The Tories made them do it



The Tories made them do it

Well that didn’t take long. Barely three days after the Finance minister rose to deliver his annual fall update, it is all in the dumpster: the fiscal plan, the curbs to subsidies to political parties, the suspension of public employees’ right to strike, maybe even the government itself.

And the settled wisdom of every single pundit in the country is that it is all the Conservatives’ fault. After all, they provoked the opposition beyond endurance. They made demands of the opposition that they could not possibly accept. How could Harper have been so reckless? What a toxic gambit! What a colossal miscalculation!

Absolutely no one pins even a sliver of blame on the Liberals, the NDP or the Bloc. Of course not. Faced with the unreasonable and extreme proposal that they raise funds in the same way as the Conservatives have been doing for years — by asking people for their money, rather than taking it from them — they really had no alternative but to seize power. What on earth were they supposed to do? Revamp their moribund fund-raising organizations? Find a message and a leader capable of motivating large numbers of Canadians to click the “donate” button on their websites? Get off their collective duffs? What were the Tories thinking?

No. No, the sensible, restrained, pragmatic thing to do when threatened with the loss of subsidy is to take down the government. The sober, reasonable, moderate thing to do in this time of economic uncertainty is to provoke a constitutional crisis — to cobble together a coalition without a prime minister or a program, propped up by a separatist party, and demand the governor general call upon it to form a new government, replacing the old one we just elected. It’s been six weeks, after all.

Thank God that Canada has such statesmen in this time of peril, willing to put partisanship aside in pursuit of high office. What a contrast to those hyper-partisan, power-mad Conservatives, with their insane demands that the parties make do on the millions in tax credits and reimbursements they receive outside the subsidy.

But what am I saying? Notwithstanding the hundreds of column-inches attacking the Tories for their intolerable affront to opposition sensibilities, it is important to remember that the opposition’s sudden lurch for power had nothing to do with the impending loss of public funds. No, the reason they are absolutely forced to defeat the government this time, having declined to do so over Afghanistan, or global warming, or budgets 2006, 2007 ot 2008, is on account of the fall update. Nothing bespeaks the fierce urgency of now so much as an annual statistical review.

Again, the commentariat is as of one maddened mind. How could the government be so blind? Can it not see that unemployment has soared to 6.2%? Why, that’s four-tenths of a percentage point above its recent, thirty-year low. And what about Canadians’ fears of losing their home, what with the proportion of mortgages more than 90 days in arrears standing at an all-time record 0.2%? Okay, it’s an all-time record low, but still. When will it realize there’s a Depression on? Or coming? Or quite possible, certainly, in other countries.

While this laissez-faire, do-nothing government contents itself with spending more than any government in the history of Canada — 25% more, after inflation and population growth, than at the start of the decade — and pumping tens of billions of dollars into the banking system, what Canadians demand is “stimulus.” And stimulus, we all know, in a sophisticated, 21st century economy, can be delivered in only one way: by hiring large numbers of unionized men to dig holes in the ground (see “infrastructure.”) Loosening monetary policy doesn’t count. Tax cuts don’t count. It only counts as “stimulus” if the government spends it.

Or rather, it only counts as stimulus if a Liberal government spends it. The Tories have already promised to deliver billions more in “stimulus” in the next budget. But that’s, like, 58 days from now. We can’t possibly wait until then. We cannot wait to see how the economic situation evolves, or what effect the extraordinary series of measures countries around the world have taken to date will have. We cannot wait to see what the Americans will do. By then the polls might have shifted. By then the crisis might have passed. The government must fall now — so that it can fall again in a month’s time.

Because, as absolutely everyone agrees, the Conservatives made them do it. Not that that had anything to do with it.

CODA: To be clear, the opposition is entirely within its rights to defeat the government, and to request the Governor General to call upon them to form a government. And it is entirely within her prerogative to accept their request, rather than to defer to the Prime Minister’s apparent preference for dissolution.

On the other hand, it is also within her prerogative to refuse their request. They have to show, at a minimum, that they can command the confidence of the House, that is to say that the coalition is stable and secure — which at this point is anything but certain. For goodness sake, the Liberals can’t even agree who should lead them, let alone whether and on what terms they can get along with the other parties.


The Tories made them do it

  1. So Stephen Harper was just doing his best to make things better before he got sandbagged? Talk about disingenuous. You’d think this was the first time he’d tried to humiliate his opponents under the guise of governing.

  2. Huzzah!

  3. Say Coyne, the fact that the Tories were demanding the removal of subsidies beginning April 2009 doesn’t give you pause? This is why I find your entire position oh so very suspect.

    It doesnt’ take a genius to figure out that implementing a cut to subsidies as early as April of next year pretty much guarantees that the only parties left standing would be the CPC and the NDP, if that. The other parties wouldn’t be able to recover from the following election.

    Had you advocated for such a cut to be implemented in phases so as to give the other parties a chance to survive, you’d appear more credible.

    It is rather clear that, like Harper, you want a two party system with the Tories solidly in the driver’s seat.

  4. Absolutely no one pins even a sliver of blame on the Liberals, the NDP or the Bloc. Of course not. Faced with the unreasonable and extreme proposal that they raise funds in the same way as the Conservatives have been doing for years — by asking people for their money, rather than taking it from them — they really had no alternative but to seize power. What on earth were they supposed to do? Revamp their moribund fund-raising organizations? Find a message and a leader capable of motivating large numbers of Canadians to click the “donate” button on their websites? Get off their collective duffs? What were the Tories thinking?

    Andrew, sorry, but this is just sort of sad. Every other pundit in the entire country has broken down exactly why this particular move was both offensive and ludicrous, and you’re still riding this MY TAX DOLLARS GOING TOWARDS THEM DURNED PARTIES nonsense?

    Again: having votes directly tied to funding is a simple, elegant system that ensures that parties have as much of an incentive to be broadly appealing as to cater to a potentially extremist base; the historically unprecedented (and probably impossible in Canada) Obama machine doesn’t change that. And considering that Harper’s volte-face on stimulus was almost certainly because the right-wing base he depends on hated the idea of “gub’mint spending”, I’d say the system looks better now than it did beforehand.

    Admittedly, though, it’s not quite as sad as being so blind as to say “welp, unemployment isn’t down that much, shurely things will continue that way!”

    (I’m just hoping you don’t jump out of any windows yelling “I don’t get what the big deal is!” halfway down.)

  5. Andrew, it’s good to see that you have been re-united with the bulging vein in your forehead. Since you left it in the studio after taping “At Issue” on Thursday, the entire nation has been held spell-bound waiting for the triumphant reunification. This post confirms you two have found each other again. Ain’t love grand?

  6. Out of curiosity, by the by, has anybody explained to you what “underemployment” is?

  7. Andrew, I do agree with you.

    However, this bizarre sideshow with the PMO taping the NDP meeting displays a lack of true statesmanship on the government side, as well.

    If you lambast the opposition for not acting in the country’s best interests, you might want to reserve some barbs for the Conservatives, as well, who seem to never fail to miss an opportunity to place their own partisan right-wing interests over those of the country . Their withdrawn stimulus package was laden with riders on pay equity and party funding, that had zero, ZERO, to do with the government’s stated goal of working with all parties to meet the spreading financial crisis.

  8. Boudica,

    Fair enough: I hereby advocate for such a cut to be implemented in phases. Possibly the opposition might have suggested the same. Funny that they didn’t.

    As for your last graf, have a look at some of my previous posts on, say, Harper’s decision to force an election in violation of his own election. Or on a hundred other subjects.

  9. Ah, Coyne. It’s always nice to know that there’s at least one writer at Maclean’s capable of intellectual dishonesty at a time like this.

  10. Kady O’Malley’s coverage of the NDP leak has been disgusting. She apparantly doesn’t mind that the entire NDP and BQ caucus has been lying to her face for the past 5 days about why they are voting against this, doesn’t mind that a federalist political party made a deal with a seperatist party to overthrow Canada’s lawfully elected government, and doesn’t mind that the NDP’s Mulclair thinks so little of her puny and shriveled intelligence that she even now continues to let them lie about why they plan to vite against the government…what tickles her juices is that a conservative was accidently given the number to call in to listen to a meeting.

    Prorities people!

  11. Saying that the opposition parties should update their fundraising organizations if they want to remain competitive is one thing.

    Forcing them to do it by April, with no notice, immediately after an election campaign that most of them had to go into debt to finance, during the worst economic downturn in decades… that’s a bit much isn’t it?

    I don’t think it’s entirely hyperbole to say that this move by the Tories had the potential to bankrupt 3 of the 4 opposition parties. I can understand why the Tories immediate concern during this time of economic uncertainty is “how can we slit the throats of our political rivals”. I’m just less shocked than Mr. Coyne that the opposition demurred to help steady the knife for them.

  12. I know you just want to provoke discussion. But really…the children are watching, Mr. Coyne.

  13. Did any of you even read the column? There are no more subsidy cuts. Stimulus is coming in 58 days. As of now, Sunday at 6pm, what is it about government policy that makes this utterly ridiculous coalition so necessary?

  14. Fair enough: I hereby advocate for such a cut to be implemented in phases. Possibly the opposition might have suggested the same. Funny that they didn’t.”

    Funny that they didn’t?!?!? That’s your answer?

    C’mon Coyne! They “didn’t” because their intent here is quite clear. This is about wiping out their opposition. That is the only logical conclusion.

    I defy you tell us otherwise.

  15. Andrew Coyne -doing the Uriah Heap for his beloved CPC!

    We’re ever so ‘umble we are – wouldn’t do anything venal – just ordinary Canadians on a mission!
    If we slips the occasional ideological prezzie into our Economic update – it’s only to keep our loyal trumpeters like young Andrew ‘appy – that’s all – we are just simple folk like all of yers!

    Yea right Coyne – wriggle out of this cleft stick if you can!

  16. >No. No, the sensible, restrained, pragmatic thing to do when threatened with the loss of subsidy is to take down the government. The sober, reasonable, moderate thing to do in this time of economic uncertainty is to provoke a constitutional crisis — to cobble together a coalition without a prime minister or a program, propped up by a separatist party, and demand the governor general call upon it to form a new government, replacing the old one we just elected. It’s been six weeks, after all.

    Heh, you can strike the first sentence after “No.”, and all other references to what has now been revealed to be a pretext. It’s shaping up that the opposition decided it might like to be the government, period.

  17. It’s apparent that Jack Layton didn’t need much provocation as he has been planning a “leveraged buyout” of the government for some time.

  18. FB: That the only reason he is doing anything is because he’s running scared? That implies he’s fiscally and economically delusional. The fact that he’s running away from what he wrote doesn’t change that it was him that produced it.

    Ti-Guy: Yeah, but discussion about what? How Coyne needs a bit of remedial economics instruction?

    (Paul Krugman’s column about just how bad killing time for three months or so can be is a good start. But he just won the Nobel as an out-and-out Keynesian, and nobody’s a Keynesian these days. That’s nothing compared to Andrew “what’s this ‘underutilized labor capacity’ thing” Coyne’s economic genius.)

  19. Demosthenes, having votes directly tied to funding is a simple, elegant system that ensures that two parties (originally intended to be most particularly the Liberals) will have a dominant funding advantage. No person who supports public party financing AND believes in equity should support anything less than an equal lump sum delivered to each party which achieves an arbitrary, and reasonably low, percentage of popular vote.

  20. Ti-Guy: Yeah, but discussion about what? How Coyne needs a bit of remedial economics instruction?

    I don’t think he cares about that. What he cares his about is how many clicks this post will get. That’s all I’d care about, if I were he.

    It’s the new “business model” for corporate journalism, dontya know.

  21. (Another irrelevant term for The Resident Economist: “discretionary spending as percentage of GDP.” Most lesser minds would have paid attention to it, but our gracious host realized that the only thing that matters is overall spending adjusted for population and inflation. Such clarity!)

  22. The Nobel for economics isn’t exactly given out to reward a coherent and consistent stream of economic thought over time. Citing it is, due to its nature and the nature of economics (which is emphatically not a particularly useful predictive science), a fallacious appeal to authority if you’re hoping to lend weight to an argument or belief.

  23. Down to just two Bloggers here that I have any respect for.

    Unfortunately neither Wells or Coyne posts enough.

    I don’t always like what they have to say but they are true professionals, unlike the Macleans Kiddies table.

  24. “It’s apparent that Jack Layton didn’t need much provocation as he has been planning a “leveraged buyout” of the government for some time.”

    Funny, Tim. The only thing I’m seeing here is Harper pulling a Nixon on us. We now have the PMO secretly taping opposition meetings?!?

  25. Brad: Both the Greens and the Bloc benefit tremendously from this system, so how on earth does it disproportionately benefit the Liberals and Conservatives?

    If the Liberals only wanted to benefit themselves, they’d lift the raising restrictions and the restrictions on corporate donations completely. That would definitely help them. But that’s not what Chretien did, to his credit.

    (Hey, here’s a question. No corporate donations, and no union donations. Fine. So who, exactly, is bundling all those Tory donations? Where does the money come from?)

  26. Demos, I’m also wondering if the decrease in old prices will affect the amount of money Harper can raise in Alberta…

  27. Andrew so much of the time, I respect your viewpoint, but when it comes to Harper’s leadership, I have a blinding deep dislike for this individual and right now, my heart feels joyous at the thought of seeing Steven cut down to size and even wish for him to be replaced as leader of the Conservatives. Don’t spoil it for me. I have longed for a merger of the Liberals and NDP for years and perhaps this possible coalition experience will help unite the left. It CAN BE an exciting time in Canadian Politics…let’s give a coaliton government experiment a chance. This CAN BE a great moment in Canadian history. Since we are in rough economic times, the coalition is sure to work more effectively for the good of Canada. They know the people are counting on them and I would like to be optimistic here and say, they just may deliver!

  28. Brad, almost every competent commentator that has discussed the decision noted that it was a tremendous victory for Keynesianism over Monetarism, especially considering both the source (who are practically Hayek disciples) and the almost-unheard-of sole awarding of the prize.

    And, yes, the very research he was given the award for is thoroughly connected to the idea that targeted government spending can benefit the economy. Remember, it was for the insight that competitive advantage in international trade can (and does) come from the advantages a state builds as much as the ones it already possesses. It proved that targeted state investment in comparative production capabilities creates real and sustainable economic advantages.

    (Now, where might that be handy these days?)

  29. Down to just two Bloggers here that I have any respect for.

    I think all the bloggers here are fantastic. I think Macleans is among the first Canadian establishment media agencies to really embrace the emergent model for journalism.

  30. Shawn: If Andrew had wanted to break real news about fundraising, instead of grousing about how nobody thinks that the financial update is just peachy, that’d be an excellent place to start.

    But that’s probably beneath such an accomplished Economic Mind.

  31. Mr. Coyne: “The other complicating factor is the Bloc. Either they are part of the coalition or they aren’t. If they aren’t, then it is an open question whether they would have the confidence of the house.”

    This is not correct. The Bloc doesn’t have to be in Cabinet, they just need to officially declare — in writing or in person to Her Excellency — that they intend to support a vote of confidence in a Liberal-NDP coalition. That would justify the GG in handing the reins to Dion.

  32. It’s not easy being wrong, Mr. Coyne. I’d be upset too.

  33. The Greens and Bloc, or any other party, don’t benefit as tremendously as if all parties had an equal footing to put out their messages. I fail to see how you expect to dispute that.

    What Krugman was awarded the Nobel for in the current context is no different than prior awards: they thought it was good at the time. It is clear from the track record that the ideas for which the award has been made are sometimes misguided if not outright wrong. This award might be supported more strongly with the passage of time, but can’t be assumed _at this time_ to impart any meaningful weight.

  34. The burden of today’s post seems to be that it is irresponsible for the opposition to try to bring down the government in these circumstances. The alternative would presumably be to leave them in power and deal with issues as they arise. The problem with this seems to be that there is zero trust of the government on the part of the opposition parties. The attempt in the economic statement to remove their funding, followed by today’s big triumphant eavesdropping display, suggest pretty strongly to me that they are right not to trust the government.

  35. Personally, I am hoping for three outcomes out of this mess:

    1) That Harper’s leadership be finally challenged by the more balanced members of the CPC. While Harper has disgraced himself this week, I still want to believe that there a decent Tories who could go about redressing the damage that Harper has caused to their party.

    2) That Iggy be given the reins of the coalition if there is to be one. Let Iggy straddle that powder keg of a coalition and lead the country through one of the worst economic period of our time… while our soldiers are serving on the front in A’stan. I personally believe that the mythology that has envelopped this man will quickly dissipate only to reveal that he doesn’t have the political instincts or leadership skills needed to lead the LPC, let alone the country.

    3) That our country survives this mess and that CAnadians come to understand the implications of staying at home and not uphold their civic duty on election day.

  36. “Absolutely no one pins even a sliver of blame on the Liberals, the NDP or the Bloc. Of course not.”

    Absolutely spot on Andrew but, today, I am tired of pointing out how incestous the relationship between msm and Liberals is. Right now I am fed up with the Cons, their spinelessness and their strategy of being in office but not in power. These bunch of clowns really can’t walk and chew gum at the same time and I see no reason to defend them.

  37. I have heard it said that if I were to donate 400$ to any Canadian political party, I would get a 300$ tax rebate for that donation. Early in this discussion, iirc, Flaherty mentioned three ways the parties are subsidized by tax payer money. I believe his point was that he was eliminating only one of the three, as though that made him more reasonable. I have to admit, I can only think of two: the 1.95$ per vote, and the income tax credit for donations to political parties. I would be very interested to know how much tax money goes to income tax credits for donations to political parties. We know the 1.95$ per vote adds up to around 27-30 million. Without knowing the numbers, it still seems to me that if the Conservative party relies less on this form of subsidization, that is because it relies more heavily on the second type, where individual donations are transformed into tax credits. I’d be interested, especially, in some break down of how much each party recieves of public money from each of the three forms of subsidization. I’d be interested in any help working these numbers out, and anyone who can tell me what the third form of subsidization is gets ultra happy bonus points.

  38. “The problem with this seems to be that there is zero trust of the government on the part of the opposition parties. The attempt in the economic statement to remove their funding, followed by today’s big triumphant eavesdropping display, suggest pretty strongly to me that they are right not to trust the government.”

    Which is why the Opposing parties have no choice but to take Harper down while they can. If there was any hope of a reconciliation, Harper’s latest Nixon move has done away with this. Harper has shown that he will stop at nothing to get at the Opposition. They have to take him out while they can.

  39. Wow, from his photo one would never guess that Coyne is a 14-year-old girl.

    But there it is, undeniable!

    Huh-waaaaah! The opposition parties are finally playing hardball back! Poor Stephen Harper, he deserves to be the only one playing hardball!! Don’t you see?!?

    Look, all at once Harper handed the opposition parties the motivation (loss of public funding) and political cover (no stimulus) to take him down. And now Harper’s groupies line up to complain that nobody respects Big Daddy anymore!

    This is a harsh lesson for Harper. If he maintains power, he will have to govern like a minority PM for the first time. If he loses power, he will surely lose the leadership of his party. Either way, it’s a good day for Canada.

    Unless you’re a teenage girl, of course.

  40. With all due respect Andrew, as one of the countries finest columnists and bloggers (when blogging), i think you are missing the boat on this one completely.

    The point here is the any of the actual substantive measures, and esp not the subsidy. While all these things are catalysts, what the other three parties are responding to is a party that they, and a lot of others, no longer see fit to govern.

    Whether any of the controversial measures that were part of the update were ‘good policies’ or not, they were in no way shape or form relevant to the matter at hand (the current economic condition). Further, even if they believed that laissez faire is the way to go right now (hard to tell given there message has covered everyhting in 6 weeks from there is no problem, our fundamentals are sound, we need a massive stimulus now, we need to wait), they chose to play petty politics rather then engage in a an attempt to build consensus, or at a minimum, put their version of Canadians priorities first. Even my most ardent CPC-supporter pals get that.

    The CPC, and for that matter every past minority government in Canadian history, save the Borden coalition, has treated minority status as a majority, except when forced, and even then more often relied on floor crossings then cooperation. That behaviour has been detrimental to our democracy and to well-being. As a supporter of PR, this is not news, and should not be controversial to you.

    The opposition parties stand to make clear that if this government is not interested in anything but what is best for themselves and their own views as what is best for anyone else, then they will no longer be governing. As you, seemingly reluctantly allow, given that those parties form the majority of this parliament and are there to do what they believe is in the interests and intent of the people that put them there, this is completely legit. And with stunts like the conference call tape today, it looks like that is also quite likely.

  41. Coyne:

    Even if the government backs down here and now, it is only a tactical withdrawal, and the opposition know this. If they let the Tory regime escape the knife, they will return with a vengeance in January. At this point, the opposition has no choice but to try to destroy Harper. As your colleague Paul said on Friday on the Brawdcast, Harper essentially said to the Opposition that “I will never stop making you hurt” and that Harper will keep grinding away at them.

    Sure the issues may just be window-dressing, but it essentially boils down to the Opposition being so desperate not to replay the last Parliament that they were willing to change the dynamic.

    Beyond that, the FU was completely untenable, even aside from the political financing issue. Harper asked the opposition to sign off on the lie in terms of economic projections and fiscal projections, as well as sign off on terribly unwise ideas such as a firesale of federal assets to hide a deficit.

  42. Jack M,

    What have you been smoking? Just how can the Bloc promise to make a public pledge to keep Stephane Dion in power for two years without sitting at a Cabinet Table to make sure the coalition government does not pass legislation deemed against the interests of Quebec? It would be teh death warrant for teh Bloc. Now that’s not a bad thing, but I doubt if the Bloc wants that.

  43. Maybe I’ll have to give that Libertarian website another read. During the election, it struck me as crazy……considering what we’re enduring now from all four of these political parties……perhaps not so much.

  44. In 2004 Harper while in opposition with the support of the NDP and the block jointly signed and handed a letter to the governor general with the request (opposition coalition) during Liberal Paul martins minority government.. so now what exactly is the difference since then and now.. when the same opposition parties want to form the same coalition with the Liberal party?? aren’t the conservatives being hypocrites??

    Seems well and goo if they the conservatives want to form a coalition with the backing of the block party and now when the other opposition want to use the same formula of 2004- they start calling out that they are laying in bed with a separatist party?(BLOQ).. so why is Harper signature on the same 2004 letter together with the BLOQ party leader and NDP asking for the same ” to form a coalition government??

    This looks like the dying horses last kick.. when they sense defeat they kick hardest.. I believe the Opposition parties will be able to form an alternative government and that is what Canada needs now and I’m sure they will be able to weather all the abuses the conservatives through at them… they have developed thick skin by now…

  45. Again: having votes directly tied to funding is a simple, elegant system that ensures that parties

    Except that is wrong. You can only direct your “funding” by voting for a party that runs in your Electoral District.

    Case in point, in Central Nova, one should not direct “funding” the Liberals. Additionally, parties such as the Libertarian party is unable to receive funding from all Canadians as they do not run in all 208 districts.

    However, all parties are free to send out e-mails, run websites, hold town hall meetings and request funds from individuals (within the law).

  46. “At this point, the opposition has no choice but to try to destroy Harper. ”

    Not “try.” They HAVE to take him out now. This will be their only shot. Can you imagine what the House of Commons will be like from this point on if Harper is allowed to get away with this? Personally, I would settle for a Tory caucus revolt but that might be too much to ask a bunch of sheep to do. The opposing parties will have to do this themselves. They have no other choice. I can’t believe that I am advocating this but Harper’s latest secret taping nonsense leaves no room for compromise. This can no longer be tolerated.

  47. Demosthenes,

    While we’re name dropping our favourite economists, care to give us your economic credentials, by which you decide which highly educated economists are right and which are wrong? Otherwise, just knowing that you have a favourite (Krugman rulez 4 eva!) really doesn’t do much to change the opinion of others on the matter.

    “Oh, did you hear, some guy on the internet thinks Krugman is right about this whole crisis thing? So I guess that settles it then!”

  48. When it comes to economics, everyone’s an expert, Olaf.

  49. Andrew Coyne is absolutely correct – and everybody here knows that !!

    The Bloc wants to separate but they would prefer to destroy Canada first.

    Any party that supports the Bloc is guilty of treason.

    Government (taxpayer) being forced to hand over money to political parties is a sure recipe for Fascism.

    Question: Why are Canadians so reluctant to donate to Political Parties – except, of course, the Conservatives. Any message in that ??

  50. Finally some sanity on this issue from a Macleans columnist.

    Has open warfare broken out at Macleans HQ? Wherry and Selly setting up a diversion by the water cooler while O Malley crab crawls to Cherry Bomb Coyne’s office. Wells maintains cool, cynical detatchment while he reconsiders all those bad things he said about Dion.

    Coyne calls for reinforcements from Maich, who is mysteriously somewhere else…..

    Weird times, have you had your Christmas party yet or do you wrap it up with the big Rogers one in January? And will you all be sitting at seperate tables.

    Sunday At Issue panel should be interesting. How are you going to keep Alan Greg from slugging you, or you slugging him?

    But again, some sanity…you and Spector are the only to so far.

  51. Andrew, you are wasting your time trying to pound some common sense into these people.
    Instead of pouring cold water on them you should pour some gasoline like Kady O’Malley and Chris Reid do. We need to feed their frenzy to a point that they will run out on the street and storm some federal government buildings.
    We spend all that taxpayer money on riot police these dudes sit on their asses and do nothing.
    We need some riots now so the riot cops work for their keep at least once in a while.

    Do you remember Trudeau and his statement “Just watch me”??
    We need a replay of that. It is long overdue.

  52. As one of the few (so it would appear) non-partisans to comment here, I think Coyne makes a series of excellent points. I agree that the parties should have to raise their own damned money, if for no other reason than I already hate the fact that BQ mp’s get federal pensions. It’s ridiculous that we continue to fund them. I don’t recall a similar outcry regarding funding changes when Chretien closed off corporate/union donations to parties.

    At the end of the day, it is certainly interesting to watch principles (i’m talking about all parties,here) take a backseat to political expediency or the nastiness of partisanship.

    For those of you knocking Mr. Coyne, he has consistently hammered the Tories for spending like socialists. Don’t any of you read regularly?

    Keep it up, Mr. Coyne.

  53. When it comes to economics, everyone’s an expert, Olaf.

    I have a BA in political science and a diploma in the school of hard knocks. I’m certainly no expert in economics.*

    * Actually, I am. I was just being temporarily modest.

  54. Sorry Andrew – Don’t buy your support for the Conservative’s machinations – I for one would rather that our elections be funded totally through public funds than endure the total unfairness of political parties being funded by corporations, unions or whatever that expect favors in return for supporting the government. Perhaps then we would actually see politicians who try to do something that is actually beneficial to the voters rather than satisfy whoever provided the most money for their campaign. I, for one am sick to death of political parties more concerned about their idealogies than about the good of the country. Sorry, on this one PM Harper gets a big fat zero. Hopefully the coalition comes through and we see the last of him!!

  55. This is ridiculous, how about I turn this around and unmask your lack of neutrality, no better or worse than your peers: that you would go to such lengths to see the subsidy eliminated even if it requires paper-clipping the change to an economic update. What about debating the effects on electoral politics, the balance of power? What, what are you talking about, this is an act of austerity to set an example! Oh silly me, put that way, let’s ignore its effects, as long as they’re good in Andrew Coyne’s and other conservatives’ minds.

    Get off your conservative high horse, Andrew. You know very well that the Conservatives were born out of a grassroots Reformist background. To compare their abilities to raise money with that of a near-ancient, ossified political party like the Liberals is just plain silly and more of your look-the-other-way-as-long-as-it-suits-my-ends logic. And no, repeating Obama’s name as many times as you want–no matter how in keeping with the times it is–doesn’t mean we should throw logic and history out the door and suddenly expect the IBM of political parties to become as nimble as its upstart competitors.

    Right the cause may be, but surely the ends can’t justify the cheap means that Harper has gone about it. Party financing deserves its own debate, its own airing of issues; not the kind of cheap opportunism we’ve been shown now when it most benefits a single party, presented under the guise of an economic issue.

  56. TJ Cook, I take exception to your assertion that Coyne is a fourteen year old girl. Fourteen year old girls would NOT be okay with doing away with pay equity legislation. Not only is Coyne not a fourteen year old girl, he hasn’t given a moment’s consideration to girls of any age.

    And the other bit about selling off our assets–in a real estate downturn, mind–yeah, that’s a brilliant one. I remember when Ontario did that (under Flaherty, that great lifelong learner). My retail sales tax office had its little building sold, and they moved into rental accommodations downtown. Then there was massive sums in ‘”leasehold improvements”, because of course the rental facilities weren’t ideal. I don’t know what the rent is per month, nor do I know what they got for the building, but I’m quite comfortable asserting that we’ve used up all that money on improvements and rent since then. So now–in the midst of an economic crisis, mind you–we are paying more than we would have had to, and can look forward to doing so for the rest of our lives. Good times!

    Yes, Mr. Coyne, it IS all the Conservatives fault.

  57. Plebes…please note that when the elite are in a crisis, they reveal, quite openly, how little they actually know. Darian is a good example of that.

  58. Yes, Mr. Coyne, it IS all the Conservatives fault.

    Oh, that’s not fair. Surely, George W. Bush is at least somewhat culpable in this mess, no?

  59. Oh Andrew, you’re such a kidder!

  60. Darian,

    You have the seperate debate now, they have removed the provision. But your point of what to expect form the Liberal party…..hey thats not anyones problem other than the Liberal Party’s.

    Honestly, it is not that hard to set up a merchant website and then make a plea….Guess what it is already there at Liberal.ca, has been for some time.

    Jimminy Crickets, there were fortunes made setting up web stores and selling products on line, heard of I tunes? This is bloody rocket science. Heck it became a joke as Hillary Clinton started to do the same and would shameleslsy mention HillaryClinton.com. Havent heard the pitch once from any Liberal recently…..

    Are they really trying? Nope….dont know why that should matter to anyone other than Liberal Party members, they overspent, they went into debt and they didnt raise funds under their own rules….Sad but true.

  61. “Shocking”

    Shocking is the Conservative conduct, so say your fellow pundits here.

    The Government shouldn’t be giving money to the parties, instead of them getting it themselves?????

    As I said,


  62. Oh, that’s not fair. Surely, George W. Bush is at least somewhat culpable in this mess, no?

    C’mon, Olaf. This isn’t hight school.

    …heh. Actually, with the elite, it *is*.

  63. Andrew, could you be any more in favor of the Conservative party?? Really, how biased can you get??

  64. Hands up – those in favor of your tax $$ going to support the Bloc-Breaker-Uppers ?

  65. How ’bout a compromise: the Liberal-NDP Government keeps the $1.95 subsidy but cancels the political donations tax credit. That’ll save taxpayers a bundle of money AND ensure that only those who really care about politics in all its democratic purity will still donate. It’s really irrelevant that such a measure would cripple the Tory fund-raising effort.

  66. Re: ron in kelowna. Well that’s easy, all the Quebecers who voted for them. There were quite a few in our country last I checked.

  67. No one’s getting it. The Canadian elite is in a crisis…likely as a result of a difference of opinion on what the various fiscal stimuli across the world economies will mean to their two sectaries…commodities and manufacturing.

    All I can recommend is. Stop spending.

  68. Maybe this will encourage the Liberal “supporters” out there, too many of whom have short arms and deep pockets.

    If you donate $400 to the LPC on Dec 31st, file your 2008 Income Tax return as soon as possible in the new year, you will get $300 back from the taxman possibly in March. Net cost $100. By far the most effective way to “screw Harper”, which many of you want to do.

    Its so much easier to keep the LPC afloat this way, rather than go thru the whole extremely risky coup.

    You’re welcome.

  69. Brainwashed, eh ?

    Just because our beloved Media would never ever – oh no, never ever refer to it as such, it still is a ‘ Bloc-Liberal-NDP coalition ‘ !!

    bloc Bloc BLOC !!!

  70. If you donate $400 to the LPC on Dec 31st, file your 2008 Income Tax return as soon as possible in the new year, you will get $300 back from the taxman possibly in March. Net cost $100. By far the most effective way to “screw Harper”, which many of you want to do.

    Yes, send more money to the advertising agencies and PR firms, Canadians. That’ll save democracy!

  71. Coyne, aren’t you paying attention? The path to a constitutional crisis apparently began even before Parliament sat.

  72. Andrew,
    Thank you for stating what I thought was obvious. At a time when our businesses need stability – our loyal opposition will do it’s best to make a fragile situation worse. I wish the Conservatives would have left the funding thing alone but really are the opposition parties ready to risk the stability of our economy over this stupidity. I am sure the Bloc has no accountability for this, in fact political and economic instability only helps their aim, the NDP well they are just happy to have any degree of power and I would ask at least a few Liberals to grow up. The opposition parties need some adult supervision. This will have some real negative impacts:( More $$ for interest groups, an insatiable separatist party and more drags on the economy.

  73. Ryan, it was Harper who introduced this gambit. Harper. Economic consequences should be placed at his door.

    On the plus side, no one seems to have noticed this crisis in the international press.

  74. If Coyne is too painfully partisan to read, go read Wherry for a while to calm yourself down.

    What would complete this circus is if it turns out the Conservatives had some inkling that all this was afoot and dropped the FU bomb to flush it out.

  75. What would complete this circus is if it turns out the Conservatives had some inkling that all this was afoot and dropped the FU bomb to flush it out.

    Yes, yes, they play chess…


  76. While an administrative coup d’etat is possible, even probable, we should note this episode. It is really the last desperate threshings of the eastern political establishment in response to the leakage of economic power westwards and southwards. Once upon a time, the federal Liberals were a disciplined, elite political force. They are now reduced to a leaderless group lacking internal consistency.

  77. we should note this episode. It is really the last desperate threshings of the eastern political establishment in response to the leakage of economic power westwards

    NEP! NEP!

  78. Jack Mitchell said, “On the plus side, no one seems to have noticed this crisis in the international press.”

    Likely because they wouldnt be able to believe the bone headed stupidity on all sides was possible.

    This was marginally dumb to begin with and now it has reached Ponds and Fleischman proportions. And our supposedly cycnical and jaded press swallow it hook line and sinker (with notable exceptions)

  79. Likely because they wouldnt be able to believe the bone headed stupidity on all sides was possible.

    No, that’s not why. It’s because Canada doesn’t really matter. Live abroad sometime and you’ll find out.

  80. ac,
    i’m generally a fan but this blog should carry the disclaimer: Con talking points – at least it would be an improvement on the ones i’ve sen today.
    Hoowever i take your point that the opp iisn’t ready to govern [ although why is it so shocking to include the bq now when it seemed fine for H to consider it in 04 ]. There is a major downside for the opp if they get it wrong. They need to step back, after wringing every concession from H tey can, they’ve already won, don’t overplay your hand [ H miistake]. I would love to see H go down- his recklessness has been breathtaking- but i think it would be better all around [ for the country ] if he was pulled down by the Cons- there’s a lot of anger there. In short i don’t think the opp is representitive of the country. There are great dangers here for us all if this spins out of control- like it already has.

  81. We may yet see Harper come out of this still PM, chastened and willing to govern cautiously and responsibly for a time, seeking consensus where possible and placing a priority on stability and sound management. This is what most of the country probably assumed he was going to do before he threw the shit into the fan last week. But the whole bloody unnecessary crisis has to play out now. The Tories seem willing to throw everything they can think of into preventing the opposition coalition from taking shape and executing its non-confidence vote. Their tactics are quite likely to damage further their ability to govern. What a mess.

  82. The Tories only miscalculation was in backing down, legitimizing the farce. I would surmise that the Conservatives now calculate that they are still better prepared, organized and led to govern the country and there is no need to cede the political initiative to the upstarts that by some horrific twist of luck might be able to lump themselves together into some misshapen beast resembling a “government”. Maybe it was just too risky, or ultimately, Harper realizes that however bare knuckled a pugilist he is he could never match the political depravity of the opposition and a s such, has backed down for the sake of the country.

  83. To those attacking the bias of Andrew Coyne – give me a break. Coyne attacked Harper on in-and-out, on his environment plan (from the right), on his excessive spending, on the utility of sales tax cuts in place of income tax cuts, on the appointment of Emerson and Fortier, on income trusts and quite vociferously on the Quebec as a nation motion.

    Apparently to the small minds of the blogosphere partisanship is disagreeing with them, and decrying partisanship is an argument.

    I agree with Coyne regarding how this affair has been framed – though the commentariat has been primed to think of Harper as a bully (probably true) and Dion as a wimp (quite untrue – virtually every one of his speeches were full of Martin era attack ad vitriol). Harper has even backed down, yet the coalition persists (it was almost certainly planned ahead).

    On the other hand, I fail to see why it is illegitimate for a coalition to form. It is surely legal – there is precedent. Frankly I think the right question is why the Liberals didn’t realize they could govern earlier? Is this about power – sure. But I think the Richeleau argument is relevant in global politics as it is domestic: asked why he sided with the Protestant Dutch over the Catholic Spanish despite being a member of the Catholic clergy he argued instead that the truest form of Catholicism was French Catholicism, thusly, what is in the interest of France is in the interest of Catholicism. Power is and must be the motive of political parties – power and the national interest hopefully align in well-constructed democracies.

    For the most part, a westminster democracy works in this regard – unless there are minority governments (which are now a perpetual feature of our democracy with a united right and a mighty Bloc – saved in 2003 by Chretien’s subsidy, incidentally). So yes the commentariat has made Harper into uncle Claudius, and Coyne has made Dion into Hamlet – perhaps we should really look into the structural roots of why Canadian politics are Shakespearian in the first place.

  84. No one has noticed in the international press since no one outside of Canada believes that Canadians would be stupid enough to topple a duly elected government with a triple headed monster with no coherent policy at a time of global economic turmoil.

    Calling all adults in the Liberal Party…If you want to return to government for the long term consider doing it the old-fashioned way — by developing a platform Canadians like and getting elected on it.

  85. Why has campaign funding become so essential?
    Because we’re ‘selling soap’, fear, and smear.

    The annual ‘subsidy’ should be the annual CAP.
    NO private financial donations.

    Put out a real platform on a website or a sheet of paper.
    (Don’t forget the health care wait time guarantee)
    Supply rational reasons for the policies on a second or third sheet.

    And why should politicians have a larger tax credit for donations than food banks?

    Leaving the separatists out of it … didn’t the two ‘opposition parties’ get 1,000,000 more votes than Canada’s New Government?

  86. If teh annual subsidy were a Cap, it would give a permanent advantage to the party with the largest number of votes (the CPC). Is that what you are arguing for? Suits me, but I doubt if even Liberals would like it.

  87. So yes the commentariat has made Harper into uncle Claudius, and Coyne has made Dion into Hamlet – perhaps we should really look into the structural roots of why Canadian politics are Shakespearian in the first place.

    C’est qui ça, Shakespeare?

    Hoosier: This country is complicated enough; it doesn’t need another foreign narrative forced onto it.

  88. Google sheds light. Always.

    Why the unprecedented Liberal shenanigans ?

    He is from Oak Lake, Manitoba – explains it all.

    Google Maurice Strong

  89. Beautiful article. Very well sums up the one-sided view that has been portrayed here by the media. You stand alone from your colleagues, but you happen to be correct.

  90. Harper first;country second. Say we’re moving centre; go hard right agenda. Say we’re looking for better atmosphere; go for the jugular first chance. Rub their noses in it; kick them while they’re down.
    Obama offer hope for the future, a plan; we offer more of the same, double talk and delay.
    That’s the problem Andrew. Sweaterboy lies, same old dirt. As Flanagan says blood in the mouth.

  91. Ti-Guy: “This country is complicated enough; it doesn’t need another foreign narrative forced onto it.”


    O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven;
    It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
    A futile gambit. Pray can I not,
    Though inclination be as sharp as will:
    My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
    And, like a man to double business bound,
    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
    And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
    Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
    To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
    But to confront the visage of offence?
    And what’s in prayer but this two-fold force,
    To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
    Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;
    My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
    Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul motion’?

    Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
    And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to th’ polls;
    And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d:
    A villain seeks to crush us; and for that,
    I, his sole son, do this same villain send
    To th’ polls.
    O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
    He made the FU grossly, full of bread;
    With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
    And how his audit stands who knows save Wells?
    But in our circumstance and course of thought,
    ‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
    To take him in the rallying of his base,
    When he is fit and season’d for campaign?
    Up, pact; and know thou a more horrid hent:
    When he is filming ads, or in his sweater,
    Or in the incestuous pleasure of his War Room;
    At plotting, budg’ting, or about some act
    That has no relish of salvation in’t;
    Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
    And that his party may be damn’d and black
    As hell, whereto it goes.

  92. Beautiful article. Very well sums up the one-sided view that has been portrayed here by the media. You stand alone from your colleagues, but you happen to be correct.


    What is it with conservative men and gush?

  93. Jack, that looked beautiful.

    *sigh* I really do wish I spoke English sometimes. ;)

  94. I hope the National Editor’s long awaited weigh in does not stifle the views of the much more insightful and entertaining bloggers on the MacLeans site. I’m talking Inkless and ITQ of course.

  95. It s funny, only because you wait long enough and suddenly its the whole other side of things slamming Andrew Coyne. You guys should have been there for the Emerson days!

    Our democracy, Liberals argue, depends on a government subsidy to the Liberal party. Please, for the love of democracy, save the subsidy!!!

    If this isn’t about the subsidy, then the subsidy ban should remain in the coming stimulus package from the coalitionos. And, swill the stimulus package be the carbon tax Green shift? We were told, just 100 days ago, that we would make megatonnes of money with it.

  96. Ti-Guy: I tend toward centre/left and I kind of want to gush too. Although, I want to gush vomit.

    At this point I think it’s appropriate to remind Coyne that the call to election kind of flies in the face of bill C-16. Maybe THAT’s got people in a bit of an uproar. Not just campaign funding. That and the fact that Harper’s kind of a toad.

  97. To sum up:

    1) The Governor General should have invited Stéphane Dion to be PM in September.
    2) But Dion mustn’t ask for it now.

  98. “(Hey, here’s a question. No corporate donations, and no union donations. Fine. So who, exactly, is bundling all those Tory donations? Where does the money come from?)”

    People. Individuals supporting a party in a democracy. Weird, eh?

  99. Whatchoo talkin ’bout, Wellis?

  100. Ignore him – just a Troll.

  101. Yikes!!……..Inkless is shutting down for a few weeks….bummer……..what’s going on here?

  102. What Andrew said

  103. Andrew

    You are the voice of reason. You alone stand up to the bandwagon, knee-jerk, mainstream, Liberal
    media in this country who are only concerned about appearing to be doing something rather than
    actually doing something rational.

  104. Well put Andrew

  105. Not one single Canadian — zero, nada, zilch — voted in the last election for a Liberal/NDP coalition government propped up by the separatists.

    The Buck-Ninety-Five Coalition has every right to bring down the government, obviously, but Canadians should get to choose their own government.

    Just out of curiosity, do any of you pro-coalition commenters have a problem with letting Canadian voters — as opposed to a group of politicians from the three losing parties — choose who will govern the nation?

  106. EBD: Just like no Canadian voted for a CPC minority propped up by any of the opposition parties. You’re obfuscating the issue. Canadians elect representatives, and those representatives are in turn tasked with governing by trying to gain the confidence of the House.

  107. Oh, and EBD: they already have chosen their representatives, and it would be most unusual to go again to the polls when it has not been demonstrated that the present Parliament cannot proceed.

  108. No, Andrew nPoC, the Conservatives weren’t “propped up.” The opposition were free to bring them down at any time. There was no formal agreement with any party; the Conservatives remained in power because the Liberals scuttled out of the House during confidence votes. What we’re looking at now is not the same at all: we’re (possibly) about to have a coalition government with an effective majority without one single Canadian having voted for that in the last election.

    So, answer the question: do you have a problem with Canadian voters, instead of a bunch of politicians from the three losing parties, choosing their own government?

  109. We don’t elect governments, we elect Parliaments! This is not a presidency! People couldn’t have voted for a coalition if they wanted to! You’re just spouting rhetoric (and CPC talking points, to boot)!

  110. Paul Wells, those things might appear contradictory, but since we had an election between September and now – one in which Dion got tromped – well, he probably shouldn’t ask for it now.

  111. I’ve never understood why we as a nation allow the Bloq… a party intent on breaking Quebec away from Canada, official representation in our House of Commons. In most other nations theirl eadership would be tried for treason. And now, it seems that Jack Layton is willing to climb into bed with them, all in the name of gaining power. Throw Stephane Dion into the mix ( the man who suffered amoung the most painful and humiliating defeats in the history of Canadian politics just six weeks ago) and it seems that one of these clowns could be our next Prime Minister. If I understand it all correctly, the decision as to whether or not it even goes to another election rests entirely in the hands of the Governer General. And, she is a Liberal appointee.

    I love this country, I really do. But at times like this, I’m appalled by the way the tail wags the dogs at times.

    Really, what authority do any of Dion, Layton, Duceppe ( or Rae or Ignatieff for that matter) have to govern ?

  112. Our democracy, Liberals argue, depends on a government subsidy to the Liberal party. Please, for the love of democracy, save the subsidy!!!

    Oh, pipe down, Chucker. You’re raving.

  113. Really, what authority do any of Dion, Layton, Duceppe ( or Rae or Ignatieff for that matter) have to govern ?

    The authority Harper supported back in 2004. This one:

    Harper’s letter to the Governor General of September 9, 2004

    As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

    -From a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper
    (September 9, 2004)

  114. “People couldn’t have voted for a coalition if they wanted to!”

    That’s right, because the Buck-Ninety-Five coalition never ran as a unified entity.

    “(Canadian voters) have already chosen their representatives, and it would be most unusual to go again to the polls when it has not been demonstrated that the present Parliament cannot proceed.”

    So…the government is defeated on a confidence motion…. and…it would be “most unusual” to go to the polls?” Doesn’t seem that unusual, to me.

    “This is not a presidency!” Clearly; our citizens apparently don’t get a say in who occupies our highest office — members of the losing parties can do that. You seem to be suggesting — correct me if I’m wrong — that an unforseen coalition, put together by politicians after an election, two-thirds comprised of parties that putative, non-volitional coalition consitutents not only didn’t vote for, but in many cases mindfully and fully voted *against,* is more legitimate, or more parliamentary or…(?) than a government with a legitimate mandate earned when the citizens actually knew what party they were voting for.

  115. mr. coyne has underlined the fact and hats off to critical thought.
    the opposition has shown their true colours… and they pale in comparison with the strengths of this country’s present minority government.

    good luck to the usurpers – they’re going to need it – whichever way this plays out.

  116. Andrew, how dare you suggest that the Bloc be cut off from the public “tit”
    After all, how do you expect them to continue trying to destroy Canada without any money.
    And saying that they can raise thier own money is fine for you to say but thats difficult, you know.

    Horney Toad

  117. EBD: That last bit falls down when more people voted for the members of the coalition than the present government.

    But we’re not going to see eye-to-eye on this. Suffice to say that Harper was a very polarizing figure. If you look at polling from the last election, very few voters for the Libs, NDP or Bloc would consider the CPC as their second choice. So, to the extent that 60% of the country has a government they don’t support, simply because the opposition is manifest in several opposition parties, Harper treating his minority as a majority through brinksmanship was and is profoundly undemocratic. Bankrupting political parties is undemocratic as well, as it makes opposition to Harper a matter of financial means, not electoral will.

  118. Mr. Coyne,
    An excellent essay. We’ll see how this plays out, and hopefully the Conservatives will get the Majority they need. Meanwhile, trying to reason with the Predictably Unreasonalbes in a rational manner has its challenges, but thanks for trying.

  119. Yes, Andrew nPoC, more people voted for the members of the coalition than the present government, but none of those voters voted for the coalition. That’s just a fact. Further, many — millions? — of those voters cast their ballots specifically — vigorously, conscientiously — to stop particular parties that are now members of that same coalition. Isn’t it a stretch to add up those who voted for the Libs and the NDP and the Bloq and claim that that’s the number of people who support this completely unforeseen bunch of usurpers?

    Voters, and not desperate members of the losing parties, should have the final say. The only decent thing to do, should it come to that, is to have an election so that Canadians can choose between the proposed coalition and the Conservatives. Why would anyone have a problem with that? It’s the only right thing to do.

    Btw, it’s understood here that we don’t see eye to eye. Cheers.

  120. Boudica wrote: “Had you advocated for such a cut to be implemented in phases so as to give the other parties a chance to survive, you’d appear more credible.

    It is rather clear that, like Harper, you want a two party system with the Tories solidly in the driver’s seat.””

    This is such a tired and mindless meme, you should really let it go. Nothing, simply nothing prevents ANY political party from putting it’s platform before people in any riding and then asking that should the voter agree, they support said party with donations from their own wallets. All parties are on a perfectly level playing field in this regard – if you are a new or currently smaller party, then you must work harder and slowly build your constituency over time.

    This is exactly what the Reform party did. If they can do it, the entrenched and historically long lived Liberal and NDP parties can do it too. But two things have caused them to lag behind the Conservative party in soliciting private, small donations from individuals.

    1. The taxpayer subsidy is easy money, something that attracts both these ‘non-market oriented’ parties. Having money given to them means they don’t have to convince voters of their policies, at least to the degree that supporters ‘vote with their wallet’ which is the real measure of political commitment.

    2. They believe that in their self-importance, they are entitled to taxpayer funding.

    To suggest that Conservatives are trying to ‘kill off’ the other parties is just ridiculous. If they cannot convince ‘supporters’ to actually support them, then they really aren’t a viable political party are they? Two parties or twenty parties is not the issue, it’s whether they are prepared to go to the people and earn their support.

  121. Excellent post, AC.

    I can imagine the articles worldwide next Tuesday…

    “As nations worldwide struggle to cope with a global economic and financial meltdown, Canada has been declared by experts to have the strongest banking system anywhere, and possessing an economy best positioned among all G20 nations to weather the coming storm.

    Despite such glowing reviews and international envy, the Conservative government that ruled the nation for the last three years, and that was just re-elected only seven weeks ago with an increased mandate, has been overthrown by its parliament’s opposition, consisting of Liberals, socialists, and even a Quebec based separatist party.

    Leaders of the hastily formed coalition claim the basis for overturning the results of the recent election is that this government doesn’t know what it is doing, and is ill prepared to deal with economic downturn.”

    Yep, you just can’t make up unowhat like this.

    Frankly, the last couple days I’ve been feeling like I live in some third world jerkwater wanna-be country.

    Words like “shame” and “embarrassed” hardly suffice.

    Only in Canada, eh?

  122. How the hell does it come to this? I’m a lib by inclination and despise Harper but i have grave doubts whether this is the way to get rid of him. Yes i understand that opposition parties have been pushed to the wall and are perfectly within their constitutional rights to apply for his job. but how will this look to the voters, out west in particular- this coalition has very little legitamacy out here. Harpers all ready a loser, he’s unlikely to pull this again- let the cons pull him down.

  123. Nothing like the chance to steal your way into being the government, seeing as how the Canadian people were very clear that under no circumstances would the have Jack or Dion lead the country, with or without the Bloc’s support.

    This kind of stuff is the stuff of armed insurrection in many countries!!


  124. I see the validity in the argument that partiies should get their funds from the voters but why now ? why only this form of funding, why not the tax credit ? Could it be that this susidy is more helpful to the Cons?[ does anyone have any hard data on that one] One ting i do like about the toonie subsidy is that its transparent . How do you keep an eye on all those private donors- does E canada track them?

  125. Pat: under no circumstances was Harper supposed to behave as if he had a majority. Funny how things work out.

  126. Pat, the NDP have 32 seats! The Canadian people in those ridings were apparently cool with Layton leading the country.

  127. Give your head a shake. You are either a complete idiot or deluded to think that it is the will of the Canadian people to have Jack or Dion lead this country.

    I know that there are people that voted for Elvis, but because some people voted for Elvis, does not give Elvis the right to overthrow the elected government.

    For the Communists, of which I think Jack is one, to have any chance to lead the country, it would take some slimy action like this to put him in the drivers seat.

  128. I’m not a communist, Pat.

    The will of the Canadian people is noticeably fragmented, rather like the House of Commons. Contrary to Tory belief, the 8.5 million people who didn’t vote for Stephen Harper were not in favour of his acting like a tin pot dictator.

  129. It’s about time someone in the MSM cuts through all the sh!t and tells it like it is.

    KC said, “…but how will this look to the voters, out west in particular- this coalition has very little legitamacy out here”, KC is right, it’s a relief to finally find a lib inclined person who has retained some common sense and acknowledges that fact. But I would go further and say most also see it as a hostile attack against the west in particular. It won’t be forgotten, and expect this to drastically increase the Conservatives popularity out here for many years to come. The opposition will have inadvertently succeeded in converting the previously soft Liberals into Conservative voters, being it is obvious to most who really has the “hidden agenda” now.

  130. So the millions of people who voted for non-Tory candidates in the West don’t count, eh?

  131. “So the millions of people who voted for non-Tory candidates in the West don’t count, eh?”

    and the majority who did don’t count, eh?

  132. They do indeed still count, their MP’s (if they elected Tory MP’s) are sitting there in the House of Commons.

  133. lol–This Coyne character sure is a laugh! Harper gambled and lost. Now stop being a sore loser and carping and whining. Harper tried to knee-cap the opposition and he failed. Harper’s strongman act was great while it lasted. Now Harper has blinked and has cut and run. A strongman who loses his nerve and who blinks, and shows he is weak, is going to get his comeuppance. To think that Harper actually thought he could rally support from ordinary Canadians shows how laughably out of touch he is! Canadians relish seeing the bully get a thrashing and get booted back to the Opposition bench! Harper is so thin-skinned, he will never live down the humiliation! Joe Clark will hand the loser mantle over to Steve Harper come Dec 8! It is 1979 all over again, but much much funnier and completely self-inflicted! Harper is plain stupid and incompetent. He has played his bully boy games, now he is in full panic and running scared. Everyone has panned his performance and his own side are deserting him! Poor Mr Coyne sheds tears for Harper, while almost the entire nation celebrates the eve of his demise! The people are happy to see the tyrant taken down a notch or two. Can you just see Harper sitting on the Opposition bench for the next 2 or 3 years, totally irrelevant with no one listening to anything he has to say? I think he will cut and run back to Calgary when he loses the confidence vote and sob and whimper there in defeat.

  134. A coalition of 3 opposing parties, one of which being separatist, to get a majority by 12 seats is asinine when the economy is weak. How much money does an election cost? Anyone who supports the kickbacks to parties damned well better support a bailout of everything else. If government parties deserve this handout, then why not corporations? Why can’t I, a student, get all my expenses covered for trying to get an eduction? What makes a political party so special? I mean I know we don’t hold them accountable or responsible for anything they do but giving them a free handout…
    The Greens are going to get about 1.85M for what? How does that help Canadians? It doesn’t! We get to hear her whine and moan and then see her make a fool of herself by getting stomped in her own riding. Yeah, she’s genius!
    I work hard for my money, why shouldn’t they?

  135. Jack Mitchell:

    Like I said, give your head a shake. How many people do you think would vote for Jack or Dion if they knew they’d pull a sleazy act like this.

    What a horrible thought. Jack OR Dion in power and then the horrible thought on steroids, the two of them in a group grope, aided by the Bloc.


  136. Thanks, Roger, for your highly illustrative received-wisdom tone poem.

  137. Jack drop all the partisanship for just a moment and think, can you honestly tell me that what the opposition is up to is for the best interest of Canadians and the Canadian economy???

  138. ChrisinMB, I’m not partisan. And no, I don’t think this turn of events is good for us at all. But Harper provoked it. The fault is entirely his. One moment he’s talking about harmony and good will in the House, next thing you know he’s trying to kneecap his political opponents. Blame him if they responded.

  139. Pat: “How many people do you think would vote for Jack or Dion if they knew they’d pull a sleazy act like this.”

    It’s news to me that neither Dion nor Layton were campaigning to be Prime Minister.

  140. Andrew Coyne: Once again you are the voice of reason.

  141. sf, gimme a break, Coyne is just playing “gotcha!” Obviously the opposition parties are going to defeat the Government because of the party funding provision, but they can’t say so because it would be unpopular. So they’ve chosen something else; who wouldn’t? The great brain of Coyne notices the discrepancy and sputtering ensues. Because, doncha know, party funding is a bad idea in principle. Since Coyne judges everything on principle, it is therefore OK to kick the ladder out from under your enemies and expect them to thank you for it — on principle. Thus you can have it your way all the time: practically speaking — for Coyne is nothing if not a utilitarian — it’s bad for democracy if politics is subsidised; but we then magically transform practicality into principle so that when the opposition defeats the government for eminently practical reasons we are shocked, shocked. It all arises from the curious psychological paradox of making utilitarianism a matter of morality, a stance which disgusts real moralists and makes real pragmatists laugh.

  142. The magic number is 86. Stornoway, baby.

    Separatism is not what it used to be. Charest is cruising to a federalist majority in Labelle. The PQ will be looking for a new leader. What better parting gift can Duceppe give than a new raison d’etre for the Bloc, part of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition? An NDP/Bloc merger is all Vegas.

    Worst nightmare for liberals is being consigned to last place. All the perks, privileges, points of order, media attention go away. Iggy enters the next election as Elizabeth May with elbow pads.

    Either jump on the bus, honey,or be run over.

    All of the above must be blamed on the Conservatives, of course.

  143. Jack,
    You are mostly there. Coyne is trying to do what the rest of the media has failed to do: make clear that the only reason that the Liberals are suddenly bent on a coalition is to dodge the bullet on the vote subsidy.

    There is really no justification on any economic basis for doing this. Iggy and others have been spluttering about how the so-called economic stimulus package is not enough, but have not made one single concrete policy of their own.

    Harper’s seems to be playing some absurd game of chicken over the whole affair, instead of fulfilling his high-minded promises of sound government.

    Looking around at this, it is impossible to ascribe any credit to anyone involved. Coyne’s sin in this instance is to balance out the coverage with some tart observations on the opposition’s contribution.

  144. Well said,Andrew, great points.

    I do not believe anyone in Canada is fooled by this, they see it as nothing more than a power grab, followed by the right to continually feed at the public trough.

    I hope that the coalition government is formed, because it’ll fall just as quickly. and I suspect the Cons will get a majority out of it.

  145. I have never been so pessimistic about Canada as I am today, and it`s not all because of the unethical plotting of the 3 opposition parties (no patriots there). What discourages men is the constant blathering of most of the posts above defending of this disastrous coalition. Coyne is absolutely right in what he writes yet most media and a lot of the above can`t see the harm being done to the country by this insane coup.
    Let`s just think about the numbers for a minute—2 parties with 36 and 76 seats with the help of a separtist party with 50 seats want to take power from a government with 144 seats— INSANE—.
    Canadians are failing Canada. Give your head a shake—-the fallout of this anti –democratic coup will rock this country at it`s foundation and we will morph into angry regions of discontent.
    Give your head a shake—let Harper govern—all will be well. If we want, we will vote him out in a general election.

  146. TiGuy… you KNOW the difference between this proposed coalition of people who didn’t win the election and the one that Harper supported in 2004. This group consists largely of a group of people that don’t even want to be in Canada. And, it’s been brought together apparently by Jack Layton who has proven willing to jump into bed with the separatists all in the name of gaining power. Add Stephane Dion into the mix, the guy who was so badly eviscerated on election night that he has resigned the Leadership of the Liberals, and yet wants to be the Prime Minister anyway. It’s a joke .

    By the way, the markets are loving this. Monday mornning, 9:50 eastern… the TSX has been open for 20 minutes, and we’re down 600 points.

  147. Mr. Coyne certainly knows how stimulate some debate! In all this, I think the one thing alot of people overlook is the ultimate common sense of the Canadian public. Everyone agrees that most people don’t have much faith or admiration for politics and politicians in general… of any stripe. But when push comes to shove, if the ‘oppostion’ parties try to push this coalition through and inevitably, in any event, force another election sooner than later, they will discover, as the Conservatives did in 1993 what it is like to be able to hold caucus meetings in a phone booth.

  148. Wow! I see all the regular com-box nut bars have already been chiming-in. (that means you thai-guy)

    Don’t let them get to you AC, your analysis is correct.

  149. I call this a coup d’etat ……………. and Leyton and Dion should be on trial for Treason.

  150. When the government falls I think that we should have an election. Yes, its a hard 300mil pill to swallow, but I think the voters should settle this mess.

    All the parties deserve some amount of shame right now. People are loosing their jobs and they are watching their savings vanish, and the best the politicans can do is conspire among each other; tape each others meetings; and pitch crass political schemes as ecomonic strategy. No one in Ottawa is doing anything to help Canadians right now.

    The GG shouldn’t try to settle. Its time the voters got involved.

  151. I heard this yesterday which should catch on if the LibDems take control Dion’s Depression and Layton’s Layoff’s created by a bunch of separatists.

  152. What would our unemployment rate be if say something completely unimaginable and impossible happens. Let’s use GM going in the tank as an example. How many thousands of jobs in those plants? How many parts and service dealers, adversiters, call centres (yes, there are over a thousand employees in Canada that work on the phones for GM, certified mechanics, not at 10/hr) would be out of work and looking to the government to help put food on the table and for them to pay their mortgages? What would our current government do? Oh I know, lets just forget about that whole “equal pay for equal work” thing and make it impossible for public employees to strike therefore giving them little to no leverage against companies who would much rather employ them at a salary barely above the poverty line in Canada. And the further thousands of employees on pensions from said company? Old age or not if I was a senior citizen right now I’d be buying some Depends because I’d be damn near losing bladder control wondering if I was going to have to apply tomorrow to be a greeter at Walmart. Our economy is not okay, our government does not govern and our current Prime Minister not only fails to understand the people he was elected there to represent, he seems to harbour a not so secret disdain for people in general. This article reeks of the party politics and shameful self serving rhetoric that the Tories have been blantently using.

  153. I never really thought about the expression “political party” before……. I guess that pretty much says it all.

  154. To paraphrase Churchill: Some party, some hangover.

  155. Windy is right. Only the voters can solve this mess.

  156. “make it impossible for public employees to strike therefore giving them little to no leverage against companies who would much rather employ them at a salary barely above the poverty line in Canada.”

    Mytwocents, any public employees I know (including memebers of my own family) make very good money already. For that matter, the same goes for any private sector unionized workforce, but then this proposal didn’t include them anyway.

    But for the record, I agree that the strike ban was a mistake on the PM’s part. If our economy were to tank badly, any public sector strike would get near-zero public sympathy anyway.

  157. Looks like we’ll get a government stimulus package after all…in the form of another $300m election.

  158. Ben M, since our economy has NOT already entered the handbasket to hell, maybe the $300 million is a bargain compared to the billions to be stolen from future generations in an alleged “stimulus.”

    Mr. Coyne, you are right in principle that the fight right now is about the $1.95/yr. Tories know that was the fuss, and have regretted it so much they’ve PULLED it to try to hang on to power. Canadians know the Libs and Dippers are lying about the “no stimulus” BS and are still letting them get away with it. Which makes it all the more bizarre that the Tories have pulled the $1.95/yr business.

    Everyone was wondering whether this was the hill the Tories really wanted to die on. Has anyone asked why this is the hill the opposition wants to take? Next question: wouldn’t the Tories have preferred to die on this hill, instead of walking away from it completely?


  159. What was the alternative for the Opposition? They couldn’t accept the FU, regardless of the optics. If they accepted it as-is, they would effectively be saying that Harper can do anything he damn well pleases. That would be simply impossible to accept.

    I really wish that well-meaning Conservatives that want to help the country can step forward and do something about Harper, and maybe avoid some ill-fated coalition government. I have no idea if that’s possible, but it would be palatable to me.

  160. Re: Only Voters can solve this mess…

    Yes, and we voters sent our elected representatives to Parliament. That’s where the bottleneck is.

    WHAT IF THE CONFIDENCE VOTE was a FREE VOTE, not a vote dictated by the party WHIP??

    Wonder how that would go down, and whether cooler heads would prevail?

  161. What is wrong with this picture? A coalition government supported by a separatist party? The party of Trudeau in bed with the Bloc? What is good for the Bloc Quebecois may be good for the Liberal Party – briefly – but not for Canada. How can the Governor General allow a government whose life will be brief and dependent on an anti-Canada cabal?

  162. I don’t like the coalition, but I support it because I prefer that to living in a one party state. And that’s what’s wrong with the picture, Gerry. If you don’t like the idea of a separatist party supporting the government, then blame Harper for forcing the opposition to choose either that or death.

  163. so the latest is that Stephane Dion will be the new prime minister. HOW the hell can this be ? Dion was maybe the biggest loser in the history of Candian elections on Oct 14th. Canadians kicked the liberals to the curb, and the analysis was clear…Canadians rejected Stephane Dion.

    My hope is that this whole mess will go to an election, and Dion will once again be embarassed. However, I don’t hold out great hope, given that our GG is a liberal apointee, and the decision rests with her.

    The separatist Bloq is now in a position of power in a country they want no part of. How can we as a nation allow that ?

  164. We get what we deserve.
    Cons: 36% popular vote, 47% seats
    Libs: 26% popular vote, 25% seats
    Bloc: 10% popular vote, 16% seats
    NDP: 18% popular vote, 12% seats
    Green: 7% popular vote, 0% seats

    If you really care, the first thing you should do is contact your MP and ask for electoral reform. More people in fact did vote for Liberal + NDP than the Conservatives even though the seats don’t reflect this. Electoral reform would not have the Bloc with the balance of power. Unfortunately as I understand it, the Liberals are not keen on electoral reform although I don’t clearly understand why given the numbers above. We also need to come to grips that 65% of the seats in Canada’s second biggest province voted for the Bloc. Like it or not, we have to live with that and deal with it.

    By ridings, one can argue that Canadians supported Harper more than any other leader. The guy put petty partisan issues into a confidence vote, does this mean that the majority of Canadians (all those that didn’t vote for, or otherwise be represented by, the Conservatives) should roll over and play good for him? This shows that Canadians supported an egotistical leader who loves control and is hell bent on following his own agenda as opposed to the agenda of all Canadians. I believe a Conservative supporter would have to come close to admitting as much: this is despite of the failings of the other party leaders. The party should show Harper the front door and try to get things back on track.

    Nope, I would say that we’re getting exactly what we deserve.

  165. Andrew, there must be a Tory riding waiting for you in the next election – after all you are doing your best to carry the mail for them both in your magazine and on the “At Issue” panel, and your ‘tunnel vision’ or ‘blind spots’ regarding that party and its leadership are nearly perfected.
    And I write from the perspective of a card carrying Tory – but one who is disgusted with blatently political tactics of this once proud party in the face of economic crises.

  166. Andrew, a vote of non-confidence is just that. In a minority government you consult, you play the middle ground, you move forward with confidence to do that for the good of all. If you don’t give a s**t about confidence, then you pay the price.

    By the way, Andrew, you have lost my confidence vote, too. Stop whining.

  167. Shortly before Oct 14:

    Jack: Tjee, Gilles, that worked really well. Using the art’s community of Quebec as a catalyst to deliver Harper a minority once again. That’s just what we needed. Harper doesn’t understand the artists. But we sure do, hahaha.

    Gilles: Yeah, Jack, Quebeckers are all for working together. Did you see Harpers face when during the debates he couldn’t counter me?

    Jack: Well, Gilles, you did have an advantage there. You only have to speak for Quebec. For us federal leaders that’s quite another story.

    Gilles: But I did well. The media all over Canada said I did so well.

    Jack: Don’t believe everything they say, Gilles. Even Dion thinks he did well. When Dion rehearsed enough, he can pull it off.

    Gilles: untill the CTV tape came out. That was a bit un-statesman-like.

    Jack: Doesn’t really matter, Gilles. No one cares about that. We must do away with Harper. That’s the point. As long as we can get the media on our side to go against Harper when the says or does anything, we’ll be safe. Say, any interest in trying to work together again in the near future????

    Jack: We should try that again, some time

    Gilles: Yeah, some time soon, I hope, Jack.

  168. I fully agree with Andrew; the fact that Dion has said that he “[has] the right to be Prime Minister”, I think that the Liberals have some serrriousss entitlement issues. The Liberals are known to have a decrepit fund raising scheme, an undemocratic underlying party structure, and a low base of support. So in other words, they need to gouge us for their money.

    The BQ, however, can only collect on votes inside Quebec. This poses a problem as it doesn’t even get all of those. My oh my, where is the BQ’s budget going to come from? Who will be left to tear the country apart?

    And the NDP… The NDP has a good fundraising system ala the CPC, but they’re in it for the power. The tapes leaked have shown that before the government even delivered a Throne speech the NDP was going to figure out a way to wrestle power from the elected Government of Canada. I don’t think socialists are Bolsheviks or anything like that, but that’s very Russian Revolution of you, Mr. Layton.

    The fact that a seperatist party and the smallest party in the House were planning to take power over the government for no good reason would amount to treason in most countries (the existence of the BQ would amount to treason in some countries). The NDP is a disgrace to Canadian democracy.

    And we don’t know that the CPC tapped the line. It could have easily been recorded by a member of that NDP meeting with a conscience. It is logical to believe that the CPC or RCMP might have tapped it, but we don’t actually know that for a fact. This wouldn’t be the first time that this had happened.

  169. I liked the honesty of Mr. Duceppe who had the last word in the coalition announcement today: “I am doing what is in the best interest of my party.” Looks like an interest common to two other parties.

    And, I always like the honesty and insight of Andrew Coyne.

  170. McCallum now says, on national tv, that deficits are good.

  171. Willy,

    “Andrew, a vote of non-confidence is just that. In a minority government you consult, you play the middle ground, you move forward with confidence to do that for the good of all. If you don’t give a s**t about confidence, then you pay the price.”

    That’s all good and well understood, but what if the opposition parties had never intended to consider giving the government the confidence. What if the opposition parties had always intended to vote against the government no matter what?

    That is the question that needs to be answered, because that seems to be the real problem. We can dance around issues, but what has really been the intent all along?

  172. “We also need to come to grips that 65% of the seats in Canada’s second biggest province voted for the Bloc. Like it or not, we have to live with that and deal with it. ”

    Yes, and if every province in this country would be as politically smart as the Quebec population, then Canada would have found an entirely new federal/provincial relationship.

    I wonder how the provincial Premiers feel about this sort of politicking. Mr.Williams must be pleased with himself.

  173. no matter whether you do or don’t like Harper, he IS the only one of the party leaders, that is a competent leader (and a good one in my never so humble opinion)

    and this little coupe has been planned for some time, so Harper has only exposed them for what they are

    Taped phone message, hahahahaha, these fools ACCIDENTLY gave Harper their code?????and some fools think they should run the country

    if any of you supporters of this bit of stupidity have ever run anything it would surprise me a lot, get out of your arm chairs and meet the real world for a change

    I can see that this could be the start of the break up of our fine nation, all for a self centered power grab!!!!

  174. Way to tell it like is Andrew, unfortunatly this is what happens when the MSM is in the tank for their ideological comrades. The main reason PM Harper did not win a majority in the last election was because not only did he have to fight an election against the Statist Liberals, Separatist Bloc and the Communist NDP, but also against their ideological comrades in the media, and that bias and undermining of Canada’s limited democracy continues while this obvious coup by the Separatist/Liberal/NDP alliance goose steps it’s way to power. The MSM are contorting themselves into pretzels to try and sell this over throwing of the newly elected government by the Separatist/Liberal/Communist alliance. The MSM and their lust for power, like their comrades in the Separatist/Liberal/NDP alliance have lost their collective minds in this unprecedented seizure of power. To quote Jack Layton “What about the legitimacy of the democratic process, yeah, what about it”? at least one of these thugs in the Separatist/Liberal/NDP alliance is honest about their feelings toward canadian democracy, which is to say they have no respect at all. This coup would never had been possible without the Separatist/Liberal/NDP alliance knowing full well that the MSM would get behind them in their avoricious take over of a duly elected government. The sickening stench that has been created by this affront to the democratic process will not go away anytime soon and will create an even greater divide between the people who beleive in democracy and the people who are so ideologically warped that they will do and say anything to gain and maintain power. The Peoples Temple of Trudeauvia are a pack of jackals as we can see from some of the posters on this thread, their collective glee at this odious seizure of power speaks volumes about their collective and quite terminal stupidity. The MSM in Canada have been a dangerous cabal of ideological half-wits since the days of Disco Dictator Trudeau, and the flimsy excuse of blaming PM Harper for this coup suits their agenda, but does not make sense. Only if one looks threw the filter that the MSM looks threw, which is the Separatist/Liberal/Communist filter does this have any weight, it is simply putting forward Separatist/Liberal/NDP talking points to blame the PM, in a feable attemptt to excuse the in excusable. Third world corruption and sanctimonious pomposity, and excuse making, an absolute disgrace, that will surely be the end of the once great democracy of Canada. To see the softball questions and hear the laughter of the whores in the media at the press conferance held by the Separatist/Liberal/Communist alliance speaks volumes, especially when you compare it to the governments press conference where the media were in full attack mode, blaming the government for the take over by the Separatist/Liberal/NDP alliance, and thus excusing this obvious coup and assigning the blame on the duly elected government, the MSM has spoken, and as far as they are concerned their ideological comrades have won and it will now be the job of the MSM to bully Canadians into consent, while ignoring the fact the Separatist/Liberal/Communist alliance were conspiaring to overthrow the will of the Canadian electorate even before the writ was dry. Canada loses, Tribalism wins, bye, bye Canada.

  175. Mr. Coyne, it seems to pain you to see democracy at work. Take 2 aspirins, go to bed, and wake up on the 9th of December. It should be all over by then.

  176. …our letter to GG Jean

    —– Original Message —–

    To: smcook@gg.ca
    Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 12:44 AM
    Subject: The Coalition’s platform does not represent its Coalition’s members’ constituents in the least …therefore, no mandate exists.

    I’ve read the media blogs of the CBC and the CTV and comments from people across Canada commenting there on various aspects of this current Constitutional Crisis. Some of these folks are commenting that the Coalition has every right to seek the Governor General’s approval for the Coalition to form Government – because combined the Coalition Parties have over 60% of the vote (60% of the 59% of voters that turned out)

    My question:
    Should the Governor General have to consider, if the Coalition is using the argument that the Conservative’s have lost the confidence of the House, and the Coalition has an alternative government to propose without an Election – on the strength of its position that it won the majority of votes October 14 – shouldn’t the Coalition then have to run on the very same mandate on which voters voted for its individual Parties?? It’s impossible, right? How can a new Government be based on a compromised mandate for the Coalition? That’s not what individual/majority voters voted on Oct. 14th. Therefore, saying the Coalition has the majority of votes is mixing apples with corn dogs!

    To explain…IF a person had voted Liberal on Oct. 14, they would have voted for the Green Shift platform, Mr. Dion’s promised 30 day consultation re: the economy, and Mr. Dion’s leadership and the candidates that would be in his Cabinet, etc. This Liberal voter would not have voted for all those items that the Coalition unveiled this afternoon (NDP, Bloc priorities) as its newly minted platform/mandate: e.g. immediate increase of $$ to Quebec, plenty of new social spending, a large deficit, etc…If on Oct. 14 these items were included in the Liberal platform, this voter would not have voted Liberal. The same can be said for NDP and Bloc voters of Oct. 14.

    I don’t understand how the Coalition members can state that they have a mandate from the majority of the Canadian voters who showed up on Election Day Oct. 14 (59% of electorate), if the Coalition’s new platform does not resemble the platform that each voter voted on in the Federal Election a few weeks ago?? It simply does not feel like a Parliamentary Democracy is represented if the mandate of the Government changes so dramatically and quickly, and without an Election to grant approval for the revised mandate??

    To be honest..the Coalition members would have to admit that they never gave Mr. Harper and the Conservatives the courtesy they are extending to each other right now…Forgiving differences and overlooking their conflicting philosophies even though many of the Coalition Parties’ policies are actually in contradiction of each other.

    It seems Mr. Harper did not lose the confidence of the House…the members of the Coalition did not make the effort to extend it from day one of the new Government, even though they voted to accept the Throne Speech. It’s apparent that the Liberal Party of Canada in particular simply does not value its privilege of being the Official Opposition – and being an important part of our Canadian Parliament.

    The Coalition members do not deserve the confidence of the Governor General. Their emoted theatrics and over-reaction to the Financial Update have demonstrated that they are not trying in good faith to make Parliament work. They did not propose amendments to the Update, nor wait until the formal Budget. They went straight to the media. The opportunism is obvious to all Canadians – no matter which Party they voted for. The Coalition members are not as noble and honourable as they would like Canadians to believe. With this artificial inspiration and motivation at their core, the future does not look bright for the Coalition’s longevity.

    For the health of Canada’s economy and its parliamentary democracy, we hope the Governor General will send all Parties of Parliament back to work, to earn the respect of their constituents. Hopefully all Parties will learn a lesson on the importance of being constructive and respecting differences. The confidence vote should not be held until the early Budget. Our Parliamentary Democracy is damaged. Mr. Harper and the other Leaders must commit to repairing it from the inside out.

  177. I agree whole heartedly with Andrew. Yes, Harper shouldn’t have done the vote thing, but that is no damn reason to overthrow the government. All they are after is power and if they couldn’t get it honestly, they are willing to do it by conivance and back door deals with those who live to destroy Canada. Those that support them deserve what they get.

    Funny, I thought the Libranos were done in with the Sponsorship Scandal. I was wrong. Just like the mafia, they just went underground until the heat was off.

    Such scum these Libranos and their socialist and separatist allies, Canada deserves much, much better.

  178. Tory heads are exploding! All fall down!

  179. Hi, Beverley?
    Kindly don’t assume you speak for me because, to be honest, you haven’t a friggin’ clue what I think.

    My preference has always been ABC. This coaltion certainly qualifies as that.
    Your argument that the government has never had the confidence of the house is false. The throne speech was approved. That flowery rhetoric about Harper getting down to business and working with other parties? That got support.

    But the fiscal update demonstrated that Mr. Harper’s throne speech could not be trusted — that Mr. Harper could not be trusted. As a result, he no longer has the confidence of the House.

  180. It is disgusting to see people support this vile attempt at a bloodless coup. Make no bones about it. This is treason of the highest degree. Everyone that agrees with this coalition of the useless is essentially giving credence to the separatists. This coalition makes me ashamed to call myself Canadian.

    Pro Patria.

  181. Well, Canada finally has a decent leader and he gets taken out by a blatantly politically opportunistic move by the opposition. I guess finally reasserting Canadian prestige in the international community and actually setting an example for responsible governing were too much for people. What a shame.

    What a pathetic excuse for a country. Talk about a banana republic. But, I guess we get what we deserve. If the people are so stupid then they deserve poor government, and it sounds like that’s what we’r going to get.

    I weep for what used to be a country a citizen could take pride in.

    I can hardly wait to see what extraordinary powers and concessions the Liberals and NDP have thrown to the Bloc.

  182. I hope the opposition does form and take power, and I hope they fail miserably quickly. the opposition has no mandate to run this country, and I challenge them to attempt to do so. there will be protests of these Lib NDP blocheads. I will now vote for the conservatives every single time, even when I disagree with them. the other parties have no character or moral ground to stand on. What the tories tried to do is what we the people wanted them to do, even people who voted liberal and NDP still want the tories to chop at that abuse of spending. I can’t wait for the next election, this is finally grounds for a majority. And that is something I look forward to, like a yankee waiting for Obama to ascend to the office of the president.

  183. Why didn’t they form a coalition before the last election if the three parties were so concerned about us Canadians, especially when the Tories had fewer seats?

    Did Dion think he was going to win and put the coalition idea on the back burner as Plan B?

    Is this some sort of act of desperation for power for whatever reason that we don’t know of?

    If there is another election in the near future, the coalition parties, especially the Libs and the NDP will lose more than a buck ninety-five.

    There is more here than meets the eye, something down right shady is going down. LIke I said someone is desperate.

  184. Those who underestimate Harper’s ability to get through this and learn from it do so at their own peril.

    Ordinary people utterly reject this coalition because our system is so damn complicated, they dont understand it.

    When this is put to the people, Harper will have a majority, and he will be laughing at the very people who are laughing at him today.

  185. From the frying pan into the fire we go. Harper needs to get squash this pathetic cou de tate before we cause more harm to Canadian economy.

  186. Gary: Perhaps they thought Harper might actually consider working with them at some point. As such, he hadn’t lost.. quite.. the confidence of the house.

    With the FU to parliament, he put the lie to that, so they’ve decided to put the boot to him.

  187. T. Thwin,

    I understand about the Financial Update uproar, but what I do not understand is that before the election, the opposition wasn’t willing, didn’t want to, were asleep, or whatever, work with the government, so it was my understanding that Harper called an election.

    There the Tories had 125(?) seats, a weak minority, why didn’t the opposition form a coalition? Why wait till now?

    In the current situation, all it would take is what ,12?, opposition MP’s (with some intestinal fortitude/sense of honour to country) to abstain or cross the floor, to scuttle the coalition. Before the election it would of taken what, some 30 MP’s ?

    This coalition was hatched some time ago, it was just lying in waiting.

    As for the coalition to say that the Tories are doing nothing for Canadians in this economic crisis, is a lark. Our largest trading partner is in between administrations and until Obama gets in, and reveals his plans, we just have to wait. For all we know he may be protectionist. Then what? But to spend 30 billion for the sake of spending in order to show Canadians that they, the coalition cares, is basically saying “Give us your money and we’ll make you happy.”

    This is a blatant, desperate act of a power grab. There is no other way to put it. They had their chance before the election.

  188. The people defending this “coalition of the corrupt” blame Harper and all seem to not like the government because they “dislike him.”

    They are therefore prepared to support three guys from Quebec running the country (again), Dion as Prime Minister (that will impress the world, another Canadian PM who can’t speak English), a separatist with a veto, and a left of left NDP Finance Minister.

    I hope you get it, you deserve it. And I hope this inspires Alberta to finally drop the “west wants in” nonsense and gtfo. Hanging out with you losers has gone on long enough.

  189. Bob:

    – Jack Layton is from Quebec like Stephen Harper is from Ontario.
    – The province of residence of the leaders is not terribly relevant.
    – Lots of world leaders don’t speak English well. Even G. W. Bush has found the language challenging during his time in office.
    – The Bloc Quebecois currently has ‘veto’ on the CPC (they will exercise it at the next opportunity).
    – There will not be an NDP Finance Minister (it will be a Liberal)

    And Bob, you are a god-damned moron (sorry for the bluntness) for criticizing separatists while advocating Alberta separatism.

    Thanks for the well-wishing. I do hope the Coalition goes well. Now to excise the tumor currently occupying the PMO.

  190. Judging by the comments, all the liberals like to forget the insane hardball of King Jean the Chretien during the 90’s.

    Cmon, this has been brokered for sometime, the stimulus was just an excuse to spring the plan.
    Its nice to know the oppositions stance on War, the Economy, the Environment, Canadian National Security, are so flexible and unprincipled…

    but keep your hand off the piggybank… thats undemocratic…

    And out of all this, Harper gets accused of a secret agenda?
    Don’t get me wrong, what harper did was hardball… but then again… so is minority politics. Is harper acting beyond his means? Yep. Will he last in power? prolly not as long as we may have expected a few weeks ago.
    On that note, if the conservatives pulled this move with the bloc a few years ago, people would be in the streets demanding blood.
    Ah Canada… the land of the polite, principled, and kind….
    yea right…

  191. Evan: I don’t think you can claim any party has stuck to their positions they held during this past election campaign. Harper has done some impressive volte-faces (no deficit, ever).

  192. The hypocrisy of Liberals and other left wing nuts is utterly staggering and always makes me despair for our Country.

    Liberal points and some counter points.

    – “Anyone who doesn’t agree with the Liberals or votes CPC is a redneck troglodyte, hehe look at their heads explode as the coalition is about to seize power.” Well I live in Alberta, grew up in Quebec, speak four languages, have a University education, and have been paying taxes for 20 years now. But I voted CPC and yes I’m incensed at this grab for power so I must be a troglodyte.

    – “Harper is an arrogant SOB and he’s getting what he deserves.” Yes because Chretien was such a great consensus builder.

    – “The majority of Canadians didn’t vote for the CPC.” Another majority of Canadians didn’t vote for Chretien either but that was good enough back then, I guess things have changed in the last few years.

    – “The coalition is democracy at work.” I’m going to have to call Bull$4it on that one; all the opposition parties including the Greens who failed to secure a single seat campaigned on handing the CPC another minority towards the last half of the last election. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ELECTORATE VOTED FOR AND EVEN GAVE HARPER A STRONGER MANDATE!!! But for some reason that kind of democracy doesn’t count. Only democracy that aligns with Liberal ideology will be tolerated.

    – “Stephen harper is underhanded, he tapped into a conference call and he is a power hungry ego maniac.” Yes and Jack Layton, Stephane Dion, and Giles Duceppe haven’t been planning this for a while all said they are doing this for the good of Canada.

    – “The government has lost the confidence of the house.” Really? If the deal was in the works before the house sat then how did the government lose the confidence of the house before the house even sat?

    If the opposition had campaigned and won a majority of seats based on a coalition platform I would keep my trap shut as this would have truly been the will of the people but as it stands it’s nothing but a shameless power grab. Shame on the coalition of the crooked and I hope that its supporters realize just what precedence they are setting.

  193. Coyne is right on every point but there are too many shameless commenters here to count.

    Your loser leftist parties have admitted that they cannot raise adequate money from their own voters and it is a necessity to raid taxpayers’ pockets so that indicates their support is an inch deep. Now this is the group that imagines it has some kind of mandate for governing Canada?

    The exact same people who have been demonizing Harper for rumored co-operation with the Bloc now think it’s fine for Liberals and NDP to pimp out Canada completely to the Bloc just to save their entitlements and grab power. Several of them have posted above.

    There is hilarious projection onto Mr. Coyne of lib leftists’ own squealing 14 year old girlishness which they evidence with Harper derangement syndrome. Only 14 year old girls have such a problem with strong men of the conservative persuasion. “Pepper-spray Chretien” and “just-watch-me Trudeau” were exempt from all such criticism as another demonstration of LIBERAL HYPOCRISY.

    The only thing Harper is guilty of is underestimating Liberal and NDP capacity for venality, moral turpitude and the levels they are prepared to sink to in order to grab power.

    What a loathsome sight! Dion and Layton a threesome with Duceppe, the guy who’s gleefully one step closer to the break up of Canada instead of being weakened by losing the $2. per head that Quebeckers themselves are too cheap to give him.

    How many more Quebec votes are there to be bought with the billion pay off Duceppe is receiving from the two JUDASES?

  194. People accuse Harper of insulting the NDP and Liberals by pulling their collective paws out of the public trough.

    What a lark. Why are there any subsidies at all for political parties? So they can all buy more lawn signs?

    If party member Bob or Mary Lou doesn’t feel strongly enough about the clap trap generated by said member’s political party to dish out some cash, why should the taxpayer have to take over? The sheer ludicrousness of this arrangement boggles my mind. Is there really such a lack of common sense in this once-proud nation?

    The attempts to pin this on some supposed “arrogance” of Harper are even worse. Admittedly, it benefits the Conservatives more, but so what? That doesn’t make it wrong … does it? Do we have to define our national economic policy around the financial success of the Liberal party of Canada? Well, that’s what the “old guy who likes pepper on his steak” tried, you know, with manila envelopes full of cash and overpriced ad contracts, &c.

  195. Andrew-not-Coyne, with respect re: We don’t elect governments, we elect Parliaments! This is not a presidency! People couldn’t have voted for a coalition if they wanted to! You’re just spouting rhetoric (and CPC talking points, to boot)!

    Adding exclamation marks doesn’t make what you wrote any more–or less–correct. And technically, of course, you are correct. Those are the technical rules of the game known as Canadian elections.

    But anyone who pays half a mind to the rhetoric at the street-household-blog level during an election knows that most voters actually vote for the party, or the party leader, or both…and that the election of a local candidate is how that preference becomes registered. And the headlines and newscasts before, during and after the elections mirror that fact.

    That may not be what The Great Spaghetti Monster or learned political theorists intended when they wrote the rules, but it *is* the way the game is actually played.

    Or are some of you actually gonna claim that most voters know more about–and pay more attention to–their local candidate and the technical rules of Canadian parliamentary democracy than they know of the parties and party leaders in general? And that they vote accordingly?

  196. All of you who are saying nobody voted for this, please remember the letters ABC.

    They were quite common around election time. In fact, many conservatives were quite upset that it was going on.

    So do not say that nobody voted for this.

    All we can really say is that Canadians, as a whole, did not vote for ANY single party to have power. The Bloc, the NDP, the Liberals, the Conservatives, Canada did not believe any of them should govern this land on their own.

    Well, that’s what’s happening now folks. Harper tried to ignore what Canadians said, Harper is suffering the consequences for it. That the results may not be exactly what you, or I, or anybody voted for exactly isn’t undemocratic, hell.. it’s not even unusual in our system. For instance I heard a lot of gnashing of teeth, even from Liberals, when Paul Martin was appointed finance minister. I know a number of conservatives, especially in Ontario, who cringed when they figured out that Flaherty was going to be Finance Minister in ’06.

    Bottom line, perhaps no single person voted for this, but Canada did.

  197. T. Thwim: Fair enough but dontcha think we’d all be getting along better if “None of The Above” had been on the ballot for a while?

    That way, we coulda told the meddling wannabes straight up to go back, come up with something more broadly agreeable, and then try again. The way it is we have to listen to them whine about varying “mandates”and “precedents” and how they have some claim to be in charge of things. Right now we’re arguing over who wins The Most Politically Skilled Loser contest.

  198. “Faced with the unreasonable and extreme proposal that they raise funds in the same way as the Conservatives have been doing for years — by asking people for their money, rather than taking it from them — they really had no alternative but to seize power.”

    Great article and bang on! This entire coup d’etat has nothing to do with the lack of the Conservative Governments ability to deal with the worldwide recession and everything to do with the “Separatist Coalition” wanting to save there Federal funding. The advertising firms in Montreal must be celebrating their good fortune!

    Back to the trough boys and girls!!!!

  199. To set the stage let me say that I do not belong to any party. At 65 I have learned the lesson that each election is a fresh start. My vote has to be earned. My criteria are the ethical honesty of a party and which platform offers the best options for the country.

    Having said that I am not comfortable with the process of this Liberal led coalition. In my memory I cannot recall a government falling BEFORE they present their Budget. Many of the comments on this article are clearly partisan. The statistics quoted and the fiscal reality have not been refuted. Rhetoric does not an argument make. There has been no concrete history of the opposition working with the Conservatives to make this Parliament work. The other day on a CBC radio interview Bob Ray refused repeatedly to give a dollar figure to the coalition’s relief/economic package. He said they would have to wait to see what Mr. Obama’s government would do. How is that different from what the Conservatives have said all along?

    The leader of the PQ has said that Quebec will get one billion dollars immediately, There is no doubt there will be more goodies for Quebec in the Budget of a coalition government. Only then will Canadians know what the Bloc’s price is for their political support. Polls would suggest the country is split in half on the question of a possible coalition. This does not bode well for Canadians as a whole. The stock market has already passed judgement. It has lost 1000 points since this coalition was announced.

    If you are partisan then this coalition is a blessing as it rescues the opposition from ignominious defeat. If you are like me it leaves a bad taste and a deep suspicion that it has more to do with attaining power and retaining funding than it does with providing what is best for the country. This coalition is too tainted to be considered as a moral alternative. Even the best Parliamentary rules cannot foresee all possibilities. That is why we have a Governor-General as head of state and not just another political interest.

  200. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for your article. We at the Christain Heritage Party of Canada have said for years it is wrong to vote yourselves money out of the taxpayer’s pockets. It is even less moral to exclude the smaller parties from such subsidies. By the way, The Christian Heritage Party is the richest party in Canada as it has no debt. Sad, isn’t it? Want to hear a counterproposal for the subsidy? On the tax form designate which party you want your 2 dollars to go to. Result: Fair playing field for everyone. Isn’t that more sensible?
    Sip Hofstede

  201. Andrew – thank you for the perspective. I, like many, “blame” Stephen Harper for miscalculating the furor his cutbacks would cause with the “Opposition-s”. But then, my reaction to the cuts of subsidies was obviously terribly naive – I thought to myself “Good, every penny counts”. This so-called coalition is a much bigger “miscalculation”. Surely we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch – there will be a hefty price to pay for this mess. … Keep up the good work.

  202. Good grief.

    In 1917 the Conservative party felt that in order to fight WWI honorably, we needed conscription. They didn’t have the votes to form government, so they formed a coalition with a splinter of the Liberals.

    Nobody voted for that coalition, either. Because you cannot, just like you can’t add “one plus blue.” Not because it wasn’t on the ballot; because it’s gibberish. A coalition is what happens when members of Parliament, having been entrusted with making stuff happen, come up with a way to make stuff happen for Canada. Period. A normal minority government is effectively a series of ad hoc coalitions, one for each confidence vote, which is why they’re bloody unstable. Coalitions aren’t!

    Canada gave Harper a mandate to play nice. That’s what a minority government is, in ordinary words. If he didn’t play nice enough to make at least one of the other kids happy, he couldn’t control the sandbox. Harper decided that beating the other kids with a shovel was the way to go about that.

    Thankfully, Mme. Jean has better Constitutional advisers than this Mr. Coyne or his chorus.

    PS: Countries currently being run by coalitions at this very moment include: Germany, Switzerland, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In none of those cases was the coalition “taken to the electorate” because, once again, that’s gibberish.

  203. Thanks for shedding light on what’s really been going on. My family, and a lot of other Canadians we have spoken with in the last week, are truly disgusted with what the Liberal/Bloc/NDP coalition is trying to do. Your commentary has explained a lot of the nuances that non-partisan Canadians have not been aware of. Janis

  204. Eric Finley,

    “PS: Countries currently being run by coalitions at this very moment include: Germany, Switzerland, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In none of those cases was the coalition “taken to the electorate” because, once again, that’s gibberish.”

    Most of those countries, if not all, have some form of PR style held elections. That is the difference, Eric.

    You should never mix up numbers appearing out of two unrelated systems (PR and first-past-the-post )

    That is the falacy the newly formed coaltion wants you to accept.

  205. Good one Andrew.

    Ottawa is a place of madmen and delusional women. Never have I seen so many big fish flitting about this small pond. It’s truly a disgusting display. How detached these politicians are.

    It is now one huge mess and there will be no peace in this parliament. It is now tainted beyond redemption.

    Let us have another election to let the people decide whether they will allow this abomination or give Harper a majority so he can govern sensibly.

    I will live with the outcome.

    If the GG allows this outrage to happen, I will consider no longer paying federal tax and will encourage all small business to withhold their tax installments as well.

    No taxation without ‘elected’ representation.

  206. “Canada gave Harper a mandate to play nice.”

    I think Harper is playing it very nicely. Never have I seen the flushing-out of intentions as we are witnessing in progress right now.

  207. Good one, John V:

    on your site, that balloon popping overtop Michaelle’s head absolutely sums it up: it made my day!


  208. I have been reading that ‘the PMO intercepted and illegally taped” that oh-so-interesting conference call between Smiling Jack and his caucus. Come to find out that some inept Dipper wonk sent the confidential link to the wrong MP…. our very own Vancouver Island rep, JOHN DUNCAN instead of the only NDP’er in Alberta, LINDA DUNCAN of Edmonton. Ha.. and these are the guys that want to run the country!

    And speaking of efficiency, anyone else enjoy sitting there waiting for 25 minutes for Dion to finally get his “live tape’ to the networks while the hosts stood there fuming? The Liberators had requested time at 7pm following the PM’s speech and had all afternoon to prepare. When the tardy tape finally appeared, it was unbelievably amateur and slightly out of focus. It just gets better and better.

    Watching QP this afternoon, couldn’t help but think Dion resembled an agitated gerbil in full rant.

  209. I read Desmothenes and Boudica and Ti-Guy and Lord Kitchener’s Own and I just scratch my head as to why seemingly intelligent people can be so out of it.

    Why is it not OK to force parties to raise their own money? Why? If the party has popular appeal, it should be able to raise money – one voter at a time just like the CPC does it. Why do they need to receive cash-stuffed envelopes in Quebec diners (Liberals). or $5100 donations from 4-yr olds (Liberals-Volpe). Why do they need Shawinigate or AdScam or Mr. Dithers and his Canada Steamship empire. Why can’t they just EARN something rather than whetting their beaks in the public till.

    The Liberal party is an absolute joke. A bunch of arrogant rich folk from Toronto and Montreal taking a piss on the rest of us. Every last one of them would knife each other in the eye for a taste of leadership. They stand for nothing. They are fence-sitters who can’t implement anything original – just steal ideas from others and take credit (GST anyone).

    The NDP at least stands for something – it’s just that that something is not something that works in the real world. The equitable distribution of wealth is a noble pursuit and ultimately a useless one. It has never ever worked nor will it in a free country. Layton is much more of an Orwellian that people give him credit for.

    The Bloc is a ridiculous notion. They should be cut from the vote subsidy immediately – they do not represent the interests of Canadians. Only in Canada, haven of political correctness would we put up with this crap. Call their bluff already.

    The idea that the sum of these three parts is a workable solution is nonsense. Absolute nonsense. This coalition will never work. The country will disintegrate over a stupid $30M subsidy. What a waste. I don’t know why the Western provinces even bother to show up, they are so abused at the expense of S.Ont and Quebec it’s sickening – lack of proper representation in the house, the senate, and on and on.

  210. That Dion tape was hilarious. They couldn’t have done a better job showing once again why he isn’t capable of leading this country. I guess thats why he was RESOUNDINGLY REJECTED in an election 7 weeks ago. Only in Canada could this be happening.

  211. I can’t believe all the socialist ideologies being posted here. Didn’t realize that MacLeans had such a socialist following. Must be some clique in Toronto that needs to support their Liberal henchmen at all costs, especially if it means giving the keys of Canada to the Separatists. Glad I moved to Mexico and only have to read this garbage to appreciate why I left. Go at it boys, it’s your problem now. And like the Liberals and the NDP, you’ll get to live with your wishes (actually death wishes) soon.

  212. How foolish of Harper. Doesn’t he realize there is no other way on earth for an entitled liberal to live in the style to which he has become accustomed than to continue to receive other people’s money? What me, work for a living? What, expect liberals to support liberals with their own money? You must be out of your mind. Self reliance is for schmucks.

    Rarely has such sincere and emotional conviction been seen in Parliament. Rarely has such sincere and emotional conviction been seen even among dogs defending their bones. Would that they would exercise the same energy on real issues. Scoundrels!

  213. Brilliant and delicious satire Andrew, thank you. An excellent summary of the facts too. I see from the above comments unfortunately, there are always many non thinking, non ethical new socialist robbers in the making to replace the Dion/Layton/Duceppe generation. Interesting how people with true awareness and empathy for those in society with real difficulties and who have practical commonsense caring solutions that promote dignity, self reliance and personal responsibilty are such a different group than the “socialist” crowd.

  214. Europe spent $300 billion, China $500 billion, and the US $2 trillion on fiscal stimulus for their economies with no effect. What makes the Liberals think a $30 billion stimulus for Quebec, I mean Canada, would have any effect?

  215. Right from the start of this new parliament, Harper knew that Dion and Layton where plotting a coalition with support from Duceppe. He had intelligence that the coalition was going to topple the Government at the first opportunity and offer up the coalition government to replace the Conservative Government as they knew that another election was not an option for numerous political reasons not withstanding their own financial situation.

    In a way that would make Machiavelli proud, Harper decided to make a stand for power in the house immediately instead of waiting for the coalition to surprise Canada. Harper offered up a poison chalice of policies that would be simply unpalatable to the opposition. The media sees this as a tactical mistake by Harper but it’s far from that. The clues and evidence are everywhere to support this back room story. The public financing of political parties was used as an instrument to draw a line in the sand right from the start of this parliament to determine power for months ahead. So he did this to draw the coalition into the public domain and make a stand on the hill so to speak.

    In Harper’s Machiavellian mind he needed to get command of the house by breaking the coalition and forcing the opposition to work with his Government or he was going to have another dysfunctional house. The opposition parties have an important role to play but all they want to do is play politics with Harper because of a lack of respect for him as a leader of Canada. This is because the personality clash between Harper and Layton/Dion is so stunningly massive that they simply can’t work together. The best thing that could have happened was for Dion to have resigned day 1 and a new liberal leader installed to work with Harper. Dion is the antagonist in this story because he has yet to accept his defeat in the last election. This is a major character flaw of Dion and why he can’t be Prime Minister. Layton is not intelligent enough to even know what’s going on as he spends all his time looking in the mirror and talking to himself. He’s never met a microphone that he hasn’t liked. Layton needs to use his time offering up concrete proposals and he will earn the respect of the house. Dion needs to retire and let a Liberal leader take over that can help lead Canada. Canada’s biggest problem is a lack of a good Liberal leader, it’s not a lack of a good Conservative leader as Harper meets the credentials. Once the Liberals get a good leader again things will improve in a major way.

  216. As an US citizen I don’t completely understand the parlimentary system, or Canadian politics. So instead of focusing on the big issues – I’m stuck on a little one:

    The Conservatives proposed eliminating the party subsidy. (As a US citizen: That’s sounds right to me.) This apparently caused the opposition to go nuclear. But, what’s the big deal? If the Conservatives are a minority government couldn’t the opposition simply have voted down that proposal?

    Please explain! Thank you! — David

  217. (BTW, I’m not the same “David” that posted earlier)

  218. Francien – The fact of PR does not change the fact that in a Parliamentary system coalitions are a legitimate and well-understood means of government. Hardly unprecedented. I also notice that in raising that strawman you ignore the reference to the Unity Government (coalition) of 1917 here in Canada, not to mention the much-misunderstood King-Byng affair.

    The fact that FPTP frequently delivers false majorities, and does so so frequently that we assume that a minority government is an unusual affair, merely obscures the truth that most of the time, not a majority of the country votes for any one party, and so they must cooperate.

    David – There are three sides to why this has triggered outrage. The first one has to do with the fact that the subsidy is a generally well regarded tool for reducing the influence of outside money from politics. It’s much like our equivalent of McCain-Feingold, only not so useless. ;) Imagine your GOP coming to the table in early 2007 (with a Democratic Congress & Bush) with a proposal to eliminate McCain-Feingold.

    The second one has to do with the current situation of the parties. The other biggest party, our Liberals, have recently come out of some fairly turbulent times. Not necessarily turbulent times they didn’t earn, but nonetheless a recent historical fact. In addition, the funding and votes of the other parties are diluted by FPTP; the left is split, the right currently is not. In the past it’s been the other way around at times. So they’re sitting there with full cupboards and proposing “Let’s all emargo the grocery store!” The other parties, not having full cupboards at the moment, said “Um – no!” Thus, whether or not you believe that the subsidy is inappropriate (and perhaps that we should indeed be embargoing the grocery store in favour of the farmer’s market), the timing of the move made it extremely partisan and offensive in any event.

    And the third one is that if they simply voted down the proposal, without first making it apparent that they were willing to step up as a coalition, then by our conventions we’d be going straight back into an election. Defeating a bill like that means that the government no longer has the confidence of the house and must resign. Alternately, they could have voted down the proposal and then tried to pitch a coalition then and there, after the fact as it were, which while technically proper would simply be stupid. (Analogy, perhaps, to knowing that you ought to pass an unpopular measure in your House, but don’t have the votes for it, and putting it to the floor anyway so that your own people can lose face with no other effect.) So they did it the reasonable and proper way… instead of bursting out with “Go to hell!” they said, “What!!? Hang on a sec – okay, we propose to add ‘Go to hell!’ to the agenda.”

    If Harper had truly wanted to work within the constraints of being a minority government, then to eliminate the vote subsidy he’d have talked to the other parties and found one who liked his approach well enough to support it. For example, it might have been proposed as a gradual phasing-out with some kind of replacement mechanism to take its place. But he simply proposed cold turkey. It’s like the libertarian line: “No more apporpriations by force, starting… now!” Thus it was obvious to all that he was not trying to run a minority government.

    This wasn’t surprising, as he hasn’t really run his previous minority government like one either. He’s tried to run it like a majority, unilaterally putting things forward and daring anyone to defeat him on them. It’s literally been like a manager whose firm can’t really afford his golden parachute walking into each meeting with a resignation letter in hand, and saying “This is how it’s gonna be.”

    This coalition is simply the other managers saying, “Okay, dude, enough. We accept. G’bye. We’ll take over. Larry, you handle his accounts; Bob, you take over the Ops stuff he was running; Jake, you help with the rest of the workload. Security, please show this gentleman the door.”

    So – the vote subsidy isn’t the issue. The approach is. The vote subsidy was simply the vehicle Harper chose to use, to say “f*ck you all” to the other parties.

    And that’s not even getting into the fact that it was supposedly part of a “stimulus” package which was both miniscule, unfunded (billions in unspecified cuts, etc), and was in fact in belt-tightening package (Hoovernomics) in the current economic climate, not a stimulus at all. Every macroeconomist who’s looked at it has simply winced and tried to look away.

  219. In the last election the Conservatives came out with more seats than the NDP or Liberals and Bloc. It is only when you combine the three that they have more seats. However, we are mixing apples with oranges here and calling them either apples or oranges when that is just not true. If any one of the opposition parties had won a majority, would they have still formed a coalition to co-operate and get things done? Never. They are only ganging up now and throwing away their party principals and philosophies that seperate them because they know they can grab power and fortune and fame. No matter what way you look at it, in the last election, the majority of citizens voted AGAINST having Stephan Dion as the prime minister and AGAINST have Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe as prime minister. For Dion to assume the position of prime minister goes against the will of the people. I would bet there are citizens who voted for the Liberals and NDP who are against this coalition too. They are not so quick to throw away their principals and beliefs. The only way to resolve this coup is to have another election. The “coalition” wants to assume power immediately and by-pass another election. Obviously they are afraid to have another election or they would be saying “bring it on” . I say lets have another election and let the people decide. If we do not, Canadians will never know the true will of the people. We will have been cheated. The coalition will be throwing our money around like there is no tomorrow. The carbon tax is just a start.

  220. David: What Eric said is all correct, but one detail he left out. In our system, any budgetary motions are considered a motion of confidence. In other words, they’re considered so basic to the governance that if they do not pass, it’s seen as the government as a whole doesn’t believe the governing party can do a decent job of it any more, which means the current government falls.

    This is typically followed with an election, but because the other parties have gotten together and said, “We don’t believe the current government can do a good job, but we’ve got this guy (Dion) who we think can”, the Governor General may decide to avoid calling an election and giving a shot to the other guy to run things. This is much more likely to happen if we’ve just had a recent election, as we did.

  221. Mark: A majority of the citizens also voted against Stpehen Harper as the Prime Minister.
    The only thing you can really say Canadians voted for is that NONE of the parties should govern Canada on their own.

    Stephen Harper attempted to ignore that directive from Canadians, and may eventually pay a price for it, losing government to a couple of parties that have understood that directive.

  222. Eric, T., Thanks for the explanations!

    Eric: I wish the GOP HAD proposed to repeal McCain-Feingold in 2007. Bush himself said he thought it was unconstitutional but he very unwisely shirked his responsibilitly to veto it when it was passed, thinking the Supreme Court would do it for him. If McCain-Feingold had been repealed it would have been a victory for freedom of speech. Oh well.

    T.: It is very interesting that a budget motion is a motion of confidence. The mind boggles trying to imagine how that would work down here, where it is routine for the “loyal opposition” to declare the President’s budget bill “dead on arrival”, sometimes before the White House even releases it!

  223. If the 62% solution is rational, why doesn’t the GG go to the losing parties and ask them to form a government every time no majority is reached?

  224. Wonderful essay. Brought a smile to my lips in this all too serious time.
    Great work, Andrew Coyne

  225. Abu – Because our tradition (unlike a lot of countries, where what you describe is the norm… where it’s not a question of /if/ a coalition is asked to form, it’s simply a question of /which/) falls more in the direction of the other way a government can be formed. A minority Parliament is what we usually get in those cases… a situation where the opposition parties are willing to work with the government piecemeal, case-by-case, such that the government compromises enough to get stuff done.

    In general, in Canada, the only way we would expect to see a coalition is in a circumstance like this: the party with the most seats clearly no longer has the confidence of the house, so the Governor General asks them to no longer form government, but it’s so soon after an election (and the possibility of an alternate government is clear) that the coalition is more clearly indicative of the will of the people than a reelection.

  226. The presumption in the formation of a minority government is that the ‘parties’ ie the elected members are negotiating (their ‘pact’ before the Queen’s representative) in good faith.

    If it turns out a signatory is operating in bad faith, (fingers crossed), then whatever expectations of legal redress that party expected, under any form of common law are negligible.

    The evidence is apparent and formidable that at least one or more opposition leaders took just such a tact. To suppose they should be rewarded with power of any sort for such defiant duplicity is absurd.

    That PM Harper ‘baited’ the parties was low but not unexpected given the discovery and proof of bad faith.
    I only hope that Canadians place more emphasis on truth and rule of law than on personal feelings of distrust or dislike. I personally am offended by many of PM Harpers actions, but can hardly contain my disgust at the ideologue driven comments here and elsewhere.

    The one salient consideration is this. Canadians are NOT homogenous! Nor are we likely to ever be. In fact with increased immigration, the diversity of thought and opinion is bound to increase.

    To expect Canadians (any Canadians) to just roll over and give IT up, is foolishness. IT is one of the marks by which we identify ourselves in the global community. IT of course is our own high opinion of our own high opinion.

    We need to stop trying to force our opinions on everyone else based on ideological differences,

    State your point. Let others do the same. Then stand back.
    To hurl epithets and insults ad nauseum, demeans the medium.
    Most really intelligent people can’t be bothered with blogs for this very reason. They tend to be full of pedantic unreasoning blather.

    Myabe blogs really do represent the true fabric of this country. If so……..


Sign in to comment.