What do you think of the Governor General's decision?

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remind remind's picture

Layton and Dion will explain it after they meet with her, I am sure.

___________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

martin dufresne

I am very disappointed, but, frankly, I don't think that Jean was strong enough to bear the brunt of all the hatred being spewed by the PCC 'bots and pundits at the Coalition. She could not save our asses alone. It is a fact that only the population can exert sufficient authority in these straits and give Harper the boot. The GG's authority is one of principle, it doesn't carry that much weight in realpolitik.

Indeed, there may be a silver lining: this 7-week hiatus may give the Coalition time to find more stability and long-term vision, giving the NPD time to influence developments, e.g. Coalition v. Liberal Party as the future.

josh

If she's not strong enough, she should have stepped down.  She would have been better off staying in Europe.

 

Not exactly a great moment in the history of parliamentary democracy.

Ratbert

Its the right decision.

Allow Harper the reflect on his follies and allow the proposed coalition to get their policies in order. Economically, it is better to react to Obama's stimulus plan than to propose a canadian plan that may be rendered a failure by American incentives.

Harper is incapable of change and needs to be replaced. Proroging parliament is the sensible course that will allow all the members to reflect on their duty. Personally, I think it time for the PC members of the CPC to jettison both Harper and the CPC - joining ranks with the Liberals under Rae or IGGY and the Dippers to form the governing party.

This solution circumvents awkward separatist ambitions and dilutes the chance of radical social engineering in uncertain times.

jas

As I said in the other thread, this precedent-breaking decision now
makes it easy for any weakling government to simply run away when their
power is threatened. Mission accomplished, as far as Harper's
concerned. The dismantling or undermining of parliamentary democracy in
Canada can only serve to undermine Canadian sovereignty. I'm beginning
to think this is his true goal.

Quite an irony, too, in light of the "Banana Republic" slogans that were being thrown around yesterday.

 

martin dufresne

"If she's not strong enough, she should have stepped down."

 

I meant that the GG's position isn't strong enough, structurally - it's a honorific position, with no representativity to back up any strong stand. Michaelle Jean herself isn't the problem.

The basic problem remains that 1) so many Canadians are voting for and electing CP candidates, regardless of Harper destructiveness, and  2) that we have no historical precedent or symbolic receptvity to ruling by coalitions, so it becomes easy for Dad to browbeat Canadians with talk of a "coup d'État".

martin dufresne

At least, now we have a stellar example in support of the old line "If voting could change the system, it would be illegal."Cool

George Victor

bert

Allow Harper the reflect on his follies and allow the proposed coalition to get their policies in order. Economically, it is better to react to Obama's stimulus plan than to propose a canadian plan that may be rendered a failure by American incentives.

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Economically, bert?

You mean, after the pres. has said he is going to give x$billions to the big three (which already have wrung concessions from UAW workers), we will go to the CAW and say "look, sorry your asses are on the line, but you'll have to make x$ cuts in wages and benefits or else."

I have lost confidence in both the GG and bert, today.  Felt sure you both had the best interests of Canadians in mind.

But only SOME Canadians, eh bert?

And what do you think the chances are of getting a Bob Stanfield back in the fold? (I keep buying his underwear just out of nostalgia). Not that I ever voted for him, mind. But we need a Dalton Camp to remind us of what we lost with Peter's big sell.

 

contrarianna

martin dufresne wrote:

 
...I don't think that Jean was strong enough to bear the brunt of all the hatred being spewed by the PCC 'bots and pundits at the Coalition...

 This sounds like sexism to me.
 
Would you apologize for a pathetic male GG who couldn't "bear the brunt of all the hatred"  as regrettably "not strong enough"?

The reality is that GG's don't have a very highly developed sense of ethics to be willing to become employed as the mouthpiece and smiley face for whatever crap, for whatever "My Government" manifests.
This unprecedented proroguing was not her only option.
Desire for the money, perks and fame are the main determinants of the GG job. I wouldn't be surprised if hints by Harper of a "democratic necessity" of ousting her from her luxurious lifestyle was  the determining factor in her decision.  

Slumberjack

Beyond politics, the GG's role is to promote stability within the country.  With this decision, there is at least a few weeks of relative calm available between east and west, to allow a coalition more time to prepare for bringing down the government in a more substantive manner, through a confidence motion that cannot be avoided when the budget is tabled.  Historically, GGs have avoided being placed into the position of making a decision which could add to political turmoil and division.

jas

contrarianna wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if hints by Harper of a "democratic necessity"
of ousting her from her luxurious lifestyle was the determining factor
in her decision.

Except that she's only just bound herself further to him by keeping
him around. Going against his wishes would have ousted him - no longer
a threat. This is what I don't understand.

Is it possible that some Liberal insiders might have also been advising her?

 

Slumberjack

contrarianna wrote:
martin dufresne wrote:
 ..I don't think that Jean was strong enough to bear the brunt of all the hatred being spewed by the PCC 'bots and pundits at the Coalition...

This sounds like sexism to me.  Would you apologize for a pathetic male GG who couldn't "bear the brunt of all the hatred"  as regrettably "not strong enough"? 

He subsequently mentioned in a later post that he was referring to the institution of the GG's office, not the individual.  Martin has somewhat of a teflon reputation in this regard, so an apology would not seem to be required.

Bookish Agrarian

There should be a much earlier opportunity.  Parliament once prorogued would have to start up with a new throne speech would it not.  If so, that would be the first and better opportunity.

ocsi

What do I think of the Governor General's decision? It sucks. Yell It sucks big time!

The only silver lining I can see in this decision is that any and all problems, especially the current economic crisis, will be the Conservatives' problem. And, like Bob Rae in Ontario, they will not be rewarded with re-election.

I'm also wondering, can the Governor General pro-rogue (intentional misspelling!) parliament again and again to avoid an election? Are there no limits?

 

 

jc-internee

My heart aches.

What's worse is that the subsequent performance of M. Dion was terrible... late for the immediate lobby scrum and leaving the impression that Harper can recover his confidence with a "monumental" change.

I'm sorry.  I was giving Dion the benefit of the doubt because the mission of the Coalition is so right.  But with Dion as leader I despair.

Someone please restore my hope.

 

 

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

A timid Governor-General has allowed a lame-duck Prime Minister who lacks the confidence of the House to prorogue the session for purely partisan political reasons. What a stupid precedent to be saddled with!

WWQED? What would Queen Elizabeth do?

I bet she'd tell the phony PM to prove he had the confidence of the House before she would rubber-stamp his request.

Now, there can be no doubt that Jean will drop the election writ as soon as the Harper government falls. For her, it's the "safest" course.

And for Harper, it will mean finally getting the majority he has craved.

If you are reading this, you have just proved once again how annoying signatures/tag lines are. Support their abolition.

Snert Snert's picture

What does "strong" have to do with anything?

The Governor General didn't have to DO anything.

All she had to do was NOT do something.  All she had to do was NOT intervene on Harper's behalf.

As I understand it, she didn't have to approve a coalition government either.  She could have simply let a non-confidence vote take its course, rather than preventing such a vote.

And I agree with the honourable poster directly above me:  Dion screwed up unforgiveably.  Tough to say what effect his feeble and pathetic performance did or didn't have, but it's pretty clear that he's no leader.

 

Ratbert

George Victor wrote:

bert

Allow Harper the reflect on his follies and allow the proposed coalition to get their policies in order. Economically, it is better to react to Obama's stimulus plan than to propose a canadian plan that may be rendered a failure by American incentives.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Economically, bert?

You mean, after the pres. has said he is going to give x$billions to the big three (which already have wrung concessions from UAW workers), we will go to the CAW and say "look, sorry your asses are on the line, but you'll have to make x$ cuts in wages and benefits or else."

I have lost confidence in both the GG and bert, today.  Felt sure you both had the best interests of Canadians in mind.

But only SOME Canadians, eh bert?

And what do you think the chances are of getting a Bob Stanfield back in the fold? (I keep buying his underwear just out of nostalgia). Not that I ever voted for him, mind. But we need a Dalton Camp to remind us of what we lost with Peter's big sell.

 

No, George that is not what I meant. Waiting for  the Americans to announce their stimulus plan first  allows Canada to institute a plan that can ameliorate potential harmful affects.

In the longer term, Canada's stimulus must be directed at embracing technologies that conrtibute to sustainability and a lowered consumption footprint rather than throwing money at the failing industrial strategies of overconsumption that got us in this mess in the first place.

I agree with funds directed toward ICF construction; geothermal, groundsource, photovoltaic etc energy development; electric vehicles and advanced technology battery development but I do not agree with funds directed toward building consumer products that incorporate gimmicks like video players and cameras in vehicles to entice consumers into replacing vehicles every three years rather than using the full utilisation of the product.

If auto makers or any other manufacturing entity wants support, they must make a contribution to progress, rather than maintaining the status quo.

Take photovoltaic cells for example:Solar panels can be profitably manufactured for $1/watt but profit dictates that $5/watt for smaller quantities and $4/watt for bulk quantities can be extorted from the marketplace. Directing public funds into resolving the technical problem of voltage drop exiting the panel could make PV cells cost effective.

Coupled with LED lights, PV cells can reduce power consumption significantly. Both from reduced consumption and reduced transmission losses.

This crisis is an opportunity to put sustainability fimly in place but only by slaying the consumerist mentality that markets the sheeple into 'must have gimmickery'

There is a joke about marketing that refers to the next target age group as 'twetuses' after discovering that 2-4 year olds can recognise 300 brand themes before they can recognise speech.

djelimon

Seeing some of the pictures of the GG this morning, I'm not surprised - she looked terrified. She didn't sign on for this.

 Emtionally in the back of my head I feel very angry. Tis is Naomi Klein all over again. But mainly I ask "Now what?"?

 

I guess the answer is to brace for a media war.

klexo

Mme Jean's decision is a travesty and we all should be royally pi**ed off at her.  

She's not fit to be GG and when we take power we should have her dismissed on account of this decision alone. She has one job: to identify and recognize majorities in the House. She not only refused to exercise that function she instead chose to confirm the minority in the House as the government or executive. We are being governed for the next 2 months by the identified and expressed minority of our elected reps. Our governemnt is now utterly illegitimate. You want to talk about a coup d'etat, now's the time.

The well-rewarded, but cowardly, Mme. Jean has struck a heavy blow against one of the scant few democratic practices by which we are supposed to be governed and caved in the face of pressure of an entrenched minority. For this, she has secured for herself, at least in my mind, forever a badge of particular and irrevocable ignominy.

 

contrarianna

Former GG Ed Schreyer in thursdays Globe&Mail:

"Ed Schreyer said in an interview yesterday that granting a wish for the prorogation of Parliament at this point would constitute an evasion of the process of Parliament and should not be done.

“I'll put it this way and I will make this a plain-spoken sentence. Nothing should be done to aid and abet the evasion of submitting to the will of Parliament. I think one can stop there. It's about as basic as that.”

With a new Parliament having just opened, the only circumstances to justify prorogation, Mr. Schreyer said, would be a genuine emergency. “The only emergency seems to be a desire [of the Harper government] to avoid facing Parliament. That is not an emergency.”
Related Articles

Ms. Jean is under no obligation to listen to Mr. Schreyer, but his observations go to the heart of a problem she faces. No governor-general should be seen to be in the business of closing down Parliament for the crassly political reason of saving a government from almost certain defeat on a confidence motion...."

Fitter660

Today’s actions by the PM and GG have seriously damaged our democratic system of government. The decision made by the GG opens the door to future abuse by PMs to avoid facing the wrath of the house whenever it suits them. I believe that, since the GG is appointed by the PM and virtually always accedes to his requests, Mme Jean felt that she was bound by this tradition to err on the side of caution. I completely disagree with this line of thinking. All of our elected and unelected officials should hold the betterment of the nation at the core of all of their decisions (not realistic in most cases I know) but in this case the GG has utterly failed this test. The parliament was unfolding as it should. An arrogant bully was to be put in his place. Any right-wing blather about a coup or socialist/separatist plot can safely be ignored as can, unfortunately, the near complete lack of knowledge in their own system of government displayed by my fellow citizens.

When the coalition does become the government, after dealing with the deteriorating economic situation, they should begin proceedings to revise the constitution to eliminate the possibility of a PM abusing the GG in this manner again. I actually like the position of GG, unelected as they are, because they can be appointed from non-partisan elements in society to fulfil a necessary but largely ceremonial function. They should not hold the nation’s future in they’re unqualified hands as we have seen today.     

Politics101

I asked this question in another thread and still haven't seen an answer - other than the Byng affair is there any other case where the GG has NOT followed the advice of the Prime Minister in Canadian political history?

tostig

I'm afraid to speculate what was said in the meeting.  If only knowing Harper of the last few days are any indication, he would have spewed the same lies we all heard.  Surprisingly, even after adamantly clarified and corrected by the broadcasters, alot of the public still goes with what Harper and the Conservative Yes-men are saying.

The GG is only human and might not catch the airwaves like the rest of us.

 Secondly, if one were to know Harper of only that past two years, you'd wonder what harsher things he may have directed at Her Excellency.

 Yesterday, as I skimmed through an article from the G&M about all of the PM's options, I saw something like replacing the GG before the official end to her term.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I quoted the remarks of a lawyer/prof from the U of Ottawa Law Faculty on this issue on another thread. Here is the quote ....

 

Edward Ratushny  xxxU of Ottawa Law Faculty

"I don't think it's really a precedent. I think if she (the GG) had gone the other way it would be a precedent because the normal process is for the GG is to listen to the PM and follow the PM's advice. Now the circumstances here were rather unique, but the GG doesn't get into the circumstances. The GG looks at the bigger picture."

"I think that it was a good decision, that it was the right decision and the vote will come. It can't be put off indefinitely. Tactically,as well, it was good because she kept up her position of being a non-elected official - the Head of Government - but she listened to the PM, followed his advice, and the next time, when she doesn't, it will make her all the more credible."

 

Ratushny made the remarks on Don Newman's show today. They can be listened to on the CBC website in their entirety. 

tostig

I've also heard the one about "follow the PM's advice."  So how many consecutive times can the GG prorogue Parliament before she realizes how he's making a mockery of the parliamentary process.  What if he doesn't get a majority in the next election?  Can he recommend to the GG to dissolve Parliament again because it would clearly be dyfunctional?

klexo

Politics101 wrote:
I asked this question in another thread and still haven't seen an answer - other than the Byng affair is there any other case where the GG has NOT followed the advice of the Prime Minister in Canadian political history?

Not that I am aware of.

Now answer my question: has the GG ever shut down the house against the will of the majority on the eve of a definite non-confidence vote? Or try this one: has the GG ever kept in office a PM who clearly does not have majority support in the House frustrating or delaying the recognition of a government in waiting which does clearly have majority support? Didn't think so.  

And finally which questions and answers are the more important?  

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The Law Prof makes a distinction between requesting to temporarily suspend Parliament - with a set date to resume - and requesting to shut down Parliament altogether and get the GG to call an election. I got a very strong impression that the GG will be in a very strong position to say "No" to the PM, should he take this latter course of action, although other GGs, like Shreyer, take a different view and feel that the current GG could have and should have rebuffed Harper's "advice".

 

It should be said that Law professors, like lawyers in general, fill their heads with a variety of dangerous legal fictions. It's my view that that is the result of a legal "education" in this country. And I still think that what Harper has done is to do permanent harm to Canadian democracy by putting it into disrepute, confusing the public with a lot of demagogory, and so on. But, going just by the constitutional "past practices", perhaps the prof is right. Harper will get his comeuppance, if the coalition can stick together, in January.

 

ANd I hope to God that they blow him the fuck out of the water and send him whining back to Calgary, or Washington, where he can continue his grinch-like activities in the private sector, where he, in any case, belongs. 

tostig

I have also been listening to alot of consitutional experts on the radio and reading their Q&As on line.  The vast majority said agreeing to prorogue would be highly unusual but possible citing a dangerous precedence. They also said it would be unlikely to dissolve Parliament so close to the last election.  Most stated she would allow the Coalition because that's part of the  process, clearly written in the constitution.

 One person said that all the GG has to ask is "Does the government have to confidence of the House of Commons?"  If he answers "no" the choice is clear.  If he answers "yes" he's lying or she should wonder why she had to cut her trip short.

Who woulda thunk?

Jason J. W. Lis...

N.Beltov wrote:

ANd I hope to God that they blow him the fuck out of the water and send him whining back to Calgary, or Washington, where he can continue his grinch-like activities in the private sector, where he, in any case, belongs. 

Interestingly, like a lot of neo-con charlatans, Harper has never worked in the private sector.  He is an economist in name only, and with a nod to Galbraith, let me say that his economic forecasting has served to make astrology look respectable.

Draco

My opinion of her decision depends a lot on whether she put restrictions on Harper's government during the prorogation.  I heard a lot of speculation on whether she would, but nothing since.  Then I got to thinking, how would we know?  Harper is our only source for what happened in the meeting, and he said he can't discuss it.  If she put restrictions on him, makes his action look much worse, so he could just refuse to tell us.  As long as he didn't try to make any appointments or exercise other restricted powers, how would we know?

Then again, from looking at the general public response, concern over the 2 month suspension of responsible government is definitely in the minority viewpoint.  Apparrently after 141 years of having a government accountable to our elected representatives, we're ready for a "time out" to "cool down."

tostig

The third scenario is that she puts restrictions on him and he ignores them.  How would we know? And how can she enforce those restrictions?

Draco

jc-internee wrote:

What's worse is that the subsequent performance of M. Dion was terrible... late for the immediate lobby scrum and leaving the impression that Harper can recover his confidence with a "monumental" change.

I'm sorry.  I was giving Dion the benefit of the doubt because the mission of the Coalition is so right.  But with Dion as leader I despair.

Someone please restore my hope.

Harper and Dion seem to be competing in all sorts of ways. 

Who can behave most like an editorial cartoon version of himself?  Advantage: none.  Harper's trying to combine Scrooge and the Grinch into a new level of grouchy Christmas animosity.  Dion's ongoing comic bumbling is beginning to make people wonder if, just perhaps, puffins do occasionally fly by and poop on him.

 

Who can shock the country by doing the most ostensibly undemocratic thing?  Advantage: Dion, unfairly.  While Dion's coalition may very well be political suicide for his party that leads to a Conservative majority, it's perfectly legitimate and democratic.  Harper, on the other hand, is getting a free ride for governing in defiance of our democratic representatives.

 

Who can pose the greatest threat to the cohesion of the country? Advantage: Harper. Working with Québec's elected representatives, even those of sovereigntist leanings, actually turns out to be fairly constructive, compared to Harper's nation unity strategy of insulting them and calling them illegitimate.

 

Possibly the only time I'll ever agree with David Frum is when he described this situation as "competetive suicide."

Draco

tostig wrote:
The third scenario is that she puts restrictions on him and he ignores them.  How would we know? And how can she enforce those restrictions?

At least some of the restrictions would relate to the PM's executive powers which run through the Governor General - appointments to the Senate and judiciary in particular.  He needs to her to, literally, sign off on those things.

duncan cameron

She made the decision to suspend the session, knowing she has to deliver a speech from the throne Jan. 26, and that the government could go under right after. She would not have granted a dissolution of parliament, and Harper knew it, so did not press for an election.

The GG had to make a call: was the coalition a solid bet? If yes, it will still be there in 6 weeks, can defeat the government, and ask to replace it. If not, and she had handed over power, and the coalition had fell into dispute, we were looking at another election right away.

The safe decision was to go for the cooling off, which could of course go the other way into a trench war, which I hope it will. Harper can not win the argument over democracy, and he has lost Quebec for his party. The biggest problem is that they will overthrow their leader and leave the coalition without a target.

tostig

Draco wrote:
...

At least some of the restrictions would relate to the PM's executive powers which run through the Governor General - appointments to the Senate and judiciary in particular.  He needs to her to, literally, sign off on those things.

I'm sure he'll think of ways around those too.  If he tries to appoint senators and she refuses, he can start a publicity campaign against her stating ... (what else?)... the appointed GG is refusing the decision of the democratically elected PM.

tostig

duncan cameron wrote:
...

The GG had to make a call: was the coalition a solid bet? If yes, it will still be there in 6 weeks, can defeat the government, and ask to replace it. If not, and she had handed over power, and the coalition had fell into dispute, we were looking at another election right away.

The safe decision was to go for the cooling off, which could of course go the other way into a trench war, which I hope it will. Harper can not win the argument over democracy, and he has lost Quebec for his party. The biggest problem is that they will overthrow their leader and leave the coalition without a target.

 

I'm already sounding really pessimistic because we now know what Harper is capable of.  Today, we're already hearing grumblings from within the Coalition and Harper is sure to take advantage.  He's been known to bribe people to cross the floor so all he needs is about 19 members.  Power seekers are finiky.  The Liberals had the power in their grasp.  The Conservatives are sure to easily sniff out the softies.  Six weeks is a lot of time.

Red T-shirt

After following this mess quite closely I'd have to say I think the GG made another mistake, her second in just a couple of months.

She should not have granted Harper an election without proving he had lost the confidence of the house (being defeated) and she should not now allow him to run away from the house because he is afraid of that kind of defeat. In both cases I believe her decisions did not serve either Parliament or the Canadian people, just the Prime Minister.

This time Ed Shreyer got it right, nothing should have been done to help Harper evade the will of Parliament. I'd love to know what he thought about the earlier decision, but I didn't see anything on that.

buffa_again

The GG did a Awesome job today....God Bless and God Save the Queen!

Screw the Left Wingnuts and all you that Support the BQ!

Kiss me Arse! :)

Brian White

I totally agree.  It is sickening to hear harper talk about backroom deals as if it is something he disdains.

He is probably assessing liberal mp souls right now and finding the most corupt ones to buy.  

Bookish Agrarian wrote:

If I hear one more effin Conservative dismiss in the most undemocratic way, the legitimate representatives of Canadian citizens from Quebec I am going to upchuck on any blue clothing I see.

 

If the GG allows the House to perorgue I will be heading somewhere to start protesting.  What colour do you get if you combine red and orange.  I forget my colour wheel.  Whatever it is I am going to be out buying a bunch of scarves in that colour.  The GG holds in her hands whether this is a real democracy or not.  I hope she is up to the task.

Sean in Ottawa

I am not sure that the GG's decision was wrong.

For one the support for the coalition publicly is tepid at best. Secondly the GG has an obligation to see that there is continuing governance and can consider future strains on the alliance. I think Dion's position at the helm off the coalition was a serious problem. There is no indication that dion could in fact keep it together or that there would not be a firestorm from Canadians about his leadership. Lastly, without a clear positive response on the issues I raised how does an unelected position like hers turn down an elected one in this context.

As for the previous decision, if a legal challenge could not stop the calling of an election, the GG could not have refused Harper's request for an election.

The main check on the PM's actions is political-- now we all have a lot of questions to ask of ourselves about how Harper's support could rise during this period and only answers to those questions should allow us to move forward.

One possibility is that dealing with the BQ has gotten more difficult with it perhaps completely unacceptable in the rest of Canada. That is a serious development as it certainly complicates management of the House and introduces considerable danger with respect to the unity of the country.

 Certainly it is clear that dealing with the BQ with a weak leader who is already on the way out and who has been rejected by a majority of Canadians is too much.

For Dion I have some sympathy. In part he has made serious mistakes and has proven unfit in spite of being likely basically fair-minded. On the other hand, his character has also been assasinated from the start by a coordinated machine from Harper's office. Any other leader of a second party will get the same attempt be it NDP or Liberal.

 The coalition has utterly failed to project a message that explains what it was trying to do and why. There may be many reasons for this but put bluntly, the coalition failed to secure the confidence of the people of Canada. This will come up again and this will need to be addressed. I think an ongoing education campaign is required and likely a good long quiet time before attempting anything new.

 Unless the confidence of the people has been won, the coalition may be best backing off for now rather than deliver a massive majority to Harper as it is unlikely the GG will refuse an election within a couple months especially if the government can get a budget through but perhaps even there as well.

tostig

The GG's decision to prorogue as evidently released some of Harper's MPs onto this forum.

Brian White

I think it is a daft decision. A signed agreement for a coalition for an agreed length of time versus suspend parliament in a time of economic disaster?

And Harper is not dealing with that problem at all.

And the whole equal pay for women roll back? I guess her gender is not a big deal for her.   Perhaps harper shouted his orders at her and she got scared and had to obey?  

Nope. I cannot comprehend it.  If the coalition was just talk, fine. But it was a signed agreement.  She have just prolonged this economic crisis and harper is turning it into a national us or quebec war. 

Harper is dangerous. Make no mistake on that.  He could yet lead us like milosovic into civil war. See the hate with which he spits out "socalist" and "separatist".  The real harper is using the shock docterine to destroy canada and Jean is ok with it.

I think he is the canadian right wing version of hugo chavez. A wing nut with an enormous ego and totally self rightous. Totally focused on his power trip. To hell with everyone else. Harper wants power. Baby wants,  baby gets. Wish there was a few Garth Turners left in the Con party to stop him.

But he  got rid of anyone with any dissent in their character a long time ago. 

 

duncan cameron wrote:

She made the decision to suspend the session, knowing she has to deliver a speech from the throne Jan. 26, and that the government could go under right after. She would not have granted a dissolution of parliament, and Harper knew it, so did not press for an election.

The GG had to make a call: was the coalition a solid bet? If yes, it will still be there in 6 weeks, can defeat the government, and ask to replace it. If not, and she had handed over power, and the coalition had fell into dispute, we were looking at another election right away.

The safe decision was to go for the cooling off, which could of course go the other way into a trench war, which I hope it will. Harper can not win the argument over democracy, and he has lost Quebec for his party. The biggest problem is that they will overthrow their leader and leave the coalition without a target.

jrootham

I looked in Hansard and found the text of the prorogation.  There is a tiny sliver of good news there for precedent.  Normally I believe prorogation is sine die and the recall of Parliament is up to the Prime Minister.  In this case there is a specific date of recall built into the proclamation, in fact there are two proclamations, the recall proclamation is already issued.

Given the date we are looking at missing 2 weeks of sitting.  In the future the precedent will be that a Prime Minister can use prorogation to stall for a short period of time (at least in terms of how Parliament counts time) not indefinitely.

Policywonk

duncan cameron wrote:

The safe decision was to go for the cooling off, which could of course go the other way into a trench war, which I hope it will. Harper can not win the argument over democracy, and he has lost Quebec for his party. The biggest problem is that they will overthrow their leader and leave the coalition without a target.

 The trench war may turn out to be within the Liberal party.  The Conservatives may overthrow Harper, but it is far more likely the Liberals will overthrow Dion prior to Parliament reopening.

Policywonk

tostig wrote:
Draco wrote:
...

At least some of the restrictions would relate to the PM's executive powers which run through the Governor General - appointments to the Senate and judiciary in particular.  He needs to her to, literally, sign off on those things.

I'm sure he'll think of ways around those too.  If he tries to appoint senators and she refuses, he can start a publicity campaign against her stating ... (what else?)... the appointed GG is refusing the decision of the democratically elected PM.

I don't think he would bother. It's only a couple of months. It also weakens his democracy argument if he tries to appoint Senators; he wants elected Senators.

josh

"By allowing a prime minister to shut down the House of Commons to duck a confidence vote, Jean has set a precedent that will trouble all those who care about the vigour of Canada's democratic life.

That life is less healthy as a result of her decision."

 http://www.thestar.com/Canada/Columnist/article/548845

 

If anyone should resign, it's Jean.

 

storyfool storyfool's picture

Well, my reactionary side says that I hate Canadian politics cause when they’re not boring, they’re stupid. But interesting, if stupid, is more engaging, I’ll grant.

On the primary question of this thread I feel that the GG’s position was one of damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. And, sloppy knowledge of the law that I have, my guess is that arguments for precedent-setting, constitutionality, etc. versus "too interventionist", etc. will likely be pretty equal sparring partners. And I’m sure there’s lots of people that love to tease such things apart. More power to them.

There are two things I’ve not seen mentioned (and I apologize for not doing my homework by perusing other threads). First is the passing of last week’s Speech from the Throne. That was the obvious, and conventional, moment to challenge the government. I assume, perhaps incorrectly (though the 1985 Ontario govt “coalition”-lite might serve as a good precedent), that Harper would then have had to go before the GG and ask her to dissolve parliament to which she could have responded by asking if anybody else had the confidence of the house. This might have put unrealistic pressure on the opposition to form the coalition in short order. (And, given how shaky the thing is, perhaps it’s good that it has time to sort itself out better.) But the failure to challenge the government suggests strongly that the opposition, in typically Canadian-fashion, chose to play it safe, avoiding the risk of being blamed (which surely the Harper-Tories would have done) for calling a new election. A riskier course of action, admittedly. And all easy to say in hindsight.

The second thing is the role of the GG itself - which seems quaint and archaic to many, of course. I think it is a role and state relationship whose time is almost up. But, regardless of any power that the GG may have (symbolic or not), I suspect that it has served an important function in that it has excluded, in Canadian politics, any contest for head-of-state. Sure the PM acts like the head-of-state. And many, if not most, Canadians still think they vote for the PM despite that they cast a ballot only for their local MP; and despite that political campaigns are run as if we were all voting for a head of state. But that is not how our system works. And , perhaps the thing that I find most discouraging in all this is how poorly Canadians (and I include a lot of Tory MPs in this) understand our own system of democracy.

I may not like that Harper is using the prorogue maneuver but if it’s in the rules then, like it or not, it’s part of our democratic process. I do believe that Harper’s intention is, in fact, anti-democratic (not to mention cowardly, bullying, - and hateful when it comes to how Quebec is demonized,- etc.). But to fault him for using a rule that is available to be used sounds like whining to me. If we don’t like the rule we should change it. As well as all sorts of other rules we don’t like (can anyone say PR?). Nor, by the same reasoning, is a coalition anti-democratic, as I’ve heard so many saying. I would have liked the GG to have decided differently. But, with due respect to the economic crisis, I can see some value in having time for the coalition to pull its act together. And, maybe someday Canada will be a republic. Or maybe we can revisit what a con-federation could be in the 21st Century. Meanwhile, I think the GG, in following the safer course, may have preserved stability for her office – one that continues to serve an important function as a placeholder that prevents a form of politics that, I think, might long since have made us a “51st state”.

tostig

Policywonk wrote:

...I don't think he would bother. It's only a couple of months. It also weakens his democracy argument if he tries to appoint Senators; he wants elected Senators.

I don't think so either, but you never know.  Harper has been known to enact what he was previously said he was against - remember he bribed Emerson to cross the floor, and Fortier wasn't even elected.

 But aside from just appointing Senators, we were discussing what else Harper could do that would be breaking any restrictions of his prorogation?  Since nobody knows what was said in their meeting nothing is verifyable or enforceable.

Sean in Ottawa

Do we know that Harper asked to prorogue?

We think so because that is what he said he would do but what were they talking about. Perhaps he went in asking for an election and got this instead as a compromise that might allow the coalition in 7 weeks. With the PM asking for dissolution, the GG may have had less option in agreeing to this.

It is possible that Harper at the last minute decided to look for dissolution with some polls in his back pocket egging him on-- and it is possible he could ahve done that as a strategy. It is also possible that he proposed a showdown over her job-- but something took the time they were in there as they are not friends.

We'll have to wait for her memoires won't we?

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