Nov 30 2008

Globe & Post: Canadian Democracy Undermined by Political Shawinigan… Oops, I Mean Shenanigans

Funny stuff at Mr. Orr’s Afternoon Brew (Have a little trouble getting up this Morning, Sean?):

Conservative gov’t on edge of collapse. I’d say its about time we had some sort of election or something.

Anyone else struck by the irony of this? The opposition has been accusing Canada’s Conservatives of anti-democratic tendencies for years. Now the Liberal leader who Canadians undeniably rejected in the last election has a chance to lead a coalition government and eject the Prime Minister, who coincidentally won his strongest mandate from the voters yet.

Still waiting for the furious public backlash against this stupidity.

UPDATE: The backlash has begun.

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Globe & Post: Canadian Democracy Undermined by Political Shawinigan… Oops, I Mean Shenanigans”

  1. Prairie Topiaryon 01 Dec 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Jon,

    You’re right in seeing incredible irony in that Dion, who led his party to one of its lowest ebbs in history, will become Prime Minister, but there’s nothing undemocratic about it in a minority parliament.

    As you know, the notion that one or more parties represented in the House can form government if they have the confidence of that House is a principle that’s well-established in Westminister-model parliamentary tradition. And if a government loses the confidence of that House, it’s also well-established that they’ll be removed or replaced.

    Members of the House stand as our representatives and it’s just as reasonable that a minority of them who happen to be Liberals and NDP form the government as a minority who are Conservatives.

    The real question that the Prime Minister has to face is what he did to so quickly and dramatically lose the confidence of that House. His fiscal update was nothing less than a dare to the opposition to vote against him, which is a risky proposition in minority parliament. They simply called his bluff.

    Contrast what might have happened had he shown some leadership, announced that he’d be accepting good ideas from anyone in parliament, and reassured Canadians (who are worried and looking to their leaders for guidance and reassurance) that the government was taking the crisis seriously. Had he done that, he’d likely remain popular, have no fears about being toppled, and his chief opponent, the Liberals, would still be reeling from their losses.

    Politics in a democracy is often about taking gambles, and losing on a crap shoot is no less democratic than winning.

  2. jnarveyon 01 Dec 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I actually agree with you to a point, my friend. Harper absolutely dared too much with his original budget.

    Problem is, Harper has since amended his proposal to take out items that might be offensive to the opposition parties. As for the stimulus package, even the opposition parties haven’t come up with a proposal yet in terms of hard numbers, and based on how the Liberals and NDP have been talking the last few days, it seems as though no specific plan would appease them.

    Indeed, I would suspect that negotiations (initiated by the UNELECTED “elder statesmen” Chretien and Broadbent, naturally) between the opposition parties began BEFORE Harper put his budget on the table.

    Given that the opposition parties clearly never had any intention of cooperating with the Conservatives this time out, I’d say the lesser evil is to just go back to the polls.

  3. Lawrenceon 02 Dec 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I think it will be a waste of the tax payers money to go back to the polls. Even though it may not Billions of dollars, the money that would go into another Federal Election would be better off in our future stimulus package.

    This is all just a last attempt in gaining power from the opposition. Like what’s mentioned before the opposition has no proposal for a stimulus package ready, yet they criticize the Conservatives. What’s funny is that the opposition vowed not to form a coalition with one another at the end of the election, but look at where they are now.

    Talk about putting your foot in your mouth. There needs to be some trust in the economy. Don’t waste our time and money. You are just delaying us solution even further putting us further into the hole

  4. Hayleson 04 Dec 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Jon. I really do have to disagree with you on this one.

    There’s nothing terribly un-democratic about a majority of the voices in parliament forming a government in coalition. And another election is un-necessary – Canadians chose how the 308 seats in the House were to be divvied up a mere seven weeks ago, and the percentages are not in Mr. Harper’s favour.

    I applaud when parties can work across partisan lines to build a consensus around commonly-shared values. It’s unfortunate that Ms. Jean set a precedent today that discriminates against the values of compromise and collaboration by passing greater power into Harper’s hands.

  5. jnarveyon 04 Dec 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Hey Matt. This is a sticky one. I’ve received a lot of flack online and offline for my stance, but also some support from unexpected quarters.

    I’ll reiterate that the moves the coalition made are strictly legal according to parliament rules. But if there is such a thing as a “spirit” of the law, then the problem I have is mainly with the leadership of the coalition: the PM of this great nation ought not to be steered by a man who has been thoroughly rejected by the voters (and one imagines that support for Dion as leader is even smaller than the shrunken Liberal support numbers as a whole). That does seem undemocratic.

    As the respected Terry Glavin and others have duly noted, our True North Strong and Free is not a republic. Nonetheless, to pretend that the leadership position of a Canadian party is immaterial, when all parties (not just the Conservatives) have centralized decision-making just seems hokey to me.

    If the coalition had at least had the sense to put forward a Liberal leader other than Dion to head up this coalition, my stance might change. It still might, if any Liberals are listening…

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