The electorate replies: no thanks - Macleans.ca
 

The electorate replies: no thanks

BY PAUL WELLS


 

no thanks

A week before the October election I interviewed Stephane Dion on board his campaign plane as it flew west from Saskatoon. He was in that euphoric can’t-lose mood that lasted, by all accounts, until four days after he lost the election. But I already had a hunch that any slim shot at real victory was behind him, so near the end of the interview I tested another hypothesis. What if the Liberals didn’t beat the Conservatives but Liberals-plus-NDP might? Would he consider throwing in his lot with Jack Layton?

Dion looked as though he had bitten something sour and explained, wearily, that Layton could have been a moderate, third-way social democrat like good old Tony Blair, but that he had chosen old-style socialist policies that were “bad for the economy.” No, Dion said, the only way to get a Liberal prime minister was to vote Liberal.

Dion’s press secretary cut me off and he apologetically offered to take more questions. No, I said; all I felt like doing was asking the last question a few more times. “The answer would be the same,” he said, smiling.

All righty then. If the consent of the governed means anything, then according to the answer Dion gave me and a half-dozen other reporters in the campaign’s last several days, he would never propose the coalition that has become his last political act. I mean, not if his word had any value, he wouldn’t.

By now, sophisticated readers will be chuckling at my puritanism. C’mon, Paul, everyone knows you can’t talk about a coalition before the election. Everyone knows there’s no honour among thieves. You’re not going to call that a lie, just because he behaved differently before an election and after it?

But I’m a simple fellow, and I used to believe Stephane Dion was too, and he looked me in the eye and told me one thing and then he did another. Does that disqualify him from being prime minister? Not in itself, although a whole bunch of other things do. But from a distance (I’m on assignment, not vacation) I’ve been reading the comment boards here, and the work of some of my colleagues, as they diligently chronicle Stephen Harper’s assorted half-truths, quarter-truths and other outrages. And I wonder who, precisely, they think is covered in glory by this whole incredibly sordid business.

Which brings me to the new Ekos poll, and the conspirators’ come-uppance.

Shorter Ekos: Canadians prefer to give Stephen Harper time to govern. If forced into an election they would give the Conservatives a thumping majority and reduce the Liberals to radioactive dust. Whether this is justice or outrage depends on your perspective, but the armies of comment-board combattants here may not be the best judges, because most Canadians aren’t combattants in political wars. They’re spectators. They judge from events, not first principles or partisan affiliation. They’re not going to disqualify a guy based on a lie because they’ve noticed all politicians lie sometimes. Every lie disappoints, every promise gives a little hope, they judge the whole and not each part, it’s complex, they’re distracted, that’s life. So they’ve watched the gaudy spectacle of the last 10 days and a very large number of them have decided that, given a choice between the government they have and the alternative on offer, they’ll stick with Harper, thank you very much.

Canadians are legitimists. They get, or can grasp once reminded, the idea that governments are creatures of Parliaments, not directly of elections. I believe a coalition alternative to Harper would have broad appeal, and would be accepted by voters even without an election, if it met a few criteria — if, at a glance, it looked better than the one Harper leads.

So if the Liberals had nearly as many seats as the Conservatives; or if Liberals-plus-NDP outnumbered the Conservatives; or, again, if Liberals-plus-NDP were close to the number of Conservatives, so that only a few Bloc MPs (ideally lured into quitting the Bloc for one of the other parties) were needed to make a majority, the coalition would be a lot more persuasive. As it is, Harper’s crew would still outnumber Dion’s and Layton’s put together, and nearly all of Duceppe’s would be needed to tilt the balance, so that Liberals would not only be a minority in the House but in their own government. Does that ruin the project’s credibility? Perhaps for some, and for the rest, there’s more.

If the putative replacement prime minister looked and acted prime ministerial, if his judgement was sound, perhaps we’d be off to the races. The one on offer vanished for six days after the election; failed to produce a useable video of himself in a timely manner for a crucial address to the nation; and this morning was, by more than an hour, the last leader in Parliament to comment on the prorogation of that parliament. He is — this is seriously not trivial, folks — an opponent of Quebec separatists of 20 years’ standing who could not govern without the support of separatists in confidence votes.

How would a Prime Minister Stephane Dion react if an Opposition Leader Stephen Harper challenged him with a coalition that depended on the entire Bloc caucus for its viability? Do you doubt for two seconds he’d scream blue murder? Would Dion’s defenders on this website rush to Harper’s defence then? Yes, yes, the Bloc has been here forever and we can’t shoo it away and they’ve earned their pension cheques and blah blah blah, but let’s just say it out loud: A coalition government that depends on Bloc support at every confidence vote is a really crappy coalition. It is fair to wish for a better one, or to discard the idea altogether.

I could go on. Michael Ignatieff is sending out fundraising emails tonight that neglect to mention the coalition altogether. If he doesn’t take it seriously, why should you? Liz May is atwitter at the thought of a Senate seat. If she can’t keep her eye on the economic crisis that’s supposed to be this project’s raison d’etre, why believe the rest of the Rebel Alliance will?

It is constitutionally legitimate to say, “This government has lost the confidence of the House and we propose a better one to replace it.” It is even legitimate to say, “This government has lost the confidence of the House and we hope you’ll buy the risible claptrap we have come up with instead.” But nobody should expect the latter pitch to find many buyers.

I hope I have made it clear since the summer that I have come to believe Stephen Harper is turning into a really bad prime minister. He is incoherent, vicious and unserious. His fall update was idiocy on stilts, and when he sent his transport minister out two days later to disown the work of his finance minister, nobody in the country blinked because nobody in the country takes what this government does as a government seriously.

All the opposition had to do was come up with a better alternative. They have failed. This is a depressing moment in our nation’s politcs.


 

The electorate replies: no thanks

  1. And before anyone asks, I’m on assignment, not vacation, far away. Back after Dec. 12.

  2. Bastard…you beat me to the punch.

  3. You under-estimate our prime minister. By next year when he has a north american cap and trade agreement completed, passed a budget that provides popular stimulus while showing a clear way back to surplus in two budgets, gets us out of Afghanistan as he said he would, and quite possible reforms the Senate he will be universally regarded as one of the most consequential prime ministers we ever had.

    I see where you come from, but I disagree sir

  4. +1 for using “risible”

  5. “They have failed. This is a depressing moment in our nation’s politcs.”

    Correction, this is a depressing moment for political lefties like you and your ilk.

    Sorry Paul – the opposition overplayed their hand big time here. They never proposed anything by way of amendments to the economic statement, they just had a parliamentary hissy fit instead. When the government voluntarily removed the offending proposals, they said it was too late, they were going to take over the government. The people of Canada were suitably appalled. They didn’t vote for Stephane Dion as Prime Minister. He suffered a drubbing in the election and had no choice but to resign as leader, which he did. Now he was supposed to become Prime Minister? Only the Ottawa beltway insiders thought this ever made a lick of sense.

    So to Paul and other lefties, if you want your left-wing government, try and get it elected legitimately, otherwise you’ll fail and you’ll be depressed.

  6. Check my previous comments (I can’t believe I’m about to type this),

    that makes TWO (including Coyne’s) voices of sanity around here.

  7. Well, were have you been. Shit, I feel beaten up. I keep saying this, but whoever took those haunting pictures of PM Harper at the GG’s place today, deserves a major award.

    Now I must make some quasadilla’s for my sweetheart… healthy ones.

    (Great post)

  8. nobody in the country blinked because nobody in the country takes what this government does as a government seriously.

    And why is that, exactly? I mean about not blinking? Could it be that you guys simply aren’t reporting it properly? All I ever see our poll results and giggling. And over-reliance on official sources, far too often anonymous.

    I certainly have not gotten the impression that you’ve been claiming, since this summer, that you thought Harper was turning into a really bad prime minister. You’ve all been acting as if this is some sort of lark.

    I’m always amazed at how mystified journalists are by what the masses believe and how they react. Where on Earth would they get the information about what the government is doing?

  9. There are a number of areas where I would differ with your interpretation but the most obvious one is that most normal Canadians ( that excludes myself and all the frequent inhabitants of these blogs ) haven’t been paying attention to the spectacle for ten days. Maybe two or three at the most.

    Welcome back.

  10. Ti-Guy: most of them have lives and don’t spend their hours lurking on web sites like this.

    When something does get their attention, they talk to their friends and listen to talk radio. And the tone is noticeably different from what you might prefer.

  11. Whoops, read below the break.

    While I thought this would be a serious piece of introspection, it turns out it’s just another tantrum that “our guy wasn’t good enough to beat the eeeeeevil Harper.”

    Back the coctail circuit myopia.

  12. Quiz for the evening. Participation in the ill-fated coalition is the Liberal’s biggest political screw-up since:

    a) campaigning on the Green Shift;

    b) electing Stepane Dion as Leader;

    c) opposing the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement;

    d) Paul Martin calling the Gomery enquiry.

  13. Stephen Harper is a political survivor.

  14. “A coalition government that depends on Bloc support at every confidence vote is a really crappy coalition.”

    Paul,

    I promise you to remind you of this pronouncement every time one governing party or another “depends on Bloc support” in the future. Cuz the way this country is currently balkanized, we’re in many, many years of really crappy coalitions.

  15. This is the best piece on the FUFU schmozzle so far. Man, Wells is the best. He spells it out. He socks it to you. Without even mentioning that presumptuous, repetitive, unproofread letter to the GG.

    Yeah, dark times. But they seem better when chronicled like this.

  16. “A coalition government that depends on Bloc support at every confidence vote is a really crappy coalition.”

    Paul,

    I promise you to remind you of this pronouncement every time one governing party or another “depends on Bloc support” in the future. Cuz the way this country is currently balkanized, we’re in for many, many years of really crappy coalitions.

  17. And the tone is noticeably different from what you might prefer.

    It’s not the tone. I like passion. Passion is good.

    It’s the enchoate rage I can’t stand. And it’s been fed from the very top and people are being manipulated like puppets.

    Oh, well. They’ll get what they deserve.

  18. Steve Wart: only cranks listen to talk-radio/call-in shows. I don’t know anyone who does, and I know lots of Conservatives.

  19. I am tired of an intelligent man like Stephen Harper making statements that HE knows are lies. That the majotity of Canadians don’t seem to know this (or care?) is disheartening.

  20. Dion to Harper: King me!

    Harper to Dion: checkmate.

    Sorry I am just euphoric today.

  21. Steve Wart: only cranks listen to talk-radio/call-in shows.

    And only cranks can get through the screening. Try it sometime. You have to be shaking with rage about something you clearly don’t understand to get any air time.

  22. Cockroaches are survivors too…

    I will agree on one thing…the majority of the populace doesn’t care unless shit has hit the fan for them personally and they start thinking about the disconnect between what is said and what is done and their place in all of this.

    Austin

  23. Yeah, hosertohoosier, that’s exactly what I felt after reading Wells’s piece. Euphoria. An almost tangible sense of well-being. A vampire as PM, a nincompoop as Opposition Leader, a smouldering national unity crisis, unprecedented hypocrisy on all sides, a gaping hole in Responsible Government, a frustrated and cynical populace — it’s like Christmas! It’s like my 5th Birthday with the soccer field cake! It’s one of those stop-the-stranger-on-the-street-and-shake-his-hand moments of spontaneous and joyful patriotism. Savour it.

  24. ANPOC “only cranks listen to talk-radio/call-in shows”

    They’re actually quite popular. I don’t listen to them myself, but I fear I’m missing out. I think as I get older I’m getting more like my dad, so it’s probably just a matter of time.

    There’s something about listening to people being asked to speak on live radio that brings out the truth of people’s thinking without a lot of tiresome spin.

    And people who post comments on blogs shouldn’t throw stones.

  25. Jack, that was freakin’ hilarious. Yes, and sad too.

    Like the night I lost my virginity.

  26. “A vampire as PM”

    Why always resort to a throwing around of empty words?

    “vampire’??? How so?

    Because Harper and the Conservative government have a prudent and cautious approach to the economic upheaval, and the opposition parties can’t reasonably counter that? So now Harper is the one who is drawing blood?

    Perhaps the opposition parties need some blood infusions (real substance) before Harper could possibly draw any blood.

  27. Mr. Wells, you have this annoying habit of making me rethink my opinions.

  28. “There’s something about listening to people being asked to speak on live radio that brings out the truth of people’s thinking without a lot of tiresome spin.”

    Which is why Conservative supporters are encouraged to read talking points on air and pass them off on their own?

  29. No idea. Have you been listening to Cross Country Checkup again?

  30. A number of commenters have contended here that ordinary Canadians have not been paying attention to the crisis, and I beg to differ. I work on a University campus in the part of Canada the Dion-Layton-Duceppe Coalition doesn’t think matters, and in the last week of term, with final papers and exams looming, it is all anybody can talk about. I saw a secretary with whom I have discussed politics precisely once in over a decade stay in the office for lunch to follow the news. I had a student I know voted as part of what Layton is pleased to call “two-thirds of Canadians” who was absolutely incoherent with rage, unless you count flogging metaphors as coherence. There were other metaphors, too, which can’t be repeated on the good Mr. Well’s comment section lest I be banned as a troll, but let’s just say they would get you “facilitated” but good at what used to be called Queen’s “University.” I could tell 20 stories like this one. I have no problem understanding the polls; I think much of the media has decided that anything but horse-race coverage is too “inside the Queensway” for “ordinary Canadians” — but ordinary Canadians know perfectly well that this coalition was an outrage, and thus they were duly outraged. Out here we would mostly have preferred an election, so that the conspirators in chief could take their floggings like men, but we’ll take prorogation if it spares us the unseemly spectacle of Jack and Gilles wagging their lapdog.

  31. I nominate Ti-Guy for next leader of the coalition.

    Nelson: Ha, ha.

  32. Couldn’t agree more. The country is stuck between a rock and a hard place; between a Prime Minister gone mad, and an opposition gone stupid.

  33. MR Wells
    I don’t beleive i found a single false note here. i t’s completely depressing. the rebel insurection has been derailed, justifiably by the canadian people. But at what cost? Harper deserves the same fate. I’m waiting for you Canada.

  34. *As their own.

  35. I nominate Ti-Guy for next leader of the coalition.

    Nelson: Ha, ha.

    That’s really good. You should write that down.

  36. Funny post. Trying to be very smart/clever but failing at it IMO. A couple of good points though. If I only wasn’t so sleepy I could tear it apart..zzzzz good night.

  37. HosertoHoosier, are you the other person in Bloomington who gets a Maclaen’s subscription?

  38. As a Liberal supporter (oops I didn’t say that) I’m glad for the pro-rogaine-gation … The GG saved the liberal party from itself (for now).
    and P.S. Wow- all the smart people are posting on this board! We should start our own party and get into politics: ABAHPWH
    Anything But All the Horrible Parties We Already Have… 2 month Christmas Vacation anyone?

  39. Some keep saying that the Liberals have committed one of their worst mistakes ever. I’m not sure where that comes from. They literally almost had nothing to lose by doing this. So, what did they lose? “You wanted to form government with the Bloc, you bastards?” Well, the Tories contemplated that once, too. And both times the ROC was not pleased, but they got over it. So, what did Liberals lose?

  40. Some keep saying that the Liberals have committed one of their worst mistakes ever.

    That’s just one part of the elite’s attempt to shift focus.

    I bet the next few weeks are going to be nothing but Conservative propaganda (I doubt it’ll be the usual hate fest….more likely blue sweater treacle) and concerned pundits clucking about how bad that is for the Liberals.

  41. That’s just one part of the elite’s attempt to shift focus.

    You mean that same “elite” who gave this coalition of the insane legitimacy in the first place? ok.

    Short-term, this coalition was ill-advised and will hurt the party and the caucus. But I just don’t see this “biggest mistake in history” angle.

  42. “HosertoHoosier, are you the other person in Bloomington who gets a Maclaen’s subscription?”

    Haha, no I just freeload on the blogs, but I have a guess as to who it is. I do know a professor that lived in Canada through the 90’s and helped negotiate NAFTA (he was on the Canadian team).

  43. You’re far too optimistic, Ti-Guy. It’s been going on for hours already. The cuddly James Moore and the ever-so-balanced ” At Issues ” gang.

  44. I can appreciate Paul Wells’s cynicism and anger because we’ve all been disappointed by the two men who were the major players in the last election. I’ve watched Harper take the hard-right remains of the reform party (split into camps by Stockwell Day’s incompetent leadership), negotiate a deal with the Progressive Conservatives, and unite the two parties. Along the way, he’s silenced the worst elements of Reform and drug the party to the centre. I had considerable hope that a man of his talents could do good things in the Prime Minister’s office; unfortunately, he’s too busy playing political games to govern.

    I watched Dion during the unity battles, and as a cabinet minister under Chretien. I saw him get tossed to the side by Martin in favour of incompetents like Jean Lapierre, and saw him stay the course as a loyal soldier anyway. His proficiency as a minister under both Chretien and Martin made him an intriguing candidate. I’d hoped to see him, as a bridge between two camps, heal the Chretien/Martin divide and unify the Liberal Party. Unfortunately, he’s too inept, not only as a communicator, but as a uniter, and his moments in the spotlight have consisted of partisan shots, occasional lies, and squabbles within the party.

    I tend to believe that Canada is best off with a competent and capable Prime Minister, and a competent and capable opposition; two strong, united federalist parties that challenge each other and both are capable of offering good government when called upon.

    Two men who seemed to fit the role emerged; both have disappointed. There isn’t anything good to come out of that.

  45. What did they lose? The Liberals lost credibility as a mature grown-up party that can claim to be middle of the road. This will hurt big time in the 905 region.

  46. You’re far too optimistic, Ti-Guy. It’s been going on for hours already. The cuddly James Moore and the ever-so-balanced ” At Issues ” gang.

    We should really just bombard the PM’s office and the Conservative MP’s with hate mail. Legal of course…No threats of violence direct or implied. Just hate. As in “I detest what you and your Party have done to this country. You are unfit to govern. I will never forgive you for this And as a good, God-fearing person, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the fate that awaits you in the afterlife.”

    …that kind of thing.

    Conservatives have been doing this for years, without any real reasons, after all.

  47. I agree with Well’s post except the part “I have come to believe Stephen Harper is turning into a really bad prime minister”

    I believe he is the best prime minister this country has ever had. He is trying to impose the Conservative party agenda, which is his vision of what is best for this country, based on principles he has espoused his whole life, and he is taking the steps he feels are required to do get there.

    He is not a John McCain or Jean Chretien, someone for whom winning the battle is all that matters. For those guys, it does not matter where you end up, as long as you are the one in front. He is not someone who believes that the ends justifies the means. He tries to impose his agenda whichever way he can, and he does not compromise himself to do so. He wanted to eliminate public funding for parties, not because he wanted to start a fight, but because he believes that public support of parties is wrong, that it causes parties to become dependent on the government trough (and look how that has come true), and as soon as he felt he had a chance to eliminate those subsidies he tried to do so unapologetically (soon after winning an election with stronger electoral support). He does not believe in government intervention in the broader economy, hence his reluctance to spend his way out of a recession, because he believes based on the broader evidence that it is not possible for a government to spend itself out of a recession, that taking money from Peter to pay Paul does nothing but damage to an economy.

    The opposition can spin it however they like, but there are plenty of people who agree with his policies. There are people who see his tactics and strategy for what it is – doing his utmost within the rules to impose his agenda, what he believes is best for the country, what you would expect from any politician who believes in himself and what he is doing.

  48. He is trying to impose the Conservative party agenda, which is his vision of what is best for this country, based on principles he has espoused his whole life, and he is taking the steps he feels are required to do get there.

    “Impose” is spot on! But the neoconservative agenda is lousy for every country in which it’s prevailed. We’re just seeing the dying gasps of it from the only neocon leader to survive, thanks to a previous Liberal government that kept him from doing his worst.

    Remember Iraq? Would that have been good for the country?

  49. sf, your satire is white-hot. I doff my cap.

  50. Some are saying this whole coalition thing is all about Jack Layton and his need to be front and centre making parliament work so that he appears important and it’s all about Bob Rae making a big display of himself for the leadership race. Funny, Rae is appearing more NDP each and every day.

    So – it’s all about Jack and it’s all about Bob – and Duceppe is laughing

  51. Fact :The Bloc has held the balance of power in the house since Jan. 2006. This governent survived on it. Last year this government passed a motion that would have made Rene Lesvesque smile. Its a bit rich to take the flag wrapping high ground now. So called federalists in the CPC should get over it.

    Fact: 10 days ago Jean Charest was cruising towards a majority.

    If whipping up irrational fear of Quebec in the ROC to save this gov’t kills Charest’s lead, then Harper can face real seperatists.

    I don’t see that happening, but then again in 1995 with a month to go the Oui side looked dead too.

    National unity not dis-unity is a Canadian PM’s first priority. Stoking a hate-on for Quebec to save your skin is irresponible…one could argue the real “treason” in all of this mess.

  52. Just finised rewatching Law of Arabia [ wasn’t sure if lawrence looked most like H or D. Both i guess. When he was leading the charge and offing everyone in sight, including his own camel, he looked kinda like H. But when he fell off his camel or charged off without a clue how to stop or change direction, he was surely Dion..
    Near thend when the French envoy guy came out of a meeting between Allenby and lawrence he said something like: in that room [ parliament ] are two men. one of which is almost certainly wholely unscrupilous and the other almost certainly wholey mad. after thinking about it for a while i couldn’t tell which was which. Sorry just too much politics lately for this lad. since i’m going over the top i’l leave you with Trudeau’s : the universe is unfolding as it should – strive to be happy. pretty sure i screwed that up.

  53. Norton

    iwas done but ihad to come back and congratulate you on summing up the charge sheet for Harper. If after all of this that the public does buy the cons line that it was all really about the oppositions entitlements [ only partially true in my opion [ ti-guy made me say that]. Then this will stand up as possibly the main charge against Harper. As a Trudeau Liberal and more importantly as a Canadian i’m disgusted. But in truth on this question they all disgust me. The liberals also voted for that nation vote – they should be ashamed.

  54. A nice summary Paul which I generally agree with.

    However, one thing that should be pointed out is that when Dion told you he wouldn’t form a post-election coalition this was before Harper dealt his over-the-top, scorched-earth “fiscal update”. Dion flip-flopped on the coalition idea because the Liberals, like the other political parties, really had no other option to fight Harper’s machinations. And if the Liberals under Dion’s leadership rolled over once again and went along with it they would have continued to be characterized as wimps and ineffectual in most of the national media. Why wouldn’t you expect him to take the risk of a coalition given the alternative?

    Damned if he does. Damned if he doesn’t.

  55. 2 Jackasses and 1 Jacques-ass? I say stick with the one we elected.

  56. A solution to Canada’s political issues: fire all the men and let the women run the place.

  57. D
    i’m pretty much in agreement with you. Dion seemed to have had no choice – roll over and play dead again or, as happened, get mad. But where could he go. I feel for the guy, he’s just not a very good politician. Of course this makes Harper look like a genious, except when you look at his performance the next day in the hoc – he looked done. If nothing else his a ura of invincibility is gone. now it looks like we’ll be getting a twofer with Dion going – something i guess.

  58. Great quote from a commenter at SDA that sums up how out of touch our elitist media are (Paul Wells most assuredly included):

    “Wow. If you take away Quebec and the Atlantic provinces and average out the provincial support numbers, and the Conservatives have 57 percent support, the Libs 18.2 percent — almost a *40 point* lead for the Conservatives.

    Or, as the punditocracy would have it, Canadians will never warm up to the prime minister. He’s a disaster. The Conservatives need a new leader.He turns people off. He’s a bully. His days are numbered. He’s antidemocratic. He’s…..he’s…

    He’s punching holes in the Liberals, is what he’s doing.”

    Funny how similiar the above mocking description was to Paul Wells take on the CPC.

  59. Isn’t it interesting that proposed belt tightening in spending, which included our precious political parties,

    was seen by the far left as literally scandalous, whereas to the average person it was good old fashioned sharing in the pain that they would expect from their government in tough economic times?

    Harper’s such a “bully” in proposing spending cuts. And oh, my banker is such a “bully” in advising me to tighten by fiscal belt, and my employer is also such a “bully” in reducing my discretionary spending budget. My wife is also a “bully” in telling me I have to spend less these days.

    Oh how I wish i lived in a “bully” free world (such as the average teenager wishes to be free from real responsibility, and the elitist media wishes to be free to live in their utopic left leaning world where there would never have to be such “bullies”, which utopia would be a certainty but for the evil bully Harper).

  60. Mr. Wells, I think you underestimate the harm Harper is doing, if you think the opposition does not offer a better alternative than Harper. There was really no other option for the opposition to effectively stand up to Harper, except to come together. The details of how they came together may have differed, but it had to be something concrete and threatening to wound Harper. Harper was wounded by this, and only because the opposition came together.

    Around three years ago, I came to the conclusion that it was going to be extremely difficult to dislodge Harper and nothing has changed my mind since. Frankly, I’m surprised at the how severely Harper has been damaged by this crisis, the polls notwithstanding. I am grateful that the opposition parties took a risk and did what they could to expose Harper. Sure, there was some self-serving interests, and self-preservation instincts, but the longer term benefit to Canada is exposing Harper for what he is. His style of deception, his willingness to skirt rules and laws, along with an innate meanness he keeps tightly controlled, combined with his marketing strategies, work well politically, but to the detriment of Canada.

    I would compare Dion’s words on the NDP more to Harper’s income trust words. Harper felt the situation changed (although people in the know on income trusts didn’t, and likely Harper was just lobbied effectively by Manulife, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on this one). For Dion, the situation certainly changed. Harper shifted the ground suddenly and Layton abandoned his anti-corporation stance to enter this coalition. I’m surprised that isn’t obvious to you. This is not equivalent to Harper deliberately and knowingly lying. It takes a certain type of person to repeatedly and knowingly lie about things, and an even more unusual type of person to knowingly lie about things that are so easily proven false.

  61. I see a lot of comments along the Conservative-vs-Liberal line, which is to be expected,but not a lot about the NDP involvement. I happen to have voted for them and I must admit that after seeing them ink a deal like this I rather wish I could take my vote back. Are there others like me out there? The idea that my vote contributed (albeit in a miniscule way) to the biggest loser in our last election potentially getting the top job in Canadian politics is very uncomfortable to me. While I’m not in love with Harper’s conservatives, Dion has all the appeal to me of the little presents my dogs leave on the lawn in the morning.I mean, I can see the logic that Layton is using; he will get a chance for the NDP to have an effect on policy in a meaningful way as well as potentially making a good impression on many voters who could be thinking about switching parties next election. Also, if the Liberals implode or split internally while brawling over who gets the big chair he’ll be fairly well placed to make gains with disenchanted Liberal supporters who at the current point in time are happy to stay red. And while the NDP and the Liberals could proabably see eye-to-eye on most things, how many concessions will they have to make to the Bloc who are, to my admittedly limited understanding of their policies and actions, on the other end of the political spectrum? How long could a deal based on opposing viewpoints working together possibly last? Kinda makes me wish I’d paid more attention the the BQ in the news so I’d have a better idea of what they really want from all this.

  62. Payton,

    I also voted NDP specifically because I did not believe a coalition would happen. I will never vote NDP again (it was a tactical vote against Gerard Kennedy anyway, I’m essentially a Tory).

  63. Oh, for some peace and quiet from the punditry.
    Since it is not politically correct to wish you seasonal salutations, might I offer you all a lump of coal.
    Maybe see it as a bit of licorice or a throat losenge and suck it slowly.
    While we resume our jobs in peace. Because our retirement packages are shrinking, our homes are devaluing, our kids’ futures are less optimistic, and our health had better hold, as we suffer through shortages of family physicians.
    Just be quiet.

  64. Mary Lynn:
    “Mr. Wells, you have this annoying habit of making me rethink my opinions.”

    Well put.

  65. Wanted: 1 functional parliament; must be in mint condition; mileage doesn’t matter but would prefer it to last three years; background check for previous incidents required; discount price preferred but at this point willing to pay almost anything.

  66. Guess we now know at least part of the urgency of visiting the GG yesterday…today’s jobs report (down 72K, biggest drop in more than 25 years) of which the PMO would have been aware some days ago.

  67. One aspect of this story which has gone woefully unreported is the fact that the idea of a coalition came from the NDP. This wasn’t even a Liberal Party initiave. Instead, a weak Liberal leader went along with it.

    I see now that Bob Rae wants to go around the country championing the idea of the coalition: “Rae steps in as coalition’s chief salesman” according to a Jane Taber Globe and Mail report out today.

    I thought the Liberals had done some soul-searching after their last disastrous campaign and came to realize that their fishing in left-wing waters was leaving the political centre to the Conservatives. I guess not. The Liberals need to return to the political centre. This coalition idea was an NDP idea. The Liberals were wrong to get sucked into it.

    The soul of the Liberal Party of Canada is up for grabs. It is being threatened by left wing loonies like Stephane Dion and Bob Rae. MIchael Ignatieff and his supporters need to make an internal coup in their own party before any further damage is done.

  68. This fiasco was the penultimate act, for a generation, for the CPC. Their leader is now almost universally percieived as disingenous, if not malfeasant. Everybody thinks of him as a self obsessed creep. His next appearance will be to present a budget that will either push the country into a deep deficit or fail to provide promised stimulus. His performance over the last week erased 10 years of gains for his party in Quebec. News is arriving almost daily that the part of the country richest in vote, Southern Ontario, is in an economic free fall.

    The Liberal leader, by contrast, looked inept. But his replacement is already scheduled. Having Dion go through the exercise and not, finally, take control of the Govt. was the Liberals’ brilliant mistake.

    I would like a CPC booster to tell me where they now anticipate any sort of growth in support? Alberta, and …?

  69. Jack Layton led Stephane Dion by the nose in this.

    Do anyone want a preview of what Bob Rae at the helm of the Liberals would do?

    He’s trying to keep this ill-fated coalition alive. The left is hi-jacking the weakened Libera Party of Canada. For Canada’s sake, let’s hope they do not succeed. The Liberals have to rid themselves of this cancer.

  70. CPC Growth? Remember the ‘rep by pop’ mention in the Throne Speech? Gerrymander that all the way to a majority.

  71. “…Stephen Harper is turning into a really bad prime minister.”

    I agree, but I must point out that “bad” is a relative term. Compared to Martin he’s competence on steroids, and compared to Chretien he’s the Mr. Clean of Politics.

    “This is a depressing moment in our nation’s politcs.”</i<

    Yes, I suppose it is. Seeing the PM dissembling and manipulating to preserve power in order to defeat a terrible coalition is not inspirational. But there are two silver linings: (a) it looks like the coalition will be defeated (I know, I know, ends and means…but still), and (b) I have never seen the Canadian public this interested in anything political before. Rallies? News sites maxed out for comments? Public outrage? This is good stuff. The most depressing thing of all is when politicians create a royal clusterf**k and the Canadian public yawns.

  72. For me Harper is way worse than Chretien because he has shown that he will do everything he can in order to hold onto power- including alienate the whole province of Quebec. While I understand that his back was against the wall and he had to do what he could to save his own skin in this situation, framing the political crisis as a federal unity one with his flaming rhetoric I think has hurt Canadian unity a great deal. I can’t see him getting one seat in Quebec next election.

  73. Looks like the First Suggestion is settling back to the First Law.

  74. “moderate, third-way social democrat like good old Tony Blair”

    Small point but I think this is what the Liberals have been doing for years and if NDP try it, they will be fighting the Libs on their turf. Chretien talked left, governed right and that’s exactly what Labour has done.

    This was a mess from the beginning, tho it has been very entertaining to us political anoraks, and I think the general consensus is pox on all their houses. Harper has suffered some damage here, not too much tho because he’s behaved in a way people expect of him, but the Lib brand has taken a battering and Dion’s reputation is in ruins.

    What I am most interested in is to see how the dippers react because in my experience Lib and NDP supporters loathe one another in a way that’s not matched by any other combo of parties/partisans. It would not surprise me at all if Layton is really damaged by this.

  75. Great post Paul. Most of these serial-whiners’ just wish that they were you.

  76. One thing that I find fascinating is how this crisis has devolved into demonizing two people: Dion & Harper.

    Is this healthy? Both of these men have thousands of supporters and it makes me worried that as a country we are drifting towards a very hate-filled style of political discourse like we often see in the US.

    Should we not focus on the ideas or the policies and not the person?

  77. Hey the election campiagn is under way! The War Room has sent out the ConBOTS with a new set of talking points!
    Talk about this boys and girls – 63% beats 37% – anytime anywhere!
    no more vote splitting!
    You want to get Michaelle Jean to sign a writ – go for it!
    Reform/Alliance could never get better than what – 40-50 seats?
    The tattered remains of the Progessive Conservatives – maybe another 50!
    We will eat you!
    Let’s look across the country.
    Newfoundland / Labrador – even conservatives think you are toxic – ask Danny Williams!
    Quebec – you think that Jean Cahrest is happy with Haprer’s Quebec bashing these last few days?
    Ontario – ask Mcguinty whether HE trusts Harper and Flaherty.
    Manitoba? I don’t think so!
    You have Alberta and some Saskatchewan – maybe a little bit of BC.
    good luck sunshine!
    See you on the hustings!

  78. Good article. Why are only two Talking Heads making any sense?

    Some people like Stephen Harper though. A lot of people, actually. I do. You’ll have to forgive us, Mr. Wells.

  79. The danger is leaders who put their parties and themselves on cliff edge positions. I still dont get the Seperatist alliance gambit, other than its mathematical quality. That those on the inside dont see the problem with it means one of two things Paul hints at, we were being lied to for the last 30 years or that it is win at any cost and all leaders are Hollow Men (and women in lizzie bordens case)

    Dion and Rae remind me of Prince Andrei in War and Peace….so convinced of their own moral qualities that they just “ride forth”, ignoring training, equipment, discipline and most importantly others motivations.

    When I heard of Harper’s incrementalist approach a warning bell rung. I am sure the “strategy” of incrementalism, “etappe”ism in Quebec seccessionist circles, was arrived it after much thought. Incrementalism carries in it a danger, as all strategic choices do. The danger here is you lose your way, get yourslef into situations in which each move and counter move is completely logical but when seen from a higher level makes no sense.

    In business, the old joke is that startegic is another word for losing money. The core of which is that a “strategic project” cant justify itself based on current knowables, by defintion you are taking a leap of faith that there is something over the horizon you will need that will come into play soon that makes it worthwhile. Incrementalism means you abandon those moves, since they are by definition bold and apparently costly and deal only with what is in front of you.

    All parties need to rethink where they are going. The Bloc, as is the cliche is the only current winner.

    Harper’s best asset rigth now is that he is the government, and other than partisans, most Canadians would prefer to see a successful government rather than a failed one, which means much is ognored or forgiven, but one bent on destructive behaviour will be abandoned, this is his last chance but could yield his best outcome.

    Paul lays out the Liberal challenge and highlights how the stakes are highest for them. Rae is fighting the rearguard to try and out NDP the NDP. This is betting the entire house and RRSP on odd on the roulette wheel. The payoff is merely survival, the loss is absolute destruction. I see their only hope as returning to their roots and enticing the NDP’s Western base away since they know they will be pinata’s for the cons from Sudbury to Nanaimo.

    I am not happy with things either, but Paul, try to avoid the pox on all their houses dominating your writing. As it stands write now, the ones we have are what we have to work with and wishing for something different is jsut that….wishing.

    Merry Chritmas and Happy Holidays to all.

  80. One thing that I find fascinating is how this crisis has devolved into demonizing two people: Dion & Harper.

    Is this healthy? Both of these men have thousands of supporters and it makes me worried that as a country we are drifting towards a very hate-filled style of political discourse like we often see in the US.

    Should we not focus on the ideas or the policies and not the person?

    We should. But that would be bad for the Conservatives, since they have neither ideas nor policies, which means that it has to be based on the person. And Harper is hoping that if someone as horrible as Nixon was able to turn that into an effective Republican majority in the US for a couple of decades, he’ll be able to do the same in Canada by using the same tactics — which, at their most basic level, come down to demonizing your opponents so much that a near-majority of the country gets disgusted by the whole thing and drops out of the process, with a majority of the people remaining the die-hard partisans who are willing to let you get away with whatever you want.

  81. de: ” would like a CPC booster to tell me where they now anticipate any sort of growth in support? Alberta, and …?”

    If you look at the latest polls you would have your answer.

    First of all, growth of support in Alberta is impossible, they have all the seats there except one. In fact, you could say the same about the rest of the west, they have almost all the seats across the west.

    Secondly, they are not far from a majority, only 12 seats (of 308).

    Thirdly, if you look at the polls, they are currently positioned for huge gains in Ontario. The gains in Ontario would easily be enough for a huge majority.

  82. Kool Aid really does atrophy brain cells. Wells and the rest here rip both sides new a**holes and all you partisans can read is how he ripped your guy a new one and wa soft on the others. It can’t possibly work both ways.

    There’s plenty of cr*p to wear for all. Congratulations partisans; what ye sew, so shall ye reap. Where will public confidence and comprehension be in our institutions of governance after this scorched earth approach? “They started it” is a pathetic wexcuse for not being a nation builder. I would love to knwo if someone had a comparison poll of where we were on national unity a week or two weeks or three weeks ago compared to now.

  83. Payton, your comment on here is the most intriguing and you’re very honest about your ambivalence. I genuinely appreciate it. And I’m genuinely curious: what should Jack Layton do, when confronted with a voter like you? he has a funny position. Is he supposed to try to get a majority? Given that’s so unlikely is he supposed to be a moral paragon who should represent an ideal and not aspire to actually winning any power, the way the Bloc sort of is (was)? Is it wrong for him to try to set the stage for an eventual merger with a post-Duceppe, post-separatist Bloc? Is it wrong for him to try to hijack a weak leader like Dion and drive the bus? Had it succeeded, it seems like the coalition was the best gambit available to put the things I think you espouse, as an NDP voter, in practice, and show the Canadian public how the NDP might do things. He has a tough job catering to a voter like you!

    What I am struck by in Wells’s recent columns is that the guy made his career by bashing Paul Martin before it was cool to do so – writing a whole book mocking the guy for running around like a chicken with his head cut off – and it seems like what he really wants in this economic crisis is Paul Martinism as the prime ministerial style. OH MY GOD! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! COME HELL OR HIGH WATER! WE’LL STIMULATE THE HELL OUT OF THIS BITCH! COME HELL OR HIGH WATER! WE’LL FREAK OUT AND STAND SIDE TO SIDE WITH INDIA! AND EUROPE! AND BARACK OBAMA!
    I just don’t see why Harper is a particularly bad prime minister through any lens other than ideological disagreement or if you have a pathological dislike of the fun and games of minority parliaments. To my mind his actual policies have been pretty straight forward centre right and uncontroversial. And he backed down on the controversial one (party funding)

  84. Distance clearly helps one gain perspective.

    To those who can’t agree with Wells’s assertion that Harper is turning into a really bad PM: yes, he is. A PM must rise above some things and set dignity before self-interest just to be “adequate”. To be “good”, he can’t tolerate blunders over ridiculous chickenshit, such as whether or not there are enough Canadian flags visible in a photo-op. That may be red meat to the base, and maybe even gains some votes (unlikely) but is not worth the long-term cost. At least some of us naive puritans are disappointed, and while we are mostly silent I doubt we are a negligible minority.

    Harper has shown he can be tactically competent and change his position and be thick-skinned enough to take the heat of his actions (Emerson floor crossing, income trusts) without becoming unforgiveably petty and mean-spirited. He needs to regain that balance. He needs to select and maintain the aim and not be diverted into unnecessary squabbles; he needs to stop burning bridges he might need to cross again, such as cooperating on issues with the Quebec Party.

    The Conservatives should stop fanning flames by denouncing separatists and stick to the uncontroversial reason why the Bloc is intolerable as a necessary permanent supporter of a coalition: the Bloc serves only Quebec, not all of Canada. The government is duty-bound to serve all Canadians equitably; it can not do that if it is required to submit extra tribute and largesse to one or more selected provinces just to survive.

    Aside from my belief that the Liberals should take the long view to rebuild and select a new leader in order to emerge as a strong national party capable of winning majorities, Dion has been rejected by voters and rejected by his party.

    Supposedly the Germans have an old saying about the selection of leaders and staff based on measuring the intelligence and industriousness of a person, which goes something like this:

    – The intelligent and lazy make the best leaders, because their laziness discourages micromanagement.
    – The intelligent and industrious make the best staff officers, because details are important.
    – The mundane and lazy can be found effective employment at the junior levels.
    – The mundane and industrious are dangerous and to be discarded, because they will work hard at achieving questionable results.

    Stephane Dion has show that he is a worthy staff officer, but not suited to lead.

    Stephen Harper (notwithstanding his critics undoubted desire to charge him with being mundane so as to place him in the fourth bucket) is certainly industrious and guilty of over-managing. He will be unfit to lead if he can’t develop a staff (his cabinet ministers) to which he is comfortable delegating responsibility, and regain the necessary dignity and unflappability of a leader.

  85. Depressing is the word.

    I hope you are in Chicago/Washington giving us your insights into the new Obama Government. Contrast etc. Hope versus despair, you know.

  86. Brad Sallows, what you’re saying is very elegant but I don’t really get it
    “He will be unfit to lead if he can’t develop a staff (his cabinet ministers) to which he is comfortable delegating responsibility, and regain the necessary dignity and unflappability of a leader.”

    May be a quirk but has nothing to do with him being fit or not surely? dont we measure him by success?
    46% in the polls, pretty good to demonstrate popular appeal. Mainstream centre right economic and social policies, the conservative base applauds.. He hasn’t stolen anything, had one of his buddies lobby for new Airbusses or had the Mounties raid Francois Beaudoin’s house..

  87. John W,

    At least 50% of US elections are about hope. Clinton was the man from hope, reagan was morning in america, Carter was about restoring decency, Nixons first term was peace, Kennedyt was Camelot, Eisenhowere was I like Ike (leadership but also about hope in uncertan times, FDR, hope) Hardly a new theme, its in their culture.

    Hope in Canada is usually described in more practical terms, Jobs, tax cuts or social programs.

    Not saying Canadians dont get seduced once in awhile….Turdeaumania, what WAS that about again? but it is a rarity and that was so much the times and the Man. Also the nature of the system, the PM is a head of government, of a small medium power whereas a US president is also a Head of State of a Superpower. Each circumstance attracts different characters and each job has a different requirement. Look at French PM elections vs French Presidential elections, different tone to each.

  88. Sf, I am aware that the CPC have all but one seat in Alberta. I’m suggesting that they will increase their share of the vote there with no significant consequence in seat count. If you believe growth in seats in Ontario is possible given the unfolding economic situation then you are aware of hitherto unknown voting patterns. The polls are in response to the recent shenanigans in The House. The next election will be fought on the economy and against a new Liberal leadership. Harper poisoned his own well in Quebec, so subtract up to 10 seats from the last outing. Face it, Harper blew it.

  89. Sorry about the mispelling of Trudeaumania, my bad, my apologies, no offense or provocation intended.

  90. keith c., what I propose is that Harper, like Dion, has the basic qualities which would make him a highly effective staff worker – probably a highly effective chief of staff (the person the top leader designates to organize, coordinate, and control the staff) – but which need a bit of reshaping to fit the “leader” mold. Harper can function as a leader, but there are some other qualities of leadership which require development. It’s OK to be irritable or short-tempered or viciously partisan as a staff member because the staff are hidden from view behind the leader. Such negative characteristics are not over the long-term acceptable in a leader, especially a political leader who can not command by sheer authority in the military or corporate sense.

    Based on prior approval ratings, Harper was top-rated among his peers and enjoyed a decent percentage of support. I suspect he has lost some of that by being less “Prime Ministerial”.

  91. Brad S, I can see Harper trending lower in `prime ministerial’ surveys – people tend to like the nice-guy smoothness of a Prentice or John Manley or Ignatieff when they’re asked that theoretical question. The thing is that I always sort of think the leadership style thing is a bit of a red herring. If the CPC’s were led by a more “effective leader” by your definition but were proposing more obnoxious, hard right policies, would it be more acceptable to you and the legions of much less coherent, angrier people who populate these comment boards? would it be acceptable to mad as hell and not going to take it anymore Paul Wells?

  92. I will only say this, Harper is the prime minister the majority of canadians voted for. So it is only fitting that a coalition that represents 54% of all voters be leading the country. It also makes a stronger case for seats to be given according to % of vote rather then circumscription.
    Many are outraged at the Bloc being part of the leading coalition because they are a regional party representing particular interest. Isn’t that what the conservative party as become a regional party representing Alberta and the prairies? Reprensenting particular interest?
    The issue is being diverted tough the real culprit of this current situation is the arrogance and miscalculation of the Government. A Minority government, one canadians put there expecting team work, a coalition of sort but Harper and is croonies decided otherwise.
    I think if there was an election today the Conservative Party is the one who would have the biggest surprise and bite the bullet. Canadians for the most part have no tolerance for arrogance, beware of the silent one or ones in this case. The outcry comes from the Harper supporters with reason since the person they voted for will be ousted. But the silent majority, those who did not vote for harper, those who are not impress by his scare tactics and bully politics would keep him in a minority.

  93. Some very good commentary here today on a thought-provoking post. As usual, Paul has laid out the parameters nicely, which is what a good columnist is supposed to do.

    What politicians are supposed to do is envision how to get beyond those and create something else. This is why I appreciated keith c’s rejoinder to Payton so much.

    Apart from having a PM who values national unity so little he would throw it out the window, and having an interim Liberal leader who stayed on to the detriment of the country he undoubtedly loves (and these are both shorter-term problems), the major problem we currently have in our political system is what to do about the Bloc.

    Harper’s solution was to try and replace them at the polls (Layton and Mulcair tried this too), a shift from the previous Liberal strategy of using them as a foil to wedge out their own vote share.

    Neither has been effective in reducing the Bloc’s presence in the Commons. But demographically, the support for separation was bound to wane over time, so long as no-one stoked the fires and poked some proud folks in the eye.

    Enter Stephen Harper. And it is truly significant that the first response of the Bloc leadership was not to howl “humiliation”, but to seek a common cause with other progressive parliamentarians in the Commons. To take a step towards Canada, in other words. And look how we’ve rewarded them for that one.

    As a New Democrat, I give Jack Layton full marks for trying to open that door and keeping those lines of communication open. Let’s hope Stephen Harper’s intemperate and toxic reaction doesn’t hand the provincial election to the PQ, because they will have been handed a mandate for something a lot stronger than simply a social democratic program in the process.

  94. Stephen

    I love hope. But I admit they really got me this time.

    Of course I remember the Kennedys John F. and Bobby.

  95. Two things here that come to mind:

    Talks of a coalition before an election seem to delve more into a combining of the parties on a more permanent basis. This somewhat shaky coalition is obviously temporary.

    If Harper, as opposition leader, combined with Le Bloc, there would be more concern precisely because he’s already aligned himself with them, combined with concessions, in the past! So, that’s a non sequitur for me.

  96. A reader,

    Thats one take on it. I would argue it is naive to assume that the Bloc has taken a step toward Canada out of ideological kinship. The long run goal of all federal policies was to drain the language and culture issues out so that it could be about idology, I would call the Bloc 70 left 30 con held together by a tight wrapping of nationalism.

    However, The Bloc hasn’t backed off its aims, it is restoking them. That Layton and Mulcair are deaf to the response West of Ottawa and didnt see the response is the biggest signal.

    This was all predictable and should surprise no one. Layton’s western MP’s are very very quiet and very very uncomfortable. The NDP is comfortable with SOvereignty Association, it has been pointed out before that they have little issue with it. The NDP is quite happy to enter into that discussion as long as the partner is progressive. Other canadians dont want the government that represents them to work that way I suspect.

    Such a change, really does require a legitimacy stamp from the people. You are asking for one heap of dysfuntion to have it work otherwise, and pointing to MP’s electing governments wont work, legitimacy isnt about that, or only partially about that. It is about not just about legalisms.

    I said when this was rumoured that it smeeled like Meech and Charlottetown….it is getting a very very similar reaction and that says nothing about whether it is a good idea or not.

    Layton and Mulcair have an interesting dynamic, I think they feed each off each others mania….convincing each other that this is the greatest idea in the world…..once again, the NDP Western caucus is probably not feeling the same way…..watch and wait.

  97. Alex: Do not let yourself be used into repeating talking points. Harper is not the Prime Minister chosen by a majority of Canadians. Plurality, perhaps, but not majority.

    keith c.:As to whether Harper has stolen something or not, talk to BC loggers. And if that isn’t fun, I think we’ll see soon enough that Harper has certainly stolen taxpayer dollars as well through the in-and-out means, as the Elections Canada case hasn’t gone away, nor has his attempting to sue the Liberals on Cadman, which will also be rendering judgement soon.

    As to Wells; note that the Ekos poll specifically noted a strong night-to-night trend of approval decreasing for the conservatives and increasing toward the coalition. This strikes me as the people becoming aware of the issue through Conservative spin, and then looking more deeply into it.

  98. “A reader,” I appreciate your appreciation. But you really think Duceppe took “a step towards Canada”? i just find that impossible to believe, given the history of how separatist parties have operated, Parizeau’s lobster in the pot, etc.. I can only see Duceppe’s moves as ever being tactical, a long way from Levesque’s earnest `beau risque’. If there was really a beau risque attitude in the Bloc caucus I think things could have been different. I think the polarization of the Quebec/ROC electorate is very regrettable but was inevitable as soon as there was a photo of Layton, Dion and Duceppe shaking hands to take power like it was a normal course of events. If anything I find Harper is acting responsibly in demonizing `separatists’ – as, frankly the Prime Minister of Canada should do – it’s a long ways from the Reform Party’s 1997 `no more leaders from quebec’ ad which i fear is closer to how 70% of the ROC electorate thinks…
    Best regards

  99. Does anyone else see this as a chance for Jack Layton to get in as PM? I have read this elsewhere but not here. Basically Dion gets in, proves an ineffective leader and people have no confidence in him because he is already a lame duck. When the coalition gets grumpy, they call for the ouster of Dion right away and insert Layton as leader. If I remember correctly Rae has wanted to fold the NDP into the LPC for awhile and this could lead to him being elected Liberal leader and negotiations begin for the merge when/if elected. Therefore it all comes down to a 50/50 choice between Rae and Ignatieff and could then lead to more support for Rae for a more united left.
    As an outsider to this (I have only voted Liberal once, when the Conservative candidate was not a good choice.), I see it as feasible but a stretch, but after what happened on the right, never say never.

  100. er.. BC loggers? That’s a new one.

  101. Wardy,

    Dion wont be PM…..Rae is trying to take his place. Jack would make a strong pitch to the left of the Liberal party that he is the more effective leader of the coalition….If a Liberal gets installed as leader of the coalition, Layton wont get it, thats why Rae is pushing so hard.

    The effect will be shattering of the Liberal Party I suspect. Jack has to watch his Western MP’s….they arent on board as far as I can tell.

    I look forward to reading about all of this when its over…..and I wish I was reading those books and articles now.

  102. Indeed it is, for those not paying attention.

    Our logging industry has been kneecapped by the agreement built by Stephen Harper, which not only gave the US logging industry a billion dollars from our own, but also restricted the total amount of the market of the US that our logs could account for.

    Shortly after that, demand in the US started to fall. So though our loggers can produce more cheaply (because they invested in more efficient machinery and techniques almost a decade ago), we are restricted to an ever smaller amount of sales. Many, many BC loggers are out of work now, and several smaller BC logging firms have disappeared entirely. All because Mr. Harper had to push through a deal to ingratiate him with the US rather than letting the NAFTA mechanisms conclude properly and declare Canada to be in the right, and completely opposite to what Mr. Haper himself said a Prime Minister should do.. his exact words about the logging issue back before the ’06 election? “You don’t negotiate when you’ve won.”

    Quite simply, Mr. Harper stole those jobs for the approval of an outgoing President that he admired.

  103. I am heartened by the decision of the Governor General. I still believe that she should exercise her constitutional prerogative and power to dissolve Parliament and call an election in response to this act of sedition.

    Yes, Sedition. Sedition is legally defined as plotting to overthrow the lawful government. Since this PLOT existed, demonstrated by the evidence, since before the results of the last election were official; what else can we call it?

    It is time for the “coalition” (I would label it a conspiracy) to be forced to face the electorate they have betrayed.

  104. Unclean Hands

    This is turning into an “anybody but Canada” fiasco.

    Bob Rae is outmaneuvering Michael Ignattief by placing his total political weight behind the coalition. He senses that Dion is done (Rae has actually pushed him out which isn’t surprising given that Rae had been undermining him all along) and he’s willing to exploit the unholy alliance in order to take out Ignatieff. In short, Rae would become prime minister and would have excellent credentials to lead the liberal party of Canada. And Rae is the leadership choice of Jean Chrétien, who recently endorsed the coalition. Oh, what a tangled web they weave.

    It’s a diabolical plan, which would rival anything that Niccolò Machiavelli could ever dream up. It’s also characteristic of the back stabbing liberals which has rendered them impotent in the eyes of a scrutinizing public.

  105. Mr. Harper’s efforts to save his government are going to have deleterious effects on our Nation, our economy and our democracy.
    Nation – Mr. Harper is a single, dis-unifying force constantly refering to the big, bad Separatists. From the way Mr. Harper talks about them, you would think Separatists were hatched in hell. Last time I checked, they were Canadians. Also last time I checked, marginalizing a group does more to unify them in their efforts. Good job, Steve. Making stronger Separtists with every speech!
    Economy – I can’t saddle this on just Mr. Harper… okay, I can. Had Stalin Harper, er, Stephen Harper, been slightly more conciliatory during his time as leader of the government instead of making every vote possible a damned confidence vote, than perhaps the Opposition would not have felt compelled to unite to topple the government. It’s one thing to bully the house and force the opposition parties to vote with the federal Conservatives or abstain, but it’s quite another to attempt to bankrupt those other parties (as his fiscal update had suggested, doing away with the $1.95 per vote funding subsidy). This has led to very serious instability in Ottawa. Last time I checked, banks/foreign investors/entrepreneurs don’t come running to invest their money on the top of a teetering pile of shit.
    Democracy – by asking the GG to prorogue Parliament, Mr. Harper successfully completed a procedural end-run around our Democracy. Democracy is a process and not an outcome. No matter how much Canadians would prefer the outcome of having the Conservatives have more time to sort out their mess (i.e. commence a 7-week PR campaign and ruin millions of Christmases nationwide), subverting the will of Parliament to bring down the government simply because you can weakens our democracy (leaving aside that it couuuuuuuld mayyyyyyyybe just be an abuse of Mr. Harper’s power). Remember. All our war veterans died for the noble ideal of democracy. Mr. Harper just laid a coiled pile on that ideal.

    Mr. Harper needs to resign. Pronto.

  106. Stephen,

    I see your point and I agree on the devastating effect on the Liberal Party.

  107. This incongruous coalition is a Frankenstein troika- and the only notable production from a troika is a triple dose of horse manure.

    Another election is the only reasonable way to settle this situation.

  108. Sedition must NEVER be rewarded. I hope the GG uses her prerogative and power to order an election. Let this coalition of plotters face the electorate they have betrayed!

  109. William,

    Relax it isnt sedition. That would be a plot to illegally overthrow the government, usually by violent means.

    Counting on GG reserve powers to take power outside of an election, while unusual and maybe not wise strategy, but it isnt illegal. That being said the result can be seen as illegitimate…..which is Mr Wells point all along. Coyne refers to it as the Canadian public’s “horse sense”, common sense is a tainted political term now.

    Or in other words…..I don’t know art but I know what I like…..sadly that sometimes means Black Velvet , Black Light Elvis Posters.

  110. “They have failed. This is a depressing moment in our nation’s politcs.”

    Correction, this is a depressing moment for political lefties like you and your ilk.

    Really? I would like to believe that serious, democratic, non-partisan Canadians want their political system to work. They want it to be comprised of multiple strong political parties. I’ve made no secret that I dislike Harper and his gang of Harrisites. That doesn’t mean I enjoy it when he screws up monumentally. I’d rather see progressive parties improve than conservative parties contract. I want a Canada where we choose from the best leaders we can, not one where there’s no real choice. If you think the failings of the NDP and the Liberals should only matter to “lefties” and their “ilk” then it is because of people like you that we are in the mess we are. Make no wonder people don’t vote.

  111. The legal definition of SEDITION: plotting the overthrow of the lawfull government.

    Can anyone legitimately state this isn’t the case here? We are NOT talking about a legitimate loss of confidence of the House in the government. The record CLEARLY indicates that the “coalition” was planning this before the results of the last election were final.

    Blood need not be spilled to make a plot a plot. Legitimacy of government is not something to be left up to bedfellows of this nature. It’s time to start enforcing the laws regarding sedition again.

  112. Some comments:

    1. One of these days I’m actually going to be one of the first people to comment so that Wells will actually be aware of my existence.

    2. As it appears that the coalition has overreached and things have backfired, I should start with a mea culpa. I was startled by how things were turning out by Sunday, feeling panicky by Monday and on the verge of calling a relative who happens to be an important politician to express my concerns about the Bloc. But on Tuesday I though this might work, and only really regretted things when the polls started coming out on Thursday evening. Rather cowardly of me, I know. In my defense there is the Nixon/Harper tactic of blaming other people. Someone in the NDP/Liberal party should have spoken up. Wells could have posted his objections three days earlier.

    3. After the election I thought that as part of their rebuilding process the Liberals would have to find someone in our largely conservative media and suck up to them, as part of showing their “maturity” and “recognizing they had been wrong.” But who to suck up to? Andrew Coyne is intelligent, but there aren’t that many pro market, pro federalist commentators. There’s just one in fact. The Liberals could conceivably gain twenty points in Alberta from the conservatives, but even if they were to narrow the gap to 45-31 they still might not win a seat. Besides, trying to appeal to the Asper dynasty’s whims and the Midwich cuckoos that Conrad Black has planted in the prairie media may be futile, and certainly not likely to lead to short term success. So that leaves soft federalists in Quebec. I don’t really like this option: I didn’t like the veiled snobbery that was behind the dislike of Chretien, I didn’t like the refusal to give Dion a chance, I never liked the way that the PQ would support Fabien Roy or combine with Sterling Lyon to prevent a Charter of Rights, while the NDP was supposed to give them uncritical support. I never liked the “four legs good, two legs bad” logic of Chantal Herbert. But the idea of sucking up to them, in the hope of poaching on BQ support, seems like the best strategic option.

    4. Would the coalition have worked better if Charest had won a majority the week before it appeared, instead of the week after? (If Charest unexpectly does not win a majority next week forget I said this. Or better yet, ceaselessly remind me of it.)

    5. How to improve the Center/Left? Possible suggestion: improve blogs. Look at The New Republic, the Washington Monthly, The American Prospect, Talking Points Memo, (Lawyers, Guns and Money), Matthew Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, Feministing, Kevin Drum. Many liblogs.ca are simply partisan rants, while the others are often by actual journalists. Problem: despite the many flaws in American mass media, the Times, the Post, the Wall Street Journal are actually world class newspapers which actually report on many things. The Globe and Mail and Le Devoir, not so much. Another problem: parochialism. If I wanted to see a Canadian perspective on culture and larger cultural prespectives, I shouldn’t bother. The Globe and Mail has a handful of reviews every Saturday, and it’s worse that the book reviews sections of the Times, the Post or even the London Telegraph. The Literary Review of Canada only concentrates on Canada. It’s no match for the NYRB, TLS, NLR or the LRB. So you’d be better off reading them and reporting back to us.

    6. In the meantime, read Paul Ginsborg’s “The Politics of Everyday Life: Making Choices, Changing Lives.” Canadian political commentary tends to focus on personalities to a disconcerting effect: Harper’s Michael Corleone/Tony Montana impression, Martin’s lack of principle, Mulroney’s opportunism, Clark’s fecklessness, Trudeau’s arrogance, Diefenbaker’s instability. Wells and Coyne might prefer a nice, principled Harper, and many others might prefer such a person if he were Liberal leader. But there are real problems with conservative principles: the scariest thing I read in weeks was Gwynne Dyer’s latest column on global warming. Short summary: we have not dodged the bullet, and if we don’t get this right, the consequences will make even a nuclear armed Al Qaeda look like a pinprick.

  113. Whether an illegally taped private caucus meeting says someone was working together or not, that isn’t a crime,and minority parties are entirely within their right to cooperate on all things.. even if that thing is what to do should the house lose confidence in the main governing party.

    There was no plotting to overthrow the lawful government. The lawful government would still be fully in place, just with a different set of MPs who were also legitimately elected setting the agenda and proposing policies.

    To continue to accuse duly elected MPs of being seditionists is running very close to libel, so you may want to reconsider.

  114. Thwim said it, the lawful government would still be in pplace, thats actually the crown.

    Now, plots about overthrowing the crown are different manners, baecuse that office is the repository from which all authority flows.

    Normal politics is not seditious. This is, sadly the new normal.

  115. Thwim said it, the lawful government would still be in pplace, thats actually the crown.

    Now, plots about overthrowing the crown are different manners, baecuse that office is the repository from which all authority flows.

    Normal politics is not seditious. This is, sadly the new normal.

  116. William Sparling, sedition means organizing an armed insurrection. This event was characterized by legally constituted meetings of elected officials, who then publicly announced their intention to vote to defeat the government in the House of Commons, as is their constituional right, even obligation if they believe the government is lacking. Oh, and don’t forget gthey also wrote letters to the Governor General. Wooooooooooo.

    Oh, and there was one MP who may have been planning an armed insurrection, Yorkton MP Garry Breikurtz wrote a letter to gun owners as follows:

    “I implore you to become immediately involved by letting the coalition parties know that our massive constituency of gun owners in Canada will refuse to recognize this proposed power grab as a bona fide government.”

    Sounds like he was palnning to storm Rideau Hall with his gun buddies if things didn’t go his way. Since you’fe so concerned about sedition maybe you could lay the complaint with the RCMP?

  117. …and a coalition that would be based on the support of a bunch right-wing zealots is appealing?

  118. Sparling, not only are you wrong, you’re dangerous. Your level of rhetoric is precisley why this has been a lamentable week.

    Since you’re big on “legal definitions”, even Wiki can do better than your seat of the pants assertions:

    “The difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of levying war against a government nor of adhering to its enemies, giving enemies aid, and giving enemies comfort. Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).”

    What the coalition was attempting to do was to use the intended, specifically designed, constitutional mechanisms for creating a Government to change the seat of power. My biggest fear out of this entire sordid affair is that the single most important concept embraced by the founding fathers of our country, Responsible Government, has been completely lost as a concept to us all.

    I don’t give a flying f8%k who comes out ahead in this farce; I just think that violence that has been done to our understanding of how we are governed is unconscionable. And the politicians are not the only ones to blame; ignoramouses like you and the ignoramouses on the other side are equally culpable.

    We import foreign notions, impart unwarranted, unintended features and bash around the very heart of our way of governance and asses like you ratchet up the emotions of everyone around you using what could charitably be called ignorance, but is more likely deliberately misleading spin.

    Shame.

  119. So, the idea of the coalition truly governing was/is a pie-in-the sky. All they’ve done is get everybody riled up.

    Alright, folks, lets take this energy and do something constructive with it shall we?

  120. So Harper has openly subverted the democratic will of parliament – literally right before of our eyes – and yet Paul wells is focused on the optics of Dion’s five minute response. An out of focus digital camera, apparently, is more important than a prime minister creating a national unity crisis out of thin air to save his own hide.

    Wells, stick to writing about jazz. No one reads you when you do, but at least you don’t cause any damage on that front.

  121. Shame on Dion
    Shame on Layton

    Shame for Canada.

    Trudeau must be turning over in his grave – Imagine what the economy will be with the money being poured into Quebec to keep the separatists happy. Let’s hope that after their Christmas turkeys the political turkeys will go back where they belong.

  122. I sincerely hope the Liberals don’t dump Dion next week as is rumored. He will continue to be the Conservatives best friend. Don’t knock him!!

  123. This has probably been the Rae/NDP (am I being redundant?) plan to up end a Conservative minority since the election was called..

  124. Oh yes .. How about a plebiscite on that party funding with our money.. The Mental Health Association would put it to much better use.

  125. That headline is very misleading.

    It isn’t the electorate who said no thanks – it’s the people who were polled. They are not ‘the electorate’ they are people who were called who may or may not be voters and may or may not be representative of Canadian voter’s views. So, lets keep that in mind. Many people who complain about everything NEVER bother to vote.

  126. Now that the Conservatives are at 50% in the polls, one would have to conclude that the country is more united than it has been for decades.

    One thing is for sure, the holier-than-thou attitude of so many commenters is entertaining.

    Sedition? Are you kidding me? Dion could not even organize a videotape, let alone a sedition. This was ambition, not sedition. Dion does not want to go down as the first Liberal leader (ever?) to fail to become Prime Minister. Layton would do anything to turn Canada into a socialist state, voters be damned.

    And it was blind ambition. The Liberals and NDP have just secured their complete destruction in the west of Canada. They were well on their way, barely able to win seats in Alberta, Sask and Manitoba. Now they can add BC to the list.

    Creating a national unity crisis? The national unity crisis would have occurred when it would have become crystal clear that regional separatist parties are worth your vote because they actually can get into the government. If we ever want the Bloc to disappear, we cannot be handing them veto power or any other power in government.

  127. sf – the Bloc already have power. The Conservatives have a minoirty – remember?

  128. Why must we always find someone to blame for our troubles? If you are really looking, blame the 44% of Canadians who didn’t go to the poles in October. They are the ones who left us in this mess and are eager to cry fowl now. Or blame the way news is reported on television. It doesn’t matter which channel you watch, you get the same news, word for word, with the same pictures. They just juggle the order. Sometimes Rick Mercer gives us more information. Then, of course, there is the World Economic Crisis. We don’t know who to blame for that so we blame our government.
    I was two and a half years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. Believe me, I know what it is to grow up poor.
    It’s time we all pulled our socks up, quit griping, and work together to create innovative solutions needed to prepare us for the 21st Century. Listening to David Suzuki would be a good place to start.

  129. The claim that Harper is damaged, presented by a number of commenters here, seems to depend on three things; in chronological rather than logical order, they are (1) that Harper’s move to withdraw the $1.95 per vote a naked power grab by a vindictive man, and will be seen by Canadians–rather than simply the pundits and the partisans–as such; (2) that the proposed coalition is a sensible response to an economic crisis unprecedented since the Depression, and will be seen by Canadians as such, rather than as an at best ill-advised destabilization of the government and consequently the economy; and (3) that the prorogation of Parliament is an unprecedented attack on the representative democratic system, inspired by fear of a vote of confidence, and will be seen by Canadians as such. I will take these points in turn.

    First, however appallingly a vindictive power grab it might have seemed to partisans and pundits, many of whom inexplicably seem to agree with Dion that it is somehow unfair that the Conservatives raise more money than they do, many Canadians do not in fact agree that the public funding of federal political parties is an inalienable right. People disagree on this point, it is true, but it is worth noting that while this issue remains part of the coalition’s thinking, as we can tell from the coalition talking point that Harper “can’t be trusted,” these same talking points shy away from arguing that Harper must be defeated because he took their public money away. This indicates that hardcore partisans don’t believe that Canadians will share their view of the “vindictive power grab.” The result, I suggest, is that Harper is tarnished by this only among those who weren’t voting for him anyway.

    Second, the economic crisis. People are deeply worried about the economy, it is true, but that concern does not mean that mere weeks after an election they are prepared to give up on their elected government and turn to the Liberals and the NDP to implement an economic plan that Canadians already rejected during the campaign. The notion that voters who distrusted Layton and Dion on the economy 7 weeks ago will trust them on the economy today if the same old package comes endorsed by Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May requires rather more evidence than any commenter has supplied here. What is more, those Canadians who follow the swings of the stock market are perfectly capable of noticing that the direct correlation between Layton’s apocalyptic rhetoric and market falls.

    Third, and for many of the commenters here, prorogation. I am befuddled that someone could argue, on the one hand, that government by an unelected coalition will be acceptable to Canadians because it is consitutitonal, and simultaneously contend on the other hand that prorogation by the Governor General at the request of her first minister, which is equally constitutional, will delegitimize Harper to the point where he cannot recover. Both Layton and Dion have been framing this as Harper’s fear of true democracy, because he fears facing the people’s representatives, but again, ordinary people may well ask, and many of them do, why then they were not to be given the opportunity to vote on the coalition. The coalition agreement does not propose to determine the will of the electorate over the course of the agreement at any point, a point that is not lost on many Canadians.

    The polls have already been mentioned by many commenters here, and largely dismissed by pro-coalition commenters, and so I have not pointed to them again; I have tried, rather, to explain the ways in which the assumptions on which that dismissal rests are based on one interpretation of recent events, an interpretation which it appears that the voters do not hold. That in the passionately held views of many pro-coalition commenters the voters ought to agree with them neither makes it so, nor does it make those voters stupid, and any future proposal to unite the left ought to consider well the counter-interpretation, for it appears to be the dominant one.

  130. I am so fed up with these guys in office! I want to run in the next election, as an independent. I am a mother, a grandmother and I want to leave a country for my grandchildren.
    I will do my best, listen to all Canadians and make a Sara’s circle rather than a Jacob’s ladder. Meaning consensus, not climbing over each other. Trying to get along not scoring points off the other person.

    My qualifications: I am honest, a veteran, a mother and grandmother, in addition I love my country and want to see it thrive! I am not a lawyer…(That says a lot!) I am not vindictive nor do I hold a grudge. I am fluent in French and English. I have lived in or visited every province except Newfoundland.

    Vote for a regular person, me. I can show these clowns how to run a country.

  131. Coalition, if it actually takes power, helps 1.Layton, 2. Duceppe, 3. Harper.

    Layton and/or Duceppe could pull plug on coalition before Lib leadership convention and force Libs to go into another election with Dion as leader – OUCH!!! Not sure if Layton thinking short term power grab or long term bankruptcy of Libs but coalition would likely achieve both if there was an election before Lib leadership convention. Even if Harper loses non-confidence and coalition forms, Layton and/or Bloc would have trememdous temptation to force election before Lib leadership convention. Obviously, Libs/Dion did not think through losing the rep as the unity party of Canada but they didn’t think 5 months down the road either.

  132. To the whole thing:

    My thoughts exactly.

  133. Frankly Mr Wells , I am getting really sick and tired of reading all the bitter remarks by the so called ” National Press” – including Maclean articles that keep pressing the ” Liberal Eastern ” view of PM Harper . Your apparent bitter views of him- personally and politically- as opposed to the supposed benefits of the so called coalition – headed by the discreditted Staphan Dion – are too much for me to stomach .

    I am glad that I cancelled my subscription to Macleans some years ago – as it’s previous and obvious bias to anything conservative – continues to this day- despite Macleans supposed make over ! Try reading the results of the Ekos Reid poll that came out immediately following the Governor General’s decision to allow the Proroguing of Parliament – a Constitutional and legal move – by the way .

    60 % of the national poll of Canadians would be very glad to reject the coalition – with 47 % of the them voting for a Conservative government if there was another election called today. As opposed to those 24 % that would support the hapless Liberals and their resigned Dion at the helm – or his successor. That’s almost a 50 % increase for the Conservatives from the 34 % that they received at our last election – some 8 weeks ago .

    But as the request for proroguing was not being requested by the Liberals – but by the Conservative government – it was portrayed as some what underhanded . Out here on the Left side of Canada ( that’s only geographically ) – the immediate disgust with the proposed “coup d’etat ” was immediate , negative and quite viirulent.

    But this was not reflected at all by the Eastern reporters bunkered down in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal – or further points East – like Europe ! This especially affects , those located in the infamous Ottawa Press Gallery .- who write and comment on political moves as if they were reporting on a veritable war (of words ) – Canadian style .

    How about a more balanced and reasonable view of all things political in Canada ? I think you guys and gals of the press are missing the real story out there !

  134. “I am getting really sick and tired of reading all the bitter remarks by the so called ” National Press”

    Alan W

    Than stop reading them.

  135. Canada has failed the most imprtant step in a parliamentary democaracy by shuting down parliament just to save Harpers job. We will now be known as the latest banana republic. The GG has made a major blunder because in a true democracy, majority rules. I believe Harper bullied the GG to his piont of view, as he’s done to the house of commons since he arrive there. The opposition parties represent almost 2/3s of the population and have a democratic right to rule. What we need is a new GG and a new prime minister.

  136. Speaks for itself:

    By a more than 2:1 margin, Canadians call for another election if the choice faced by the Governor-General were between inviting Stephane Dion to form a government and hold a fresh general election weeks after the most recent one. That is the key finding from a national representative poll completed December 4, 2008.
    If an election were held today, Stephen Harper would win a large majority based on nation-wide support of 51% compared to 20% for the Liberals, 10% for the NDP, 6% for the Greens, and 8% for the Bloc. Harper would sweep seat-rich Ontario with 53% of the vote compared to 24% for the Liberals and 10% for the NDP in that province and would surpass Dion in Quebec with 32% of the vote compared to 19% for the Liberals and 35% for the Bloc.

    Key factors in this lightening speed transformation of public opinion:

    66% of Canadians oppose the Bloc Quebecois having a say in who forms the government;

    48% have confidence in Stephen Harper as Prime Minister in the current economic climate compared to 14% for Michael Ignatieff in second place, 11% for NDP leader Jack Layton, 8% for Stephane Dion, 4% for Bob Rae, and 3% for Gilles Duceppe;

    58% believe that the Coalition’s real or main motivation was a power grab while 28% perceive the Opposition as honestly believing that Harper is a poor manager of the economy;

    61% believe that the Liberals, following their drop in support in the October election, should not be trying to form a government.

    Compas

    Unintended consequences?

    Chuckercanuck said…
    Squid,

    isn’t it interesting that in a few months time, Charest and Harper might have majority governments and a constitution might get signed by all provinces. finally.

    From this crisis, sweet, sweet fruit.

    Friday, December 05, 2008 2:45:00 PM

  137. Canadians have a PM who delberately misrepresented the facts and who exploited and aggravated divisions within the nation in a bid to keep power. They have a PM who counted on the ignorance and gulibility of the population. Since the polls indicate that the majority may have fallen for it maybe the country has the PM it deserves.

  138. Paul Wells, Harper is not becoming a very bad prime minister, he has been a very bad prime minister from the beginning; vindictive and small minded, embarrassing us every time he or a minister visited a foreign country and bored their hosts by talking about petty partisan domestic politics. He was a very bad prospective prime minister before he became the leader of his party.

    Harper is a schoolyard bully and his cabinet is so weak because many of its members are the weaklings who suck up to schoolyard bullies Too many journalists and others hqve mistaken bullying for strength. But as we see now, stand up to the bully and he shows himself to be a coward.

    I must say I am fed up with the Conservative tactic, when they finally have to admit that their guy is a complete jerk, of claiming ‘But all the other guys are jerks, too!” Basically, they try to smear everyone else so their man does not look quite as repellent. Sorry, it’s not working. We can all see that Harper is a worse jerk than anyone leading any other poilitical party. No one trusts Harper, and he has to go for the good of Canada.

  139. Holly,

    When you met Harper, what was it that he did to instill such hatred within you?

    Or do you get all of your hatred from reading the canadian media?

    Oh and btw, I voted for Cretien. He was a much more effective bully than Harper.

  140. Little Jack Moaner
    Sat in a corner
    Thumbing his nose at the West
    Along came Duceppe
    And said he was ready
    To throw rocks at a hornets nest

  141. Person who claims to be a real Canadian; I am an Albertan and a Calgarian and have observed various rightwing politicians over the years including Harper and his American and wanabe american advisers. I haven’t met Harper in person and have no desire to. But I know a bully when I see one.

    The reason more and more Canadians are developing hatred for Harper is that he is a hateful man, and a leader of hateful people, who rely upon lies, smears and bullying to get their way. To hell with the lot of them!

  142. From a historical perspective, it is interesting to note that if Stephane Dion becomes Prime Minister, his legitimacy from the point of view of his party’s standing in the legislature will be far less than when Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933. At that time, his party held 100 more seats than any other party and governed by a coalition. In comparison, the Liberals hold 66 seats less than the Conservatives, after clearly losing the election, and yet would lead a coalition. So here in Canada we could have a government being appointed with far less voter legitimacy than when Hitler was appointed by President Hindenburg. So while Canada is unlikely to become a despicable dictatorship like Germany, we would become a joke, especially to investors. Hang on to your wallet.

  143. What happened to the Blunderals? (That’s right–BLoc…NDp…libERALS) Can’t take a little humour at Macleans? Such censorship bodes ill for Canadian democracy.

  144. In Ottawa, the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill was bathed in sunlight as police estimated about 3,000 people shivered in a sharp wind that made it feel like almost -10C to show their support for the Tories.
    ———-
    Well, it seems the more people are out supporting the Tories than the conspirators, even with their powerful connection to the CLC.

  145. You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    You just want to rule the world
    You tell me it’s in the constitution
    Well, you know
    The people are giving you the bird

    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Jack you know it’s not right
    this fight
    you know it’s not right
    This fight
    Go fly a kite

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re writing all we can

    But when you want money
    for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is Jack you have to wait

    What you’re doing isn’t right
    You’re uptight
    It’s not right
    You’re not the light
    You’ve started a big fight

  146. GRPF — Nice song, kinda catchy.

    “Well, it seems the more people are out supporting the Tories than the conspirators, even with their powerful connection to the CLC.”

    It looks like it was about even. The figures from the CP report:

    3000 pro-Harper in Ottawa (though that included the Tory War Room, of course),
    3000 pro-Coalition in Toronto;
    500 pro-Harper in Toronto, apparently led by a misguided 17-year-old;
    1000 pro-Coalition in Montreal
    2000 pro-Harper in Calgary
    200 pro-Harper in Halifax
    200 pro-Harper in Fredericton

    There must have been more rallies on both sides, though, which weren’t mentioned in the piece, which has a bit of a human interest taste to it. E.g. a quick google says there was a 1000-turnout rally in Vancouver, pro-Coalition, three days ago.

    I wonder how long these will go on?

  147. “I will only say this, Harper is the prime minister the majority of canadians voted for. ”

    I can think of at least three ways in which this statement is factually wrong. Honestly, the most depressing thing about this whole turn of events is that it has revealed the political illiteracy of most Canadians. It’s truly shameful that so many Canadians–especially those who wrap themselves in the maple leaf–don’t even have the most elementary understanding of parliamentary politics.

    “So here in Canada we could have a government being appointed with far less voter legitimacy than when Hitler was appointed by President Hindenburg.”

    Ding! Ding! Congratulations, Robert, on the being the first poster to make a Hitler analogy. I’d like to introduce you to Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, who recently compared Barack Obama to Hitler: “You have to remember that Hitler was elected in a democracy,” he said. The similaries are astounding. Thanks to you and Congressman Broun for nipping this fascist/Marxist conspiracy in the bud.

  148. Paul,

    I think you missed a key point in the pre-election views of Dion re a coalition and the facts last week.

    Support of the NDP to reverse the $50 billion tax cut to industries would have been disastrous to the economy. So clearly Dion was right to reject a coalition at that time. However, the NDP agreed, in its accord with the Liberals, to drop this platform issue.

    Without this major dysfunctional policy Dion was in a better position to work with the NDP.

  149. Paul,

    There have been many times when I have disagreed with you. However, this column is bang on: no one is covered with glory in this sad affair.

    Further, while I agree with many of the actions of the Conservative government, I have never personally liked Harper. I completely agree with your assessment of him.

    Take care over there and have a safe trip home.

  150. I agree with politics. Unfortunately our choice as electors seems to be picking the lesser of the evils, rather than voting for the best of the good choices, and clearly Dion was the worst choice. However I see the strong , perhaps irrational hate against Harper by people such as Bob Rae and Scott Reid as indications that they consider him a truly formidable opponent.

  151. Mark,

    I’m curious. When you met Harper, what was it about him that made you dislike him, personally?

    Was it his bullying manner? Was it that he seemed to have a hidden agenda? Was it the sweater that he wore?

    He took a dysfunctional, splintered political right, got a grass roots movement into action and managed to grow as a political entity in this country. He now has majority level support.

    I know that there is no media bias in this country, but if you didn’t get your personal dislike for him by meeting him in person, maybe there is actually something tangible to your dislike as opposed to the regurgitated nonsense – propagated by our national media – mentioned above.

    The Liberals could learn something from him. In spite of media misrepresentation, Harper has earned respect from Canadians, even if some of it is defaulted from the actions of the current clown show.

  152. I’ve had the good fortune to meet both PM Harper and Laureen Harper over the past few years when I am in Ottawa. They are both very charming. I find it hard to believe someone would walk away from a personal meeting disliking the PM as a person. They may have policy differences, but that is a different issue. Incidentally I could say the same about Paul Martin or Jean Chretien. Both are very charming.

    One of the few MPs I have actually been turned off by in a personal meeting is Bob Rae. I’ve met him 3 or 4 times and he has invariably left me cold. He is perhaps the most arogant MP in the enitre Parliament, with the possible exception of David McGuinty. I’m sure this characteristic is serving as a drawback to Rae in this crunch time for his leadership bid. People remember arrogance and not always fondly.

  153. No, Canadians would not support a coalition (even one with less loathsome leaders) unless it vowed within six months to go to the polls and get a mandate to govern from the people. Yes, I understand you can legally form one according to our Parliamentary rules, but without the backing of the people, you are really only pretending to govern.

  154. The present ungovernment doesn’t have the backing of the people,it has the backing of a minority share of the voting public, as filtered through a process that by design reshapes electoral statistics and ratios rather significantly, in order to amplify difference and lend extra credence to power.

    I’m not trying to get into a pissing match about it, I’m just saying you don’t want to head down that avenue of debate, because it doesn’t lead anywhere very helpful. As one of your characters says, “don’t go any further with it. There’s nothin’ good about it.”

  155. Yeah, the thread has moved on … but I agree wholeheartedly with Wells’ original post. This Coalition didn’t pass any smell test out there. During the election, I was certain that the Liberals would try for a coalition if they themselves were with 10 seats and that the Libs + NDP > CPC. Never in a million years did I expect that they would try it after the final seat numbers were in (having fully 66 seats less). I don’t know if Liberal MP’s would’ve actually gone through with it, if the vote had gone ahead. I’m sure 10 would’ve voted with the government, or 20 would’ve come down with a cold. Especially after the hostage video that Dion put out. But we’ll never know now.

    Having said that, Harper was stupid to put that poison pill in. Yes, it exposed how reliant they are on the gov’t teat to keep their parties afloat, but it was also practically the only thing that could’ve driven them into each others arms as it did. Harper did a couple of very skillful things in Parliament this year, those being the Afghanistan mission extension motion and the residential schools apology. If those were the highs, then throwing the public-financing bomb in the Economic Statement was a definite low. If I was advising the PM, I would’ve said to watch your step for the first six months, to publicly implore the opposition for ideas and suggestions, so that enough could be agreed to publicly, and so they couldn’t then slink away from any deal.