Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Coalition

Do I like the idea of Stephane Dion as PM?
No.
But I believe in Parliamentary democracy.
We go to the polls and we elect members of the House of Commons.
The party or collection of parties that can hold the confidence of the House of Commons gets to form the government.
Stephen Harper formed a government and met the House. Very quickly, he lost the confidence of the House of Commons. In effect, he tried to form a government but is unable to do so. It can be argued this has happened through his own miscalculation, but it doesn't matter. Our system doesn't differentiate. It's about the ability to pass legislation in Parliament and the Harper government cannot do this.
Canadians do not vote for a Prime Minister, nor do they vote for a political party. They vote for members of the House of Commons.
More people voted for the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc than voted Conservative, but the Conservatives got first chance to try to form a government.
Two parties have formed a coalition and apparently have the confidence of the House.
It is the duty of the Governor General (like the Speaker in a tie) to do what she can to preserve the life of the Parliament if it is possible, and at the present time it is certainly possible.
Therefore, she is obliged to ask Stephane Dion form a government. She should not allow Harper to dodge the obvious will of the House.
These are not technicalities, nor is it arcane. It's the Constitution, the law of the land.
We have had numerous chances to bring in proportional representation. We have had chances to change the role of the Governor General.
Maybe people are not happy with the idea of this coalition, but it's an absolutely legal and legitimate act in Parliamentary democracy.


Now, from a strictly personal point of view, how many neo-cons screamed "democracy" when George Bush took office with fewer votes than Al Gore? Bush won in 2000 in the Electoral College, but Gore won the popular vote. I suppose at Small Dead Animals everyone was thrilled with the result.
Democracy and the Constitution are not something you can embrace or put away, as needed. You have to put up with situations that, while unpalatable, are legal and proper under the law of the land.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bourrie's precise and prescient as usual.

Anonymous said...

Can Harper call out some army or Alberta "militia"? He seethes with cold anger. Very scary as to what he can do

Anonymous said...

Ah... the legendary and mythical Alexander Haig option. Hope Guy Giorno doesn't recommend that.

Anonymous said...

Do you think it is our education system or just blind partisanship that precludes so many people from understanding the distinction between electing a Parliament vs. electing a government?

I am stumped on this one...

TH

Anonymous said...

TH: I think it is our proximity to the United States that distorts our general understanding of differences in separation of powers in Canada.

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Speaking of selfish and mean ... Your points are all valid - but let us not move on past our prime minister's penchant for being a complete prick quite yet. From the day Harper became Opposition leader, I had an uneasy feeling. Certainly, the Liberals' time had come. And I can't point to a lot of policies of the new Conservatives that particularly bother me. But this guy .... I know and get that politics is no longer a gentleman's game - as if it ever was - but Harper is plumbing new depths. He is a prick when there is no need for it; he is a prick when exactly the opposite is called for; he is a prick until it doesn't serve his purposes, and even then he rests only briefly, and probably fitfully.

When I was 13 or so, a bunch of buddies and I were skiing one day when the local bully decided it was my turn. He was our age but much bigger and stronger. He was also horribly clumsy and slow, and slow-witted. We were walking in to the clubhouse when this kid whacked me across the back of the legs with his ski pole. I'd had enough. I was nowhere near his size but I was much more athletic. I figured he was going to beat the shit out of me as I squared up, as my father taught me, in classic boxing stance. But it became apparently really quickly that I was in luck. He'd happened to pick a time when we were both wearing ski boots, which made this oaf even more clumsier than normal and without any hope of catching - or hurting me. I popped him in the face with fast jabs at least a half-dozen times before he started to bleed pretty good, and then cry. I walked away, a hero to the masses. He didn't stop being a bully, but he didn't bug me anymore.

He had this look of fright and surprise on his face when I punched him the second and third time, and each time after. He looked just like Harper did yesterday.

The Bloganism said...

At work, we never discuss politics. So I basically really didn't know who supported whom, politically.
However, with today's events, people couldn't help themselves but talk.
It turns out that people whom I had pegged as idiots or arseholes, were supporting Harper.
Typical garbage talking points from them this morning:
"The Coalition is undemocratic!"
"The separatists are taking over!", "We didn't elect Dion!", etc...
Very sad.
And I see that Harper's star rose, according to a CBC poll.
This is like Bush 2004.