Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is sure to end well

If you think this all ends on May 2nd, think again:

Harper mum on post-election governing scenario

Stephen Harper is refusing to say whether he would accept a decision by the Governor General to hand power to the opposition parties in wake of the May 2 election.

Conservative supporters booed a CBC journalist at a Greater Toronto Area campaign stop Saturday morning after he challenged the Tory Leader on the matter.

You know, if Harper is going to spend the entire election fear mongering about what the opposition will do after E-Day, it's not asking too much for him to spell out what he'd do. Especially if the question is whether he'd, you know, respect the constitution.


  • Ha ha ha ha don't waste your vote on a third party kids ha ha ha vote team orange ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    By Blogger Joseph Kerr, at 3:21 PM  

  • I have to say CG, this crap about Harper being to secretive, to closed to scrutiny... What the hell does anyone expect of a governing party in a minority situation??? Advertise you intentions and the opposition is going to eviserate you.

    In majority situations things are better hidden. You control committees for one thing.

    Contempt of Parliment? Do you have any idea how many Liberals and Tories have been called to the carpet, and justifiably should have been held in contempt, but never were because the Majority of the time controlled the committee in question and quashed any attempt to render a judgement of contempt.

    Judy Sgro, Pierre Pettigrew, just to name two. One still an MP.

    People think Harper is more secretive and closed that his predessor's... if anything he's the most exposed PM since Clark.

    This crap with the Media is just that, crap. If the MSM weren't sensationalizing everything, whether it came from a Liberal or a Tory, the nation might find it's politicians a little more forthcoming.

    When the MSM twists everything and uses deceptive and sensational headlining to try and outdo each other, a politician is insane to open up and speak frankly.

    Iggy would be no different in power. Layton wouldn't see the danger until it was too late.

    By Blogger William, at 3:22 PM  

  • William, all that aside, it shouldn't be too much to ask that the Prime Minister agree that he's willing to abide by constitutional precedent.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 3:27 PM  

  • God... constitutional precedence is an excercise in realitive circdumstance.

    It's profoundly disengenous of the MSM to whine about a circumstance they essentially created.

    You'll notice Jack is only taking several questions at each conference, or that his party only allows scrums first thing in the morning.

    The press has been disgusting in this election, disgustingly Amercianized in the last 5 years, and they have built this boat to the detriment of the people, in the quest for a decreasing market share beset by new media transition.

    F**k them and let them learn some tactfullness and accountablity to their actions.

    By Blogger William, at 3:40 PM  

  • "God... constitutional precedence is an excercise in realitive circdumstance. "

    What the hell does that even mean? Either Harper follows the constitution or he is a dictator. Their is no third option

    By Anonymous MPAVictoria, at 3:46 PM  

  • We all know that the military is in league with Harper. In exchange for jets, Stephen Harper will get the military's backing to ignore the GG and continue ruling Canada, Hasmi Mburak style.

    Liberals and Dippers must unite to stop this insanity. We must stop this military coup in slow motion. We must save our democracy or else have our children live in Harper's mega-jails as worker-prisoners.

    Any Liberal who isn't voting NDP this Monday is not a real Liberal. Jack Layton is the last hope for Canada and Liberals put Canada first. Any Liberal thinking about getting in Jack Layton's way should be booted back to Crawford Ranch where he really comes from.

    By Anonymous Blood Orange Liberal, at 3:56 PM  

  • Read your Canadian History.

    If you did you'd realize that every PM in our history has been a dictator, albeit as a result of being voted to be.

    You'd be surprised how many of our PM's have had unique interpretations of the Constitution when it suited their needs... Why do you think items like Gay marriage end up in the Supreme Court. I include the BNA in that.

    If you'd like a more recent example, Quebec has been using the not withstanding clause since repatriation to prop up the French Culture at the expense of the Anglophone population. Totally un-Constituational, but perfectly legal.

    If you'd like another simply look no further than the rediculous electoral boundries, which defy the principle of equality and the right to fair represetation to over 20 million Canadians by 10 million Canadians.

    Or do you think your politicians are within their constituation legal rights to make sure your vote is only worth 1/4 of a PEI'ers vote?

    The Constituation is a document based on interpretation, not precedence. Westminster Style government is also a matter of legal interpretation, although it is founded on basic principles, none of which had anything to do with democracy.

    By Blogger William, at 3:57 PM  

  • The bottom line, WIlliam is that Stephen Harper will re-instate the death penalty and the Supreme Court justices will be first in that line. He doesn't give a flib about people - except George W Bush.

    I'd take a customer of human trafficked sex slaves any day over that Mussolini wannabe.

    And, I am so exhausted with you Blue Liberals pretending to be part of the Liberal party but secretly wishing Harper would be your dominatrix.

    Next, your going to say you supported targeted assasinations.

    By Anonymous Blood Orange Liberal, at 4:07 PM  

  • "Next, your going to say you supported targeted assasinations"

    Uhhh, actually, that was me.

    And just in case you guys are as turned on by Layton as you seem to be, I want to state that I too have been to a rub-and-tug. There's nothing more Canadian than a good full body therapeutic massage.

    By Anonymous Michael Ignatieff, at 4:08 PM  

  • The Tories seem touchier than usual today.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 4:12 PM  

  • Why is this even a question? Of course Harper would do anything in his power(with in legality) to prevent a NDP government Bob Rae style.

    But I suspect GG Johnston would call for a new election, seeing that Layton could never come up with a stable and sensible cabinet, especially after we actually see some of the place-holder the NDP have nominated in Quebec.

    It would be like Reform or the BQ forming government after 1993.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:28 PM  

  • That's a very bold and ambitious path you're charting for the GG, Anon!

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 4:32 PM  

  • No not really. I suggest you look at our sister nation in the commonwealth Australia who have a similar democracy has ours. The GG has great leeway in such matters. Take 1975 for example.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 PM  

  • William is attempting to cloud an issue that isn't cloudy. This is no constitutional ambiguity here whatsoever. When someone fails to gain or maintain the confidence of the House, they cannot be Prime Minister. The Governor General is the de facto sovereign of the nation. The GG can dissolve parliament or ask someone else to seek the confidence of the House. There is not even an issue of whether Harper would 'accept' the decision of GG or not. His acceptance is irrelevant. One the other person has been asked to seek the confidence of the House, Parliament must convene and a subsequent process must be followed.

    Saying one would not accept the decision is like standing in the rain and saying I refuse to accept that it is raining.

    There is one way for the Prime Minister to prevent it. And ONLY ONE. And that is a Coup.

    There is no ambiguity here William. You know it and so does everyone else in the country. You either abide by the GG's decision or you call on the Army to keep you in power. There is no in between.

    So which do you support William??

    By Blogger kirbycairo, at 4:58 PM  

  • Sure. But Australia in 1975 is seen by many as a case of a GG going too far (in that respect, similar to Byng in 1926).
    Details do matter. If the NDP is a relatively distant second in terms of seats, and asks to form a government with case-by-case support from other parties, then the GG would reasonably question whether that was a suitable arrangement. But I'm not clear how the GG could refuse a formal agreement (coalition or Ontario 1985-style) that commanded a majority in the House, within six months of the election, without setting off a constitutional crisis.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 5:00 PM  

  • But ajbeecroft - no one is saying that the GG MUST ask someone else to form a government or that that government would be stable. This is not the point. The point is that IF the GG were to ask another leader to seek the confidence of the House, then everyone, including Harper, must abide by that decision or stage a coup to prevent it. That is all there is to it.

    By Blogger kirbycairo, at 5:05 PM  

  • @kirbycairo,

    I was actually responding to Anon@4:28. I agree totally with you and the constitution on the larger point.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 5:07 PM  

  • If you'd like a more recent example, Quebec has been using the not withstanding clause since repatriation to prop up the French Culture at the expense of the Anglophone population. Totally un-Constituational, but perfectly legal.

    Huh? The notwithstanding clause is Section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Doesn't get much more constitutional.

    In any case, if Harper cannot obtain the confidence of the Commons at the first meeting of Parliament following an election, he has one and only one choice - to resign. A new election is simply untenable. The GG does not have the kind of discretion to call for a fresh election simply because a sitting PM is unwilling to "make a deal".

    By Blogger Josh, at 6:35 PM  

  • @Josh, that is NOT the system we live under, despite the misinformation being spread by many in the media.

    Authority to govern derives from the People, whose will is expressed in an election.

    You don't simply get to add up MPs who were elected under disparate and divergent platforms and claim that they have authority to form a Government. It simply does not work that way in our system.

    The situation in Ontario in 1985 was very clear on this matter: the second-place Party was within FOUR seats of winning the election, and had in fact won the popular vote. There was a clear justification for them to act on their mandate with the support of a third Party.

    Nobody is suggesting that scenario will result on Monday. Nobody. And to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

    But one thing is certain: should the Opposition Parties create such a crisis, millions upon millions of Canadians will be furious regardless of the decisions which follow.

    By Blogger Paul, at 6:48 PM  

  • Authority to govern derives from the People, whose will is expressed in an election.

    Yes, by electing MPs in individual ridings. The role of parties in the parliamentary system is purely customary and matters only insofar as party leaders can in general be assumed to control the votes of MPs in their block.

    To take another example, while Joe Clark's minority government did indeed win the most seats in the 1979 election, the Liberals actually won a significantly higher proportion of the vote. A further example would be provincial elections where the opposition actually won more votes than the "majority" party - Glen Clark's NDP in 1996 and Bouchard's PQ in 1998.

    A sitting PM remains in office until he resigns. Even if, after an election, his party fails to win even a plurality of seats, he needn't resign if he can obtain the support of other parties/MPs. That's what King did in 1925. So I invite you to reconsider what "works" in our system, because you evidently don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about.

    By Blogger Josh, at 6:59 PM  

  • You reworded the question CG.

    ''..accept a decision by the Queen’s representative in Canada to give an opposition party the chance to govern - RATHER THAN, say, demanding the Governor-General call another election instead...''

    That's a very dumb question from Mildew,
    no incumbent PM is going to waive his right, DURING an election campaign, to advise the GG to dissolve parliament.

    That's like asking Ignatieff if he would rule out including the Bloc in any post election 'arrangements'.

    Dumb questions do not deserve answers.

    By Blogger wilson, at 7:00 PM  

  • Wow. People like Paul still don't understand that we live in a constitutional monarchy. That is what the system is called, look it up. Sovereignty is invested in the Monarch and it flows down through the GG to the House. There is nothing in the Constitution about parties, period. The sovereignty of the monarch is vested in the members of the House and therefore the members at large constitute the power. They can choose the MP at their will and anything they say as a group goes.

    The Monarch, through the GG asks the leader of the largest party to attempt to gain the confidence of the House, and if he or she cannot the GG goes to the leader of the next largest party and asks him or her to gain the confidence of the House.

    That is how it works pure and simple. There is no ambiguity about it. The only real discretion enters in if the first leader gains the confidence of the House for a time and then loses it, the GG has to determine in the name of the Monarch whether enough time has passed to hold a new election or to go to the next party. That is all the ambiguity there is.

    By Blogger kirbycairo, at 8:09 PM  

  • The historical remedy for subverting the rule of parliament is clear. (

    Although technically, since Harper isn't royalty, the parliamentary precedent is a bit harsher. (,_drawn_and_quartered)

    Arguably, the criminal code has softened the punishment a bit (

    If parliament refuses to enforce its rights for a third time, the democratic chain-of-command will be in serious jeopardy. Hopefully, no parliamentary factions will be unclear in future instruction to prime ministers or governor generals. And enforce their rights as our representatives.

    By Blogger Poor Dead Ned, at 11:26 PM  

  • @Paul:

    You might want to review Eugene Forsey's "How Canadians Govern Themselves." Page four covers the situations at hand quite clearly.

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 12:24 AM  

  • The question was about what happens if a Conservative minority gets voted down. Harper then has two choices:

    1) Sit back and wait to see if the GG will give power to someone else
    2) Ask the GG to call an election

    Harper gave the standard "I'm not going to speculate on what might happen after the election, I'm focused on winning every vote I can" type of answer.

    Are people seriously suggesting that this is somehow evidence that he's planning a "coup", or that there's something wrong with the PM asking for an election after losing a confidence vote?

    Get real.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 3:32 AM  

  • "The Monarch, through the GG asks the leader of the largest party to attempt to gain the confidence of the House, and if he or she cannot the GG goes to the leader of the next largest party and asks him or her to gain the confidence of the House. "


    The PM remains the PM until s/he resigns or dies.

    Only then does the GG ask someone else to form a new Government.

    There is no "wait to see if the GG will give power to someone else". It does not work that way.

    Yes, if the Opposition Parties vote down a new Harper mandate, the PM could resign. Or he could ask for a new election. But despite the claims to the contrary, the GG would be wrong to deny a request for a new election. And before you say "King-Byng" remember that that was an example of a complete failure on the part of the GG: the resulting Government lasted only three days in the House before being voted down, and serious damage was done to the country and to the office of the GG.

    By Blogger Paul, at 11:39 AM  

  • You are wrong again Paul. The GG can dissolve parliament at anytime. That is the most basic element of a Constitutional monarchy. And upon the dissolution the GG can ask another to form a government.

    The reason you can know you are wrong is because if you were right then a PM could simply never resign and be Prime Minister for ever.

    Furthermore the tradition is clear that if the person chosen to gain the confidence of the House on the first go fails then it passes to the next. The only way that a GG would be proper in accepting a new election is if the PM gained the confidence of the House for a time and then lost it. But if that confidence was never extended in the first place then it passes to another.

    By Blogger kirbycairo, at 1:02 PM  

  • Quite helpful data, lots of thanks for this article.

    By Anonymous, at 4:59 AM  

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