Wednesday, December 03, 2008

'Proroguing' Sounds Dirty

Aren't you glad we don't have this in America?

Canada just voted seven weeks ago to elect a new Parliament, err, House of Commons. Stephen Harper, the Conservative Prime Minister, and his party had won a second straight minority government (where the party with the mo
st seats in the House of Commons fails to attain an absolute majority), this time with more seats.

When the Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented his economic update on Thursday, the three opposition parties' leaders met to mete out a coalition government that would replace the Harper Government. On Monday, the three leaders formally announced they would consolidate their power to unseat Harper and the Conservatives and establish a coalition that would last eighteen months.

The three leaders of the opposition parties are Stephane Dion of the Liberal Party, Jack Layon of the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois. The Liberals and NDP are leftist parties, with the NDP being further to the left than the "Grits." The Bloc is a Quebec sovereigntist party that sends members to Parliament to vote in the interests of Quebec, a province that has twice attempted to declare secession from Canada.

(From L-R: Jack Layton, Stephane Dion, and Gilles Duceppe. Courtesy

The showdown is expected to come next week, when Canadian Governal General Michaelle Jean returns to Rideau Hall and the House of Commons is expected to vote down the budget, which in Canadian politics speak means the House has no confidence in the government. If Harper and the Conservatives fail a no-confidence vote, he will go to the GG and ask her to dissolve parliament and call for an election.

Jean could, before Harper presents his budget, prorogue the House, which would call for them to adjourn until the end of January. If she does not exercise that power, Dion could ask Jean if he may form a coalition government with NDP members occupying 25% of his cabinet. He would continue to have the support of the separatist Bloc until no later than June 30, 2011.

(Governor General Michaelle Jean with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, June 2008).

So, if I may chime in as an American with an understanding of Canadian politics, Stephane Dion wants to form a majority government, with a party of fringe leftists on one side, and separatists who want to leave Canada on the other side. Bear in mind, Dion just led his party to its worst defeat in the House of Commons; the Liberals now only have seventy seven seats. On top of that, Dion announced he's resigning, which means if they form a new government, the incoming PM won't have a mandate to govern with.

Let us remember how well the last coalition government worked. When the NDP formed a coalition with the ruling Liberal Party under Paul Martin in 2005, it lasted less than six months before the NDP opted to topple the Martin regime.

And then you want to add separatists to your government? Separatists, who don't even identify as Canadians and would leave if only they could muster up enough votes to actually win a secession vote?

No, this is a shit storm waiting to happen.

The GG should just opt to dissolve Parliament now and call for an election. It looks like a cheap power grab and should enable Harper to successfully win a majority government. So what if Canadians don't want another election. Get out and do it.

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