Monday, December 01, 2008

If Harper Prorogues the Short Parliament

As the Liberals and the NDP finalize the details of their proposed coalition government, with the support of the Bloc, the Conservatives are engaged in desperate maneuvers to keep their government alive.

They have delayed the vote on a Liberal motion of non-confidence, in the hope that over the next seven days the nascent coalition will self-destruct. In the background lurks the suggestion that the Conservatives might attempt to prorogue Parliament until late January. This would allow the Harperites to return with a budget as the first order of business.

If Stephen Harper goes to the Governor General to ask her to prorogue the current session, he will be hijacking our democracy. For the next seven or eight weeks we will have an illegitimate government that is clinging to office by refusing to allow the people’s representatives to deliberate and to vote.

Future generations of Canadians could then refer to this as our “Short Parliament”. In April 1640, King Charles 1 called Parliament into session because he needed funds. Three weeks later, not happy with the ideas of the parliamentarians the King dismissed what historians refer to as the Short Parliament.

Charles’ high-handed refusal to let Parliament deliberate and decide launched him en route to his ultimate demise. Stephen Harper’s destination will be a more peaceful one, perhaps a return to operating the Gestetner machine at the office of the National Citizens Coalition.

Conservatives, concerned about the future well-being of their party in a post-Harper era, ought to advise the Prime Minister and Guy Giorno, his attack dog chief of staff, not to go the route of proroguing Parliament. Such a step would add to economic mismanagement, knee-capping the opposition, and bugging the deliberations of political opponents, the misdeed of subverting democracy.


John E. Morse said...

I believe that the final line of your post should read; "continuing to subvert democracy". The first publicised example of subversion tactics would have been the Chuck Cadman bribery incident, if I recall correctly. There have been far too many incidents in any case.

ml johnstone said...

Can the Governor General Prorogue without a good enough reason?
What are the rules here?

James Laxer said...

The legal minds I've consulted tell me that it's unlikely the Governor General would turn down a request by the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament. This is a grey area and it falls within that most murky of subjects, "royal prerogative".

Northern PoV said...

Write to the GG

and ask her not to prorogue and not to call an election

Jenn Jilks said...

Desperation is the right word. I really didn't want to learn any more government/parliamentary vocabulary terms! I was hoping that things would settle down; markets would rebound, investors would gain more confidence, the powers-that-be would begin to determine a course of action.
The media were blatantly bragging about Canada's position in the world.
Politics are seldom boring these days.

Anonymous said...

This whole problem was brought about by the asshole Liberals and NDP.

We just had an election, the people have spoken and we don't want those bastards in power.

Harper should call an election so we can get rid of Layton and Dion so that we never have to see their pathetic worthless faces on television again.

The attack against democracy is what they're doing.

Stephen K said...

No Tory troll, it was brought on by the bullying tactics of Stephen Harper. He finally went too far, and now he has to suffer the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Laxer, I would love to sit down with you and debate the causes of the English Civil War and the demise of Charles I. The "Short Parliament" was one step in many that led to the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the ultimate execution of Charles.

For those of you who want to know, there are no "rules" about Prorogues and coalition Gov't per say. But there is precedent (see King-Byng Affair 1926). Basically, Byng (the GG) refused to disolve Parliament at King's (the PM) request. King resigned and Byng invited Arthur Meighan to form a government.

Just an aside....our economy is tied intrisically with the U.S., so $30 Billion or $300 Billion to stimulate our economy is a small drop in the bucket. Our economy is in better shape than most so why is spending $30 Billion we don't have going to help. We may prolong the demise of the auto sector by a few months or years but at what long term cost?

I am no Tory troll nor am I a Liberal lapdog. But attempts to subvert the proper legally elected Government will be disasterous for our local economy and for our reputation abroad. What this crisis calls for is strength in leadership and Mr. Dion has already been thrown to the lion's by his own party. I fear he wont be able to hold the coalition together and others will backstab each other to take control.

I fear that a Coalition of so many Political agendas will fail miserably leaving us far worse off than we are now.

ml johnstone said...

Anonymous 2: re: the economy: I wish you would explain why it would be disastrous and why the Conservatives would be better in the economic field than any other party?

Anonymous said...

Sure. The Liberal's and the NDP have very different ideas on who to tax, how to spend and how much to tax. They also have very different agendas on issues like Foreign policy and the environment. Perhaps this is the wrong forum to discuss the details of it but I think you can understand my basic point. The problem is who will decide these issues in a Coalition. The Liberal's, I would guess, up to the point that Mr. Layton disagrees on a spending or taxation issue. The scary part for me is that we will have no long term vision in a period of economic uncertainty. The Coalition will reverse the recent Conservative plans and in a few months when the coalition breaks apart and the Bloc switches it's allegences back to the Conservatives, then we will embark on another change in economic policy. The whole time the real problem of dealing with the economic crisis will be mired in half hearted and partly stalled Politically based iniatives.

Furthermore, most foreign Governments will not know who is steering the ship. These Foreign Gov't will be less likely to look to Canada for advice, when our banking and economic system are the envy of many these days.

Lastly, in a period of economic turmoil corporations will look to strong markets to survive. If we show the International community that we can't even look after something as simple as who is in charge then why would they invest there increasingly precious capital here?

All I am saying is that this is not the time for Political opportunism. It seems to me that Dion is looking for a way to save his already doomed career, and the cost to us everyday Canadians will be very high.

Anonymous said...

And I am not sure that the Conservatives would be any better, but one vision is better than four.

cwiggins said...

It is a legitimate (real) part of our Parliamentary process for Members of Parliament sitting in Opposition to lose confidence in the ruling party. The Opposition lost confidence that the Conservative government either intended to act or is capable of acting in the best interests of Canadians during a worldwide financial crisis and a recession looming in Canada. The basis for this loss of confidence was the failure of the economic and fiscal statement to signal any plan for the economy and thus, for the economic security of Canadians. The Opposition parties did exactly what they should have done - express their non-confidence.

Anonymous said...

parliamentary rules dictates that the party or parties that have the confidence of the house will rule the house. it has nothing to do really with the elected “will of the people”. The people elected a fractured house...harper was not given mandate by the canadian people, if so he would have had a majority.

funny how harper, the great champion of the will of the people hides behind the skirt of an unelected official to delay the inevitable.

harper had sought the help of bloc against the minority martin gov't. mulroney rolled out the carpet to lucien bouchard and his "gang of separatist" not only to join a coalition but to JOIN HIS PARTY!.

Politics makes strange bedfellows. these are the realities of minority gov'ts and unless we return to the boring days of liberals vs. conservatives this will be a reality of the canadian political landscape for years to come.