'What he’s trying to do is elevate expediency into a constitutional principle' - Macleans.ca

‘What he’s trying to do is elevate expediency into a constitutional principle’


Ned Franks considers that which Stephen Harper considers debatable.

Parliamentary expert Ned Franks dismissed Harper’s comments as “constitutional nonsense.” “There’s only one requirement for being the government and that is you must enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons,” said Franks, professor emeritus at Queen’s University. “It’s not a constitutional debate. Constitutionally, there’s absolutely no question. There are ample precedents both in Canada and abroad to support it.”

Franks accused the Conservative leader of trying to rewrite the Constitution for his own end. “He’s trying to change not just the Constitution in terms of what confidence means, he’s also trying to change it in terms of how governments are formed,” Franks said. “What he’s trying to do is elevate expediency into a constitutional principle.”


‘What he’s trying to do is elevate expediency into a constitutional principle’

  1. He is a danger to our country and works for the mega rich. Plain and simple.

    • Who? Ned Franks?


  2. With all due respect to Ned Franks, but I think Canadians know better.

    Canadians know that when a coalition is formed with handing the balance of power over to the BQ, the people won't stand for it.

    And I would like for Ned Franks to talk about the BQ. There is no precedent of having a separatist party holding power over our Canadian federation, and I really think Canadians deserve to hear what men like Ned Franks have to say about things like that.

    • I'm sorry but I think there is a general understanding on these boards as to what a 'coalition' actually is. A coalition government shares cabinet responsibilities between political parties. The 2008 agreement was a coalition between the Grits and the Dippers. What you see successfully governing the UK is a coalition.

      I see no evidence of any coalition discussions or agreements anywhere. What I DO see is parties attempting to work together such as when the Conservatives won Liberal and NDP support for the 2009 budget and when the Conservative party actively sought out and worked closely with the Bloc Quebecois to attempt to replace the Martin government in 2004 .

      Those were certainly not coalitions- why do we insist on using that word other than in instances of pure intellectual dishonesty?

    • With all due respect to FVerhoeven, I think Ned Franks knows constitutional law better than the vast majority of Canadians.

      • Oh, Ned Franks knows the constitutional law better than the vast majority of Canadians; let there be no doubt about that.

        But I have not heard Mr.Franks comment on how the BQ figures in all of this.

        Where is the precedent, and where is it written within our constitutional law that a separatist party, which during federal elections campaigns against the Canadian federation, can be put in position to then be part of a coalition agreement to be in charge of our Canadian federation.

        There is no precedent set in this regard, constitutionally wise, and I would like for experts like Ned Franks, to explain how such separatist involvement would figure within constitutional laws.

        The fact that Mr.Franks does not want to address the BQ coalition involvement, does not mean that the question regarding separatist involvement will go away.

        Why are the experts avoiding the real questions? That was my question, and you have not answered it either. In fact, you do not even indicate if you would like Ned Franks to answer the question regarding BQ involvement.

  3. People who try to reshape reality to suit their own wishes usually end badly.

    • Emily,
      There you go with your jingoism again.
      The BQ are traitors to Canada.

      • Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy".

        So that's not me, sorry.

        Treason is an attempt to overthrow the govt.

        So that's not the BQ, sorry.

        • I said traitor. def: 1)a person who betrays his country. 20 a person who betrays a trust, duty, friend.etc.
          The BQ swore an oath when they took office as an MP to work on behalf of Canada.
          Syn: turncoat, renegade
          Hoppy Easter

          • Yes, a traitor commits treason. The Bloc isn't either of those things.

            There are Alberta separatists you know….should we round them up and…what…shoot them for considering a different arrangement?

          • The Bloc has been able to achieve success while consistently adhereing to the democratic rules estanlished in Canada by others. They act in the interests of the citizens who elect them and and behaved with integrity. They have not resorted to breaking electoral laws, bringing fraudsters into the political process or high office, shutting down Parlaiment, stuffing the Senate with partisan stooges some of whom are accused of ciminal actions, etc, etc. These are traiterous action, but you cannot accuse the Bloc of any of these thngs. On the other hand even you cannot claim Stephen Harper has not done these things.

      • 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.

        • :)))))

    • I'm new on this board Emily, so could you please explain to me, why, if the Coalition is so wonderful, why doesn't Iggy, Jack and Jill tell us what their plans are.
      Why are they so afraid to tell the voters how the Coalition will work.

      • There is no coalition. Each of the parties is running to win on their own.

      • I'm new on this board

        LOL. Finally, from you, words recognizing reality

      • The "coalition" is the new boogie monster; a bedtime story Harper is telling Canadians to scare them into giving the CPC their support. It's been proven time and again on these forums as well as by various journalists that the concept of a coalition is being completely misrepresented by the CPC.

        If it were to happen (and as of yet no opposition party has said there will be one or has entered into discussions to form one) it would still be a legitimate government capable of governing Canada.

        See SanDiegoDave's reply to Proud Canadian.

  4. Constitutionally acceptable and politically advisable are two very different creatures.

    Ned Franks refers to the first and Harper to the second. Both are correct.

    • Some smart people hanging around this site this morning. Good to see! Great post.

      • That says an awful lot about you, Madame.

        • I'm hanging in there. Thank you!

    • The question, then, is why has a constitutionally acceptable option become politically inadvisable? Why has the basic function of our democratic system (securing the agreement of the majority of the House of Commons) become so politically unsavoury?

      • because the constitution wasnt designed to forbid every politically inadvisable option. the two have really nothing to do with one another.

        • That's right- the constitution should have foreseen a Harper and had entrenched in it that he would rule. What hubris to think you know what is politically inadvisable. I'm sure you find such a rigid world view comforting.

          I like the constitution because it has the flexibility to accommodate a changing political landscape. I believe the parliamentary system and the conventions it uses will adopt just fine. However that morphs.

      • PJP…you mean like prorogation?

    • If he's referring to the second, why is he saying "constitutional debate"?

      Political debate, sure.. but he's the one who says it's a constitutional debate.

      Do try again.

    • Ergo, by your terms of reference, the solution is simply for Harper to win a majority. If you are indeed correct, why hasn't Harper's political vision prevailed in the previous elections? Can't answer it can you!

  5. Hear, hear!!

  6. Expert advice……mmmm. Wonder if Kevin Page has to have second look at his books??

    "With one month remaining in the fiscal year, the federal deficit sits at $28.3-billion — well under the $40-billion deficit for 2010-11 that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty projected last month."


    • And your guy kicked the Liberals for "fraudulent" surpluses back in the day. But I forgot, you're too young to remember.

    • I'm assuming you know that there are a lot of accounting transactions that go through in the final month of the year – you wouldn't be so reckless as to comment on something you know nothing about, would you?

  7. Regardless of what party may form government, it's necessary that in a minority parliament the government seek consensus in order to gain the approval of the majority of Canadians' elected representatives. Nothing surprising or nefarious about that.

  8. "Reshaping reality"

    Prorogue after 104 times – the democratic sky is falling

    Coalition only done once, and never with a seperatist party – nothing to see here

    Yes, let us hear more about reshaping reality.

    • that's an excellent point.

      in fact, if i recall prorogation was deemed to be the end of Canadian democracy by lib cheerleaders.

      its nice of harper to have this election despite having killed democracy with his evil prorogation.

      but iggy will restore canadian democracy by taking power after losing the election.

      also the Maple Leafs and the Senators will combine to win the Stanley Cup.

      • Actually, it's a terrible point, because as always when he drags that point out, he leaves out the reason for that prorogue. But have a good Good Friday anyway.

        • Thank you for bringing that up. Chet and Dennis F have horrible problems understanding context and their posts never help their causes.

          • Are you implying proroguing parliament to cling to power is a bad thing and that being the only prime minister to do it is some how not in the best interest of democracy?

          • I wish I could believe understanding was the problem, I could forgive that far more easily.

  9. Ned Flanders can quote the constitution all he wants, but for the last time, let me tell Ned this:

    There is no way Canadians would want a competent gov`t that is committed to reducing our deficit to ensure our standard of living in the future, to be replaced by a 3 headed monster of a coalition that would only be committed to doing whatever spending and concessions were necessary to keep all 3 parties happy.

    If we are ever in a situation where our country is in peril because of some evil tyrant then dust off the fine print of the constitution and form a gov`t with the help of the NDP and Bloc and you will have the support of the people, but no matter what the Harper-Haters think, we are far from that situation now. Any objective person would realize that the past 5 years of gov`t has guided the country very competently, so don`t even think of replacing it with a mish-mash-monster.

    The people will not tolerate the replacement of common sense with the dusty musings of Ned and Iggy.

    • So….you're planning on marching on Ottawa with torches and pitchforks if the GG applies the law?

      • watch alberta separate. as in for real, not as in the fake blackmail weve been enduring from the quebec p*ssies for 40 years.

        • Then Alberta will separate, and Canada will move on.

          • ….and such is the reckless and insane attitude present in the LPC that believe any consequence is excusable if it means power to the Libs.

          • It's what Alberta has said about Quebec all these years….sauce for the goose ya know

            PS…and I'm not a Lib as you well know, so stop lying.

          • Hi Blue.

            You don't see any disconnect when saying, "and if you let a bunch of separatists anywhere near the running of the country, Alberta will separate so fast your head will spin." Even though our present Prime Minister is generally acknowledged to 'represent the West' (if the west is Alberta).

            Because, to someone with no horse in either race, they seem kind of, well, remarkably similar.

        • Who will lead this? Stephen Harper?

          • Well, Harper signed the 'Firewalls' letter.

          • So…what does a letter about respecting provincial spheres of influence have to do with anything?

          • Harper is a separatist.

    • It must be nice to know the opinions of Canadians and the people but your house must be pretty crowded.

    • "There is no way…"

      If the Conservatives do not win a majority, then presumably "Canadians" are not convinced that he is running a competent government,

      In which case, I suppose there is a way that Canadians might want an alternate form than you aspire to.

    • Sheesh. Here we go again, another pejorative scud from the Cons clique. Appears that your political science associate degree was provided to you by the Palin extension college of the Ozarks..

  10. Because they don't have any.

  11. Common sense is following the law on this.

    You are the first one to scream if you think the constitution is being violated…until it suits you to do otherwise.

    • oh, Emily, go help Ms.May win her seat on the west coast.

      • I'm not a Green…and why aren't you in Somalia?

        • I am!

          The sun is just setting in Somalia. Beautiful to watch.

          I will be in Canada, though, on May 3, to watch the sun rise, higher, and higher.

          So, no Green, no Liberal, perhaps NDP? No, wait, you are a BQ supporter.

          • Really? It's only 7:30

            I'm not a supporter of any party…as you well know.

            Now pack those bags, and off to Africa with you.

  12. More reshaping reality:

    A man lives outside Canada for most of adult life, is parachuted into the Liberal leadership, the party memers told they have no democratic say in the matter,

    misses parliament more than any other,

    muses about forming a goverment after LOSING the election,

    Lectures us Canadians about the importance of democracy.

  13. The only individual claiming a coalition is wonderfel is Stephen Harper. It's a wonderful fantasy in his mind that he is trying to foist on the Canadian electorate. Harper is incapable of working cooperatively with anyone unless he has his foot on their throat at the time.

  14. Seems everybody is forgetting Canada's two "proverbial solitudes". Quebec (based on polls and the last two elections) is NOT voting for a National Government. English Canada is. Quebec will almost certainly repudiate the platforms of both the Liberlas and the NDP. English Canada will do the same. Without a Conservative majority, English Canada then faces the prospect of being Governed by two reputiated parties, supported by seperatists? What a coup for the seperatists. A divided English Canada. A united Quebec, the balance of power in the Federal Parliment, and a brand new PQ Government in Quebec on the immediate horizon. There is only one path to power for the Liberals and the NDP, that will be to purchase it from the Bloc. A recipe for unity, this is not.

  15. Then why do all 3 party leaders say they are running for Prime Minister? There is fantasy, and there is reality. That you are really voting for an independant MP, is a fantasy. What ever party gains power, MP's by and large will do as they're told. That's reality.

    • They've always said that….in every election. Even though Duceppe laughs at Layton for saying it.

      We elect our local MP….that's all.

      MPs determine the PM.

      That's reality.

      • Actually Emily, leader of the party which receives the strongest mandate to govern becomes PM. Party leadership is not determined by MPs it is determined by representatives of riding associations at leadership conventions.

        • Actually Atchison, they have to show they have the support of the House. If there's a majority, then obviously they do. Otherwise they have to secure support….and if they don't get it….they don't get it. Period.

          • "MPs determine the PM. That's reality. " – Emily

            "The leader of the party which receives the strongest mandate to govern becomes PM. Party leadership is not determined by MPs it is determined by representatives of riding associations at leadership conventions." – Atchison

            Actually Emily, once again your argument is based on a false perception of reality.

            In Canada we elect MPs who belong to political parties. Party leadership is not determined by MPs it is determined by representatives of riding associations who vote for their party leader at their party's leadership convention.

            During an election, the party which receives the strongest mandate to govern, forms the government. If this party has a strong mandate and it receives a majority of seats it secures the confidence of the house. If it has a strong mandate but receives a minority of seats it must seek the support of parliamentary members outside of the party to secure the confidence of the house.

            The party which has the strongest mandate and can secure the confidence of the house forms the government. The leader of said party becomes Prime Minister. That is how the Prime Minister is determined. That is reality.

          • The GG asks 'do you have the confidence of the House'.

            If the leader does, he is PM

            If he does not, he's outta there.

        • True. Which is an abomination of the parliamentary democracy we model ourselves upon. And which is why our elected MPs (the only people we actually elect) are as powerless as they are. We need to restore power to our MPs, and then we need to remind them where they get their power–us, not the party.

      • You seem to forget that by definition politicians are ambitious. (If they weren't we probably wouldn't elect them) All three Federal parties use a system of rewards and punishments with which to control their caucus. If an MP wants low pay, a low pension, and maybe even a run at his local nomination, he'll (typically) meekly obey his parties leader. That aint fantasy, them's the facts. Being trite about the prospect of being Governed by two reputiated parties supported by seperatists, seems unhappily, to be a persistant theme of those folks placing ideology over unity. At the end of the day the only real difference bettween the three Federal parties is how we distribute the wealth. Without Quebec there is no Canada. Unity should trump ideology. With a PQ resurgence in Quebec, and the possibility of the Bloc holding the balance of power, this is not fear mongering or hyperbole. In fact it's a real possibility. I remember all the Eastern pundits who last time scoffed at the possibility of losing (to the seperatists) a referendum in Quebec. The bottom line is, two parties, whose election platforms will be solidly reputiated, (in both English Canada and Quebec) is as I said not a recipe for unity.

  16. Still flogging this dead horse Wherry?

    Here, I'll help you out! Free of charge!

    To all those voters out there who might be voting Conservative because they don't want to see a three-party coalition involving the BQ that is led by someone getting 25% of the vote:

    Coalitions are great! Coalitions are normal! We have one at least every hundred years! Ned Franks and a hundred other people I've quoted on my blog will prove it to you! The more parties in them, the bettter, that only makes them stronger! Their platforms are virtually identical (trust me), so if you like one of them even just a wee little bit, you'll like the three-headed version better! The BQ will be in it, but they won't get to decide anything or do anything, trust me! Why would they join if they get nothing, you ask? Stop asking silly questions! You might not like Iggy (I can't imagine why) but Jack will give him tips and help him out (Jack was just joking when he told Quebec he'd reopen the constitutional debate). So don't vote Conservative! Vote for any of the other parties and you'll be pleased! Why vote for one party when you could vote for three?

    This message brought to you by s_c_f on behalf of Aaron Wherry.

    PS Stephen Harper is a baaaad man. A vehy bad man!

    PS2: You need to vote for the coalition to find out what's in it. Trust me! You'll like it!

    • Yup, that's pretty well how things are being played these days.

  17. I think this explains why Canada is becoming less democratic as it is turning into a petrostate:

    "…In many respects Canada now resembles Margaret Thatcher's England. The Iron Lady was really a Petrol Queen who used tens of billions of dollars from Scottish offshore oil to fund her extreme restructuring of British society. Thirty years passed before critics realized that Thatcher spent "God's gift" on the British economy without saving a bloody cent…"

    • And more:

      "…Harper, the son of an Imperial executive, now claims but one singular platform: lowering taxes. (Saudi Arabia, Libya and Bahrain all did the same with oil money.)

      As a result the vital link between taxation and representation is eroding in Canada. When governments run on oil money instead of taxes paid by citizens, they become, as Karl documents, "unaccountable to the general population, and their populations, in turn, are less likely to demand accountability from representation in government."…"

  18. Just wondering, but what exactly was Coyne trying to say here:

    excerpt: "And if the coalition had formed a government? Then it would almost certainly have collapsed, probably within weeks—though not before it had caused great harm to the country, and very likely the destruction of the Liberal party. How can I be so sure? I have it on the highest authority."

    Mmmm…..the highest authority…….such as?

  19. Because there won't be one? How often do you have to be told you're lying before you feel any shame?

    • “Shame”??

      From what I’ve read the last few weeks in the ‘comment’ sections of The Sun, CBC, and Here, Many of the Con supporters only spout Hate. By the sounds of it, the Cons are also a Separatist Party, for the West. If they don’t get their way, they will separate from Canada.

      Living in a Democracy sometimes means living with Party’s, Politicians, Policies, that you don’t agree with. If you can’t handle that, then Leave for somewhere that more suits your ideals. From what I’ve read of Western Separation, it seems most of them are wannabe Americans anyway, so they should just move there.

      From my perspective, ALL traitors to Canada should be lined up and Shot.