Drama in the House

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Written by Scott Gilbert

Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to appear on television tonight at 7 p.m. ET to address the current crisis in Canadian government.

The current battle for power was initiated by an official coalition agreement between the NDP, Bloc and Liberals. These three parties are hoping to have a vote of non-confidence on Monday that would install Dion as the leader of our country.

Harper is defiant and wants nothing more than to quash this can of worms before it gets open any further. Conservatives have given hints that Mr. Harper will ask Governor-General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue (to discontinue a session of) Parliament until January. If this happens, it will buy him time to try and sway public opinion in his favour.

But the coalition is also trying to muster support. Not only are those three parties in relative agreement on a plan, but they also now have the backing of Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Harper has a fine line to walk if he wants to gain public support. The question period yesterday was characterized by lot of name calling and finger pointing. Harper slammed the pact as giving too much power to Bloc "seperatists" and NDP "socialists" - a move certain to cost him some support across the country. The Bloc responded by saying he didn't have nearly as much of a problem with them in the past when he needed their support.

Harper maintains that this move is "undemocratic" and could cause a crisis in national unity. But the Toronto Star cleverly pointed out today that Harper himself was behind just such a move less than 5 years ago (although it didn't get this far).

The coalition is displeased with Harper and his attempts to address the economic crisis. The coalition argues we need a bailout immediately (which Harper is not interested in), and likely carries elements of dissent over a proposal to suspend campaign financing through tax dollars until the ecomony stabilizes.

In a series of polls over the weekend it is clear the nation is split on how they feel about all this. Many don't feel Dion should govern, and about the same amount feel uncomfortable with the Bloc having a prominent role in national issues. But more than anything, 75% of Canadians feel we need an economic bailout ASAP - something Harper rejects. Where this will lead us, and which party will take the biggest public opinion hit is hard to determine at this point.

How do you feel? Please comment below.

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  1. Posted by: public service announcement on Dec 3, 2008 @ 6:38pm

    Exercise and eat right.

    (prediction: this will be the only sensible comment among hundreds)

  2. Posted by: George on Dec 4, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    The Governor General suspended the House. Quite the precedence this sets. The GG is suppose to be a honourary figurehead in Canadian politics and always goes along with the will of the House.

    Granting this prorogue sends a strong message that the GG is going against the will of the majority in the House of Commons to form a coalition. I guess the monarch’s influence on our sovereign nation isn’t gone quite yet.

  3. Posted by: Me on Dec 5, 2008 @ 10:17am

    Yet the GG was backed by the Liberal Party...

    Also, Dion said that he would be willing to work with the conservative party, but Rae doesn't like that, so he is still spearheading the coalition... so who is refusing to work with who? hmm.

  4. Posted by: on Dec 5, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Will someone please run the damn country!
    Good god, now that the US has Obama we're back to being the shittier of the two countries.

  5. Posted by: chad on Dec 6, 2008 @ 3:43pm

    For anyone taking up the banner that a coalition is "undemocratic" or illegal, or that any sort of alliance with the Bloc is bad for the country, consider that in 2004 Harper wrote to the GG outlining the *exact same situation* that is happening now, only to have the Conservatives wrest power from the Liberals. [http://www.liberal.ca/story_15511_e.aspx]

    If Steven Harper and the Conservatives were truly concerned about upholding democratic processes, let's start with instituting a system of proportional representation.

    For an interesting and rather cogent overview of what's happening read this link: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2008/12/03/what_is_happening_in_canada.html

  6. Posted by: Chad on Dec 6, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    One other note which is crucial and confronts the line in the article which states that "(people are) uncomfortable with the Bloc having a prominent role in national issues": the Bloc won't 'officially' be a part of the coalition, only supporting the coalition on confidence motions.

    And the Bloc will have *the same number of seats/votes* in the house as last week, so their influence isn't any greater or more prominent.

  7. Posted by: Clarity on Dec 7, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    The sad part is that all of you believe we actually exist in a truly democratic system. The US will be no better.

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