Two questions for Stephen Harper (III)

After interviewing Mr. Layton and Mr. Ignatieff, Peter Mansbridge will sit down with Mr. Harper on Thursday. Assuming that the parameters of our democracy might be a topic raised, here, again, are two questions for Mr. Harper.

1. Earlier in this campaign, you explained that when you referred to “options” in the your letter to the Governor General in September 2004, you hoped only that she would give you the opportunity to assure her that you were not intending to defeat the Liberal government. University of New Brunswick professor Don Desserud has quibbled with this understanding of convention, suggesting the only options for the Governor General would have been to call an election or ask the leader of the opposition, in this case you, if he had the opportunity to form a government. Do you believe the Governor General can compel the Prime Minister to work with the opposition parties or do you believe you were given poor advice in 2004?

2. In an essay penned with Tom Flanagan some years ago you spoke favourably of an “alliance” between regional parties and lamented for the “winner-take-all style of politics” in Canada. In 1997, during an interview with TVO, you said if the Liberal majority government of the day was ever reduced to a minority government, there would be an opportunity for one of the other parties “to form a coalition or working alliance with the others.” In 2004, during your news conference with Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton, you were asked if you were prepared to form government and said such a scenario was “extremely hypothetical.” You and your party now argue that only the party that wins the most seats can form government. Why and when did your views change on the functioning of our parliamentary system?

Two questions for Stephen Harper (III)

  1. Pick your next 2 carefully… Because that's all you get.

  2. Pick your next 2 carefully… Because that's all you get.

  3. Your questions remind me of a great interview of Senator Thérèse Casgrain I once heard on CBC. She had accompanied a group of Canadian students to China who were given the opportunity to meet Mao Zedong and ask him ONE question. Prior to the meeting with Mao, the students discussed at length and finally agreed on the following question: How different would the world be today if Nikita Khrushchev had been killed instead of John F. Kennedy? To which Mao answered: I don't think Mr. Onassis would have married Mrs. Khrushchev.

    Mansbridge I hope will do much better!

    • An even better question for Mao would have been:

      "Chairman Mao, how many millions of Chinese citizens have been murdered by your government? Also, as a follow-up, how many tens of millions of Chinese citizens died in your Great Famine, which has been described as the worst man-made disaster in human history?"

      • Sure great question unCrit_, I'm sure you would had the courage to ask that question.

        • I'm pretty sure if such a question had been asked, the translator would have refused to translate it, lest his family be charged for the bullet that would have entered his brain shortly after the Canadian students had been escorted out.

          That sure was a funny quip by Mao, though! I hear Hitler and Stalin also liked to tell jokes.

          • I'm sure Brian Lilley would have asked Mao about how much he was influenced by the writings of Michael Ignatieff.

      • Easier to say that in retrospect. And there was no follow-up question ! Information circulates more easily in the world now – except here, of course, where it seems to circulate with less ease.

  4. Your questions remind me of a great interview of Senator Thérèse Casgrain I once heard on CBC. She had accompanied a group of Canadian students to China who were given the opportunity to meet Mao Zedong and ask him ONE question. Prior to the meeting with Mao, the students discussed at length and finally agreed on the following question: How different would the world be today if Nikita Khrushchev had been killed instead of John F. Kennedy? To which Mao answered: I don't think Mr. Onassis would have married Mrs. Khrushchev.

    Mansbridge I hope will do much better!

  5. I like and respect Peter Mansbridge, but he seems to me, terrified (maybe a tad hyperbolic that word) of Harper. This could be an easy interview for the PM. Not like these interviews matter much anyways… an elder relative of mine, a lifelong Liberal, is going to "vote for PM Turner", "he's done a good job".

  6. I like and respect Peter Mansbridge, but he seems to me, terrified (maybe a tad hyperbolic that word) of Harper. This could be an easy interview for the PM. Not like these interviews matter much anyways… an elder relative of mine, a lifelong Liberal, is going to "vote for PM Turner", "he's done a good job".

  7. What really gets me is how many people are willing to accept Mr.Harper's explanation concerning that letter to the GG in 2004.

    Surely this can't be confusing or fooling anyone?

    Rather than immediately call an election should the Liberals lose the confidence of the house, he asked her to consider other options.

    The only constitutionally accepted options are: call an election or call on the second largest party to form government, ie Harper becomes PM with support of the other minority parties.

    This is why I and so many others have so little confidence in politicians: they so routinely say things that are clearly spoken with the hope of suckering people, that you can't help but think they consider us all a bunch of idiots.

    I mean really.

    • I think that the Governor General actually has more options then "call an election or call on the second largest party to form government". I believe that if the PM loses the confidence of the house the GG could ask anyone else if they wanted to try and form a government. I.e If a parliament is elected similar to what we have and Harper is defeated because he won't compromise; then the GG could ask Baird if he felt he would be able to work with the other parties.

      • That's an interesting idea. Has anything like that ever happened? It must be more than mere convention that the GG invites the leader of the party to try to form a government.

        • I'd be willing to argue that that is how Martin became PM in 2003. Chretien realises he no longer has the support of a majority of MPs so he asks the GG to appoint Martin who has gained the support of the Liberal Majority.

          I imagine that if the CPC is just shy of a majority; then uncompromising Harper won't last as PM and the alternative would struggle to pass anything. The GG might very decide to ask some other Conservative if they would be able to "play nice".

          • Except of course that the Liberal party didn't lose a confidence vote at any point during that change over, the party still retained the greatest number of seats and additionally won the following vote of confidence.

            So how this scenario triggers the Governor General's involvement in terms of dissolution is something your scenario doesn't really consider.

            Keep in mind that the rules stipulate that the leader of the party with the most votes gets first crack at establishing the government, and that requirement isn't violated in this case.

            So what you're really saying is that you're wiling to argue a point you have no chance of winning? LOL

      • I have no doubt that is a possible option, I doubt very much there are many practical options beyond the two suggested.

      • This has been in the back of my mind for a couple weeks now, if it's valid I think the smarter ploy is to defeat Harper and then say we would accept a Conservative government under a different PM than to actually form a Liberal government…. lest Michael Ignatieff become an Arthur Meighen to Harper's W.L.M. King.

      • Naturally I think you're reaching there, but since such an option has never been tested, there's no convention or precedent to contradict it per se.

        That said, in order for such an option to in fact BE an option, the existing leader would have to abdicate and a new leader chosen by the party within the time frame existing between the vote of nonconfidence and the Governor General's response to the vote, ie about a week or two.

        I feel even more confident now than before given that the only truly contrary objection to my statement is one that reaches so far. ;)

        Cheers.

  8. What really gets me is how many people are willing to accept Mr.Harper's explanation concerning that letter to the GG in 2004.

    Surely this can't be confusing or fooling anyone?

    Rather than immediately call an election should the Liberals lose the confidence of the house, he asked her to consider other options.

    The only constitutionally accepted options are: call an election or call on the second largest party to form government, ie Harper becomes PM with support of the other minority parties.

    This is why I and so many others have so little confidence in politicians: they so routinely say things that are clearly spoken with the hope of suckering people, that you can't help but think they consider us all a bunch of idiots.

    I mean really.

  9. We live in a representative democracy. We are about to hold 308 individual elections across Canada to determine who our representatives in the House will be. Once they arrive, the rest is up to them. By tradition, not by law, the party who wins the most elections gets first crack at forming a government. That government must enjoy the confidence of the House. If the party wins more than 155 of the elections, then it's all moot- they will of course enjoy the confidence of the House. If the government does not enjoy the confidence of the House, then the leader of that party can ask for dissolution, or the Governor General can ask another party to attempt to form a government. That government too must enjoy the confidence of the House.

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

    The only election Michael Ignatieff can lose is his own in Etobicoke.

    Finally, from what I've been reading so far, our parliamentary democracy is functioning just fine. In my humble opinion, we're just not used to these interesting minority situations so we're either a) all freaking out a little or b) purposely taking advantage of people's ignorance of how the House works. I trust it's mostly 'a'.

    Yes, if the Conservative Party wins the most elections but not 155, they will need to govern in such a way that they enjoy the confidence of the house. Yes, that means working with the Opposition. Yes, that means making concessions to the Opposition. No that does not mean making concessions to the "losers" as by our laws, everyone who is in the House of Commons has won an election.

    They are our representatives. Once we elect them and send them to the House, the rest is up to them.

    Thank you for tolerating my far too long post. I need to make my kids' breakfast now (it's 7:30 AM here in California)

    • "…we're either a) all freaking out a little or b) purposely taking advantage of people's ignorance of how the House works. I trust it's mostly 'a'."

      Unfortunately it's 'b'. Harper is out to prove that he can obtain absolute power by playing on the fear and ignorance of the bottom 38%. He might be right.

    • Loved your post Dave. So many people seem confused about Westminister Parliaments. Others seem surprised the PM isn't the same as a President. Including the current PM.

      If you're not aware of it already, you may enjoy this interesting paper from the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights (U of T), resulting from a February '11 workshop on Constitutional Conventions. The dissolution & formation of gov't is covered in Section 3, page 6, with all recommendations appearing in Section 7, page 12.
      http://www.aspercentre.ca/Assets/Asper+Digital+As

      Let's hope the work of these fine people goes forward post haste.

      Enjoy the sunshine! Most of your fellow Canadians are dealing with Spring like conditions, some are still in Winter.

    • That's a very clear and concise explanation of our system. I only wish our dear leader understood our parliamentary system so well. My worry is that he does, and yet still spouts gibberish like "only the first place party can form government." for pure self interest and partisan gain. Make one yearn for a real leader. One who respects the people that send ALL of the MP's to Ottawa!

  10. We live in a representative democracy. We are about to hold 308 individual elections across Canada to determine who our representatives in the House will be. Once they arrive, the rest is up to them. By tradition, not by law, the party who wins the most elections gets first crack at forming a government. That government must enjoy the confidence of the House. If the party wins more than 155 of the elections, then it's all moot- they will of course enjoy the confidence of the House. If the government does not enjoy the confidence of the House, then the leader of that party can ask for dissolution, or the Governor General can ask another party to attempt to form a government. That government too must enjoy the confidence of the House.

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

    The only election Michael Ignatieff can lose is his own in Etobicoke.

    Finally, from what I've been reading so far, our parliamentary democracy is functioning just fine. In my humble opinion, we're just not used to these interesting minority situations so we're either a) all freaking out a little or b) purposely taking advantage of people's ignorance of how the House works. I trust it's mostly 'a'.

    Yes, if the Conservative Party wins the most elections but not 155, they will need to govern in such a way that they enjoy the confidence of the house. Yes, that means working with the Opposition. Yes, that means making concessions to the Opposition. No that does not mean making concessions to the "losers" as by our laws, everyone who is in the House of Commons has won an election.

    They are our representatives. Once we elect them and send them to the House, the rest is up to them.

    Thank you for tolerating my far too long post. I need to make my kids' breakfast now (it's 7:30 AM here in California)

  11. I'm outraged as well with Harper's double standards, hypocrisy, and opportunistic nature but can just focus on his non-platform instead of creating gotcha-moments?

  12. I'm outraged as well with Harper's double standards, hypocrisy, and opportunistic nature but can just focus on his non-platform instead of creating gotcha-moments?

  13. We live in a representative democracy.

    it's 7:30 AM here in California

    What do you mean, "we"? You live in San Diego!

  14. Harper's answers may or may not resemble his past opinions or actions. As an MP, while out of government and as a leader of the opposition, he has expressed a fairly clear understanding of how a party-based Parliament works.

    What is unnerving about Mr. Harper's turn in government has been his willingness to lie and deceive. He called coalitions and even supply-vote governance "illegitimate". He and his minions have mused about them being unconstitutional and even suggested that they would ignore the votes of Parliament and "go over their heads" — to some fictional land in which Parliament is not the host of our democracy and government.

    Harper understands the rules, as clearly and correctly explained by Iggy in his CBC interview, but the rules aren't convenient for Harper, so he chooses to lie, just as his campaign office edited out Iggy's no coalition declaration and altered his quote to exclude the opposition leader's willingness to work with all parties, including Mr. Harper's.

    Under principled leadership, I might be swayed to support a Conservative government. Under a deceitful and lying leader, I never will.

    • It gets better. Not content just to leap over Parliament, this crowd thinks they can ignore the Crown as well.

      When interviewed by Don Newman, CBC, John Baird said "we'll go over the GG's head — directly to the people of Canada." when asked what Harper would do if she didn't agree with the request to prorogue. I'm still in shock at that nonsense….but increasingly less so as the days go by.

  15. Harper's answers may or may not resemble his past opinions or actions. As an MP, while out of government and as a leader of the opposition, he has expressed a fairly clear understanding of how a party-based Parliament works.

    What is unnerving about Mr. Harper's turn in government has been his willingness to lie and deceive. He called coalitions and even supply-vote governance "illegitimate". He and his minions have mused about them being unconstitutional and even suggested that they would ignore the votes of Parliament and "go over their heads" — to some fictional land in which Parliament is not the host of our democracy and government.

    Harper understands the rules, as clearly and correctly explained by Iggy in his CBC interview, but the rules aren't convenient for Harper, so he chooses to lie, just as his campaign office edited out Iggy's no coalition declaration and altered his quote to exclude the opposition leader's willingness to work with all parties, including Mr. Harper's.

    Under principled leadership, I might be swayed to support a Conservative government. Under a deceitful and lying leader, I never will.

  16. I have my doubts about Mansbridge's willingness to play hardball with Steve.

  17. It would be really fascinating if Mansbridge threw Harper a curve-ball. Perhaps he could reference the Ontario Supreme Court decision of September 2010 which struck down anti-prostitution rulings, and then ask what legislation Harper would introduce to address that decision (since that will be necessary during the next term of Parliament). That could lead to additional questions on Harper's further social policy.

    Because, quite frankly, the main question on everyone's mind for Ignatieff was what his thoughts were on a coalition. The main question on everyone's mind for Harper is just what he plans to do for a social agenda. Mansbridge would do the country a service by probing that a little bit.

    • "Perhaps he could reference the Ontario Supreme Court decision of September 2010 which struck down anti-prostitution rulings, and then ask what legislation Harper would introduce to address that decision (since that will be necessary during the next term of Parliament)"

      I suspect his answer would be "let's wait to see what the SCC has to say about it before we do anything".

      "The main question on everyone's mind for Harper is just what he plans to do for a social agenda."

      Really – in my little corner of the country, the main question on everyone's mind is "why don't you get rid of the deficit a little quicker".

      If the question were asked of me, I'd say – do what the Liberals always do – carefully select judicial appointments that think like me and let them do all the dirty work.

  18. It would be really fascinating if Mansbridge threw Harper a curve-ball. Perhaps he could reference the Ontario Supreme Court decision of September 2010 which struck down anti-prostitution rulings, and then ask what legislation Harper would introduce to address that decision (since that will be necessary during the next term of Parliament). That could lead to additional questions on Harper's further social policy.

    Because, quite frankly, the main question on everyone's mind for Ignatieff was what his thoughts were on a coalition. The main question on everyone's mind for Harper is just what he plans to do for a social agenda. Mansbridge would do the country a service by probing that a little bit.

  19. Since Iggy's interview yesterday, I've been wondering about those 'options' too. As I said yesterday, should the next parliament end up looking like the last parliament, Iggy, Jack and Gilles should fire off the same damn letter Harper did in 2004 — just switch up the names accordingly. No one wants an election… no one wants a coalition of losers… so, what are the GG's options? Mr. Harper?

  20. Since Iggy's interview yesterday, I've been wondering about those 'options' too. As I said yesterday, should the next parliament end up looking like the last parliament, Iggy, Jack and Gilles should fire off the same damn letter Harper did in 2004 — just switch up the names accordingly. No one wants an election… no one wants a coalition of losers… so, what are the GG's options? Mr. Harper?

  21. Maybe not all of us, but enough to win an election. And they're usually right.

  22. .
    Too dry. Teach Mansbridge to change his soporific style, rather than encourage it.

    Questions:
    Why do you stare down your opponents in debate when they address you, and at the camera when you answer them?

    Are you going to have the camera director dismissed for mischievously switching to a side camera, leaving you talking the dead one in front of you?

    Are you going to sell out to Beijing's intellectual property rights retention in the WTO, so by 2020 Canadian workers will be assembling tablet computers for Baidu's cloud servers?

    Are you going to Wisconsin-ize Canadian unions? Public AND private?

    How are the formulaic email directives going?

    Do you enjoy turning Canada into termite-nest economy: dark, disgusting, but very efficient?
    .

    • Beijing, Baidu, Wisconsin, formulaic e-mails, and disgusting termites—-now that will be must-watch TV.

  23. .
    Too dry. Teach Mansbridge to change his soporific style, rather than encourage it.

    Questions:
    Why do you stare down your opponents in debate when they address you, and at the camera when you answer them?

    Are you going to have the camera director dismissed for mischievously switching to a side camera, leaving you talking the dead one in front of you?

    Are you going to sell out to Beijing's intellectual property rights retention in the WTO, so by 2020 Canadian workers will be assembling tablet computers for Baidu's cloud servers?

    Are you going to Wisconsin-ize Canadian unions? Public AND private?

    How are the formulaic email directives going?

    Do you enjoy turning Canada into termite-nest economy: dark, disgusting, but very efficient?
    .

  24. Does Iggy still want Canada in Iraq???

    • When did Ignatieff want Canada in Iraq? I know that he was supportive of the US effort in Iraq, as was Jean Chrétien. But like Chrétien, Ignatieff has maintained that if he forms the government, Canadian troops would never be used outside of Canada's borders without the approval of the UN.

  25. Does Iggy still want Canada in Iraq???

  26. That interview is going to be all huggy-huggy, kissy-kissy, mark my words.

  27. Just imagine if Harper had not engineered this election — we'd all be commenting on the launch of the Sun News Network.

    • It might be for the best that we're not (and few people are).

  28. Just imagine if Harper had not engineered this election — we'd all be commenting on the launch of the Sun News Network.

  29. I think that the Governor General actually has more options then "call an election or call on the second largest party to form government". I believe that if the PM loses the confidence of the house the GG could ask anyone else if they wanted to try and form a government. I.e If a parliament is elected similar to what we have and Harper is defeated because he won't compromise; then the GG could ask Baird if he felt he would be able to work with the other parties.

  30. Is there anyone on the opposition side of the House you admire, respect, or even like?

    • Michael Chong

      • My question was sincere so i don't get the humour in your response, or the 6 idiots that gave you a plus.
        Chong is a Conservative candidate in Wellington Halton hills.

        • There was no "humour".
          I am not a Conservative supporter, but I like and respect Michael Chong.

  31. Is there anyone on the opposition side of the House you admire, respect, or even like?

  32. Great. SanDiegoDave…..just visiting.

    Or how about, "SanDiegoDave…I didn't write my comment for you"

  33. "…we're either a) all freaking out a little or b) purposely taking advantage of people's ignorance of how the House works. I trust it's mostly 'a'."

    Unfortunately it's 'b'. Harper is out to prove that he can obtain absolute power by playing on the fear and ignorance of the bottom 38%. He might be right.

  34. If the NDP give $4500, to corporations for new employees
    1000 jobs at minimum wage equeals $,4,500.000 cost $500,000 to collect and pay at minimum wage and leave with $4 million to the Bahamas.

  35. If the NDP give $4500, to corporations for new employees
    1000 jobs at minimum wage equeals $,4,500.000 cost $500,000 to collect and pay at minimum wage and leave with $4 million to the Bahamas.

  36. An even better question for Mao would have been:

    "Chairman Mao, how many millions of Chinese citizens have been murdered by your government? Also, as a follow-up, how many tens of millions of Chinese citizens died in your Great Famine, which has been described as the worst man-made disaster in human history?"

  37. When did Ignatieff want Canada in Iraq? I know that he was supportive of the US effort in Iraq, as was Jean Chrétien. But like Chrétien, Ignatieff has maintained that if he forms the government, Canadian troops would never be used outside of Canada's borders without the approval of the UN.

  38. Chretien was not supportive of the US efforts in Iraq – saying that the intervention was based on evidence that wouldn't convince a small town judge is hardly supportive. On the other hand, Ignatieff was a very vocal and very visible proponent of US military intervention in Iraq.

  39. Sure great question unCrit_, I'm sure you would had the courage to ask that question.

  40. That's an interesting idea. Has anything like that ever happened? It must be more than mere convention that the GG invites the leader of the party to try to form a government.

  41. I have no doubt that is a possible option, I doubt very much there are many practical options beyond the two suggested.

  42. It might be for the best that we're not (and few people are).

  43. Michael Chong

  44. Beijing, Baidu, Wisconsin, formulaic e-mails, and disgusting termites—-now that will be must-watch TV.

  45. Loved your post Dave. So many people seem confused about Westminister Parliaments. Others seem surprised the PM isn't the same as a President. Including the current PM.

    If you're not aware of it already, you may enjoy this interesting paper from the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights (U of T), resulting from a February '11 workshop on Constitutional Conventions. The dissolution & formation of gov't is covered in Section 3, page 6, with all recommendations appearing in Section 7, page 12.
    http://www.aspercentre.ca/Assets/Asper+Digital+As

    Let's hope the work of these fine people goes forward post haste.

    Enjoy the sunshine! Most of your fellow Canadians are dealing with Spring like conditions, some are still in Winter.

  46. LOL. Surprised at all the thumbs down, I meant no offense, it was just a light hearted joke…I hope you took it in the spirit it was intended Dave.

    • Absolutely!

      note to self- cancel attack ad regarding john g and his paid "friend"

  47. I'm pretty sure if such a question had been asked, the translator would have refused to translate it, lest his family be charged for the bullet that would have entered his brain shortly after the Canadian students had been escorted out.

    That sure was a funny quip by Mao, though! I hear Hitler and Stalin also liked to tell jokes.

  48. LOL. Surprised at all the thumbs down, I meant no offense, it was just a light hearted joke…I hope you took it in the spirit it was intended Dave.

  49. I hope that's sarcasm John. I'd hate to think your that much of a tool.

  50. I hope that's sarcasm John. I'd hate to think your that much of a tool.

  51. I'm sure Brian Lilley would have asked Mao about how much he was influenced by the writings of Michael Ignatieff.

  52. "If a parliament is elected similar to what we have and Harper is defeated because he won't compromise; then the GG could ask Baird if he felt he would be able to work with the other parties."

    I don't think there is Canadian precedent, but in England in 1940, with the Chamberlain government falling, the question arose who should be asked to form a government. The choice was between Winston Churchill and Lord Halifax.

  53. "If a parliament is elected similar to what we have and Harper is defeated because he won't compromise; then the GG could ask Baird if he felt he would be able to work with the other parties."

    I don't think there is Canadian precedent, but in England in 1940, with the Chamberlain government falling, the question arose who should be asked to form a government. The choice was between Winston Churchill and Lord Halifax.

  54. That's a very clear and concise explanation of our system. I only wish our dear leader understood our parliamentary system so well. My worry is that he does, and yet still spouts gibberish like "only the first place party can form government." for pure self interest and partisan gain. Make one yearn for a real leader. One who respects the people that send ALL of the MP's to Ottawa!

  55. It would be nice if Mansbridge was as aggressive with Harper as he was with Ignatieff.

    I suspect however he will lob him softball stuff like he did with Layton , and accept without question the fluff he gets in return.

  56. It would be nice if Mansbridge was as aggressive with Harper as he was with Ignatieff.

    I suspect however he will lob him softball stuff like he did with Layton , and accept without question the fluff he gets in return.

  57. It gets better. Not content just to leap over Parliament, this crowd thinks they can ignore the Crown as well.

    When interviewed by Don Newman, CBC, John Baird said "we'll go over the GG's head — directly to the people of Canada." when asked what Harper would do if she didn't agree with the request to prorogue. I'm still in shock at that nonsense….but increasingly less so as the days go by.

  58. Chretien deemed the evidence before him wouldn't convince a small town judge and so refused to embark on a mission to Irak. But he was not critical of Bush for going there, as far as I recall.

    Ignatieff was a very vocal proponent of US military intervention in Iraq, but not of a Canadian military intervention in Iraq, as niceguy implies.

  59. Chretien deemed the evidence before him wouldn't convince a small town judge and so refused to embark on a mission to Irak. But he was not critical of Bush for going there, as far as I recall.

    Ignatieff was a very vocal proponent of US military intervention in Iraq, but not of a Canadian military intervention in Iraq, as niceguy implies.

  60. You would waste the interview on what he thought about forming coalitions in 2004 instead of asking him how, if trusted with a majority or another minority, he will change his behaviour with respect to parliament and provide it's members and officers with the information they need to do their job?

    Or more simply put, does he believe the prime minister is accountable to the elected members of the House of Commons or not?

  61. Easier to say that in retrospect. And there was no follow-up question ! Information circulates more easily in the world now – except here, of course, where it seems to circulate with less ease.

  62. This has been in the back of my mind for a couple weeks now, if it's valid I think the smarter ploy is to defeat Harper and then say we would accept a Conservative government under a different PM than to actually form a Liberal government…. lest Michael Ignatieff become an Arthur Meighen to Harper's W.L.M. King.

  63. "Perhaps he could reference the Ontario Supreme Court decision of September 2010 which struck down anti-prostitution rulings, and then ask what legislation Harper would introduce to address that decision (since that will be necessary during the next term of Parliament)"

    I suspect his answer would be "let's wait to see what the SCC has to say about it before we do anything".

    "The main question on everyone's mind for Harper is just what he plans to do for a social agenda."

    Really – in my little corner of the country, the main question on everyone's mind is "why don't you get rid of the deficit a little quicker".

    If the question were asked of me, I'd say – do what the Liberals always do – carefully select judicial appointments that think like me and let them do all the dirty work.

  64. What neutralizes this kind of questioning Aaron, is the fact there is both audio and video available on U-tube. In them, both Layton and Duceppe categorically DENY there was any attempt to form a coalition. Try doing some research. I would like to see Layton and Duceppe as well as Ignatieff deny there was any attempt to form a coalition in 2008 –not going to happen.
    It is not about Harper co-operating with parliament. They have rarely co-operated with him. It is about giving Duceppe, Layton and Ignatieff the keys to 24 Sussex–nothing else will do, no matter what spin you put on this.
    Take some responsibility for the media's part in this. Jack supports the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices to form a gov't if the Conservatives are defeated on the Throne Speech or the Budget. (interview with Vancouver Sun) He does not include attempting to form gov't with the minority Conservatives.
    As the west votes primarily Conservative, there would be no representation in cabinet west of Ontario. Think about it.
    Now think about the cap and trade/carbon tax that they want to implement to pay for all their social programs. Where would that come from –huge penalties to the western "energy-rich provinces". One last thing. Think western separation….we just might beat Duceppe's plan for Quebec separation in 2 years!
    You might try asking Harper how secure is the CPP the left wants to increase after they shut down the oilsands. You see, our CPP is significantly invested in the oilsands as a long term investment.

  65. What neutralizes this kind of questioning Aaron, is the fact there is both audio and video available on U-tube. In them, both Layton and Duceppe categorically DENY there was any attempt to form a coalition. Try doing some research. I would like to see Layton and Duceppe as well as Ignatieff deny there was any attempt to form a coalition in 2008 –not going to happen.
    It is not about Harper co-operating with parliament. They have rarely co-operated with him. It is about giving Duceppe, Layton and Ignatieff the keys to 24 Sussex–nothing else will do, no matter what spin you put on this.
    Take some responsibility for the media's part in this. Jack supports the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices to form a gov't if the Conservatives are defeated on the Throne Speech or the Budget. (interview with Vancouver Sun) He does not include attempting to form gov't with the minority Conservatives.
    As the west votes primarily Conservative, there would be no representation in cabinet west of Ontario. Think about it.
    Now think about the cap and trade/carbon tax that they want to implement to pay for all their social programs. Where would that come from –huge penalties to the western "energy-rich provinces". One last thing. Think western separation….we just might beat Duceppe's plan for Quebec separation in 2 years!
    You might try asking Harper how secure is the CPP the left wants to increase after they shut down the oilsands. You see, our CPP is significantly invested in the oilsands as a long term investment.

  66. Wow, AW, what incredible hard ball questions! I'm no SH, but I can't resist the urge to give it a try:

    "Do you believe the Governor General can compel the Prime Minister to work with the opposition parties or do you believe you were given poor advice in 2004?"

    I don't think now, nor did I in 2004, that the GG can "compel" a PM to do anything.

    "Why and when did your views change on the functioning of our parliamentary system?"

    They didn't – the context of my 1997 remarks was the split of the conservative vote that ceased when the Alliance and PC party merged. If Iggy/Layton/Duceppe wish to form a government despite none of their parties winning the most seats in an election, they should merge those parties.

    Then Mansbridge can ask him about his favorite Beatle songs.

  67. Wow, AW, what incredible hard ball questions! I'm no SH, but I can't resist the urge to give it a try:

    "Do you believe the Governor General can compel the Prime Minister to work with the opposition parties or do you believe you were given poor advice in 2004?"

    I don't think now, nor did I in 2004, that the GG can "compel" a PM to do anything.

    "Why and when did your views change on the functioning of our parliamentary system?"

    They didn't – the context of my 1997 remarks was the split of the conservative vote that ceased when the Alliance and PC party merged. If Iggy/Layton/Duceppe wish to form a government despite none of their parties winning the most seats in an election, they should merge those parties.

    Then Mansbridge can ask him about his favorite Beatle songs.

  68. I'd be willing to argue that that is how Martin became PM in 2003. Chretien realises he no longer has the support of a majority of MPs so he asks the GG to appoint Martin who has gained the support of the Liberal Majority.

    I imagine that if the CPC is just shy of a majority; then uncompromising Harper won't last as PM and the alternative would struggle to pass anything. The GG might very decide to ask some other Conservative if they would be able to "play nice".

  69. Naturally I think you're reaching there, but since such an option has never been tested, there's no convention or precedent to contradict it per se.

    That said, in order for such an option to in fact BE an option, the existing leader would have to abdicate and a new leader chosen by the party within the time frame existing between the vote of nonconfidence and the Governor General's response to the vote, ie about a week or two.

    I feel even more confident now than before given that the only truly contrary objection to my statement is one that reaches so far. ;)

    Cheers.

  70. Except of course that the Liberal party didn't lose a confidence vote at any point during that change over, the party still retained the greatest number of seats and additionally won the following vote of confidence.

    So how this scenario triggers the Governor General's involvement in terms of dissolution is something your scenario doesn't really consider.

    Keep in mind that the rules stipulate that the leader of the party with the most votes gets first crack at establishing the government, and that requirement isn't violated in this case.

    So what you're really saying is that you're wiling to argue a point you have no chance of winning? LOL

  71. Absolutely!

    note to self- cancel attack ad regarding john g and his paid "friend"

  72. Okay then…

    I see your "youtube" videos and raise you an official letter to the Governor General of Canada in which the next largest party asks the GG to consider other options besides calling an election.

    And those other options are….?

    I mean honestly, how can anyone think they can dance around that?

    Sheesh.

  73. That's a pretty fine hair to split, in my opinion. If you think the evidence is weak, and you think there should be a UN resolution, then it's not a stretch to infer a lack of support for the invasion. It's true, Ignatieff wasn't speaking much about Canadian politics in 2002, but the reasons he's given for supporting the invastion would apply equally to Canada's involvement.

  74. Followed by a long, awkward, silence!

  75. Repost from Line Merrette – Stupid question for Harper: "Why is the Bloc the devil incarnate, but the Western Canada Concept is okay? They are also a separatist party! Harper and some of his MPs have been close to that party or even members. There has been a separatist party in Scotland in the Sixties and the British did not jail them. Even in Northern Ireland, the Unionists and the Sinn Féin have made peace and they are governing Ulster together. Why do you assume Canadians are so politically immature?"

    CBC exposes Harper's Coalition lies – 4:05 min. http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_Natio

  76. Except of course that in more than a couple cases, including one of the Conservative budgets (can't remember which) their legislation only passed because of the BLOC.

    So if there's no official agreement for support, and if the BLOC isn't in cabinet, then the arrangement is no different than it was under the Conservatives.

    Ultimately this comes down to the seat count. If the Conservative have more than roughly 140 seats, it won't fly because all three opposition parties would have to be in agreement most of the time. Added to that would be the perception that the CPC came back with a strong or stronger mandate.

    If however they have less seats, all bets are off, since the opposition will have improved their mandate to move on precisely what they've been talking about during the campaign.

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