Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A miserable coalition

(Poisoned chalice drawing by Riddel - of The Guardian)

Let see now. The Conservatives should be thrown from office because Mr. Harper was mean about withdrawing public funding from political parties.

Why was that mean? Many like me think abolishing public funding for parties is a principled stand.

Conservatives actually raise enough money through voluntary contributions of individuals to support their party without the need for direct public funding and without corporate or union donations. Why can't the others? I think it was more tactically stupid, than mean, or in the alternative (as the lawyers are wont to opine) perhaps it was mean, but so what - give your head a shake - this is politics not a girl guide quilting bee. But let me grant you the argument for now. Mean I can take. Unprincipled coalitions I cannot.

Mean does not justify the response. The Liberal Party has now gone beyond the pale, by entering a formal coalition with Bloc Quebecois. M. Duceppe's signature is on the coalition document and the Bloc is committed to undertake certain things - They are most certainly a party to this miserable coalition, despite obfuscation to the contrary. It matters not that they won't be given seats at the Cabinet table. The price of their support will be demonstrated, should they succeed in wresting power from the Tories, in skewed policies towards separatist priorities in Quebec. Jacques Parizeau, the former Party Quebecois premier and leading separatist ideologue is thrilled with the coalition. Wonder why that might be?

The Liberals and NDP have made common cause with the separatists, which clearly will have a veto over government legislation including any budgets. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau must be howling in his grave in Westmount. His son, a much lesser newly elected member of the House of Commons supports the miserable coalition. When you voted six weeks ago did you contemplate such a scenario?

The miserable coalition intends to install an individual as PM who the country clearly rejected in mid-October (some 50 days ago) in a general election. All because Harper was mean? Was that intended by us voters?

Mr. Harper I remind you, already retreated on that funding proposal. Accordingly, it can't stand as the current causus belli, though it is clearly the reason for why we are where we are. A woman scorned apparently cannot match the fury of opposition parties denied public funding. The three coalition partners argue that they ought to be allowed to form a government without recourse to an election because the Conservatives have lost the confidence of the House of Commons and among them they control the majority of seats.

Constitutionally, this may be legal, but it ignores the political imperative inherent in the recent electoral result. The Prime Minister must indeed have the confidence of the Commons to govern. This is a bedrock parliamentary convention. Mr. Harper has clearly lost the confidence of the Commons. But there is a greater constitutional principle at play here. The legitimacy of parliament derives from the will of the people, not the will of members of parliament. There might be merit to the parliamentary "confidence" convention, were it not for the proximity of the election. Remember that? It was but seven whole weeks ago.

In my view, the Prime Minister has the right to ask the Governor General to prorogue parliament until January when the government can present its budget. Should the opposition oppose that budget, the Governor General should dissolve this wretched parliament and call a general election. The people of Canada did not vote for M. Dion to be Prime Minister, on an interim basis. They did not vote for a coalition government of the Liberals, limousine NDP socialists and separatist Bloc, only to be see a new unknown prime ministerial successor, once M. Dion resigns as promised in three months. The electorate did not vote for this miserable ragtag coalition or this ridiculous scenario.

Keep in mind that M. Dion specifically rejected a coalition during the recent campaign. According to constitutional convention, the Governor General must decide if the coalition can provide a stable government before opting to allow them to form a government. It cannot. It is inherently unstable and, given the results of the recent election, is profoundly undemocratic. If the coalition wants to govern Canada, let Canadians say if they agree.

That's called democracy and we forget it at our peril.


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