Stephen Harper’s constitution

Peter Mansbridge interviewed Stephen Harper today—on a hockey rink no less—and, as expected, the conversation turned to the spectre of opposition parties uniting in some way to defeat the sitting government and form a new government.

Here is the exchange that follows Mr. Harper’s insistence that, short of a Conservative majority, the “other guys” would try to form government.

Mansbridge: But they have the absolute right to do that, do they not?

Harper: Well, we can have a constitutional, theoretical discussion. I think it’s important the people of Canadian understand these are the choices. Becuase I do think most Canadians would still be very surprised if they elected a Conservative minority and found out they had some completely different kind of government. I think that would be a big shock to people. I don’t think…

Mansbridge: But they would have that right.

Harper: I don’t think people know where such a government would lead. You know, we can point to tax increases they all agree on, a few other things, the reopening the constitution…

Mansbridge: No, I appreciate all that, but they have that right.

Harper: Well, that’s a question, a debate of constitutional law. My view is that the people of Canada expect the party that wins the election to govern the country. And that’s what I think people expect. And I think anything else, the public will not buy. That’s my personal view. 

Mansbridge: Well, they bought it in Ontario in ’85, when the second-place party formed with the third-place party and became government. When the first-place party didn’t win the confidence of the House.

Harper: Well, Peter, we shall see. I think you’ve got an unusual situation here that such a government would rely on the Bloc Quebecois, which is a party dedicated to the break-up of the party, in order to govern. And you’d be effectively in a position where instead of the party winning the election governing, the Bloc is effectively picking the government, which I think is enormously problematic for the country down the road.

Mansbridge: What if the situation was reversed and Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Layton was in first place, with the most seats.

Harper: They will form the government.

Mansbridge: They will form the government?

Harper: Yes. 

Mansbridge: And they…

Harper: I shouldn’t speculate on that because I’m in this to win and I think we’re going to win.

Mansbridge: No, I appreciate that, but you’ve raised the issue of the hypothetical situation so that’s one as well. Whichever of those two parties does not gain the confidence of the House, the Governor General comes to you, because that’s the way it has to happen, and says, ‘Mr. Harper, the second place party, the first place party couldn’t achieve the confidence of the House, I’d like you to try.’

Harper: Well, look, I think if the other guys win, they get a shot at government. And I don’t think you challenge that unless you’re prepared to go back to the people. And I think one of the reasons…

Mansbridge: So you would say no to that?

Harper: Yeah. I think one of the reasons…

Mansbridge: You’d say to the Governor General…

Harper: Yeah, absolutely.

Mansbridge: … ‘No, I wouldn’t do that.’

Harper: No, because I think one of the reasons, people don’t want another election. That’s another thing about this whole discussion…

Mansbridge: No, but that would be a way of preventing another election.

Harper: … These guys throwing up these scenarios. Where the party may win, but ‘we’re not going to let the government govern.’ We’ll be into another election before too long. That’s why I think we need a majority mandate. I think this has gone on long enough. I think we’ve got a good record, so we’re obviously appealing to the people to get behind us and let’s move the country forward. We have some pretty important economic challenges that remain in the world and this country. And I don’t think we can afford to continue to go around in circles like this, with any kind of minority.




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Stephen Harper’s constitution

  1. Face-palm moment.

    Sigh.

      • Heh- sorry brother- run a google image search on the term.

        • I don't get how it applies to the topic at hand.

          • Eleven insistent rephrasings of the same question in order to get one grudgingly clear answer from the Prime Minister of Canada, is what.

            If this wasn't Mansbridge on television, it would have taken three campaign stops to pry that out of him.

          • So what? If anything, he's just better at answering the question he wants to answer than Iggy is, which is what all good politicians have to know what to do. Seems to me so many of you get furious at Harper because he's just that good. Well, too bad, right?

  2. Isn't it a bit odd that Mansbridge agreed to the hockey rink setting? Shouldn't journalists try not to be complicit in this kind of imagery?

    • As the state broadcaster, politicos should go TO the CBC.

      • It's the public broadcaster NOT the State broadcaster.

        • Hmm, in the words of Joel Johanneson, the CBC is a "100% state-owned, government-created and government-nurtured and taxpayer-funded news agency".

          If you have ever had the occasion to watch the CBC, and I assume as a good Canadian you have, it is a veritable cornucopia of Suzuki/Gore/Moore smoky goodness. The CBC promotes a state-supported doctrine, meant to inculcate a world view approved and encouraged by our elites. Really, has the Conservative government done anything substantive to stop this? No. Any cutbacks are rolled into efficiencies that should have happened years ago. And the shows go on. And on. And on.

          So there you go. State broadcaster. You don't have to like that we have a media organ along the lines of the great democracies such as China and North Korea. I know I don't. But I don't try to pretty it up either.

          • Lilley – shouldn't you be working on some new topics for your show?

          • Ahh, so no reason to stop calling it "state broadcaster"? I thought not.

    • My guess is that's just how it worked out. Harper may not have had Toronto on schedule this week, Mansbridge may not have wanted to do it via Satellite hook-up with Harper in the arena, so maybe Mansbridge just decided to go to that arena himself and question Harper face-to-face. Unless, of course, the arena was actually in Toronto. Then you might have a point.

      • At the start of every interview, they note that the leaders each were given the choice of a studio interview, or letting Mansbridge go out on the trail with them.

        • There you go. Which begs the question: Why didn't the other leaders choose a more favourable interview setting? Iggy was in studio looking like he was being interrogated, while I believe Jack was standing in the aisle of his campaign plain – again, not the most ideal of setting. Harper was right where he wanted to be – in a hockey rink wearing a Canada jacket. Bingo.

          • "Why didn't the other leaders choose a more favourable interview setting?"

            In fairness to Ignatieff, he probably thought that a Liberal being interviewed at CBC HQ was going to be a favourable setting.

    • Each leader was given a choice of where they would be interviewed. Mansbridge has told the viewers this on a few occasions.

      All leaders had a choice of where they wanted the interview to take place.

      • Ah, in that case my objection is withdrawn.

  3. Aaron – I hold Peter Mansbridge in CONTEMPT! He started the interview on Trust – Harper tried to make it – you can't trust the other leaders…and then he should have followed up with – but they held your party in contempt Mr. Harper – with the support of the Speaker's decision and 400 years of history. Do you not recognize that fact? Let him try to dig himself out of that!
    Putative Senator Mansbridge is now hoping for a Harper majority of course!

    • the answer would have been:

      "Let me be clear. The fact is that [complete contradiction of what fact is]".

    • I couldn't agree more. Mansbridge shook his finger in the face of Mr. Dion in his interview in the 2008 election and in his interview with Mr. Ignatieff, he had the gaul to ask him about negative adds. Mansbridge is anything but objective in this election and CBC should seriously consider throwing him to the unemployment line. After all, we the taxpayers are paying is salary.

      • I thought Mansbridge pressed Harper hard on the question of minority versus majority governance. Is it Harper's fault that he's better than Iggy at answering tough questions, or that there's nothing much about Harper that justifies this nonsense election in the first place?

  4. Note to GG Johnston….find a crowbar, you're going to need it.

  5. So basically Harper has no grasp of our constitution.

    Wonderful.

    Or if he does, he choses to ignore for partisan purposes.

    Ignatieff wins on this issue. Unfortunately for him, the population sides with Harper in voluntary ignorance.

    • Please state where he showed he didn't grasp the constitution? I realize you Harper bashers are frustrated, but that doesn't mean you can just make things up, does it?

      • It's the part where he says "Well, that's a question, a debate of constitutional law." when asked if the progressive majority of MPs choose to find confidence in another party. He either doesn't understand constitutional law or is lying for strategic reasons.

        • He said that the right to form a government despite not winning an election is a matter of constitutional debate that he'd rather not get into. Instead, he'd rather talk about the winning party forming the government, in accordance to what most Canadians think, too. Why are some of you on here so opposed to what Canadians want and expect? Why are you so intent on overturning the expectations of voters?

          • Wow. You blind supporters of the Contempt Party of Canada will certainly do backflips to support dear leader. The progressive majority in this country are opposed to government by a small-minded fear driven minority and would instead prefer government which is a better representation of Canada. Do you know that 66% is bigger than 33%?

          • Wow, it didn't take you too long to resort to an ideological screed, did it. lol

            So, I suppose you were against the Chretien majorities that all existed with the support of less than 40% of the population? Next.

          • You correctly identify that the problem is the first-past-the-post system.

          • No, the FPTP system is not the problem; it's a red herring hung out to dry one time too many.

            The problem, the one and only problem, is the BQ participation within federal elections.

            BECAUSE of the BQ participation in federal elections, it is unlikely that any of the truly federal parties will achieve outright majority status.

            And because minority goverments are most likely the outcome, it will present the next problem, namely how to form coaltions without the participation of the BQ.

            You see, the BQ has it figured out. It's just that so many Canadians haven't figured it out.

            But you know what is even a worse problem? Hardly any of the media outlets are willing to discuss openly this problem of the BQ paritcipation within federal politics. Another reason the BQ has been able to slip up closer to be able to hold power over our Canadian federation.

            It's time to talk about the real Canadian problem.

          • If you think the BQ is the problem, then proportional representation is the solution.

          • One the one hand it is: under PR the BQ would not be assigned as many seats as it gets under the current system.

            However, under a PR system, we would end up with many more regional and special interest parties and I don't think that would add anything of value to our Canadian system.

            We do have provincial and municipal governments as well, where certainly some of the special interest parties and regional parties belong.

          • The Bloc Quebecois are a party consisting of Canadian citizens who were elected by Canadian citizens. Just because you don't like their platform doesn't mean they are not legitimate. They are not seditious- they are working within the framework of our representative democracy. They are playing by the rules

          • Yes, the BQ MP's are elected by Canadian citizens, but those citizens have not voted for a federal party during federal elections.

            It has absolutely nothing to do with my likes or dislikes about the BQ platform, other than that their platform solely promotes the interest of Quebec at the detriment of a more equitable Canadian federation.

            Any party which is intent of being anti-Canadian, should not be allowed to run within Canadian federal elections.

          • By that logic then independents should also not be allowed to run.

          • I didn't like it.

            As I recall, most conservatives were squawking relentlessly about it at the time, too.

          • And do you know that our Canadian electoral system is the first past the post system? You MUST know that mcuh.

            You see, you are trying to find logic within a double dip; you try to slip in the total tally of the popular vote count whereas what really counts is the seats acquired in the House. You may not like that electoral system, but not liking it does not make it go away.

            Dreaming does not set about reality.

          • And you Cons keep forgettng about that old confidence of the house silliness. Amazing how collectively forgetful you all are.

          • The BQ mp's have no confidence in the Canadian House, no matter how you look at it.

          • There's no debate. It's clearly provided for in our constitution.

          • How isn't there a debate? What kind of country do you want us to live in? Stalinist Russia? God.

          • I don't recall Harper or anyone else proposing a constitutional change to prevent MP's from forming a government with whatever grouping of MP's that choose to agree. When he or someone else does, it will be debatable. Until then, it's the frickin law!

          • Are you seriously suggesting it's the "frickin law" in Canada that losing parties have to gang up against winning parties and form a government no matter what anyone else has to say on the matter? Maybe you DO prefer Stalinist Russia. Wow.

          • Dennis, all 308 members of the House win their elections. The only real problem would be if anyone who lost one of the 308 elections tries to go to Ottawa and attempts to form a government.

            Once they're elected to Parliament, the rest is entirely up to them. We just choose the 308.

            I am sure if the Prime Minister wins a plurality he will attempt to win the confidence of the House. If he does not, then the Governor General has the option of asking another party to form a government and win the the confidence of the House.

            It's the way the system was designed, it's stood the test of time, and it works.

            You don't have to like it, but the Westminster Parliamentary system does deserve some respect.

          • Again, nobody is arguing against the legalities of such agitations, just their fairness. In fact, given that you're now in San Diego, I'm surprised you hold so strongly to this losers-get-to-govern type of attitude. Down there, if a loser tried to grab power, there'd be a good old-fashioned linchin' going on, wouldn't there?

          • Dennis, there are no losers amongst the 308 members. They all won their elections cleanly, or at least as cleanly as our system allows. If, however, Betsey MacGregor (L), who lost to Dean Del Mastro (C), walked into the House and demanded to be the Member from Peterborough, we'd lynch her.

            Well, probably not as we're Canadian.

            We'd give her a stern warning and send her on her way. If she persisted though, we'd call in the Sergent at Arms and she'd be carted away by the RCMP.

            You know what though Dennis, your point about fairness strikes a chord. 308 individual elections isn't the cleanest system in the world. Maybe it's time to have a national election instead- proportional representation. To heck with local representation- at the very least, it would save you from having Dean Del Mastro trying to spend half a billion dollars of YOUR money to build a train that runs from downtown Toronto to a town of 75,000 people.

          • nobody is arguing against the legalities of such agitations

            Stephen Harper is:

            Well, that's a question, a debate of constitutional law.

            No, it isn't. It's a plain statement of fact.

          • Funny how the same people who desperately accuse Harper of lying are the ones who have to resort to the lying. He didn't argue against its legalities. He said it was a theoretical debate that he's not focused on. Why is that illegal to some of you? Man.

          • You're just wrong. Dead wrong. Entirely wrong. 100% wrong. Every sentence you've written in your reply is a falsehood, except "Man."

            And you won't let go of your phony argument, because you don't have a real one.

          • Yes, I know. It's illegal to disagree with you left-wingers. The horror. Next.

          • It's not illegal. You're just wrong.

          • Because I dare disagree with you? Next.

          • No, you're wrong because the facts are in opposition to your opinion.

          • "he'd rather talk about the winning party forming the government, in accordance to what most Canadians think, too. "
            ======
            It's not a question of what most Cdns think, it's a question of law. Harper is feeding misinformation about Westminister convention. Constantly. His focus on the "party" is irrelevant under our constitution. He could have an honest discussion, but Harper runs from them as he does any interchange that would reveal his true thinking. Same old speaking points are easier than speaking to the question at hand. He refuses to answer our questions at every turn. All PC candidates have trained to stay on point. Good dog.

            Peter Mansbridge did a pi$$ poor job.

          • Here we go again. Name one piece of "misinformation" Harper is "feeding" us? He's stating his preference, and that of the majority of Canadians: that the winning party gets to govern. Why do some of you resent this position so much?

          • Harper is misinforming the public by questioning the constitutional validity of "coalition" governments, and by side-stepping the fact that he did indeed attempt to form one in the past. I resent his position because it is dishonest.

          • He's simply stating what most Canadians believe, which is that losers shouldn't form governments. It's legal, but it's just not right. And he's never attempted one in the past. In fact, you're the one who's spreading lies. No one else.

          • "We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House…" etc, etc. Ring any bells? I'll give you a hint: 2004.

          • There's no debate about what the constitution says.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • I'm sorry. There's no debate about what the constitution says on this issue. As someone who supposedly writes for a living, I expected you were capable of understanding context. My apologies.

          • But there is no precedent set in any case involving a separatist party.

            When something new occurs over the course of history, then such newness must be dealt with in new ways. Such is how history unfolds itself, or curls up into itself, I suppose.

            Perhaps it's the average Canadian voter who couldn't handle a real discussion in this regard. Ever thought about that?

  6. So, a minority conservative government will lead to another "unnecessary" election because it isn't "stable," but if constitutionally, the second place party forms a minority government, that too would, despite preventing an "unnecessary election, cause an unnecessary election.

    I think I've got this figured out.

    No, no I don't.

  7. It's somewhere between self-serving speculation masquerading as fact, and downright lies. I'd be so ashamed if I were a right leaning person who felt forced to vote for this guy.

    • Name one lie. Otherwise, you're the liar, aren't you?

      • It's not really a matter of constitutional debate. It just so happens that people don't like what the constitution has to say on the matter, primarily for reasons of partisan advantage.

        • Andrew, for once, listen to what Harper had to say.

          He DID mention the aspect of the BQ participation in the formation of governments, and yes, it would be a matter of constitutional interpretation. Maybe your interpretation will prevail, but NOT necessarily so.

          That is the point.

          • The constitution has nothing at all the say about separatist parties. If it does, please show me the relevant passage where it prohibits the formation of such governments.

            I'm waiting.

          • I mean, we could have a debate about whether parties whose colour is blue can form government under our constitution, but the debate is prima facie absurd. Same applies here–the constitution does not make any provisions for saying a government is illegitimate. It only needs to have the confidence of the house. That's it. That's all.

          • I interpret that you have an eyeball where your nose should be. Trust me, would I lie to you?

        • It would be a matter of constitutional debate if it never actually got to that, right? In other words, it's a hypothetical – one that is avoided if Harper gets a majority. Again, name one lie. Next.

          • Sorry Dennis, that doesn't wash. You've just conceded that this was not truthful.

            Next.

          • No, no he hasn't.

          • It's not "a matter of constitutional debate". It's a rule of how our government operates. No amount of bleating "but he's just saying what Canadians believe" will change that fact.

            Next.

          • There is absolutely no law that requires losing parties to form governments. Where in the world do some of you Gomers get this stuff? Of course we can debate the configurations of Parliament after an election. You say you want democracy, yet you hate seeing people exercise their right to disagree with your nonsense.

          • I repeat, since you ignored the point and just substituted your persistent talking point that does nothing to address the issue:

            It's not "a matter of constitutional debate". It's a rule of how our government operates. No amount of bleating "but he's just saying what Canadians believe" will change that fact.

            And we're done.

    • It was A OK for Harper to try and use this procedure in 2004 to try and form the government but now that the tables are turned, he suggestes that it's inappropriate. How convenient.

      My best guess is that Harper is setting up for a minority and then he will once again make every motion one of confidence. If the opposition votes against any one of his motions, the government will fall and he will be forced to go to the GG to say he has once again lost the confidence of the House. It will then be up to the majority members in the house to form the next government, the dreaded coalition, or we will have to go to the polls weekly. I would suggest that the GG would give the coalition a try rather than have Harper manipulate Canada into another election.

      I hope I'm wrong but, being the scoundrel that he is, I believe that is his game plan, if, in fact, he gets another minority.

  8. Come on, Julie Van Dusen, come out, dare say it out loud: good concessions were made to the NDP in the last proposed budget.

    Come on, Julie, it shouldn't be that difficult to get it over the lips: the CLC did say what….? Say it clearly now!!!

    • It is interesting to see how the CBC didn't post the interview unfiltered. They had to get their own digs in, didn't they. Otherwise, I thought Harper more than handled his own against Mansbridge – unlike Iggy before that, who obviously walked into some doozies.

      • There is one overriding problem in this election. The funny thing is, the problem is induced by some media representatives.

        This is the overriding problem as I see it:

        Some media spokespersons have tried to put the issue of contempt of parliament front and center. But the leaders as well as the general public are much, much more interested in discussing federal party policies and what effect such policies might have on the Canadian financial situation.

        Therefore, those same media personalities are forced to deal with the pre-election budget question, and concentrate on why the opposition parties could not agree on that proposed budget. Because, if the very same media personalities will have to focus in on the pre-election proposed budget, they will find that there was indeed a lot of support for that budget and that indeed, within the budget, concessions had been made to various opposition parties. But if those media personalities would have to report on that, they would simultaneously have to agree that another CPC minority government would be correct in bringing in the very same budget, and therefore the need for the opposition parties to defeat the CPC minority government would be laughable.

        You see, some media members have created this problem for themselves, and don't know, now, how to climb out of that problem.

  9. Julie's interpretation of the interview: "should a minority government happen again, and were he (Harper) to come second…………and the GG would ask him, what would he do, and he said …."You really have to prepare to go to the people", which (according to Julie Van Dusen) seemed different than he was proposing in 2004, going back to the talks he had with Layton and Duceppe."

    Excuse me, Julie, but within today's interview, once again, Harper said, as he has said sooooo many times before, the 2004 agreement was to put pressure on the Martin government and that any new mandate should be granted by the people, as Harper had done precisely in the 2006 election.

    Harper has never said anything else. Harper has never changed his story on this. Layton and Duceppe have changed their story and even today, Julie Van Dusen cannot trust what Harper has said and has been backed up by his action: Harper has always gone to the people to ask for a mandate to govern. Period.

    Why can't the media take Harper on his word and action on this??

    • When asked if he would form government in 2004 he dodged and called it hypothetical. That's code for 'yes, in some circumstances'.

      • Why can't the media take Harper on his word and action on this??

        The obvious answer is that Harper is a liar.

    • The 2004 agreement was to put pressure on the Martin government ? How about the letter to the GG? Was it to put pressure on the GG too?

    • Why can't the media take Harper on his word and action on this??

      Established precedent and historical memory. I know the CPC doesn't put much stock in those commodities, but they still exist and are important.

  10. I think we can all agree it's about both – harper's contempt for Canadians.

    • Actually, Canadians decide the matter, not vicious zealots like you.

      • The majority of Canadians represented by their MPs found Harper in contempt. Decided.

        • Parliament found Harper having "contempt for Canadians" did it? In fact, no it did not. Nobody is buying this non-stop nonsense from the Harper bashers. You're the best thing Harper has going for him in winning his majority. Keep it up.

  11. One would think that harper would have learned by now that he does not and never has spoken for the 'majority' of Canadians. He states:

    "Becuase I do think most Canadians would still be very surprised if they elected a Conservative minority…"

    Well, steve, MOST Canadians would not have elected a MINORITY government, now would they? Doesn't the study of economics have something to do with math and logic?

    • I am shocked to learn that this is how our government works. Here I've been under the impression that we vote in an MP, not a government. Who knew?

    • You can also vote in a minority by choosing to vote for the losing parties. Man, that's obvious.

      • How do you know they are "losing parties" until after the election? Man, that's simplistic.

  12. I think Harper showed that he has a solid grip on financial matters and that he has a solid understanding of how our federation works.

    Did anyone want to comment on how he singled out the BQ as to be different somehow?

    Has Ignatieff been as forthright? Has Layton?

    • The thing is, you don't think that at all.

      • I don't like what?

        I wouldn't like it if Layton or Ignatieff would comment on the BQ participation in formations of federal governments?

        Man, I can't wait for them to comment on that.

        I was very proud of Harper for having commented on it.

        Layton and Ignatieff are a bit cowardly in that respect.

        • A bit? You understate by miles.

        • Are Conservative bills passed with only the support of the BQ legitimate?

  13. I dunno.. I understand the constitution but i disagree with two opposition parties Forming Governement with a separatist party whose sole purpose is to break away from Canada

    If the NDP and the LPC Had Enough Votes Between them to form a majority of seats WITHOUT the need to the BLOC i can see that working.. BUt given the seat Count when Parliment broke up The NDP and LPC didn't have enough seats to form a majority vs the CPC without the support of the BLOC.

    Its A gong show.. We need ONE party to Govern the country for the next 4 or 5 years… Regardless of who it is.. I have my preference but we need stability..

    IE If you can garner more seats then the CPCs with the NDP and LPC then have a go if you must vote out the CPC… But if you need the Bloc then YOU SHOULD NOT FORM A GOVERNMENT..

    • YOu may disapprove of such an arrangement for whatever fanciful reason you wish, but it's still constitutional. Note that Harper has to go even beyond this invented self-serving requirement however – with his unwarranted speculation that the bloc would push for unreasonable concessions which the governing LPC would automatically provide, none of which is likely.

      • NONE of which is likely? Hey, I appreciate that you are new to the country, so are unaware of how the LPC operates. So welcome, but get up to date please.

    • I'm sorry but pray tell, exactly HOW has Canada been unstable in the past 6 years?

    • So I trust you feel that means that every time the CPC had the Bloc support them, it was invalid and they shouldn't have formed government?
      No? Just a hypocrite then?

      • The Conservatives only needed any one of the three opposition parties to support them. But a Liberal-NDP minority coalition would be captive to the Bloc, who would have a veto over all government decisions.

    • Agree 100%.

  14. Are the rats jumping ship?

    When I saw the article below I was astonished: TWO cabinet ministers contradicting Harper, and going after his spokesman. In the papers that day also, someone (G&M) published all of Harper's competition for party leader. And there were stories and questions about whether Harper would quit if he got a minority.

    But then, was it yesterday? Giorno contradicting Harper also. Another rat jumping ship?

    And then, most recently, Brad contradicting Harper, although I suspect with less a rat with a strategy than one just jumping.

    And then, another minister today, Peter Kent, going against Harper by saying the "terrorist supporter" running as a conservative should never have been permitted. Another very senior rat jumping ship?

    All of this when Harper is on record as saying quite the opposite.

    The wildest thing in this election is that it is the National Post that is doing the most critical pieces on Harper, and the most objective and comprehensive on Ignatieff.

    What gives, folks? Are the progressive conservatives fighting back? Do they smell blood? Are are they just trying to save their own skins?

    • :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

      Write me another chapter in that work of fiction. You could be Ms.Atwood, posing as iSmellA-Rat!!

  15. I just checked my passport – it says I'm a Canadian. Go suck an Easter egg.

  16. Or else what? Are you going to round up dissidents and ship them off to a Cuban prison or something? Man. Next.

  17. If average Canadians hated Harper as a lot of you do on here, he'd never become prime minister. Period.

    • Dennis, I just did the math for you. He only needed 15 percent.

      • If you honestly think 85% of Canadians hate Harper, then I suggest you go back to school. Next.

    • It's the collective will (of those paying attention) that Harper be dismissed because his incompetence and lies pose a very dangerous threat to the country. I don't hate the guy … he's not worthy of that emotion.

      • But you certainly spread hatred about the man, don't you?

  18. The conservative leader really ought to have logos of his corporate and other donors on the 'Canada' jacket. Like a NASCAR dude. That would be cool.

  19. No, I refer to people who actually hate Harper as Harper hater. To me, thank God they're a relatively small but vocal minority.

  20. Just shows you how sleazy the liberals, ndp and bloc really are.

    • Why? Because they understand how a Westminster democracy works?

    • No. It shows two things: the functionality of the Westminster system in its ability to accomodate itself to the situation we're in; and the widespread misunderstanding of how that system is supposed to work.

  21. Sorry, but the history doesn't lie. Try reading it.

  22. Harpers right.! its time the tail stopped wagging the dog.
    Canadians should see the party with the most seats in the Commons govern the country. That is democracy or at least the best shot we will have at it this time around.

    • i am not sure you know what the term democarcy means.

      • I think back to yesterday's comment from someone saying we don't need another civics lesson and again suggest that maybe we do.

        The nonsense being pushed out by Mr. Harper and his supporters is just extraordinary.

      • I'm not sure *I* know what the term "democarcy" means. :)

    • So. In an election where the voters cannot agree to giving one party a majority, the party with the most seats receives the powers of a majority?
      Really?

  23. Harper's seems to have been shorter.

  24. Yes, let's leave out a group of Canadians who have committed a thought crime.

  25. Minority governments tend to last a year and a half. So at best an opposition led government can hardly expect less. The NDP hasn't ruled forming a coalition out…

  26. If Layton finishes second before Ignatieff, then Ignatieff would not support coalition. Because he wants to be Prime Minister. Coalition with Layton as Prime Minister does not make sense for Ignatieff.
    Now apart from constitutional debate, if Ignatieff form coalition government its stubility would not come for free. To survive Ignatieff will pay billions to Duceppe (what he demanded from Harper) and billions to Layton for his social programs. That would ruin our economy and to have those billions Ignatieff will raise taxes. This is my major concern not constitutional propriety.

    • But Harper has relied on the Bloc or the NDP on numerous occasions to pass key legislation and survive confidence measures, so I don't see how a similar arrangement where the Liberals would require Bloc or NDP support would be much different.

    • Got any proof whatsoever of absolutely anything you say?

  27. All of you may have noticed this long ago, but I was struck by how Harper contemplates only one outcome: he's gotta win outright. Anything else is not worth his genius.

    Itis not that he does not like to cooperate, he does not know how; this is genuine Harper, this is how he is made.

    This to me is the mark of an autocrat by character.

    Après moi le déluge!

  28. Well, that's a question, a debate of constitutional law. My view is that the people of Canada expect the party that wins the election to govern the country. And that's what I think people expect. And I think anything else, the public will not buy. That's my personal view.

    There is NO DEBATE of constitutional law. The people outside Quebec will likely have a dim view of any coalition that includes (or is propped up by) the BQ, just like they did the last time. But there is no debate of constitutional law.

    Mr. Harper: You were better at this when you were trying to scare us that a coalition would be a likely result of a CPC minority, because that would indeed be a likely scenario.

  29. Ah yes, Dennis speaks condescendingly for the Timmy's crowd: better to bask in ignorance then actually understand how a democracy works. The very sound of cynical power, and it speaks proudly.

    • You should learn to write more coherently before accusing others of ignorance. I certainly know how democracy works. Why do you have to accuse Canadians of not knowing how it works? This is what you think of the very people you want to rule over, is it? I don't have any power. I have faith in voters, actually. Thanks.

      • Of course you know how democracy works. You just don't like how it works. Terribly inconvenient, wot?

        • There is nothing undemocratic about thinking winners should govern, or disagreeing with the left-wing. God. Next.

          • There is something undemocratic, however, in thinking that the majority of the seats in the house should not be able to choose who leads them.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Pedantically you may be correct. We have a system where the prime minister is chosen by the GG as the person who has the best chance of maintaining the confidence of the house.. that is, of the majority of the house choosing that person to lead them.

            As for the name calling, you have my pity that you feel that impotent.

          • I just get tired of people who falsely believe they're the smartest people in the room. You were wrong on this point, you're wrong on many points on this issue, but you turn around and hurl all kinds of vicious accusations at your opponents. It's not that I feel "impotent." It's that I feel some people rightfully deserve it.

          • Most people aren't pedants and understand context. Have you considered getting tested for mild Aspergers? They may have some medications that can help you.

  30. .
    I won't be 'shocked' Mr. Harper. But I'll be disappointed if Jack forms a coalition with that burnt-out husk of a party.

    Let the Liberals form a centre-middle coalition in the middle of a grave-yard with the rest of its ground-temperature neighbours.
    .

  31. Mansbridge set a trap for Harper also, just like for Ignatieff, but Harper cleverly avoided his, unlike Ignatieff who walked into his trap.

    The trap for Ignatieff was on "coalition". And we all know the fallout.

    The trap for Harper was on "spending cuts". Mansbridge attempted to trick Harper into saying that he wanted/needed a majority so he could cut spending programs (social programs) to balance the budget.

    Mansbridge's preamble. Advisor's to Chretien and Martin have said that they couldn't have made the tough decisions to balance the budget in a minority situation. Paraphrasing…Is this why you need a majority? Harper didn't let Mansbridge walk him down that rat hole, like Ignatieff let Mansbridge walk him down on "coalition".

    Mansbridge is one sneaky ba%^$&$.

    I don't recall a trap for Layton. I may have to go back and replay that interview.

    But I complain about CBC a lot, but in this instance, I thought Mansbridge was fair in his sneaky ruthlessness towards both Ignatieff and Harper.

    • It's interesting that when a politician answers a question directly, he has fallen into a "trap" – and when a politician successfully avoids and evades a clear answer, he has "avoided a trap." What does this say about our exceptions for honesty in politics?

  32. Although in this excerpt he pushed for answers, in the rest he kowtowed to Harper so much a lot of people are outraged to the point they're leaving angry messages on Mansbridge's facebook page. I scrolled down for a while and never got to the end of it. It's especially galling after he was so tough on Ignatieff and Layton. And what's with playing along with the whole hockey rink set-up? He's helping Harper exploit our national sport for his own political purposes, hoping that by associating himself with something we love we will be stupid enough to love him by association.

  33. Mansbridge: But they have the absolute right to do that, do they not?

    Harper: Well, we can have a constitutional, theoretical discussion.

    Well, NO, we can't. They can do it. We can debate the wisdom of it — and I can think of lots of reasons why it would be a stupid idea — but we can't debate the legality of it. There's no debate.

  34. Harper: Well, look, I think if the other guys win, they get a shot at government. And I don't think you challenge that unless you're prepared to go back to the people.

    Well then what was that 2004 letter all about?

    Sheesh.

    • Obviously, that was Mr. Harper telling the GG, you don't have to just go along with Martin and have an election, you can come to us first so that we can tell you you should have an election too.

  35. The responses to this thread, and indeed its very essence reflect precisely why the coalitionistas will fail if they try again. The issue at hand is not whether or not a coalition is legal. It is. The question is whether a coalition is something that Canadians will want and accept. Just because you CAN form a coalition, doesn't mean that I, or say, a right-leaning Liberal voter is going to want one.

    So you can call Canadians stupid, and lament the lack of civics education (incidentally, this position is incorrect – most Canadians accept the legitimacy of a coalition). In fact, as an opponent of a coalition, I really hope you continue on this stupid and unproductive line of argument. Or you can start making a positive case for a coalition. Why would coalition rule be better than a Harper majority/minority? What is so important, that it requires an alliance with the separatists?

    Harper's comments reflect that he understands that the real question of substance is whether or not Canadians WANT a coalition. Harper was pretty careful not to say that it would be unconstitutional for the opposition to form a government. If you notice, his arguments have to do with whether the public will accept a coalition government, and whether a coalition would be good for the country. By emphasizing the legal argument (we CAN do it), you guys are conceding the practical argument (we SHOULD do it) to Stephen Harper. Please, keep it up.

    • You must have the confidence of the house to govern and Mr. Harper does not… Contempt of Parliament mean anything to you!!!
      The GG can ask the second place party to try and form a government and if it can present a Throne Speech and a budget that the House can accept, then they should be allowed to govern. There does not have to be a 'coalition' for this to happen, but "cooperation" amongst parties.

      • Fine, you can change the word coalition to accord everywhere in my post. The point remains that you need to make the case for an accord, or whatever arrangement you choose, to the Canadian people. As for contempt, you have the same problem. Voting for a contempt motion is very different from convincing Canadians that Harper is contemptuous, and so far the opposition doesn't seem to have been winning the argument on that front. Substantively, a contempt motion is meaningless – it is like Apple telling me that PC's are bad.

        • "Substantively, a contempt motion is meaningless – it is like Apple telling me that PC's are bad."

          No. No, it isn't. It's nothing like that at all. One company telling you that another is 'bad' is subjective. What Mr. Harper did was a blatant violation of Parliamentary procedure, and an undermining of the very pinnings of our system. We put MPs in place to represent our views. As such, when they are denied information — or fed false information — the very process that we put them there to achieve is sabotaged. For Mr. Harper to fail to recognize this is a failing as a Prime Minister that I cannot forgive.

          This is compounded by his comment after his government's fall. From the Globe & Mail: Mr. Harper, who moved the final motion to adjourn Parliament, said he would be visiting Governor-General David Johnston on Saturday morning to “take the only course of action that remains.”

          An election was not the only course of action that remained. The Governor General could have spared us millions of dollars of expense and wasted time in listening to hollow political speeches, trying to sort lies from the truth, by simply offering the opposition a chance to form the government. The number of seats would not change, the representation would not change, the issues would not change, and the backstabbing and haranguing of parties would not change. All that would have altered is who was expected to herd cats/get politicians to actually agree on something. There are no Supreme Court appointments coming up that I know of, so Mr. Ignatieff could not have made a dent in that regard, and Mr. Harper ensured that the Senate is full to bursting with his (promise-breaking and record-setting) patronage appointments.

          In short, it would have been business as usual, and a saving for taxpayers.

          I'm of conservative leaning, myself. My family have been inclined toward conservative support for a good three generations back. I cannot, in good conscience, support a neo-con who has undermined the democratic process, thrown out the values of traditional conservatism, and practices fear-mongering on our very political system in an attempt to cling to power.

          • Yes, but what hoser is saying is that most Canadians are ignorant, therefore, nothing should be done to disabuse them of that and we should allow Mr. Harper to do as he pleases, regardless of what the house thinks.

          • CONTEMPT! WHO IS IN CONTEMPT!
            The party that loaded the committee. That voted before the briefs were finished?
            The retired liberal speaker.?

    • I agree that many Canadians would agree with the gist of this post – that "losers don't get to form government." I recognize that a situation where a second-place party forms government might be politically unsavoury (Note that this is NOT a coalition, and an executive-sharing arrangement has been emphatically ruled out by the Liberals) – and I think that this reflects the rather contorted understanding by most Canadians about how parliament works. It's the product of decades of majority rule, where we take for granted that a single party clearly and without question "wins" an election. But we need to remember that in Canada, voters DO NOT elect governments. Voters elect a parliament, that in turn "forms" a government. It's more than a technicality of constitutional law; it's the very foundation of responsible government (which we had a rebellion in Canada to achieve). It's unfortunate that practicing this very basic function of our system has evolved into something grotesque and politically unwise.

      • I have no idea where you got the idea that I think "losers don't get to form government". Legally they can, as I accepted in the third sentence of my post.

        My argument is that nobody onside with a coalition/accord/whatever is making a specific, positive case for a coalition/accord/whatever. The essence of what they are saying is: just trust us. That is bad for them on two levels:
        1. it hurts them in the election
        2. it harms the legitimacy (in terms of the voters) of whatever program the coalition/accord/whatever is to implement, since it was never put in front of the voters

        "We CAN" is a different argument from "We should". We can, for instance, try to eat 50 eggs in an hour. There is no law against it or anything. But you need something more substantive if you are going to convince me that I should eat 50 eggs. Nothing in your post, and almost nothing Michael Ignatieff has said on the issue, addresses that essential debate.

        • Again – I don't necessarily disagree that an arrangement where a second-place party would form government would be politically unwise… Rather, I'm noting that this reality is a sad reflection of our evolved popular understanding of our system of government. Compromise and consensus-building are core features of a parliamentary system, so it is necessary that whatever government ensure its policies and legislation have the agreement of the majority of Canadians' representatives. It seems to me that what you're illustrating – and what I think most people would unfortunately agree on – is that whatever party wins a plurality of seats has licence to implement the platform "put in front of voters," as you say. We should emphasize instead that the government always needs to ensure that a majority of the representatives elected by the Canadian people concur with legislation (that after all is the primary check and balance on executive authority in our system) – no matter what the particular dynamics of that government be (majority, minority, coalition, accord, etc.). The whole coalition buzz has become a diversion from the more basic fact that in our system, the majority rules. Period.

          • You are still not answering my question, of why Canada would be better off with a coalition/accord/whatever, or with this coalition/accord/whatever specifically. I suspect you are afraid to engage that question, so instead you set up a straw man of right wingers that do not believe in parliamentary democracy.

            Let me re-iterate. I AGREE with the legality of majority rule. Most Canadians do too. The reason people care about "the whole coalition buzz", is that we kind of have a stake in what our government does. If that (or an accord or whatever) is the route by which Michael Ignatieff is going to take power, we need to know what is going to happen.

            Electing MPs isn't very meaningful, unless they campaign for things that they actually intend to do. A significant feature of elections, is to allow a debate on different platforms of government. Voters can get the chance to decide which one is closest to their beliefs, and vote on such a basis. We know politicians don't always implement the policies they promise, but at least they present documents to which they can be held accountable.

            In a shadow campaign like this one, that doesn't happen. Parties make promises which are essentially fantasy depictions of what they would do with a majority – a majority they aren't going to get. The real substance of policy formation in a world of coalitions/accords/whatever takes place after the election, and is negotiated. As such, the negotiating positions of the parties are legitimate issues that should be aired in the election. Should a group of parties take power without ever discussing the actual things they plan to do, or even their plans to form a coalition/accord/whatever, Canadians have a right to be very angry, and indeed, to question the legitimacy of what they just voted for.

        • Well, I'm ready to admit that ideally we shouldn't have the second, third, and fourth largest pluralities in parliament take government from the first party.

          Of course, ideally, we have a first party that isn't contemptuous of the House and is willing to cooperate.

          This not being the case, you want to blame the other guys? Why not blame the one guy who's forcing us all into this position?

  36. Intolerant zealots like you hardly have a monopoly on principles. Who in the world do you think you are? Fidel Castro?

    • I note you don't refute his point.

      • The point that only people who agree with him have principles? lol. Next.

      • I note he never does. He thinks making a sound because someone else did counts as a conversation.

  37. The candidate I vote for will have, at most, one seat in Parliament. No more.
    Once again, parties are not elected, MPs are elected, parties are just a convenient way of seeing which MPs views are compatible.

    • And the candidates are not required to have a signature from their leader allowing them to run for the party, dont get funding from their party, dont refer to themselves as a member of a party, never bring in their party leader, dont announce their party on their signs and promotional materials, never sit with their party in the house, never vote as they are told to vote by the party whip.
      I get it!. We elect 308 independents with no party affiliation

      • Oh they get all that.. but ultimately it's people like you and I who can fire them.

        That you don't remember that is sad.

        That they don't remember that is disgraceful.

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