Coalition? Is the sweater unravelling?

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Well it appears Harper drew a line in the sand and is shocked that the opposition has stepped across.. What was he thinking when he tried to hamstring his opponents with pulling public funding in his economic update..? Seems like his attempted low-blow may cost him the PM seat.

I'm surprised that the opposition was so concerned with bailing out the auto industry (with a "stimulus") that they'd pull the coalition stunt to get one going.

Sure pulls the attention away from what Obama is doing for a while. (understatement)

Democracy in action--I love it.

To me, his proposal to ban striking by public servants is just ridiculous. How Campbell got away with it here is unbelievable.

"I'm surprised that the opposition was so concerned with bailing out the auto industry (with a "stimulus") that they'd pull the coalition stunt to get one going"

Is that what happened? HA!

No doubt that the issue of pulling back the $1.95/vote that funds the coffers of the ancient political organizations that can't evolve past the mid 80's in terms of a business plan (sounds like any industry you know?) was the spark, but that measure was removed from the table. Unfortunately by the time it was the blood was in the water and the feeding frenzy had begun.

The coalition claims they are doing this for the good of Canadians, but that is a bunch of crap. Harper blinked and the Liberals and the NDP saw a chance to take out someone they really hate, that is the end of it. In terms of the Economics, the Conservatives have one idea about what to do and the Liberals/NDP have another. Which plan is right? Nobody knows, not Harper, not Dion, not Layton, not even Stumpy! This is what happens ALL THE TIME in a democracy. One party wants one thing, one wants another. Using that as the excuse to take down the government or have another election is weak.

When you get right down to it, they are making this move out of spite for Harper. And you can't return the electorate to the polls for spite!

As for the Block, they are a party that never had a chance of taking power so they must be wetting themselves right now. So far they have made off with $1B in extra transfer payments. What else can they get?

m2c

"When you get right down to it, they are making this move out of spite for Harper. And you can't return the electorate to the polls for spite!"

And Harper made his move for some noble, sincere motivations? Come on. Harper got 38(7?)% of the vote and tried to immediately bully some bs through and he got busted for it.

From what I'm hearing, Harper is just going to suspend parliament, lick his wounds and hope we all forget about this. That would be some gutless crapping out of what he has brought on himself, but such is politics I suppose.

I don't buy it that it's just for spite. OK, maybe there IS a healthy dose of spite but there would be precedent by now if that's all it takes. I also don't buy it that political parties should cozy up to business or unions to gather funding.

Killing that subsidy is a blatant whacking of democracy. Because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party's total revenues.

By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals' funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc's, 57 per cent of the NDP's and 65 per cent of the Greens'.

I think it's important that politics should be publically funded and not by corporations and big unions.

There is nothing un-democratic about our elected MP's organizing and forming government. It is totally undemocratic to try and take away funding for all parties but your own.

Harper over played his hand and telegraphed his party's strategy. Back in November they made it known that they would bring out a succession of confidence votes and push through stuff like they tried with the mini-budget: Breaking the legs of the opposition and pushing forward the Harper agenda of privitizing, deregulating, etc. It was a totally partisan move during a time of economic crisis. We need a strong opposition so one party doesn't completely dictate. I don't blame the opposition one bit for coming forward and saying "we can do a better job", indeed I think it was their duty.

"And Harper made his move for some noble, sincere motivations?"

Of course not, did I say that?? Harper is an arrogant SOB. The idea of pulling public funding for the political parties was a bad move, even if you think that political parties should do a better job of grassroots fundraising.

However, that proposal is OFF THE TABLE, so people should stop using it as an excuse, even the Coalition has been hitting the "We must take over to save the country" drum since last week. The opposition parties really hate Harper, and they are using the economy as the excuse to stick it to him. To be honest, I think Harper is a terrible politician, which is why he is in this bind - and that's funny when you think that most people would tell you they don't want "politicians" running things. Be careful what you wish for.

But again, what is the Coalition suggesting they can do that Harper can't. I listened to Harper say that they were going to work with industry, business leaders, experts to see what was the best thing to do. Then Dion came on 30 minuets later and said the same thing. Sounds like time for a change to me!

The economic downturn is not a made in Canada problem, so it's going to be hard to find a made in Canada solution. We can't prop up resource prices, we can't save the US Financial Institutions, we can't prop up the Canadian $$ too much and we can't fix the massive structural problem of the Big 3 Auto Makers. We can start spending money like there is no tomorrow, but the USA tried that for the last twenty years and guess what - tomorrow did come and it's a bitch.

So again I say that the Coalition plan might be slightly better than the Conservatives, might be slightly worse, might be the same. Nobody is sure about that. What we can be sure of is that none of the leaders know either, and claiming that the current government’s path will lead to total destruction and that the Coalition path will be the salvation of us all is total crap.

m2c

Regardless, his current plea to shut down government is weak and is him basically being a pussy.

He does not have the confidence of parliament. Shutting everything down for 2 months will not change that. Sure, he took the controversial items off the table, but he's lost the trust parliament had in him. Why would they trust him again in 2 months?

Suck it up Harper!

Oh well, I guess the GG has shut down parliament.

So, now whenever a PM doesn't like what's happening, the precedent has been set so they can just shut down parliament--that's great.

Avoid personal responsibility at all costs!

"Which plan is right? Nobody knows, not Harper, not Dion, not Layton, not even Stumpy!"

What plan? There is no plan. There isn't even an over-arching set of principles upon which we
can hang a plan. We clearly consider our Constitution and the international agreements to
which we are signatories to be just paper, barely fit to wipe our asses with. We aren't
interested in abiding by the Ten Commandments or any other code of ethics (esp. our
politicians) and our education system doesn't provide the country with citizens capable of
doing much more beyond consuming and complaining. Without a paradigm shift on the level
of complete and utter revolution, we are, in a word, screwed. Why?

I would argue that Harper (to choose him as representative of the ruling oligarchy) is out of
his depth. The simplistic reductions of all problems to a question of how much money we will
spend and where we will spend it simply reinforces the violence inherent in the system. Don't
be fooled. We don't live in a civil society. We live in a world where might is right and woe
betide the individual who stumbles in the race to be yoked and used. We need to re-examine
where we are and how we got here with the intent to fashion a society that embraces the
massive changes we must undergo to make it to 2100 AD without descending into a new Dark
Age. We'd be better off led by philosophers and historians right now. Economists have had
their shot and have essentially turned our little blue marble into a planetary cesspool.

Dion is the more adept thinker IMO, with an intellect capable of grasping the nuances and
pitfalls we are going to encounter in evolving past the wasteful and exclusionary practices of
capitalism. Which we must do if we are to survive as a species.

So, yeah, I don't have a plan either, but at least I'm not going to lie to you the way Harper
does... and tell you it's all good, just so long as we throw a few more people in jail. Heck,
I'm just trying to reconcile the tenets of deep ecology (wiki link below) with my love for
animals... esp. the barbequed kind.

"The simplistic reductions of all problems to a question of how much money we will spend and where we will spend it simply reinforces the violence inherent in the system. "

"Help, help! I'm being repressed! Come see the violence inherent in the system!"

"Bloody peasant!"

"Oh that's a give away right there! You saw him, didn't you? You saw him repressing me?"

All joking and monty python aside, one good thing about this whole mess is now Harper and future minority governments now have to respect & work more closely with the opposition and not feel entitled to ram things through unopposed.

That's the one good thing. The rest is a swirling mess down the proverbial toilet as we wait a couple months to do something constructive.

"All joking and monty python aside, one good thing about this whole mess is now Harper and future minority governments now have to respect & work more closely with the opposition and not feel entitled to ram things through unopposed. "

No they won't. They can just do whatever they want, and if the opposition raises a stink they can just shut down parliament.

You're probably right. Eventually we'd be back to the same ol' same ol'. It's now that we need to get rid of the Bloc Albertois separatists and get the coalition going. I hear there's a rally this afternoon. Someone post the details and let's all go down and help preserve democracy.

"No they won't. They can just do whatever they want, and if the opposition raises a stink they can just shut down parliament."

Probably the most productive parliament has ever been.

I'm happy to wait until the Conservatives can actually table a budget before giving this coalition a chance. And most economic reports I've read, have all cautioned waiting until the big fish to the south releases what their plan is before Canada makes any moves.

That budget should have been ready to go the day after the election. What do these jokers do
all day long?

Taking off two months from work because you can't handle your job would sure be a nice way
to live.

The big fish to the south doesn't have a plan. Because the very underpinnings of their
economic system has been outed for the idiocy it is. Imagine basing an economic system on
unlimited growth within a closed environment. LOL, I mean WTF?

Anybody read Gwynne Dyer in the Straight today? We're busy choosing drapery fabric while
the house burns. Scary.

Some thoughts:

Even though I like the idea of a coalition, I think they missed their chance last year. If Harper was that bad (and he may be -- see Dobbin in the Tyee today) they coulda brought him down last spring when the Liberals and NPA together had more seats than the Conservatives, and tried a coalition then. With the Tories now stronger and the Grits even weaker, it's a harder sell this time, and more susceptible to 'dance with the devil' propaganda.

I also agree with mr canuck. Any bailout or stimulus package should mirror what the US does, to some degree, or our industries will be hammered. Congress wants any auto money to stay in the US, which would mean Canadian plants would bear a disproportionate amount of any cuts by the big three. We may not be in Ontario, but we'll be affected if their economy tanks all to hell.

On a related note, some analysts say we haven't hit bottom yet (if I remember correctly, one explained that after the first crash in fall of '29, stocks recovered a fair amount by spring of '30, before dropping 90% over the next 1-2 years). And once we hit bottom, it could take 5-10 years or more before we recover, not 2 as some suggest.

We live in interesting times, in any case.

Isn't any minority government essentially just a defacto coalition?

It seems to me that if they don't have the majority of seats, they're required to co-operate with other parties to accomplish anything. To me I don't see the big deal of why it matters when it's the party with the second most seats, or the party with the most seats that heads up that.

When you vote you're selecting a person to represent you and after you've done so the MP can affiliate however they wish. That's why Emerson could cross the floor like he did.

Traditionally MPs are streamed into a party-based configuration but there's no reason why, once they were elected, a bunch of right handed people couldn't decide to renounce their original affiliation and form the Right Handed Clique. They would form a majority and they'd budget to dole out perks and benefits to right-handed Canadians. The left handers would appeal to the ambidextrous MPs to band together and claim the majority isn't acting with their confidence.

And it would be legal and constitutional.

I'd say the current controversy has arisen only because the majority of Canadians have been surprised to learn something about how their political system works.

I think most Canadians cling to myths or misunderstandings when it comes to viewing our parliament. They have ideas in their heads about how they think it works, or how they think it's supposed to work, and they become flummoxed and irritated when they learn that reality does not match their personal model.

This sort of thing comes up every time there's an election, and accusations fly about a broken electoral method and popular representation.

It comes up whenever somebody crosses the floor (a la Stronach, Khan, or Emerson).

It comes up whenever vote-bargaining gets the Bloc or the NDP a fat concession.

And of course, it comes up whenever the Opposition threatens to defeat the Government (this must be the third major threat in as many mandates, as far as I can remember).

Personally, I suspect it's because we watch a lot of American television, where politics are comparatively black-and-white, and there's a stark difference between electing the executive branch and the legislative branch. I think we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we live in some kind of republic.

Every time this sort of thing happens, it's a reminder that we don't live in a republic. We have a representative democracy-- in which the "Government" is really just a word for a large group of people who've agreed to vote more or less the same way most of the time; whereas, all the other groups happen to be in varying states of disagreement (with each other, and amongst themselves). And whenever we get an unexpected reminder of the curious bedfellows representative democracies make, we get roundly pissed off at everyone involved.

I agree, I think it's fantastic. It's messy and confusing and exactly what a democracy is about.

If nothing else, it is getting people to think which is a tall order in these times.

The issue boils down to the following.

Majority rules in the Parliament. The minority can do nothing by itself.

The Conservative Government has been preventing majority rule through a variety of
procedural maneuvers.

The minority has been 'ruling' in Parliament and the majority is fed up with it.

--

I'm not wild about the auspices under which the coalition is acting, and part of me is hoping
that this will get settled without a change to the Executive branch.

One thing is pretty certain though, Harper will not be the PM for much longer. Either the
Conservatives will get the message, replace Harper as leader, and begin letting majority rule
in the Parliament, or they won't and the majority will take over the Government, thus
allowing majority to rule in Parliament.

I'm all for a minority holding the Government, but I can't abide by them not allowing the
majority to vote on legislature in Parliament. That is undemocratic to the extreme.

"The Conservative Government has been preventing majority rule through a variety of procedural maneuvers"

I love that. People are quick to point out that the rules of our Government allow for the Coalition to attempt to take power, but when Harper also plays by the rules (he didn't overthrow the Government, what he did was legal and within the rules) people have an issue with it. You can't only support a portion of the rules. I happen to think there should be massive changes, but that is not the point.

As for this being the end of Harper, not sure about that. His stall move gives him some productive time. The Coalition claims that they are attempting to take control because Harper doesn't have a plan and isn't working with them. Over the next 7 weeks you will get to know the Conservative plan very well I think, and if Harper listens to some of his people (50/50 at best) there will even be 1 or 2 Liberal/NDP type ideas included.

So when the budget vote comes, the Coalition won't be able to say that Harper doesn't have a plan (only a plan they don't agree with) and Harper will be able to say he has included some ideas from all parties. If that is the case then if the Coalition stikes down the budget they will be hard pressed to make a case that Harper failed, he didn't get a chance. Again, if they do that it will be all about getting Harper, not Saving Canada.

Polls have shown that Canadians don't want another election and if there is one that is caused by the Coalition then I think the Conservative could win a majority. Seeing that, I bet the Coalition blinks, claims they forced Harper into doing a better job and they will wait.

One other point - great suggestion from talk radio (which is as rare as a good post on a forum). If the Coalition thinks that because they have the most seats, most popular vote and best mandate to run the country why don't the Liberals and NDP join together to make a single party in the next election? Answer - Because they would lose BAD!

m2c

"I love that. People are quick to point out that the rules of our Government allow for the
Coalition to attempt to take power, but when Harper also plays by the rules (he didn't
overthrow the Government, what he did was legal and within the rules) people have an issue
with it. You can't only support a portion of the rules. I happen to think there should be
massive changes, but that is not the point."

It's a poor argument.

I don't care about the arcane rules of Parliamentary Procedure. I care that majority rules. This
is not a case where the letter of the constitution is what's being defended, it's the spirit of the
constitution that's being defended. That spirit being democracy.

Majority rule is being skirted by the minority. The majority is acting to change that. There's
no knowledge of rules necessary to find that quite democratic.

What if the Conservatives signed a deal with the Bloc to allow Quebec to form their own independent state - would we feel the "Majority" would be right in that case? Probably not. That isn't what the Conservatives campaigned on, just as the NDP didn't campaign on the idea of selling out all their policies so they could be a weak second banana in a Coalition with the Liberals.

The Conservatives don't have a Majority, but they do have the strongest mandate and thus the right to try to run the country . If the NDP and Liberals really think that isn't in the best interest of the country then they should form a single party and let people pass judgment on them in an election they could force. If they did that then we would have a majority (one way or another) next time we go to the polls.

But it is all moot now. With Dion out, the Coalition will fall apart. The Liberals will claim that the Conservatives have adopted some of their ideas to save face and then they will be absent for the Jan 29th vote and Harper will run the show for another 2 years.

m2c

"What if the Conservatives signed a deal with the Bloc to allow Quebec to form their own
independent state - would we feel the "Majority" would be right in that case? Probably not."

I'd hate it. But the majority would absolutely be right in that case.

"That isn't what the Conservatives campaigned on, just as the NDP didn't campaign on the
idea of selling out all their policies so they could be a weak second banana in a Coalition with
the Liberals."

A disservice would be for the majority to allow the minority to pass legislation that goes
against the majority's policies or to allow the minority to prevent legislation being passed that
supported that majority's policies. Every issue would stand on its own.

No single party can pass any legislation in a minority government, and that includes the
parties in a coalition. That's one of the good things about minority governments. I'm sure
Layton or any of the leaders wouldn't ever compromise their principles for the sake of a
coalition. That's not to say they won't compromise. Everybody has to compromise to get
things done, that's cooperation, and I think that's a good thing.

M2C,

Harper DID campaign on abolishing the senate and not ever running a deficit. Should he be expelled for reneging on those promises?

Wow. 51% of Canadians think they directly elect the prime minister.

I don't even understand how it's possible to think that . . . given that party leaders' names very probably aren't even on the respondents' ballots.

I'm hoping that the respondents just overwhelmingly misunderstood the questions.