Thursday, December 04, 2008

Did Jean Sell Canadian Democracy Down the River?

From what we've heard so far, Her Excellency Governor General Michaelle Jean attached no conditions when she granted Harper's plea to shut down parliament until the end of January.

If anyone needs to be kept on a short leash during the hiatus it's Furious Leader Harper. Has the GG done anything to ensure that Harper can't exploit the obvious opportunity to rule by fiat by, for example, stacking the Senate? This is a guy who's shown he'd game his kids' lunch money if he saw political advantage to be had.

The House of Commons doesn't trust Harper and neither do an awful lot of Canadians. Let's hope that Jean hasn't just bent us over a barrel.

17 comments:

Christopher said...

While she was damned if she did and damned if she didn't - it was a terrible place to put someone who really has no business in the job. She is a poet, not a politicians. There's a reason why Plato did not want poets in his ideal Republic. With ex-GG asking her not to do this, she relented. At the moment there's nary a whiff of restrictions placed on Harper.

At the first opportunity, Parliament MUST pass a law to prevent future PMs the ability to duck and cover when a vote of non-confidence is coming on their heads.

The GG was wrong, but Harper was more wrong even asking for this suspension of parliament.

Harper must go. The opposition should not back down until he does... even if Harper backs down on everything. Forget "monumental"... the only monument that should satisfy, is one to former-PM Harper. Harper's lies should not be allowed to continue.

Will said...

"Has the GG done anything to ensure that Harper can't exploit the obvious opportunity to rule by fiat by, for example, stacking the Senate?"

Sorry to point out, but isn't that what Dion is going to do as soon as he becomes PM? He's promised senate positions to May and Duceppe, no? (and probably Layton)

As a reminder, Harper hasn't made a senate appointment in years.

The Mound of Sound said...

Will, with your sharp memory you can probably recall Harper's threat to stack the Senate if he didn't get his way on structural reform. It's only in keeping with his bully boy nature. As for Dion promising senate appointments for May and Duceppe, possibly even Layton, do you have anything to back that up or is it mere delusion?

What Chris said!

Scary said...

Here's the one for May:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081203.GREENS03/TPStory/?query=may+senate

and for Duceppe, Mike Duffy (CTV) was reporting that he had been promised six senate seats. The MSM isn't reporting it but it's all over the Conservative blogosphere.

I certainly recall Harper's threat. He'd lose my respect if he did that. I had a big problem with Fortier's appointment. He's only made one other appointment - filling an empty Alberta seat with a senator elected by Albertans, which is how it should be.

The Mound of Sound said...

Duffy's reporting it? If that's the case I wouldn't worry too much about it. Right now Duffy's biggest concern is getting his own backside into the senate and he'll do whatever the PMO wants to get there.

Anonymous said...

Remember the olden days when opposition party's took down governments and couldnt wait to go to the people with thier idea's and policy's?? Boy...I sure do miss those days. Not anymore I guess....Lib/NDP/Bloc.."Madam GG, we'd like to disolve parliament, the Conservatives have lost the confidence of the House. GG."ok, I can call an election in 45 days"
Lib/Bloc/NDP..."um..ya..about that, we probably couldnt win an election...we'd probably give Harpo a Majority if we went to the people...so...we all got together and decided to just take the government...its legal and all, we had guys look into it" And that my fine feathered friend is why SO many Canadians are pissed and, why like Kyoto and the Green Shift this is just another freakin stupid idea...but this one has a delicious part to it...it pretty much tarnish's the Liberal brand for a decade. Just a hint...when John Manley and Frank McKenna run from it...its a BAD idea...:)
billg

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the GG have legal advisers or am I just out to lunch??? A. Morris

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, AM, she has access to legal advice from, among others, the prime minister's office. She also had the ability to consult previous GGs who would have told her that refusing to throw a padlock on parliament was the right thing to do. That said, her prerogative is part of our great, ancient unwritten law so she can pretty much do as she pleases - or perhaps, in this case, as she was told.

And Bill, my friend, good to hear from you again. And yes, the initiative of the opposition majority was both legal and entirely constitutional. The same can hardly be said for Harper's shutting down parliament to save his own skin. Do yourself a huge favour. Read what this hypocritical clown had to say four years ago when the shoe was on the other foot. He was mighty self-righteous then and Martin wasn't trying anything remotely as undemocratic as Harper. Good to see you're still a rabid Kyotophobe. Don't let the science clog your mind Bill.

MoneyBonanza said...
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MoneyBonanza said...
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ng2000 said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry NG2000 but a quick bit of Google researcher revealed you're a religious zealot. I'm sure there are plenty of other sites where your views are welcome. Just not here.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused...isnt prorogueing Parliament legal, and didnt Dion and Layton just say 2 months ago that Coaltion's with each other were unthinkable?? They are ALL self serving hypocrits....not the back benchers...most of them are good people. I go back to the words of Peter Segar and Bruce Springsteen, "if you love this land of the free...bring em home bring em home". Except..."if you love this land of ours...go to the people go to the people"... When in doubt...let the voters sort it out!! Its that simple. billg

Anonymous said...

There's something else that bothers me about all of this and its about trust. You and I are polar opposite's when it comes to politics...and I'm assuming this country is pretty much split on alot of issue's. I dont think the Left or the Right in this country trust each other to do the right thing...and that to me is the issue. If the Cons and the NDP ever decided to topple a minority Liberal govt and instead of asking to face the voters just take over power I'd riot...I'd do what I'm doing tomorrow and head off to a rally and scream and shout! Because although its legal..to me, its not what we are supposed to be about. I'm not sure you believe me and that's where the trust issue comes in. Trudeau's NEP started this mess...both Mulroney and Chretien continued it, and, certainly Stephen Harper has been the worst offender. But what you have to remember is...it was right voters like me who were so disgusted with Brian Mulroney that WE decimated our own party in disgust. So...take a leap of faith, trust me, if this was a Lib/Con coalition and they were attempting to take power from a minority NDP govt I'd be mad as hell too!! Because it angers and splits and divides and rips Canadians and my Country apart.
billg

The Mound of Sound said...

Is it legal? No one really knows. That's because the GG's power to prorogue is part of our unwritten law and, until it is tested in a court, there's no way to know what limits, if any, exist.

What madame Jean has done suggests that her take is that she has an unfettered power to prorogue as she seems fit. That, in effect, accords her the status of a Ruler, a backroom potentate.

We've always been wary about unwritten laws and we've had a lot of experience of that through the evolution of our Common Law. Specifically because it's unwritten it has to be exercised cautiously and on sound principle lest it lead to despotism.

Sadly, Madame Jean hasn't had enough respect for our democracy to come forward and explain her decision. While she's not bound to account, when she leaves the 62% of Canadians who wanted someone other than Harper unrepresented by locking them out of the House, then even a common respect for democracy requires she explain that extraordinary gambit.

While we have no way at this point of genuinely weighing the legality of her decision, we know it was legal, constitutional and entirely moral for the House to determine whether its members had lost confidence in the Prime Minister. That is our law, that is our way, that is our right. For her or you or anyone else to deny that is reprehensible.

It's equally legal, constitutional and moral for any majority of members of the house to demand to be allowed to form a coalition government. Sorry, Bill, but that's another part of our parliamentary democracy you're just going to have to live with.

If the Bloc MPs are good enough to sit in the House, they're fully qualified to form part of a coalition government. Harper sure felt that way back in the Martin days and none of the rightwing dingbats were even mildly ruffled at the idea.

Today's G&M editorial is right - Harper is the toxin that's poisoning parliament. At every turn he's put his personal political advancement ahead of the interests of the country. For some reason his supporters seem to think that just dandy. These same vermin like to go about at the same time and call others traitors and mock their patriotism.

If you're driven to oppose things that anger and split and divide and rip Canadians and your country apart - as you claim - look to the very man who's made that his stock in trade. You elected the bugger.

Vancouver real estate agent said...

GG is supposed to represent the Queen - I would like to know what the Queen would do...
This situation of government change without election is pretty usual in the Europe, on the other hand - we are in Canada....
But whatever happens, I think we are heading towards new election - AGAIN. Crazy...
Jay

The Mound of Sound said...

Jay, this whole experience has revealed how profoundly ignorant so very many Canadians are of their own parliamentary democracy. They know little to nothing of their history, of their government or of its institutions. An Alberta paper commented a couple of days ago that the best thing Harper had going for him was the rank ignorance of the Canadian people. That, sadly, was true.

Our parliamentary democracy recognizes the difficulty of forming a government when no party can claim the mandate of a majority. It specifically allows for coalitions to be forged to fill the vacuum.

When the opposition chose to do just that the Conservatives chose to manipulate their supporters' ignorance by effectively portraying the opposition as trying to usurp democracy and being traitors. And their followers, dumb as posts, lapped it up.

Exploiting voter ignorance is predatory. It is what compelled Amereica to endure eight years of the ruinous Bush administration and it's the stock in trade of our own mini-Bush, Stephen Harper.