person can argue is a benefit to all Canadians) or would they benefit only Separatists? If it’s the former, then what’s the problem. People didn’t seem to mind that we voted in a government that will be beneficial to Albertans.

  60. Peter S

    PM Martin ignored non-confidence motion passed in May ’05 and then bribed Stronach to cross the floor to prop up his government. Maybe GG could use that as precedent for ignoring non-confidence votes and tell Cons to carry on governing till they present budget. After that, I don’t think GG could reasonably ignore confidence votes.

  61. *because there’s no precedent for it. If this has happened before, in any parliamentary democracy, then the GG might have something to go on, but I can’t think of an example. If anyone out there can think of one, great – let us all know. And that doesn’t mean a PM refusing a resignation from a minister, like Gibbins suggests – that means a head of state sending a PM back after a loss of confidence.*

    No precedent: quite like the Coup d’etat now being attempted by the National Socialist Coalition.

    They should do the honourable thing and dissolve parliament and call an eleciton.

    but wait: this is Dion, Duceppe and Layton we’re talking of here, no honour among thieves of power!

  62. Wow, that’s history.

  63. jwl
    Dec 1, 2008 16:47

    PM Martin ignored non-confidence motion passed in May ‘05

    * * *

    This is not true and was clearly disproven the last time conservative partisans brought it up around these parts.

  64. No coup here- just parliamentary democracy. This has happened before, though not in recent history, and is not a complete earthquake. For countries more used to minority governments, it happens quite often. The difficult thing to calculate is when a proposed coalition is actually solid enough to form a government.

    What kind of commitments have to be made by Duceppe to the GG to allow Dion and Layton to form the government? How many tries does Harper get to pass a confidence motion?

  65. in response to the forum:

    Harper will not, and should not, ignore the confidence vote.

    He should, will, amiably step aside and let this National Socialist Coalition take power…

    and then simply wait them out until they screw everything up.

    You think you’ve seen the end of Harper. Not a chance

  66. *No coup here- just parliamentary democracy. This has happened before, though not in recent history, and is not a complete earthquake.*

    It is a coup, and it hasn’t happened before.

    *For countries more used to minority governments, it happens quite often.*

    Which, umm, not Canada… you can go and live in these countries if you love political parties overturning the verdict of the people so much. Venezuela would be a good place to start

    *The difficult thing to calculate is when a proposed coalition is actually solid enough to form a government.*

    Solid as water, I’m sure

    What kind of commitments have to be made by Duceppe to the GG to allow Dion and Layton to form the government? How many tries does Harper get to pass a confidence motion?

  67. “My feeling is that the governor general should be reluctant to hand over power to a group that has excluded the party that won the election, considering how that is a snub ot the will of the voters.”

    Any Conservatives who want to cross the floor are free to do so.

  68. I must say I was flabbergasted by Roger Gibbins’s recent post on the National Post website suggesting the Governor-General could simply ignore a vote of non-confidence in the government. To quote the Sunday Telegraph’s review of John Gray’s most recent book, such a suggestion “could hardly be more bonkers if it was crawling with lizards” in light of the fundamental principles of the Canadian constitution. The idea of responsible government is absolutely central to any constitution “similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom” no matter how little recent Canadian precedent there is. The elected Parliament would know exactly what it were doing if it passed a resolution stating it had no confidence in the government. For the Governor-General to allow such a government to continue in office would be both a violation of the principle of responsible government and a subversion of democracy as it exists in Canada.

    We may not have a “rigid constitutional formula” in Canada, but when it comes to the principle of responsible government, any lee-way the Governor-General had was withdrawn in the 19th century. However distasteful they may seem, it is clear that the Governor-General would indeed have only two options in the event of a vote of no-confidence: to dissolve Parliament and call an election, or accept a coalition led by the Liberals. To suggest otherwise is to mislead Canadians on a point about which we hardly need any more confusion.

  69. Noticed that Harper was the only party leader not wearing a ribbon for World AIDS day today. A very visible indication of why he isn’t fit to lead.

  70. It also ignores the fact that Harper isn’t ‘resigning’. He is being ‘resigned’, that is, fired by Parliament.

  71. Why don’t you socialist partisans move over to the hyper-partisan blogs? You’ve got O’Malley, Selley, Wherry, Feschuk, and Potter to choose from.

    Mike T and Coyne Crisis: you are wrong. The GG does have all options at her disposal. Only the governor general can dissolve parliament, and if she decides that the plan for a coalition was hatched long before the current government took power, then she can make the obvious decision that there was no honest attempt to make the current government work, and therefore she can refuse the request to dissolve.

    MIke T, Coyne Crisis and Malcolm L, if Andrew Coyne says something that you claim is untrue, then you will have to make a better argument. I’ll take AC’s word over yours any day of the week. And frankly, it’s not a matter of trust, AC is clearly and obviously correct, no matter how much you try to spin it.

  72. She can’t say no and she can’t yes.

    She can’t exercise her reserve power and if she does I’ll take her to court myself.

    She has to do what she is told by the Prime Minister, like she did Oct. 14th. She has to do what she’s told by the Chief Justice, like she did when she hung a medal on Henry Morgentaler.

    She is the pawn of the rulers not the underdogs while we tolerate her position.

  73. sf, you are welcome to believe whoever you wish. it won’t change the nature of the GG’s position.

  74. sf,
    did it escape your notice that Andrew Coyne didn’t offer his own opinion here but that of the National Post?

    did it pass you by that the GG always does what the Prime Minister request by convention? That if she didn’t she would usurp the power of our Democratic Head of State? That the last time the reserve power was used was when MacKenzie King was Prime Minister?

    do you understand that if our GG dies of a heart attack today that our Chief Justice will take her place?

  75. Am I the only one struck by how funny all of this is? This is a freakin’ sideshow.

  76. Harper can approach the PM before the confidence motion and ask to have Parliament dissolved and election. She can refuse and ask him to reform a government or go for election. This would render the confidence motion moot and rob the opposition of the initiative. Recalling the King-Byng Affair, the GG has not in since considered a 3rd option of having the opposition form a government after refusing a PM. It may make no difference if it is pre or post confidence motion, but why let the opposition gloat over a confidence motion.

  77. I have sent e-mails to the GG after that freak of a sideshow in Ottawa this afternoon, I want an election.How dare that tinpot dictator Layton say the Canadian people don’t support the government.

  78. Andrew, I will pay you one thousand dollars (CAD$ 1,000) if you explain in a cover story to our fellow Canadians that there is no need for a $30 billion “stimulus” when the Canadian economy is expanding, and that unemployment and inflation and interest rates are all low, and that the economy expanded 1.3% last quarter, and that we are still in surplus, and that deficits are bad, and that Christmas shopping is up, and that mortgage defaults are very low, and that we already have a stimulus thanks to the GST cut, a $12 billion annual stimulus that some companies such as Tim Horton’s cite for their good performance last year.

    What say? It’s actually a good deal from my perspective, seeing as my share of servicing the $30 billion in new debt will vastly exceed a grand.

  79. Before presenting his conclusion Gibbins characterizes most existing arguments about Jean’s choices thus: “The constitutional wisdom tossed about is often thinly veiled partisanship where the commentator begins with the desired partisan outcome and then twists constitutional theory to fit that outcome.”

    And this perfectly captures his own argument too. However lacking either unpalatable choice may be in recent constitutional precedent, keeping around a government which has lost a nonconfidence motion is still more lacking. I know of no Westminster-style government which has ever survived such a motion.

  80. The world has changed so drastically within the past six months that it is impossible to continue with “business as usual”. The United States has elected an African-American to be their president, and here in Canada we have three ideologically opposed parties that are willing to put their differences aside in order to govern this country.

    The Governor General should allow the Coalition to form a government. This country has done politics the same way for decades, now is the time to do something different.

    Had Harper not broken his own rule of fixed election dates, the government would not be in this situation in the first place.

  81. just curious can the GG refuse the request of the coalition and just force another election??

  82. bonnie
    Dec 1, 2008 18:04

    just curious can the GG refuse the request of the coalition and just force another election??

    * * *

    yes, but she may very well decide not to so soon after the last one.

    What she can’t do is what Gibbins suggests.

  83. The GG should just call another election, and let the coalition run on their plan. If they end up with a majority in Parliament between them, then they have won the right to govern. Since all the gloating progressives claim that the coalition is democratically legitimate, then they should agree with this suggestion. And besides, $300 million in low skilled work is stimulus.

  84. sf writes: “The GG does have all options at her disposal. Only the governor general can dissolve parliament, and if she decides that the plan for a coalition was hatched long before the current government took power, then she can make the obvious decision that there was no honest attempt to make the current government work, and therefore she can refuse the request to dissolve.”

    Perhaps you’ve heard of someone named Eugene Forsey. He disagrees. (Well, technically, he doesn’t – but you know what I mean.)

  85. She can do a lot of things. But I don’t see how she can say no. A loss of confidence is a loss of confidence no matter how frivolous the reason. That’s the price of a minority government. She can ask someone else to try to gain confidence, especially so short into this Parliament’s mandate. She can, on advice of that someone else, call an election instead. She can, on advice of that someone else, give tha someone else a chance to secure confidence. Just because I don’t see this unhealthy coalition lasting very long does not compel Her Excellency to refuse it any chance at all.

    I don’t like any of this nonsense, but I dislike ignoring the rules even more.

  86. Well, like it or lump, this is Canadian democracy and is constituional. Period.

    A friend of mine said If GG said no, it would look suspicious – why? Because, apparentlly, she has become very close friends with Loreen Harper.

    Poor GG – what a pickle to be in. Here she was to be enjoying an expensive trip during economic turmoil to promote Canadian arts in Europe (Harper’s latest vote buyer at taxpayer expense because he blew during the election).

  87. Does this one highlight some of the problems of our current political system? I’ve always been a monarchist of sorts, but I’m seriously starting to reconsider the whole idea that the Queen’s representative, the GG, may be called upon to make such important decisions regarding our democracy.

    Yes, I know that’s her job. It’s in the job description, and this isn’t the first time. It’s an accepted part of the Constitutional Monarchy – Parliamentary Democracy within which we live. But seriously, leaving these decisions up a Michaele Jean, or Adrien Clarkson, or Ray Natyshyn, Jean Sauve, Ed Shreyer, or any other GG we’ve had in modern times, really makes me nervous.

  88. Well, RR, if not the GG, who? SOMEBODY’s gotta be the referee, and in a parliamentary/monarchy/democracy, this is who was hired for the job. It’s not all ribbon-cutting and canapes.

  89. Alicia, so a black president in the US means that we should be changing the way we do things here? I’m not seeing the connection.

  90. Raging Ranter writes:
    Does this one highlight some of the problems of our current political system?

    It’s not like governor general makes the decision based on personal whim. They’re always guided by law and convention, and they also have to be very aware of the fact that they are not elected.

  91. “And besides, $300 million in low skilled work is stimulus.”

    Genius!

  92. It’s a cushy job with the threat that you may be asked to do something that will make you infamous in some quarters.

  93. The only reason anyone pays any attention to Gibbons is because of decades of babbling on about the Triple-E Senate. That’s gone real well. He’s one of the “experts” that the rightest of the wingers drag out when they want revive some aspect of their regular mantra. And so it goes.

    I think it might be more appropriate to review Edward Gibbon these days.

  94. In the last few months, we have come to learn that the Bloc is getting votes from people not alive at its creation, sustained financially entirely by the generosity of Canadian taxpayers, and now, as a shining coup de gras, part of the coalition governing Canada. I think we can stop calling these fools separatists.

    And Gilles wept, for there were no more sharks to jump.

  95. I think Mr. Coyne’s suggestion is possible, and there are precedents I can think of. In Weimar Germany (precedents from outside Canada do matter), for instance, Hindenburg (the president) replaced Bruning (the chancellor) with Von Papen (they were from different parties but the same coalition). That said, Von Papen got that spot because he was able to credibly argue he could form a real government (because he had the support of the Nazis, which Bruning didn’t).

    What I think would be the most likely way for that to go down would be for Harper to resign, and a more amenable Conservative to come forth, say Jim Prentice, who could propose a more moderate course, etc. That said it is unlikely for Coyne’s suggestion to happen because all of the opposition parties are so firmly committed, and at this point, they can’t stop.

  96. “…find a consensus” -??
    –Surely the GG will realize Parliament in its current form is poisoned beyond all possibility of healing.
    She knows the Tory minority has lost the confidence of the House, and has irretrievably alienated the opposition, upon whose confidence, Harper’s gov’t depends (he discovered too late).
    It really is too late.
    Harper’s minority gov’t is now unsalvagable. the GG is intelligent. She will realize this. She will not be willing to do as Andrew suggests and prolong an untenable Parliament.

    I predict the GG will also see the shrieks issuing from the right ,screaming about “the socialist and separatist hordes at the gate!”, for what they are: partisan noise, easily ignored, as she gives assent to the ONLY option offering stability, conciliation and cooperation in gov’t: the coalition as presented today in the agreement signed by Dion, Layton and Duceppe.

    The number of angry Cons. supporters will be far outweighed by the number of formerly angry, now jubilant Lib, NDP , Bloc and Green voters, who together represent a significant majority of Canadian voters, and who have had more than they can stomach of Harper’s relentless partisan war-mongering. Cons. voters only make up 37%.
    So, let the minority be as angry as they like. Let it all hang out! And may most of their anger be directed where it primarily belongs: with their fearless, fuzzy-sweatered leader who has few others but himself to blame for his own party’s imminent demise. Yipeeiohkayay.

  97. This thing will come down to what polling numbers show of support for the plan. Apparently Quebeckers are well on board (and they are already checking their mailboxes for cheques from Ottawa via Quebec City) but I do believe many Canadians will be uncomfortable with the idea of a PM who just badly lost an election. Remember most Cdns dont follow politics too closely, and most have no experience of a federal coalition government. Unfortunately, I think its biggest advocates are preaching to the converted and would accept any alternative to Harper/the CPC regardless or what it looked like. There is also the issue that longer term this could help the CPC by pushing some blue Liberals over to that party, especially under a new leader. Ultimately the Libs and Dips still have no chance of forming governments on their own and I can’t see Canada morphing into Italy or (heaven help us) Weimar Germany.

  98. What do you suppose Jack Layton’s reaction will be if the Paul Martin “wise men” panel advises killing more homeless people?

  99. If Harper and or the GG ignore the vote or a request, the coalition can just keep voting the same way over and over and over again..No confidence: repeat, repeat, repeat. Why don’t you smart guys ever thinks of this stuff?

  100. Ryan writes: “What do you suppose Jack Layton’s reaction will be if the Paul Martin “wise men” panel advises killing more homeless people?”

    He probably will be just as outraged as Stephen Harper will be when Paul Martin’s panel starts producing child pornography.

  101. Its interesting to hear the liberal commenters on here who have absolutely no problem with:

    1. the fact that we had an election 6 weeks ago, under which their party suffered a trouncing of historical proportions

    2. the fact that the party of trudeau who once committed our army to fight the seperatists, have given the seperatists a veto on the nation’s affairs.

    3. that jack layton and the gang will have seats in a cabinet

    4. that the next prime minister will be effectively decided by a couple thousand priveledged liberal delegates.

    5. That the coalition “party”, and its policies were not presented to or vetted through the electorate just weeks ago, ergo it lacks any sort democratic legitimacy.

    What is this, Cuba? Its funny that these constitutional coup d’etats only seem to pop up only when the liberals are seeking power. Give them the keys, I say. Its the surest way to 15 years of conservative majority rule. In the meantime, Jacky Layton will have plenty of time to manage the kitchen table issues like funding a green horse and buggy sector.

  102. Brian – how have the Bloc been given a veto? They’ve agreed to *not* vote down confidence motions (of which there will hopefully be few) for 18 months. So didn’t their veto get taken away? And for everything else the PM will have to craft legislation that a majority of the commons can agree with. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen in a minority government?

  103. What the opposition propose is is simply a more representative group of elected members forming the government.

    And Harper has revealed that even in victory he remains essentially a vicious man.

    Very good, if interesting times.

  104. In response to AC’s original paragraph. The other parties, well, actually the media, have made it plain that Harper doesn’t discuss nuthin with nobody. And look at Flaherty’s budget of inaction as fait accompli. All that can happen if the GG follows the suggestion and sends everyone back to ‘work it out’ will be this: we watch how far and how quickly Harper is willing to be backed away from all the decisions he has made in near total isolation up in that ivory tower of his. All the which essentially shows him to be NOT the man who should be running things under the new set of conditions. That person, that coalition “approved” prime minister will have to make those decisions… And wear them.

    Interesting times, Mr Coyne.

  105. I said this above but i think the test for the opposition coalition will be the polling, or whether their much tauted 62% holds up for their plan. I don’t think it will. They will need at least 50% behind them or harper will have a case to prorogue Parliament. That said he needs to eat a bit more crow and offer more to the public and opposition – it will go against every grain in his body to do this so I’m not optimistic…

  106. Apparently dealing with the “separatists” and plotting coalitions to replace minority gov’ts is OKAY as long as it was Harper and the Cons. doing so in ’04, plotting to overthrow Martin’s minority gov’t without any election.

    Ah, but hypocrisy and double standards rule among Cons., ’cause when the table’s turned on them, suddenly coalition is “undemocratic”, “overthrowing election results”, an illegitimate “seizing of power” tantamount to “coup d’etat”, and “blah. blah, B.S., blah…”

    Fortunately, the GG is intelligent, informed, knows our Parliamentary traditions, and knows her duties.
    And she’s not likely to buy the Conservatives’ desperate spin, and deny the coalition a chance to govern. She’ll know coalition’s the only chance for a functional, cooperative, stable Parliament now.
    Harper’s proved he is incapable of conciliation and cooperation. All he understands is unending partisan war-mongering with delusions he holds a majority and doesn’t even need the confidence of the House. The GG understands this too. He’s received a hard, deserved lesson this week.
    It’s over for the Cons., and who’s primarily to blame? The blundering Harper.

  107. I think the GG can ask Harper to form a new Ministry that could have the confidence of the House. Confidence is not specific to the party but in fact based on the Ministry that the PM forms. Harper could remove the Minister of Finance and bring in another MP to present a new ‘economic statement’ (which some how is now a budget like event) and try again.

    I think that is legal and well within the power of the GG.

  108. A leader says things like, “I am president for those who did not vote for me as well as those who supported me.” Stephen Harper is prime minister in spite of those (the majority) who voted against him.

  109. Brian,

    they also don’t have a problem NOT answering any of those concerns. That is what concerns me. No one seems to care whether those questions are answered or not. They just push the ignore-pilot button and there they go…….and Canadians seem to be ok with that.

  110. Francien: I watched the press conference today — and its clear that the media don’t give a rats behind about those questions. The most common question revolved around future senate appointments as if Keith Boag and half the CBC execs were already lining up at the trough.

    Prime Minister Trudeau, Chretien and Martin were my Prime Minister. I did not vote for them but they were my Prime Minister. I will never accept Prime Ministers Dion, Layton and Duceppe. In fact, not a single Canadian voted for the Coalition of the Willing (to take power at any cost) or its founding policies scribbled together over the last 48 hours . They do not represent me or my country and will not until their little experiment is vetted through the electorate.

  111. Sovereignty, under our British parliamentary system, lies with Parliament. The constitution makes no explicit reference to the Prime Minister or the concept of political parties. They are creatures of custom and live or die according to custom. The custom is that the GG can refuse to dissolve Parliament and ask the opposition to form the government.

    No coup d’etat has taken place. So far as I know, Her Majesty is still safe and sound in Buckingham Palace. This is the beauty of our Parliamentary system. We should be in awe of its resilience, its flexibility, its transparency. Would you rather that power reside in the PMO’s office and that MPs were mere eunuchs?

    I would also like to remind posters here that Sinn Fein sits in the British House of Commons, as do members of the Scottish Nationalist Party, as do Welsh nationalists. This fact is democracy in action.

  112. Now, Mateo….don’t ruin the ConBots histrionics with all those facts. They hate it when someone attempts to remove the “spell” they’ve cast over each other that lets them believe and say any number of outrageous or delusional things.

  113. eastern capitalist: “I think the GG can ask Harper to form a new Ministry that could have the confidence of the House. Confidence is not specific to the party but in fact based on the Ministry that the PM forms.”

    Quite right, but if he lost a confidence vote he’d have to have assurances from one of the three other parties that they would support his new Ministry, delivered in writing or in person to the GG. I don’t think those will be forthcoming, unless Harper falls on his sword and takes Flaherty with him. Now that would be interesting. Still, I can’t remember when Harper ever sacrificed his own ambition for the Good Of The Party. He will be dragged from Stornoway kicking and screaming, clawing at the doorposts with broken fingernails.

  114. I am in favour of a Liberal/NDP + BQ-supported coalition versus a Conservative minority that is beholding to the self-serving interests of western Canada/Alberta – with a totalitarian-style ‘leader’ at the helm, ruling over the rest of us as though he were handed a majority mandate. Harper doesn’t know how to play nice, nor does he respect the wishes of Canadians to work cooperatively with with the other parties.

    imo, a united coalition of the opposition parties is a much better alternative to sole Conservative rule, and more able to represent the diverse needs/interests of ALL Canadians. If coalition governments can work well in other parts of the world, then i see no reason why the same can’t be true for Canada.

    but you know what really sucks… the Libs don’t have a viable leader (yet).
    Rae or Ignatieff? pffft, gimme a break. no thank you!
    I’ll take Layton (and his kitchen table) over either of those two any day.

    Personally, I like Dion; judging from his record, he’s a decent, honourable man with intelligence & vision and isn’t timid about leading Canada into a ecologically responsible/sustainable future. I think we missed a great opportunity by rejecting Dion as our PM… but many Canadians don’t ‘see’ him as a leader. I disagree, but the people have spoken, so who am I to argue.

    Even if a coalition isn’t able to oust the Conservatives from power, Stephen Harper has to GO! And that it actually came to the debacle we’re in right now, really says something about how many (most?) Canadians feel about the Conservatives; we just don’t like ‘em, and instinctually, we do not trust them.

    Evidently, Harper’s Cons are more interested in playing political games, in a sustained effort to weaken, divide & conquer their opponents and seize absolute (majority) power, which as everyone knows by now… corrupts absolutely. Their cynical ploys and mean-spirited behaviour toward the other parties is disgusting and certainly no way to run OUR government… which is now all but dysfunctional and not serving the best interests of Canadians. As i see it, the Conservatives have blown it, they’ve forfeited their chance to govern responsibly and fairly.

    Apparently, there’s talk of replacing Harper with John Baird (yeah, that belligerent & whiney x-environment minister who’s prone to childish temper tantrums & outbursts in the House). ugh YUCK! We can do MUCH better than belligerent Baird!

    I think the days of majority governments in Canada have come to an end… amen!

    so hell yeah… bring on the coalition!

    i’d rather be governed by a plurality of parties that are willing to WORK TOGETHER, instead of the conniving, totalitarian Conservative MINORITY that are ruling over us now.

    i say, good riddance to Harper’s neocon troop of goons, thugs, clowns and cowboys!

  115. Ti-Guy> You are such an obnoxious little partisan twerp. You never actually say anything meaningful or provide any perspective. All you do is sling insults. Don’t you have anything better to do with your life?

  116. If many people think that the GG allowing a coalition is liable to cause a constitutional crisis, it would be nothing compared to what this option would do. The GG isn’t parliament’s mother, its not her job to get it to play nice. If she did this it would set a precedent for the GG to intervene whenever things aren’t going the way she wants them to.

  117. So let me throw this out there as a possibility – what if Harper throws a referendum on what the governor-general should do? Does this take the sails out of the matter (without proroguing parliament either)?

  118. “Roger Gibbins offers a way for the Governor General to get us all out of this mess: Just Say No.”

    The mess you’re in is not because of who happens to be running the federal waste and corruption machine at any given point in time. The mess is because it’s a waste and corruption machine.

    If you think that really big, really socialist, really intrusive and really rapacious government can work as long as the right people are running it, and as long as they are selected “fairly”, then you just ain’t paying attention and you ain’t using your noggin.

    Unless you use your noggin you will be liable to have silly and unrealistic ideas, such as, “If only that lady who was picked to be the head of state because of her Y chromosone, her skin color, her first language, her looks and her home province, and for no other reason, would do the right thing morally and constitutionally then we could finally get this country back on track.”

    Good luck but I wouldn’t be holding my breath or anything.

  119. UHOY, I am willing to bet $1.95 per year that Her Excellency is not in possession of a Y chromosome. You in?

  120. ““If only that lady who was picked to be the head of state because of her Y chromosone, her skin color, her first language, her looks and her home province, and for no other reason, would do the right thing morally and constitutionally then we could finally get this country back on track.”

    OOps, you forgot the main ingredient: her husband. He might have the last laugh!

  121. How about a majority of the MPs get together and decide who has enough support to be Prime Minister.

    Has anyone thought of that yet?!

    Oh it’s been done already? Never mind….

  122. Mateo, I always thought Sinn Fein refused to take their seats in the British Parliament because they refused to swear loyalty to the Queen. (Well, that, and Bobby Sands had died of a hunger strike shortly before he won his seat.) Unless something has changed recently.

  123. Terry, don’t get upset at you-know-who. That is a big waste of time.

  124. hosertohoosier
    Dec 1, 2008 22:08

    So let me throw this out there as a possibility – what if Harper throws a referendum on what the governor-general should do? Does this take the sails out of the matter (without proroguing parliament either)?

    * * *

    Nope.

  125. Thanks for this, Mr. Coyne.

    That appears to be a logical course for the GG. How can a new government form so soon after an election that showed some pretty clear results? How can that democratic will be overturned? How can Stephane Dion possibly hold together his own caucus, let alone a coalition? How will the economy react if our government turns into Italy’s?

    So many questions. This never should have happened. It feels like what happens when a group of kids is set on doing one thing and then someone suggests something else and then the consensus dissolves and, before you can think, they’re off to do something else. It’s like 12 Angry Men happening in 2 minutes.

    Has there been time for a poll on this issue yet? My hunch is that Canadians see this for what it is: a power grab by childish opposition leaders, for no good reason, that risks sending the Canadian government and economy into chaos. We’re tired of this nonsense. We just voted. Get on with governing.

  126. Earlier you said that it would be wrong to hand over the leadership of the government to Michael Ignatieff, someone who’s never been elected in a leadership or a PM race. I agree with you.

    Surely, then we shouldn’t rest all this responsibility on someone who’s never been elected in any capacity, who represents a foreign Head of State. I think if the Governor General takes any drastic action, it’s going to raise serious questions in the minds of Canadians about the position itself.

  127. I love the smell of Tory panic in the morning!

  128. Steven Harper – hoits on his own petard! Delicious!

  129. Yunno….I’m a Liberal. My entire family is Liberal…we even have a relative that has been a Liberal MP. I am a very strong Iggy supporter.

    That said, I have a major problem with the proposed coaltion. I am not a Socialist. I am not a Seperatist. In the last election….we got our asses whooped…and quite rightly so. Dion, though a very intelligent man, was not PM material. We shot ourselves in the foot when we made him leader. Just like Cons did with Clark, Campell, and Day.

    I believe in compassionate Capitalism. I abhor deficits and debt unless there is one heck of a good reason. If the Liberals ceased to exist, I would likely move right, not left…..but I am quite happy in the center.

    To get in bed with the Socialists, to have their discredited theories dictate how Canada is run for the next 2.5 years….it is not something I can live with. I am disappointed in Iggy for going along with this. This is NOT the high road.

    I wonder. I know there are many, for lack of better terms, Blue Liberal MPs just as there are Red Liberals MPs. I wonder how many of them find the Coalition with Layton as distasteful as I do. I wonder how many of them just may put their personal principals first and abstain. I wonder…

  130. In response to some comments posted here: There’s no substantive difference between the proposed coalition depending upon support from the Bloc, and the Conservatives under Harper giving Quebec billions to “fix” an imaginary fiscal imbalance. Really, how are we any worse off with a Bloc-supported coalition than we were with a Conservative government that made Quebec-pandering a cornerstone of its neverending election strategizing? We aren’t, that’s how.

  131. Maybe someone should consider how legitimate the last election was. I mean breaking your own election laws in calling a premature election deserves some debate or some validity for having done so.

  132. And I’m getting a little sick of this constantly-repeated canard about the NDP being “Socialists”. They are not socialists, they are social democrats, and yes, there is a difference. I am not an NDP supporter, by the way. I just can’t stand it when people throw around tired, undefined labels and think they’re saying something important.

  133. While I disagree with all the commentators who claim that a Lib-NDP coalition is undemocratic, I think there’s a lot of sense to just returning the Conservatives to power with strict orders to make things work. I’m a little bit unsure of how this could be done with the right optics so that all parties (or at least everybody but the bloc) would find it in their interest to cooperate.

  134. The Governor General presumably should only be taking the advice of the Prime Minister to prorogue (or do anything else of significance) if she is of the view that he enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons. This is the fundamental basis of responsible government. If he does not enjoy that confidence, then she need not follow his advice. And this Prime Minister, through the machinations of the recent election call, just established the precedent that he does not need a vote of non-confidence in the House to demonstrate to the GG that he can no longer govern for lack of confidence.

  135. As strange as it may sound, Justin Trudeau may be Harper’s best hope.
    By all accounts, Justin Trudeau was conspicuous by his absence in the House yesterday.
    In the days following the last election, Justin topped the polls to replace Dion, easily beating Iggy and Rae.
    What if JT’s rounding up 10 Liberals (the core of his future Cabinet) to revolt against the Dion/Iggy/Rae deal with the Separatists? The deal would be off and those who shook hands with Duceppe would be dead meat.
    JT would waltz into the Liberal leadership in May… he would be happy to spend 18 months in opposition cutting his teeth and gaining experience… prior to an election. As odd as that sounds, he would have, at that point, as much actual experience as Obama at the time of his election.
    I think Justin T. is the wildcard in all of this. Would he dishonour his father by sitting in Government with Separatists? If not, then the coup could be in trouble.

  136. I salute your imagination, gwgm, even if I cannot give credence to your theory.

  137. I don’t suspect for one instance that this play for power has anything to do with the best inetrests of the country. It has everything to do with what’s in for me, and my party aparatchnik.

    The taxpayer will have to start bailing out legitimate companies, with legitimate idiots who can’t figure out a profit and loss statement, or how to sell products people will buy. Unfortunately these idiots employ too many real people, and the impact will be harsh. Money to the company? Money to the laid off worker? Feds buy the inventory of the car makers and hand them out to non-profit orgs? who knows. The only thing that is certain is we will all be paying to keep society from tipping over the edge.

    The parties on the other hand should be the first ones in a “true democracy” to live or die by their public support. Forget this subsidy crap. If it’s time for a party to reinvent itself then do so. If Obama can get support from the grass roots and make it happen, then maybe the parties should look for soemone more like a leader instead of someone who looks like a litre. By the way, the litre is always at the halfway mark.

  138. “JT would waltz into the Liberal leadership in May… he would be happy to spend 18 months in opposition cutting his teeth and gaining experience”

    And filing the LPC’s bankruptcy paperwork. Right. Unless you mean he’ll be taking Harper’s job?

  139. It has been suggested elsewhere, the PM can have the GG replaced by petitioning the Queen. If he feels she won’t do his bidding, then replace her with someone more inline with his thinking. An interesting thought.

    My opinion if the CPC is defeated, we should go back to the polls. Let us decide if we want the ‘left’ to lead or not.

  140. Prime Minister Stephane Dion

    Leader of the Official Opposition, Stephen “not a leader” Harper

    I’m looking forward to the first question period … revenge is sweet.

  141. “Would he dishonour his father by sitting in Government with Separatists?”

    Pop was an opportunist, first and foremost. As are the entire troupe of clowns whose pleasure it is to call themselves “your servants”. Junior will neither dishonour nor disappoint.

    After the coronation I think that something very bold will appeal to His Trudelness. Probably he’ll seize people’s RRSPs and private pension plans and come up with a very clever and flowery catchphrase to justify the theft, like, “opening a window on Canadians retirement”, or “a just pension”. That and the carbon tax will keep PSAC quiet for a few years. Meanwhile incomes will be reduced by inflation to pennies on the dollar and savings and investment will disappear like bats from a burning house. After smacking the country down to the level of Argentina or Venezuela he’ll give you all the finger and ride off into the sunset.

    And Canadians will lap it all up because, you know, he’s very charismatic.

  142. NOT ANOTHER ELECTION. JUST SAY NO TO THE THOUGHT OF WASTING SO MUCH MONEY THAT COULD BE FAR BETTER SPENT IMPROVING THE ECONOMIC SITUATION.

    I SUPPORT A COALITION GOVERNMENT.

    Let Democracy work as it should.

  143. To have a coalition of parties that have a majority in the House of Commons is totally within the parliamentary system.
    But the shenanigans of Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty and company have poisoned the atmosphere in this Parliament, and it is difficult to see how it can work in the future regardless of who forms the government. I don’t even know if an election would clear the air. The leadership probably has to go in order to give a chance to more civility and coopoeration

  144. Why does everyone seem to think “a plan” means making a change – the plan, which IS in place, is to stimulate the economy through proven methods, all of which have been going on for months now.

    to give $1000 for every person in the country out to a few select failing industries, is ONLY for political reasons. No one seriously thinks this will create any long term economic benefits. Except for the NDP coffers I suppose.

    Believe me – not one cent of any money given to the auto sector will trickle to anywhere in Canada.

  145. and sorry LB – 300 million for another election is just 1% of the 30 billion Jack and Stephan plan to give to their friends. Let the public vote on it.

  146. I am firmly against another election. I believe that the GG should allow the coalition the opportunity of forming the government at the earliest opportunity.

    That being said, just a thought to satisfy those that would cry treachery over this: instead of an election would it be possible to have a national referendum on CPC vs Coalition? Would that be significantly cheaper than 300 M for a general election?

  147. If we rule out having elections, because we just had an election, it will guarantee that every election from here on out will be immediately followed by a non-confidence vote and the installation of another government, consisting of a coalition of the losers, thereby guaranteeing that we will never again be governed by the party that receives the most votes.

    That is insane, yet perfectly logical for a country that pays tax dollars to keep alive a party that exists solely for the purpose of distroying the nation.

  148. Think it through, gwgm, think it through.

  149. We’re making a big deal out of nothing. The Coalition will govern very similarly to how the Conservatives would. A few more dollars here, a few less there, whatever. It works out in the wash.

    If Canadians wanted to avoid this, we could have given Conservatives a majority. We didn’t. We consented to this possibility.

    And Canadian voters will have the opportunity to judge this matter for ourselves, the only question is whether it’s sooner rather than later. But we will ultimately make our judgment (whatever it shall be), there’s no avoiding that entirely.

  150. so you easterners think it’s Harper’s fault that we have this mess because he was trying to eliminate this forced funding by taxpayers to political parties. Wake up! Layton admitted he made a deal with
    the Bloq some time ago to exercise this coup when the opportunity arose. The last thing we need is
    a government comprised of a party with a lame-duck leader, a party of socialists and party committed
    to the break up of this country. Is this what you want? For the good of this country, we need a stable
    government now, not some potpourri of ineptitude.

  151. Gibbins is dreaming. Parliament will be unstable no matter what happens, unless an election is called and the Conservatives win a minority.

    The GG has several clear options – she can assent to the almost-certain-to-be-requested Prorogue, she can allow the non-confidence motion and ask the opposition to form the government, or she can dissolve Parliament if the Prime Minister so requests. I think she’ll choose option # 1 and the Conservatives will put forward a more publicly-palatable economic plan in January.

  152. “For the good of this country, we need a stable government now, not some potpourri of ineptitude.”

    Ah, the stability argument – the same one dictators always use to justify themselves.

  153. I have one question no one has answered yet: if, after the election, the government has not yet won the confidence of the House, what right do we have to call them the government?

    I know the Conservatives won the most seats, but they did not win a majority. Convention allows them the opportunity to try to form the government, but they must win the confidence of the House.

    If Harper prorogues Parliament before he has won a confidence vote, we have actually had a coup d’etat, and it will have been the Conservatives who have engineered it. The majority of Parliamentarians have expressed a desire to join a new government, one that will receive the confidence of the House, and whether we agree or not, that is Canada’s parliamentary system working.

    At this moment, no party can claim to be the government until there has been at least one confidence vote in the House. When Harper called the election, he still had the confidence of the House — he does not have it any longer. If he prorogues Parliament, I think it’s the G-G’s duty to reconvene Parliament to have the vote immediately — how can he represent us at this moment, given he doesn’t have the confidence of Parliament?

    Just a thought ….

  154. This article has been featured at THEWEEK.com as Best Opinion – Great post!

  155. I have to agree. At this point we have no credible government. That is the crisis.

    If by proroguing Harper causes this situation to last for nearly two months, that is catastrophic.

  156. Mme la GG should “…simply refuse the Prime Minister’s resignation, and send him back to Parliament, with instructions to find a consensus on his economic plan. ”

    Yes! That actually would be the adult’s way out of this. I said the same this morning on metafilter.com.

    I don’t think Harper’s autocratic partisanship should be rewarded with a prorogue, but as much as I’d like to see him out, I’d rather see him stay put, eat some crow, and actually demonstrate the leadership skills that so many apparently still think he has.

  157. I now wake every morning to thank God Mr. (soon to be ex) Prime Minister Harper didn’t win a majority government. I can’t afford to move to out of country.

  158. Researcher: There was the throne speech. That was ratified. (Which was, I suppose, because it had little to do with how Harper actually intended to govern.)

    As for all this “saying no” nonsense, why should she? Harper may well not have the confidence of the majority of MPs in the House, and that’s really all that matters. His party is irrelevant, his “mandate” is irrelevant (he isn’t a president) and his rhetoric is irrelevant. House chooses a PM, PM forms a Ministry, they govern. House changes its mind, new PM. That’s it.

    What’s amusing about all this is that the only reason why Harper got in in the first place is because of the large number of left-of-center parties. The very thing he absolutely needed for power is the thing that’s going to take it away from him, as the Canadian allergy to perfectly normal coalitions is finally clearing up.

  159. The Throne Speech actually hasn’t been ratified yet — the debate has ended, but the vote hasn’t occurred yet … it passed first reading, but that doesn’t actually require a vote. Without a vote to approve the Throne speech, there isn’t a government.

    That’s the thing — we’re all operating from a misunderstanding of how this system actually WORKS — can the media not take five minutes to get a primer so they stop getting things WRONG!

    For example, I’ve heard people say the Conservatives “won” the election. Each Member of Parliament “wins” election in their own riding, and — by convention — they join a political party. But we elect MPs, not parties, so when someone says they didn’t vote “for this coalition,” they may be correct — but they didn’t vote for a Conservative government either.

    I’m only pointing this out because a little fac-checking now and then among the media would not go astray.

  160. Political parties are now paid ca$h from the taxpayers pockets for every vote. There is now a strong incentive to cause as many elections as possible to occur. More elections, more votes, more $$$.

    Watch for increasingly frequent elections coinciding with decreasing turnout, followed by legislation forcing people to vote.

  161. This option is probably the most palatable to all Canadians. The only problem? Stephen Harper has already shown time and time again that he is unwilling to negotiate with the opposition to gain their support on legislation. Why should he compromise his radical right-wing vision when it’s so much easier to hold the other parties hostage with the threat of an election (i.e. by making every act of parliament a motion of confidence)? It worked… until now.

    Canadians have elected a minority government to the House in the past three elections. In such a Parliament, the government must work with the opposition so that legislation has the support of the majority of MPs, who in effect represent the majority of Canadians (or as close to it as our electoral system can provide). Are we truly expected to believe that, given another chance, Harper will be putting his fuzzy sweater-vest back on and will transform himself into the mature, consensus-building statesmen that Canada deserves? Keep dreaming, Coyne.

  162. As Roger Gibbins also pointed out the emergence of the coalition government would not be illegal, unconstitutional or contrary to Parliamentary democracy…

    I believe that I would take my chances on an economic policy emerging from the coalition than from the Conservatives…at least we have the outlines of an economic policy from them. From Mr. Harper we have speeches coming out of both sides of his mouth and a history of dictat and fiat for government policy as it is introduced in Parliament…not very likely this leader would ever work for consensus.

    It reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the scorpion and frog — Mr. Harper is viscerally the most scorpion-like individual I’ve ever seen on the Canadian political stage. Regrettably, he cannot be trusted and consensus requires a modicum of trust in the interests of all parties can find some ground on which to accoommodate to meet the interests of Canadians.

    Of greatest regret to me as a Canadian, it is current occupant of the Prime MInister’s office who cannot be trusted…

  163. David Cornelius
    Dec 2, 2008 8:11

    Steven Harper – hoits on his own petard! Delicious!

    I believe you mean “Hoisted on his own petard” or rather: Hoisted WITH his own petard

    I googled this:

    Hoist with your own petard
    Meaning: Injured by the device that you intended to use to injure others.

    Origin

    The phrase ‘hoist with one’s own petar[d]‘ is often cited as ‘hoist by one’s own petar[d]‘. The two forms mean the same, although the former is strictly a more accurate version of the original source. A petard is, or rather was, as they have long since fallen out of use, a small engine of war used to blow breaches in gates or walls.

  164. Step 1 – prorogue parliament
    Step 2 – call an election
    Step 3 – Conservative majority
    Step 4 – Eliminate government funding of political parites

  165. Who is responsible and took the oath to governor Canada with full respect and honour to the Canadian citizens?

    Stephen Harper……then it appears PMSH has failed to provide leadership in a time of not only our countries economic crisis but the worlds. To turn his back and go home…is under any excuse (s) is a declaration of defeat like a fighter who can not answer the bell after even one round of a championship fight. and that ladies and gentlemen is a fact…

  166. How can Harper possibly govern after this?

    He’s called the Bloq – who propped up his last government – unacceptable partners, even traitors.

    He and his followers have called the Liberals and NDP everything BUT traitors.

    Tactically, when you’re in the minority, you’re supposed to attempt to woo the opposition, or at least keep ‘em quiet.

    Instead, Harper first insulted them, then inflamed them, and now is demonizing them.

  167. The second response nailed it, I think. It’s happened. The offensive parts have been withdrawn. The problem is that a compromise would be unlikely, given that the Conservatives will never spend as much money as the Liberals would like, and almost certainly never as much as the NDP will like, nor fund the same programs with the kind of alacrity Mr. Layton would enjoy. And even if they did, one suspects it would only be a matter of time before another confidence motion arose.

  168. I think the politics should play out. Its Canadian democracy at its worse. But don’t think come election time that I and 30 million Canadians will forget this awfully timed powerplay. I don’t envey the Governor General’s job at this time but it is nice to see that position exercise it’s authority.

  169. Bourque is reporting (www.bourque.org) that cracks are starting to form in the coalition.
    Iggy is going to bail on the deal, throwing Rae under the bus. I would not want to have Warren Kinsella put me in his evil genius crosshairs.
    And if Iggy doesn’t crack, it sound like a ton of Liberals, including some big hitters, will bolt. It seems there are still some Liberals who aren’t willing to whiz on Trudeau’s grave.
    And there are more than a few unhappy BQ MPs, too, angry that Duceppe has sold his soul, too.
    Duceppe’s comment that this deal is good for sovereignty was, er, less than helpful to the cause.
    The fat lady is warming up.

  170. Canadian politics is to US politics as Formula One is to Nascar.

  171. I am disgusted by the Conservative’s rhetoric. Stephen Harper’s characterization of a coalition government as”undemocratic” is both misleading and irresponsible. The Canadian public did not vote for him as a Primer Minister, per se. As the Prime Minister, he should, at least one hopes, understand that Canada has a parliamentary system. The public voted for a minority government. What it means is that if the minority government does not co-operate or work with the oppositions, it runs the risk of a non-confident vote and being overthrown.

    The Conservative’s attempt to hang on to power by “proroguing” the parliament, which puts its own party’s political future ahead of all Canadians, is both desperate and disgusting….

    I shudder to think what would have happened if Harper received a majority.

  172. Creative idea, and a good one. Perhaps our Governor General can impress upon Our Prime Minister that, as leader of a Minority Government, he does not have a mandate; rather, he has been given the ability to lead the deliberations of a diverse House. I do hope Harper will spare us the “bad taste” in our mouths that this coalition government would bring, and exhibit some humility. If he wanted to solely determine policy, he should have won a majority. He failed to do that. So, Mr. Harper, please learn to live within the authority Canada gave you and compromise. I hope, then, the Liberals and NDP will do the same.

  173. The preponderance of posts here seem to support giving the reasonable people a chance to govern. Harper isn’t reasonable. Every time he opens his mouth he paints himself into a darker, smaller corner.

    Bring on a coalition built with the budgetary talents of Paul Martin, the depth and knowledge of David Broadbent and Jean Chretien, the vigorous support of Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, and on and on. A coalition of the positive and the progressive. Enough of Stephen Harper’s bitter, divisive, unimaginative leadership. Bring on the coalition.

  174. Ed! Sorry Ed. There’s so many white hats I can’t keep track. :)

  175. >Bring on a coalition built with the budgetary talents of Paul Martin, the depth and knowledge of David Broadbent and Jean Chretien, the vigorous support of Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, and on and on. A coalition of the positive and the progressive. Enough of Stephen Harper’s bitter, divisive, unimaginative leadership. Bring on the coalition.

    I notice you mentioned the actual elected Members of Parliament as only a supporting cast.

    If the forthcoming crisis is as bad as the Coalition cheerleaders would have us believe, this isn’t the best time to dress up a bunch of neophytes in cabinet minister suits and run the government as an on-the-job training opportunity.

    I’d sure like to hear the cheerleaders explain why we should believe the coalition is competent to lead, given that they turned to the Old Guard to arrange the marriage and hold their hands on matters financial. I’m sure they can act like leaders, but at this juncture I don’t favour actors.

    There’s only one way to settle the question: have an election; we can be done and budgeted by February.

  176. I am not surprised by the fact that in a time of crisis, Iggy is, instead of focusing on battling the Conservative’s distortion of the issues, “wisely” spending his time contemplating pulling out of the coalition and throwing others under the bus, leaving them hanging out dry. His action will only reinforce my belief all along – this is a person who has neither leadership ability, nor a backbone…. To think that he can be the front-runner for the next Liberal leader, what a saddened state the Liberals have become. Of course, that explains why Stephen Harper is even be in power… Duh!

  177. It seems that political suggestions are not part of the set of options available to the GG. Besides, when considered, the PM is damaged beyond repair with the opposition and probably within his own party. Despite the show of unity, Conservatives must be considering life after Mr. Harper.

  178. Oh Canada – our home and floundering land..
    Who is looking after the people of Canada? Perhaps the GG should order a cooling off period while the politicians come to their senses. There are no legal precendents to this situation, only custom, and surely “custom” is an inappropriate term for this fiasco.
    Legally the voters returned a minority Conservative government and like it or not, we should abide by this until such time as we can choose otherwise. If you loose in a democracy, this confers no right to nullify the results but rather to accept them and work for change along legitimate lines. We may not like the system we have, and undoubtedly there are weaknesses, but we seem unable to agree how to change it. In fact we don’t seem able to agree on anything!
    In these troubled economic times the country cannot afford to have weak, muddled or indeed no leadership, only squablling politicians grasping for power. Many of us are grasping for a lifeline – a pox on all your parties!

  179. Apparently, it matters little what you or I say on a blog like this. In fact, only the government and the opposition parties can really effect any change. The government is using government resources to bolster its own party and talking points; the opposition of the government that is spinning its way through its latest taxpayer-paid commercial onslaught against more than 60% of Canadians simply can’t respond quickly enough. Canadians’ money being spent by a government which does not have the confidence of the Parliament is burning through your and my money to put you or I in an early grave.

    Stephen Harper. evil genius, and ever so for Canada. ra ra

    It really wsn’t supposed to work this way. American people woke up before the nightmare became irreversible. Why, oh why is Canada forever behind?

    Once Canada led, in a smallish way, on the world stage. That bird is dead.

    Same as Stephen Harper’s government. Mutual destruction is the order of the day. And that’s all good in Stephen Harper’s Canada. Because if Canada is not for Stephen Harper, then Stephen Harper is not for Canada.

    Simple.

    Sad.

  180. there you go suzanne, just toss Canadian parliamentary rules out the window, all for Stephen Harper and what he promises.

    It has become clear that Stephen Harper is a liar. Many politicians were liars. Therefore Canadians must have liars shoved down our throats, even when proven liars are “loosing” by playing by the rules and just invent a new bully tactic where might and money makes right.

    Mr ‘Confidence Vote for Every Little Desire’Harper is bailing on a confidence vote.

    Usurping Parliament for his personal gain, or loss if he has miscalculated most principled Canadians as much as I think he has.

    I am sickened. Harper is running.

    Jesus, and most revered Parliamentarians of whichever party in Canada and so far as Westminster, perhaps beyond, would clean Harper’s clock over this and most of you Harper supporters know it but are afraid to say it.

    Cowards way. Un-Canadian. Never ever have Canadians had to fear its government. Until now.

    And that is all I am going to say here on the matter.

  181. “Legally the voters returned a minority Conservative government and like it or not, we should abide by this until such time as we can choose otherwise. If you loose in a democracy, this confers no right to nullify the results but rather to accept them and work for change along legitimate lines. We may not like the system we have, and undoubtedly there are weaknesses, but we seem unable to agree how to change it.”

    Exactly. And such a time would be when they lose a confidence motion in the House and the opposition proposes to form a new government. Suzanne, are you aware we have a parliamentary system of government?

  182. >>I notice you mentioned the actual elected Members of Parliament as only a supporting cast.

    >>If the forthcoming crisis is as bad as the Coalition cheerleaders would have us believe, this isn’t the best time to dress up a bunch of neophytes in cabinet minister suits and run the government as an on-the-job training opportunity.

    >>I’d sure like to hear the cheerleaders explain why we should believe the coalition is competent to lead, given that they turned to the Old Guard to arrange the marriage and hold their hands on matters financial. I’m sure they can act like leaders, but at this juncture I don’t favour actors.

    >>There’s only one way to settle the question: have an election; we can be done and budgeted by February.

    Exactly, and don’t forget the coalition’s prospective Prime Minister is slated for replacement in the first week of May – to be selected by the Liberal party, something generally done before going to the electorate, not after he has been installed and on the job for a few weeks.

  183. Honestly, Andrew, you are pat your prime on this stuff. You are either not even trying, or are moving towards being clearly partisan.

    First of all, you are citing a dude who is the CEO foundation, that in the words of the Walrus, is “a think-tank long regarded as an arm of Manning’s defunct Reform Party” (see their expose on Flannigan). He was also formerly head of poli sci at U of C, home of Flannagan and others, and long considerd Harper’s home base and inner circle. And, as an added touch Gibbins, also happened to write post election: “At the same time, the fact that the Conservatives did not secure a majority means that parliamentarians will have to give serious consideration as to how to make minority governments work. Minorities may be the new normal, and thus we must find a way to get beyond paralyzing partisanship and constant threats of elections….Harper does not have a majority, but neither does he face early defeat in the House. Thus the failure to capture more seats in Quebec is at best a minor blemish on a solid performance.” All so apropos now, if more than a tad wrong.

    So, are you not trying? Or do you think that is, someone, with such a clear links to being in Harper’s back pocket is a valuable contributor to the debate? Should we also consult Stephane Dion’s mom as an expert and objective commentator too?

    Second, you know the Canadian democratic system very well. Regardless of which party or which ideological approach anyone is cheering for (unstable and potentially dangerous – zeeesh!!!) the course of action being pursued it not within, but exactly as intended by our constitutional conventions. Requiring a party to retain power that does not hold the confidence of the house to govern is undemocratic. And there is no way around that.

    If we want to talk reform of the system, then lets talk reform. But making it up as you go along is bunk.

    There is no great

  184. Thank you Robert V….my thoughts almost exactly, especially wrt ‘we consented to this possibility…’

  185. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, and I am surely to goodness sick of reading it, but would people please educate themselves on what a Parliamentary democracy is and how it works. The late Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker said,

    If Parliament is to be preserved as a living institution His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition must fearlessly perform its functions. When it properly discharges them the preservation of our freedom is assured. The reading of history proves that freedom always dies when criticism ends. It upholds and maintains the rights of minorities against majorities. It must be vigilant against oppression and unjust invasions by the Cabinet of the rights of the people. It should supervise all expenditures and prevent over-expenditure by exposing to the light of public opinion wasteful expenditures or worse. It finds fault; it suggests amendments; it asks questions and elicits information; it arouses, educates and molds public opinion by voice and vote. It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the short-cuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make.

    - Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, “The Role of the Opposition in Parliament,” Address to the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, 27 October 1949.

    The Opposition is just doing its job, peeps. Let it preserve and protect our democracy.

  186. Interesting idea. Not going to happen.

    It’s hard not to see how pathetic and desperate Liberals are these days. It’s probably more a sense of insecurity than anything else. Get over it and lose Dion as fast as you can. Have some self respect. If a buly pushes you around — push back. Don’t let it fester. Don’t wait. Don’t complain. Don’t start crying and think that not running candidates against the Greens will help or that somehow Layton and Duceppe are your new pals.

    Come on Iggy get control of this thing and let Prentice take care of Harper.

  187. Coalition > Harper

    Get Harper out, get the coalition in, and let’s get the economy on track.

    If this doesn’t work, I honestly don’t know what will.

  188. It seems to me that a discussion of parliamentary democracy is based on the notion that those who are elected and their chosen leaders care about the nation and its citizens. It would seem evident that none of the elected individuals or the illustrious party leaders give a whit about your job or mine and care even less about our lives (they love our vote though and should be forced to purchase it with our tax dollars – sorry they do that already). Why not simply have the GG act as the queen (prorogue parliament into obscurity) and get on with letting the rest of us run our own lives? Let’s pick a rate of devaluation, elect bank presidents, hold the banks accountable for it and move on. i think a 50 cent Canadian dollar is about where these antics should take us.

  189. Brad Sallows, this is about depth of experience as opposed to callow divisiveness. Here’s the formula…

    Though his best work may be behind him, when you hold a Master Class, you call on the master (insert idol’s name here). The current winner of an election is not the be all and the end all of our collective history x knowledge x dreams of nationhood. A few cats who went before are good for more than reminiscence.

    Put them to it.

  190. P.S. An election is not required. The elected members have the right to put the non-confidence question to the government.

  191. I find the venom from all of you disgusting. Quite frankly none of you are reasonable well-meaning individuals and I’m sure if I could see into your souls it would reveal that none of you actually care about Canada.

    The truth is every single MP in the House of Commons is guilty of perpetuating this stupid crisis.

    I have a simple suggestion for any MPs that may still might have a shread of decency and respect for this country and average hard-working Canadians. Leave your party and sit as an independent. Refuse to engage in any of the BS hyperbole and show Canadians that you are willing to sit as an independent and rise above party politics. Please, some of you show us you truly disagree with how politics is being conducted on all sides of the house and sit as an independent. If enough of you do this you’ll send a message to all Canadians, that they are more important than power or partisanship. Show us that decorum and decency in this country are still possible.

  192. David Fraser, with respect, the current Stephen Harper government is ducking and avoiding the non-confidence vote, hence Canadians across this land are left in limbo because the government of the day is ducking and avoiding the non-confidence vote. Ad in finitum. Now a prorogue. Where Stephen Harper could shut down governance for all of Canada for 12 months if he decides to.
    Then, an election is required.

    But, if you’ve got a big fat idea about how a government in limbo can be jolted into a confidence vote or even into action, this Canadian is all ears.

    Frankly, this Canadian is not sure how many more months it can hold on to the point that we could even travel to a polling station, what with bus fare and packed lunches, time left off from work, and all, etc.

    If for one minute you think that employers regularly follow the law regarding time allowed for people to vote, one must only look at the law-breaking and law-bending of the Conservative party and their counter-parts in business to know that law is a fluid thing, and employee rights fleeting.

    From the Harper government which struck the words equality, equity and innovation from it’s very limited vocabulary, it’s not too far a reach before holding people hostage. Sure hope it was no MP family in Thailand this week. Brenda Martin will be thanking her lucky stars for ever that it was only Stephen Harper’s concern for his public face that brought her home, and the abject mewlings from Geurgis on the international stage might have swayed him in Brenda Martin’s favour.

    Now, can we get some Canadian retirees home from holiday in Thailand before Harper decides to quit working again for several months? Or shall everyone wait on tenterhooks, or in airports? It’s not like he’s going to personally have to pay millions of dollars, like Arar. Just bring our people to safety! Get them to Hong Kong at least. It is not too much to ask. Let’s see a measured response regarding Canadians, eh.

    Betcha Harper has checked his list, twice, and most of the people who chose to visit Thailand at a very unlucky time aren’t Conservative voters. So, they are off his list. Or not on it, so inconsequential unless there is an election coming up…then they may be important.

    PM Stephen Harper is all about those who are all about him. Period.

  193. Andrew, your cynical diatribe aside, I’ll take your bet and will say that most non-Harper MP’s in the House of Commons of Canada would stand alone and independent for their constituents if that was what was required to show democracy in the House of Commons. And I’ll bet that most Harper Mp’s, assured of no backlash from Harper, would do the same.

    What is the difference between such MPs? Fear.

    The majority of MPs in the House of Commons of 2008 do not live in abject fear of Stephen Harper. Which is why he finds himself in crisis.

    Stephen Harper can only count on so many of his MPs to follow his lead and seal-clap, or stand there paralyzed, mute, speak-by-rote, and/or ineffectual for their constituents because in the end it is all about Harper, not the voters or contributors. As they will soon find out.

    Fear is a great taskmaster. But courage knows when there is a beating too far. Who knows? Maybe Harper inadvertently caught a few good men/women up in his net. Canadians will soon see who stands up for Canada and who sits or stands or genuflects for Stephen Harper.

  194. Gibbins is right. The GG has far more options then is generally reported. What is important to remember is that under “responsible government” (remember that term from your high school history), what is defeated is not the Conservative party but the executive. In this day and age, the distinction is technical (party discipline!) but at odd moments in history like this potentially important. There is no reason why the GG needs to call on someone else to form a government or call an election. Instead, she can ask another Conservative to constitute a new executive or ask the current leader to constitute a new executive. If she wanted — although this is not required — she can provide advise to the extent that the new executive will need to get a deal done. If I were giving advise to the GG, I would first ask if such a situation were possible, which is something different then the PM might want. Indicate that one is loath to call another election right after the last one, that the Conservatives to a large extent made their own bed, and that her preference would be for them to remake it so they can sleep in by accepting the fact that the vast majority of Canadians did not vote for them.

  195. There is nothing unconstitutional about the proposed coalition government voting down the current government. A sitting, minority government cannot govern if it does not have the confidence of parliament. They certainly don’t have my confidence to govern democratically according to the will of the people of Canada (as so many events demonstrate)

    • Did the Conservatives ask Canadians if we want to stop funding elections so that ALL Canadians have a voice in our government?
    • Did the Conservatives give us one good reason why they broke their own, newly minted election law and spend hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars for an unnecessary election?
    • Did the Conservative consult Canadians before embarking with the Americans and the Mexicans on the first stages of the North American Union (euphemistically called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership)?
    • Did the Conservatives ask the people of Vancouver Kingsway if they wanted David Emerson to switch parties right after the election in order to be given a plum ministerial post in the Conservative government?

    Detractors of the proposed coalition keep using words like “deal with the devil” (the Bloc), “parliamentary coup d’etat) etc etc. However, they don’t like to point out that the Bloc members were democratically elected to the house (they represent Canadians, not residence of the underworld), and the proposed coalition is constitutional.

    The Conservatives simply messed up, so the spin doctors are pulling all the stops in desperation to make this situation seem somehow illegal or unconstitutional. It is not very democratic, but it is constitutional. If we don’t like it, let’s change the system. Until then we work with what we’ve got.

    It is a idiosyncratic overhang of the old British colonial rule that our actual head of state is the Governor General, whose role, we all know, is mostly just ceremonial. However, now the fate of parliament (not to mention our country) is in her hands. However, like I said, it’s our system, for better or worse.

    What is the Conservative response to all this? FIrst PM Harper delays the vote to give the Conservatives time to get the PR machine rolling and essentially rally public opinion against the coalition such that a public outcry may persuade them to demure. That may not work in time, so now they are considering proroguing parliament and pretty much shutting down government during a very precarious time.

    None of our so-called “leaders” are looking very respectable at this point. And the polarizing effect this can have on our nation is potentially devastating. This will be very divisive: East v. West; liberals v. conservatives; Quebec v. Alberta.

    This will ultimately not be good for any of our elected officials, or our country.

  196. Why in God’s name the Conservative Party not act mature and demand Harper’s resignation. It is him who singlehandedly brought this crisis by bringing in measures that do not belong to the economic measures and were not even part of his platform during the recent election. To make the matters worse he has been poking in the eye of the eye of the opposition ever since and before. He does not understand or accept the reality that he does not have the majority and must therefore have the full support of the opposition parties, at least one or two. He has no idea as to how to build consensus and does not seem to consult or respect much of the MPs including his cabinet. Further he makes outlandish false allegations against the opposition. For instance he claimed that there was no flag in the background when the coalition signed their agreement when in fact the video clearly shows that there was not one but two Canadian flags in the background. He claims that the coalition is un-constitutional when he made the similar deal with the opposition and submitted a letter to the Governor General in order to form a minority government by ousting Martin. He says one thing in French and quiet opposite in English in order to polorize and turn on the people of Quebec and the rest of the Canada against each other. Simply he is an arrogant bully and unfits to be the PM especially as a minority.

  197. An option that the GG and Canadians in general might still consider:

    perogy parliament: to show your dissatisfaction with the quality of political leadership by throwing Ukrainian dumplings at a legislature

  198. Lets look at the fundamentals
    …….We can’t afford to fund parties that have no support in their communities. If people vote for them because they exist from taxpayer largesse, then we are looking at funding every nut-job party and will have no clear winners. There is a need for parties to exist where consemsus is built within the party, with exercise of give and take, amongst its inner factions. Suck it up. Just because PEI is a province doesn’t mean you and 5 crack head friends can be your own political party at my expense.

    ………..We shouldn’t have another election.

    ………..The parties do not represent ME in my wishes to stop funding bankrupt, incompetent and treasonous political grooups. They are doing this for self preservation. If they are that good a party for that electorate, let the people vote with their wallets. Now THAT’S a solution.

    ……….We are fools to pay for a party that has no fan base in QC, or outside of the GTA. We are fools for buying the bullets, and giving the gun to the guy who already wants to take all he can get from the country. Get a grip people, IF THEY CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT SUPPORT FROM THE PEOPLE AND BUSINESS COMMUNITY THAT KNOWS THEM BEST THEN WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU ?

    ……….Harper is PM. If you don’t like it, suck it up princess. We had an election, carry on. Did anyone look to remove Trudeau when he brought in the very economic measures he campaigned against? No. The country sucked it up and we had Stanfileds economic recovery package run by the liberals.

    Now, the West ate crap for years while ” The Natural Governing Party” ruled from the centre, shoved an energy policy down the throats of provinces and people without any consultation. I sense somehow that the political elite consider westerners as perhaps not as suave as the some of their current idols ( my but doesn’t Bob have great hair, and look at Justin’s dreamy eyes……), but that is NOT leadership. It’s entertainment, its fluff, its showbiz. Maybe these guys should co-host with Ben Mulroney…….sounds like the right venue, and the audience could vote them on and off.

    Harper has thrown down the gauntlet and spoken the truth. It’s a poker game, and he’s betting the none of the aprties have any collateral with the public to fund them any further. It’s a gutsy move. About as gutsy as campaignaing against wage and price and controls, and the the week after the election being converted to the idea.

    Stop the federal funding, stop the bleeding. Now the media and all of the narcistic machiavellian naval -gazers appartchniks need to stop the whining.

  199. Dr Nurse,

    With all due respect that is a reach.

    There is zero precedent for that and it forgoes, the intent of the the convention of RG. While she does have some options, (the Globe has a good piece talking about some of them, what you are suggesting is not what is intended.

  200. Harper’s going to address the nation tonight.

    Here’s a laugh…

    The Iggy election buttons on political websites say “UNITED”.

    Too bad he’s “UNITED” with Jacques Parizeau, Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton.

    Having Iggy brag about being “UNITED” and “STRONG” is like George Bush bragging about being “ARTICULATE” and “POPULAR”.

  201. This is really nonsensical. The GG *requires* a government that can command a majority; on that there’s no fudging. This is why I believe she’d also be bound to refuse a request to delay a confidence vote the Government is likely to lose.

    EVERY HOUR Harper tries to hang on he’s just doing more damage to his party, the country, and the constitution. If he tries to drag the GG into the political fray he’ll have done more damage to the nation’s sovereignty than any Bloc member could ever dream.

  202. >Brad Sallows, this is about depth of experience as opposed to callow divisiveness. Here’s the formula…

    David Fraser, then you should have no problem denying the coalition its shot. First they announce a council of four economic advisors which pretty much rules out the possibility of having depth of experience; then we find out from three of the “advisors” that no such thing exists. That’s a pretty straight-up lie in addition to the admission of fiscal incompetence/lack of confidence.

    An election is not “required”, but it would be very good form to have one. Despite the partisanship among all the commentary, all sides will have to admit that all parties have introduced things they did not mention during the campaign, and gone back on commitments made during the campaign – all for the sake of political advantage. The coalition started out pretending it had a plan; as various trial balloons have been floated and shot down, it’s clear they’re making everything up as they go along.

    The coalition is doing this because it can, not because it should or because it possesses fiscal wisdom unknown to the Conservatives.

    I suppose Dion can’t get the sight of the PM’s office out of his mind, or he’d back down and arrange a stable transition to the next leader while the party rebuilds its finances for the next election. Layton negotiated the Bloc – what did they have to lose; Duceppe can work with anyone issue by issue if he has to – on side, and then Dion. The NDP will enjoy a brief period of influence, and doubtless achieve some of their ideological ends. When the coalition folds, the NDP will prepare to go back to its role of Opposition Second Banana, the Bloc will continue to enjoy a position of disproportionate influence without requiring actual power, and the Liberal brand will be unsalable. Dion will already be long gone, and his successor will lead the Toxic Party of Canada. On those last two, I think the cooler and pessimistic heads have it exactly right.

  203. I think that many of us are far too fed up with Harper’s behavior to support him any further.

  204. There is so little precedent related to this situation, and those precedents are either so old or in the realm of provincial or foreign legislatures, that there are are in fact no prededents. If Canada is a democracy, then the only option for the GG is to take the advice of the PM. If that advice is to call an election or to prorogue parliament, then so be it. All the “blame” or “credit” will fall to the PM and the government. Eventually the people will get a chance to pass judgement on the PM’s advice.

  205. There is yet another option. The GG could call both the PM and Darth Dion into her home, offer some Christmas cake and tea and tell both of them to form a coalition government. This may the best case scenario. Dion can be compared to young Anikan Skywalker just as he turned to the Dark Side. Jack Layton is Darth Tyranus (Senator Palpatine) the Sith Lord using Dion to capture absolute power.

    Seriously, this option gives everyone an out, and Dion still gets to share in the goodies under the tree, except for Jackie boy who will no doubt once again be looking into the toy store Christmas Eve, never really knowing if he is going ot get that Lionel train set. I am confident that the GG will make a decision that she feels will be in the best interest of “us”, the Canadian voter, and her decision will not be Partisan!!!!

  206. ok, let’s place bets since there’s no other way to enjoy this debacle. I think that the GG, (like her predecessor before her would have) will choose a lib, ndp, bloc coalition. My reasoning is that all who have passed through CBC halls as employees praise older American shows and fund poor Canadian ones. As it happens, the current American political drama isn’t bad. Our current mini-drama definitely needs support from someone who understands ‘Canadian Production Values’.

  207. Hm. The Prime Minister technically has the confidence of House of Commons right now. Therefore she should follow his advice and prorogue.
    However, it can be argued that the only reason that technicality remains is because he delayed the non-confidence vote by a week. So perhaps he does not have confidence, so the GG should wait.

    So.. combine both of these. She agrees to Mr. Harper’s request to Prorogue the house, but it doesn’t take effect until Tuesday. Thus allowing the non-confidence vote to play out as it will, but giving the conservatives a month or so to see if they can make the necessary changes to regain the confidence of the House for the Throne Speech.

    Odds that the Conservatve Party remains stuck on Harper knowing that he’s a lame duck that’ll get them sent to opposition?

  208. The Monarch reigns, she does not rule. It is the job of the PM to advise the monarch (GG) on matters from elections to appointments, to commissions, to appointing judges and senators.The GG thus cannot make political decisions, such as when to prorogue or when to call and election. The job of the GG is to take the advice of the PM. That’s it. We have not given the Monarch the right to independently decide for some centuries, and we certainly haven’t chosen GGs based on their political or constitutional acumen. If the GG does not take the PM’s advice, whatever it may be, just think of the consequences for future PMs, whether Dion or someone else.
    Mackenzie King may have been a scoundrel in how he dealt with Lord Byng, but the fact is that he advised the GG to call an election, Byng refused (for what looked at the time to him like good reasons), but when an election was inevitbly held not so long later, Mackenzie King was elected with a majority. End of GG’s attempt at independence.

    Once it gets through the heads of the boys from the high school debating club who are having so much fun getting a coalition together that the GG must take the PM’s advice and there actually will be an election, they will probably back off.

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