Harper Drops the Ball

    4 December 2008, terribly early in the morning

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be aware that Canadian politics suddenly got surprisingly interesting. Harper and the Conservatives tabled a budget that the other three parties found so distasteful that he managed to unite them all against him. The NDP and the Liberals playing nice is one thing, but getting the Liberals and the Bloc to make amends is just incredible. And now a week on we are getting to the point where the Governor General has to make some tough choices.

Harper wants to suspend parliament to avoid a confidence vote. Clearly this should be seen as undemocratic — much like the budget he originally proposed. The usual reason a Prime Minister might ask to suspend parliament is because MPs have been particularly busy, and now want to return to their constituencies. Allowing the PM to hold power in this way is a bad precedent to set. The PM is answerable to the voters and their representatives. The Conservatives overplayed their hand, and now need to face what they’ve reaped head on.

The Governor General also has to decide whether to allow the Liberal and NDP to form a minority coalition government. In a parlimentary system this sort of thing is reasonable, for many voters it will leave a bad taste in their mouths. Had the Liberals and the NDP brought the government down after the throne speech I think it would be harder to spin things the way the Conservatives have. Still, at the end of the day, it is all spin. The Conservatives are talking a lot of smack, which is basically par for the course for them.

At this point I think the opposition has won, regardless of what happens in the next few days and weeks. The Conservatives have been playing defense for what feels like the first time in ages. The Conservatives have already backed down from their original budget. Anything they present now is going to be quite palatable to the other parties; going forward, I would expect that any motions they bring forward will be equally palatable. The opposition has finally stood up and started doing their job. Harper has been shown to be ineffectual as a leader, and I suspect he won’t last long as head of the Conservatives. The Conservatives have had their wings clipped. It’s about damn time.

 

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