Let me begin by saying that I am deeply worried that we may be heading into a potentially violent situation.

Harper and his team are ramping up the rhetoric around what is happening as a threat to our democracy and our country by characterizing the attempts to displace his minority government as an attack on the democratic verdict of the Canadian people by some "backroom deals with separatists". Below I go into some detail examining the Prime Minister’s speech, pointing out factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations and distortions. But let me sum up the gist of what is going here.

Based on his speech and recent statements, Mr. Harper would have us believe that the Canadian people directly choose their government in the election, that he won the recent federal contest, that the opposition is trying to ‘overturn’ the election results, that they are forming a coalition government with ‘the separatists’, that they are doing so without consent from the public and that his government is acting as it is to protect our democracy and the country. But Harper is wrong on every count. Let me take each point in turn.

‘Choosing the government’

Canadians choose their local MP, not the government. Governments in our system are produced by agreement amongst the elected MPs, in consultation with the Governor General.

‘Winning the election’

With 38 per cent of the popular vote, Harper’s Conservatives can hardly be credited with winning the election and ‘earning’ the exclusive right to govern. Harper liberally invokes the ‘you’ who have given him this right, ignoring that 62 per cent of the ‘you’ who did no such thing.

‘Opposition overturning the election result’

The election result was that no one party got a majority of the popular vote or a majority of the legislative seats. So what ‘the people’ intended in this election is very much up for interpretation. Suffice to say that a clear majority of the voters rejected the Conservative Party in the election and the Conservatives comprise a minority of the legislative votes.

The only basis for their claims seems to be that they gained more votes and seats than any other single party. While this may be enough to get them the first nod from the Governor General in forming a minority government, it does not exhaust the possible legitimate governments that could be drawn from Parliament (see the case of Ontario in 1985 for the most obvious counter example).

‘Forming a coalition with the separatists’

This is patently false. The coalition government involves the Liberals and NDP. The Bloc has agreed not to defeat this new government for a prescribed period of time. This is hardly different from the issue to issue agreements that the last Harper government secured with the Bloc.

‘The coalition is trying to become the government without the consent of the people’

We have a representative system where voters elect local MPs and a government is formed out of an agreement amongst some of those MPs to work together, with the consent of the Governor General.

Canadians are not granted any formal or direct role in choosing the government. What is happening in Ottawa is that some MPs are prepared to support the Conservatives while others intend to support this new coalition. Each MP was elected fairly, according to our rules, and has the power to make these sorts of decisions.

There is nothing undemocratic about this, again, according to our parliamentary rules. The confidence vote is how we determine what will happen when the politicians themselves cannot work it out informally.

‘Harper is resisting the coalition to protect Canadian democracy and the country’

Canadian democracy is not under threat, except by the dangerous populist machinations of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party. What is occurring in Ottawa is exactly what our institutions allow. It is Harper who is threatening the stability of our system by distorting how it works and fomenting a mob-like public response based on the spread of these distortions.

As the Globe and Mail said in a recent editorial, Harper knows how our systems works and needs to make his case to remain the PM on the merits of what he will do, not by misrepresenting our parliamentary form of democracy or attempting to misuse procedural rules like proroguing the House.

What should happen now?

The options at this point are fairly clear. We had an election recently so we know what Canadians think. Harper has remained the PM but has yet to test whether he has the confidence of the House.

He had indicated that he was prepared to hold a confidence motion and backtracked only when it became clear that he might lose it.

Now he claims that he should be able to prorogue the House and avoid the confidence vote. This is not an appropriate use of a proroguing request. The Governor General should refuse this request and advise the PM to face the House to test if he has its confidence. If he does, he remains PM. If not, the Governor General should consult with the opposition leader about whether he can form an administration. Only if he cannot should she consider calling another election so soon after the last one.

I do not mean to be alarmist in suggesting we may be heading for violence. But the actions of this Prime Minster are coming dangerously close to inciting mob rule. Harper is ramping up the heat of his rhetoric by invoking democracy and patriotism and insinuating that his opponents are attacking our democracy and that they are risking the unity of the country for their own gain.

That’s fighting talk. In the days ahead, various demonstrations and phone in shows will claim to stand in for the ‘Canadian people’. But there is a reason that elections are such highly regulated affairs – they are meant to capture what might get lost in the crowd: dissent, minority opinion, the balance of competing views.

Dr. Dennis Pilon is a professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Victoria.

Derrick O'Keefe

Derrick O'Keefe

Derrick O'Keefe is a writer in Vancouver, B.C. He served as rabble.ca's editor from 2012 to 2013 and from 2008 to 2009.