GG Completely Caves: Harper shows no contrition

Difficult position for the GG to be in, particularly with a PM who has demonstrated that he is ready to drive the country into a constitutional crisis if not an interscene regional war.  Now the air war commences over the next two months with a ground war being fought by special warrants of public money.

It is a truly bizarre for the first time in Canadian history we have a situation where executive does not enjoy the support of the parliament.

Given that the GG’s power flows through the house I just do not understand (on a purely logical level) how the GG could accede to the request for porogument.  It had to be clear that Harper was using proroguement to avoid a confidence vote which meant that the GG should have said to Harper “as long as your support in the house is in question I am not obliged nor can I accept your request for poroguement.”

………………………..

After thought

The only way I can make logical sense of it is that the GG decided that the last vote was a confidence vote and since there had not been a subsequent vote the GG had no choice but to follow the formal fiction that the PM standing before her enjoyed the support of the house even if it was substantively false.  That at least keeps the principle, but not the spirit, of responsible government in tact.  If that were her logic than I would have to agree with the choice.  Technically, in law, Harper did have the support of the house (as long as he did not have to face it).  And it is the in law status that the GG would probably have held as sacrosanct.

It is too bad we will never get know what logic was driving the GG’s decision

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16 thoughts on “GG Completely Caves: Harper shows no contrition

  1. I really didn’t expect this to happen.

    In suspending Parliament, the Governor General and the PM have effectively trashed the “first principles” of responsible and representative gov’t.

    as you said, the formal and political execs must draw their legit from Parliament.

    they must be responsible to the House, which is representative of the people.

    if these are the first principles, are we now being governed by an unconstitutional regime?

    on what grounds can the monarchy suspend the parliament of a government that clearly wouldn’t survive a vote of confidence?

  2. I just put the following up as an after-thought

    The only way I can make logical sense of it is that the GG decided that the last vote was a confidence vote and since there had not been a subsequent vote the GG had no choice but to follow the formal fiction that the PM standing before her enjoyed the support of the house even if it was substantively false. That at least keeps the principle, but not the spirit, of responsible government in tact.

    It is too bad we will never get know what logic was driving the GG’s decision.

  3. What do you expect the GG to do? People voted Harper in, albeit a minority government but still the Conservatives won. People voted in the last election eratically…some voted for other parties not to elect Harper; but in that sense, we’re now facing this dilemma. The GG could’ve allowed the coalition but think about these issues first:

    1- How can we allow a loser like Dion run Canada when even his own party does not have confidence in him?
    2- How can Layton be objective in a coalition when everything he says is negative regardless of who is in power and when he dances to everybody else’s tunes?
    3- What is the BQ doing in this facade when all Duceppe has in mind is sovereignty for Quebec and nothing for Canada?
    4- What does Harper have to offer Canada now that he’s literally blown it? He can”t lie his way out of this any longer. The People Of Canada are watching and listening.

    The GG, I believe, gave her decision based on the voters’ decision in November and probably felt a reponsibilty to permit Harper to grasp the severity of the situation and to review his inadequacy of holding the confidence of the people of Canada and of the other government parties. It’s like you say, however,”the GG had no choice but to follow the formal fiction that the PM standing before her enjoyed the support of the house even if it was substantively false. That at least keeps the principle, but not the spirit, of responsible government in tact.”

    In conclusion, I hope that all of these party leaders take the time to re-assess what they’ve done, what they should be doing for the country (and not their egos) and try to compromise on a strong and viable solution before they ruin the country even further than where we are now. In fact, I hope all the parties find new leaders before Parliament resumes! Then, perhaps the GG will not have to intervene again. (But that is dreaming, isn’t it?)

  4. “The GG, I believe, gave her decision based on the voters’ decision in November and probably felt a reponsibilty to permit Harper to grasp the severity of the situation and to review his inadequacy of holding the confidence of the people of Canada and of the other government parties.”

    That is all very interesting but that is not how the GG operates. As I suggest in my after thought I think the issue for the GG was simply that the last time the house voted the Cons won consent. End of story.

  5. G. said:

    “1- How can we allow a loser like Dion run Canada when even his own party does not have confidence in him?”

    “We” have no say in the matter when it comes to the GG’s decision, so talk like this is so much hot air.

    “2- How can Layton be objective in a coalition when everything he says is negative regardless of who is in power and when he dances to everybody else’s tunes?”

    So all he does is say “no”? Is that it? No thought to the reason why he says it? Who’s tune is he dancing to? Dion’s? Some: his party didn’t get the seats the Liberals got, so he figures to work with the next most powerful group that doesn’t offend his centrist sensibilities.

    “3- What is the BQ doing in this facade when all Duceppe has in mind is sovereignty for Quebec and nothing for Canada?”

    Crisis, remember? (Funny how that little fact and Harper’s paucity of movement on it hasn’t been mentioned too much.) If Ottawa doesn’t help out, what happens to Quebec? He’s acting correctly without compromising his party’s ideology.

    “4- What does Harper have to offer Canada now that he’s literally blown it? He can”t lie his way out of this any longer. The People Of Canada are watching and listening.”

    The only choice he has is how far he wants to compromise, and I doubt he’ll do very much more of that, trying to cover his ass with that nonsense about taking back the anti-strike and the political funding legislation (He’ll just keep disingenuously asking “What more do you want?”).

    He’ll now hope that the coalition falls apart in the month he has to delay. Maybe that’s what the GG was thinking, hoping that fate will come along and satisfy Canadians’ petit-bourgeois political ideals about “everyone just getting along”.

  6. Pingback: A quick lesson in the parliamentary tradition « Relentlessly Progressive Political Economy

  7. For all we know the GG said something like this:

    “Look Steven this time the letter of the law is on your side and I am not going to allow the GG to get dragged into the crisis you created. Have your porogation but know this: if you come back at the end of January with a loss of confidence I am going to recognize the coalition because the letter of the law will be on their side.”

  8. The trouble with this being a precedent is that, by tradition, no reasons are provided by the Governor General, unlike a Supreme Court ruling. That make is very difficult to for future Governor Generals to understand and interpret it.

    Perhaps we should be considering a Constitutional amendment eliminate power to prorogue. It’s almost always used for political games, anyway. Many good pieces of legislation have died needlessly and a great deal of time has been wasted. Reset things after an election, but not between elections.

  9. We could simply ask that the GG be required to release a paper outlining the GG’s reasons for such decisions. Normally the power to porogue parliament is not a bad thing. When the legislative agenda of the Gov is finished the Gov takes a break and gives MPs time to do constituency work.

  10. MPs get plenty of breaks to do constituency work and the government has plenty of opportunities to talk about it’s future plans without proroguing.

    Last time they prorogued it was to kill an environmental bill rewritten by the opposition:

    See the last paragraph of this article.

  11. There are other ways to kill opposition bills: committees and ending a parliamentary session. So getting rid of the prorogue won’t stop that.

  12. The whole thing would be funny if not so pathetic.

    Its very hard for me to believe that Harper is as dumb as the ‘Economic Update’ made him look, or that he is on acid.

    Instead I am somewhat inclined to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing, almost exactly what the opposition would do, and exactly how he was going to get the the GG to respond.

    If thats true, he’s now pretty sure he is going to get an election out of it in January, after he brings a Budget that actually makes some sense. At that point the Coalition is likely to have already backed themselves into a corner. Can you say ‘Majority’ ?

    Look at the spot the Liberals are in now. Could Harper of dreamed of a better sceanrio?

    Well maybe all that is a stretch, but at the moment its a theory I find to preferable to believing that aliens have put something in the water.

  13. “There are other ways to kill opposition bills: committees and ending a parliamentary session.”

    I believe in a minority government, the opposition control committees.

    Isn’t ending a parliamentary session the same as proroguing?

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