Former GG says coalition is legitimate
OTTAWA — The Liberal-NDP coalition should get a chance to govern if the Conservatives are defeated in the House of Commons, former governor general Ed Schreyer said Wednesday.
He told the CBC that the system requires that a government have the confidence of Parliament.
"The ground rules of fair play, constitutional fair play and propriety are clear," he said.
He said the coalition, which is poised to defeat Stephen Harper and his Conservatives on Monday, would then have a legitimate claim to power.
"We are a parliamentary democracy," Schreyer said. "And governments are elected according to whether or not they have and are able to maintain the confidence of a majority in Parliament.
"And if we are to remain a parliamentary democracy, then the parliamentary will must not be ignored, nor must it be avoided or evaded."
Harper is expected to forestall his imminent defeat by asking Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue Parliament. That would end this session and allow Harper to start anew with a throne speech at the end of January.
However, this would only defer the confidence vote.
If the government falls, Jean would then have to decide if the coalition offers a stable, viable alternative government.
Schreyer said he would be leery of prorogation longer than a few days or a week or so.
"The fundamentals are clear," he said. "Parliament must not be thwarted."
Schreyer, a former NDP premier of Manitoba, was appointed governor general by then-prime Pierre Trudeau, and was in office when Joe Clark's short-lived Tory government was defeated in 1979.
Schreyer then called a general election.