Thursday, December 4, 2008

Damage Done

It's been a hell of a week. There's been a lot of damage - the most important instance being, of course, Her Excellency the Governor-General's choice to prorogue parliament effective immediately, rather than awaiting Monday's (now cancelled) confidence vote. This is an absolutely terrifying precedent; Stephen Harper and Michaëlle-Jean have essentially established that any Prime Minister faced with a sure-loss confidence vote can go ahead and ask for a prorogation and avoid the hammer of the House's voice - at least for a time.

Harper will face the same problems he left the parliament with when it reconvenes on January 26th. The coalition may not survive until that date, but Harper has lost the confidence of our elected officials. They will not forgive him and he needs to resign. Canadians will not forgive him - or, at the very least, if they do, Québecois will not. The Conservatives will deliver a budget more quickly than the coalition could and for that I support their mandate to govern. However, it is my sincere belief that Stephen Harper must resign.

Not just because he's lost the confidence of the house, but because his treatment of the bloc during this crisis was shameful. I've stated before that attacking the bloc's legitimacy attacks the legitimacy of the whole French-Canadian franchise, it accuses Québecois who want their own country of being anti-Canadian in a way that is patently false and stirs up a unity crisis in the middle of a constitutional crisis and an economic crisis. It is a third crisis we simply do not need!

Bloc MPs are elected just as legitimately as their conservative, liberal and NDP counterparts - in many cases, they're more legitimately elected than their counterparts, as they often garner real majorities in their ridings, rather than mere pluralities. For some reason, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper is unable to accept them as fellow Members of Parliament with the same democratic authority as his own duly elected and Right Honourable Albertan ass. Such discrimination in parliament is just as dangerous as his prorogation precedent.

That dangerous precedent was accompanied by a litany of lies from his Right Honourableness; his claim that the Bloc Québécois' interests lie in the destruction of Canada are patently false! In fact, for a separate and prosperous Québec to exist, a strong, economically independent Canada would have to exist and continue to exist. It is intrinsic to any sovereignist option to prop up and improve Canada in every possible way. In that sense, there is nobody in parliament I would trust more to ensure the stability of either a coalition government or a revitalized conservative one.

And these facts were not lost on the Bloc, the PC, Québec Solidaire or any of the Sovereignist parties - the work done by the Liberals and Conservatives over the last thirteen years, placating Québec and solidifying a United Canada may aswell be flushed down the toilet. Stephen Harper threw it away to save his political career.

Mr. Harper, please step down.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stability & The Economy

The Government's rhetoric, over the last two days, has stressed the unstable element that a coalition propped up by the Bloc Québécois would bring to the country and its economy; at a glance, this would appear accurate. The Toronto Stock Exchange has seen its value fall steadily since the announcement of a coalition agreement on Monday, and its volatility has been higher than usual since rumours of a coalition began flying after the economic update on Thursday. This, however, is more appearance than reality.

The current instability of the government is causing trouble with the stock market; investors unable to know whether a divided parliament will continue past Christmas, whether government will be dissolved until spring while the country runs another election that may yield another dysfunctional House or whether the Governor-General will ask the coalition to step in and govern. I believe that the most likely desired result on the part of investors lies in either a Harper-less conservative government, or in the implementation of the Liberal-NDP coalition. The Bloc's commitment to the coalition would ensure rather than oppose the stability Harper claims he fears for so much from the Opposition's agreement.

In promising, within the context of a legally binding document, not to defeat a coalition government for 18 months, the Bloc has ensured that no one short of one of the governing parties could join the Conservatives in bringing them down - stability, thy name is coalition.

That they are promising, in addition to the measures implemented by the conservative government, to invest massively in Canada's manufacturing and agricultural sectors in order to protect them from the forecast economic downturn is yet another reason for investors to remain optimistic about a coalition being invited to form Canada's government. In fact, the most damaging thing the Governor-General could do for the economy at this point in time would be to okay another election.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Marxist Perspective

While I do not agree with their position, I'd like to present columns by my friends over at Fight Back. They've presented their opinions on the current goings-on in Parliament and I think it's an interesting take on what is obviously becoming a crisis worthy of the name.

The first article discusses the causes of the current crisis in the framework of a move towards socialization:

While this second article addresses the concessions made by the NDP in order to form the potential coalition (interestingly, it ignores the Québec factor when trying to explain why Gilles Duceppe is so damned happy):

Pay them a visit, give them a read - they're interesting enough, and provide a lot of good insight, even if (like me), you don't agree with their motives or their direction.

The Animosity in Canadian Parliament - A Letter to Stephen Harper - Video

A Letter to Stephen HarperI sent this email to the Prime Minister a moment ago

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The Animosity in Canadian Parliament - A Letter to Stephen Harper

Mr. Harper,

The events of the last week have me concerned, I'm afraid, for the future of my country. I have stated, in public and on my blog (, that the Canadian electoral process is inherently undemocratic and that the minority forum of parliament is the only way of approaching, through that process and in a representative fashion, the true desires of Canadians. So understand that I do not believe that the mandate to govern falls necessarily on the winning party of an election (in your case, the Conservative Party), but rather on the House of Parliament, whose makeup is reasonably close to the will of the Canadian people.

So it is with consternation that I witnessed your move to consolidate your party's power and capitalize on your Opposition's divided nature. It is with consternation that I witnessed your shock as your Opposition banded together to decry your heavy-handedness. It is with consternation that I witnessed you accuse the opposition, who together hold a majority of both the popular vote and the House, of acting undemocratically and it is with consternation that I witnessed your Sun King approach to party politics, reining in the dissent of those members of your party, such as the Honourable Mr. Day, who disagreed with your approach to the situation.

The absolutist approach you've employed, Mr. Harper, has given you one advantage. It is an advantage you can use to save your party's government from being toppled by the coalition; it has drawn responsibility away from your party and onto yourself and so, by your resignation and by your party's nomination of a new leader, you can save the Governor-General from setting a new, dangerous and potentially costly precedent in Canadian political history.

Please understand that I send this letter as a concerned citizen, looking to protect my country. I want the last year's economic growth (because while our neighbours to the south suffered a recession, our economy grew 1.7%) to continue and I want our country to survive what is a very uncertain economic period. I want the government to remain stable and I want you to resign, Mr. Harper, in order to accomplish that.

My name is Steven Alleyn, I thank you for your time and I hope this letter finds you well.

P.S. I do not support them, but the Bloc Québécois is a legitimate political party seeking to protect the interests of the Province of Québec. While their charter establishes them as a separatist party, history shows that they have acted in the interest of Quebec and Canada and have not directly acted against Canadian unity. Attacking their credibility and their legitimacy can be construed as an attempt to discredit the opinions and legitimacy of the entire French Canadian franchise; it is not in keeping with the political shrewdness you have demonstrated over the last eight years.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And We Have a Winner!

There is only one winner of the coalition agreement reached today by the Grits, NDP and Bloc, and that's the Bloc. The Liberals and NDP between them do not have the clout required to form a functional coalition government; they have 114 seats between them, not enough to even pretend to oppose the Conservatives; the coalition is entirely dependent on the Bloc's willingness to support it.

That kind of leverage will not be overlooked by an idealist - an intelligent idealist - like Gilles Duceppe. The Bloc can ask for whatever they want, within reason of course, and get it! This wasn't lost on Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton or their respective caucusses, and there's an agreement - an official, legally binding agreement - for the Bloc not to defeat the coalition government for 18 months.

That leaves the Bloc with a lot of leeway. They hold the balance of legislative power and can block legislation, they can allow the Conseratives to run their legislation through anyway and oppose anything the government tries to pass unless their demands are met.

If I was Gilles Duceppe, I would be giggling maniacally.

Democracy's End

Here's how Harper pissed off the opposition to the point where he can now declare his political career officially dead:

He presented preliminary financial measures, leading into the budget to be released next month, which undermined the already tenuous democracy of Canada's electoral process. His measure rescinded the right of political parties to receive public financing for every vote garnered at the polls, which would have effectively rendered every vote not cast for a winning candidate utterly worthless.

The opposition exploded; an attack on democracy and, more importantly for the self-interested politicians, an attack on their bottom line! It was unacceptable - it is unacceptable. The public financing measure was the only thing standing between Canadian Democracy and its transformation into a complete farce.

For those of you who find the coalition proposition undemocratic, I've got news for you; the opposition, between them, control a majority of the seats in parliament. The coalition is essentially more democratically legitimate than the minority conservatives, in that it has the support of 163 MPs, versus the 143 seats held by the Conservatives.

Democracy in this country is a joke.

The Coalition of the Willing - Video

The Coalition of the Willing - Canadas Political Woes

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The Coalition of the Willing

Today, the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québecois Parties came to an agreement, in principle, to form a coalition government and replace the duly elected Conservatives under the guidance of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

Harper played chicken with the opposition, as he is wont to do, only this time they didn’t flinch. Now, if I may be allowed to complete the metaphor, the paramedics – in the person of Michaëlle-Jean – must pry a functional government out of the wreckage.

If she allows Harper to kill the current parliamentary session and pick up in January, we’ll be no better off; he’s lost the confidence of the opposition parties and he’s not getting it back. If she allows him to dissolve parliament and call an election, the Canadian people will elect another Conservative Minority and we’ll be right back where we started. There are only two ways out of this mess:

The Governor-General can allow the opposition to go through with their plan to form a coalition government, or she can allow the Conservatives to keep power on the condition that they replace Stephen Harper.

No matter what happens, Harper’s down for the count.