Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hypocrisy breathtaking; party sends bile-filled email across Canada

The above photo is from an email sent by the Conservative Party of Canada

“I will give my caucus a mandate to vote in the interests of the country… If that means defeating the government, then that’s what will happen.”

“I want this Parliament to work, but our constitutional role as the official opposition is to be ready to replace this government.”

“The reality is that [Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin] is in a minority situation, and his government has to create a functional majority (in Parliament).”

“The Governor General does not have to follow the prime minister’s wishes… She must ensure that [Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin] has the House’s confidence, that’s all.”

– Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Conservative leader says he won’t rule out toppling minority government (Canadian Press NewsWire, Sept. 30, 2004)

“It is the Parliament that’s supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party.”

– Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Opposition warns of showdown: Letter to Clarkson says parties will challenge Throne Speech (National Post, Toronto / Late Edition, Sept. 10, 2004)
In an act of breathtaking hypocrisy the Harper Conservatives have sent out a bile-filled email across Canada attacking and condemning “a socialist-separatist driven coalition” of trying “to overturn the results of the election and seize power.”

“The new socialist-separatist driven coalition is an attack on Canada’s democracy as the proposed leader of this unelected, illegitimate, coalition remains Stéphane Dion, whom Canadians would still reject as Prime Minister were another election held today,” the disturbing Dec. 2, 2008, email states.

“It is time for Canadians to stand up against backroom deals that would usurp the elected government without the people’s consent.”

On Sept. 9, 2004, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper held a joint news conference with NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois chief Gilles Duceppe to outline plans they said would make Parliament more democratic and give the combined opposition far more clout that has been traditional.

Among other things, they want to narrowly define what votes constitute confidence measures which might lead to the defeat of a government. They would have the Commons vote on issues such as treaties and overseas troop deployments and would give MPs more say in choosing committee leaders and vetting patronage appointments.

“This is not a coalition, but this is a co-operative effort,” said Harper. [Opposition leaders serve notice to Martin (Kingston Whig-Standard, Sept. 10, 2004)]

The Dec. 1, 2008, Accord between the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada defines the relationship of the two parties as a “cooperative government.” This appears to be no different than the arrangement Harper described in 2004 when his party teamed up with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

It should be noted that the Bloc Quebecois is not a signatory to the Accord on a Cooperative Government to Address the Present Economic Crisis, but has signed the Policy Accord to Address the Present Economic Crisis.

According to the National Post, in a letter dated Sept. 9, 2004, to Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton raise the possibility that Parliament could be dissolved, suggesting she should consult them if that were to happen.

The letter to Mme. Clarkson advises her that only a limited number of votes in the Commons should be considered matters of confidence worthy of triggering an election. One of those votes, however, will be on the government’s Throne Speech, and the opposition leaders say they intend to propose amendments to the speech, which outlines the government's priorities.

The letter to Mme. Clarkson, which was signed by all three opposition party leaders, states that in a minority Parliament “you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

“We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise, this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority,” it states.

Further, the leaders said they intend to introduce a narrow definition of confidence votes into the Commons rules as part of a larger parliamentary reform package to be implemented jointly by the three parties.

“What we want to make sure is that the patronage factory that has been the Liberal party for the past 11 years is put out of operation,” Mr. Harper said. “It is the Parliament that’s supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party. That’s a criticism I’ve had and that we’ve had and that most Canadians have had for a long, long time now so this is an opportunity to start to change that.”

In spite of the request that the Governor-General consult them if the Liberals are defeated in the House, the three leaders denied they are preparing to operate as a coalition government or usurp the government’s main powers.

“This is not a coalition,” Mr. Harper said. “My staff asked me what we should call this arrangement, and I said it’s the opposition parties co-operating. Maybe it’s a ‘co-opposition.’ ” [Opposition warns of showdown: Letter to Clarkson says parties will challenge Throne Speech (National Post, Toronto / Late Edition, Sept. 10, 2004)]

In an interview with Montreal Le Devoir a week or so later, Harper said he was under no obligation to co-operate with Paul Martin’s minority government and would bring it down if it’s in the interests of the country.

“I will give my caucus a mandate to vote in the interests of the country,” Harper told Le Devoir from his office on Parliament Hill.

“If that means defeating the government, then that’s what will happen.”

While Harper acknowledged Canadians don’t want to go to the polls for a second time in less than a year, he also added: “The government cannot expect our support.

“I want this Parliament to work, but our constitutional role as the official opposition is to be ready to replace this government.”

Harper went on to say “The reality is that [Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin] is in a minority situation, and his government has to create a functional majority (in Parliament).”

Referring to the letter the parties sent to Clarkson, Harper said “The Governor General does not have to follow the prime minister’s wishes,” said Harper, who met with Clarkson on [Sept. 28, 2004].

“She must ensure that [Martin] has the House’s confidence, that’s all.” [Conservative leader says he won't rule out toppling minority government (Canadian Press NewsWire, Sept. 30, 2004.)]

Now, four years later, Harper is railing against the very system he once touted.

James Laxer, the Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto and a prominent author, columnist and commentator, recently posted to his blog an informative explanation of Canada’s Parliamentary democracy.

In The Harperites Are Misrepresenting Our System of Government, Laxer says “Harper and his operatives are trying to sell the public a false view of how our system of government works.”

“It begins with the bogus proposition that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives “won” the recent election and have a mandate to govern.

“In fact, in the recent election, the Conservatives won a minority of seats in the House of Commons, 143 out of 308.

“Our system of government, known as “responsible government”, holds that for a ministry to hold office it must enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons, i.e. the support of the majority of the members of the House,” Laxer said.

“The Canadian prime minister is not a quasi-king in the manner of the American president. He or she rises or falls depending on the votes of the majority in the House of Commons. That is what is going on here. What is coming to an end is the rule of a prime minister who thought he was a king. What is coming is a government that actually represents the views of the majority of the members of the House, and for that matter the majority of voters in the recent election.”

Stephen Harper is the architect of this crisis. If it leads to his downfall he has no one else to blame but himself.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The following message was sent via email from the Conservative Party of Canada:

December 02, 2008

Two months ago Canadians voted in a general election. They made a clear choice.

Stephen Harper was given a strengthened governing mandate to address the global economic crisis.

Canadians did not give Stéphane Dion a mandate to lead Canada. He was personally rejected by voters just as he was subsequently personally rejected by his party.

Nor did Canadians give the Liberals a mandate to form a coalition with the NDP. In fact, the Liberals explicitly promised there would be no coalition with the NDP.

And they certainly did not give either the Liberals or the NDP a mandate to govern with the Separatists, the very people who want to destroy Canada.

Yet, yesterday, in a shocking display of undemocratic arrogance, a socialist-separatist driven coalition announced that they will try to overturn the results of the election and seize power without first going back to the voters.

The new socialist-separatist driven coalition is an attack on Canada’s democracy as the proposed leader of this unelected, illegitimate, coalition remains Stéphane Dion, whom Canadians would still reject as Prime Minister were another election held today.

The new socialist-separatist coalition is an attack on Canada’s economy – as it would empower NDP – whose discredited left-wing ideology is so risky that even the Liberals call it “economically damaging”.

And the new socialist-separatist driven coalition is an attack on Canada itself. For no responsible national leader would ever give power to a group that wants to destroy one of the most peaceful and prosperous nations ever to have existed.

It is time for Canadians to stand up against backroom deals that would usurp the elected government without the people’s consent.

It is time for Canadians to stand up against coalitions with discredited socialists that would put our economy at risk.

It is time for Canadians stand up against alliances that would provide a veto to the separatists who would destroy our country.

It’s time to Stand up for Canada.

It’s time to Let the people speak.

Take action NOW:

Write a letter to the editor
Attend a rally
Tell a friend
Call talk radio
Sign a petition
Join a Facebook group

The following is the letter sent by Harper, Duceppe and Layton to the Governor General four years ago:

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

Excellency,

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party


Below is a posting from James Laxer’s blog:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Harperites Are Misrepresenting Our System of Government

In a bid to save their government from defeat and prevent its replacement by a Liberal-NDP coalition with the support of the Bloc, Stephen Harper and his operatives are trying to sell the public a false view of how our system of government works.

It begins with the bogus proposition that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives “won” the recent election and have a mandate to govern.

In fact, in the recent election, the Conservatives won a minority of seats in the House of Commons, 143 out of 308.

Our system of government, known as “responsible government”, holds that for a ministry to hold office it must enjoy the confidence of the House of Commons, i.e. the support of the majority of the members of the House.

In Canada, we do not directly elect our prime minister. The prime minister is an elected member of the House of Commons (in theory, he or she could be a Senator, but this has happened only twice, the last time under Mackenzie Bowell from 1894 to 1896.) The Governor General asks the leader of the political party that commands the support of the majority in the House to form a government. In the case of a minority parliament, the critical issue is which party or combination of parties can command the support of the majority in the House.

Yesterday, when the leaders of the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc, whose parties hold the majority of seats in the House announced their intention to defeat the Harper government and replace it with a Liberal-NDP coalition government with the support of the Bloc, they were playing out their roles within the system of responsible government. And since this move comes early in the new parliament and holds out the promise of stable government for at least the next eighteen months, it is almost certain that the Governor General will call on the coalition to form a government once the Conservatives have been defeated. (The Governor General does have some discretion here, under the rubric of royal prerogative, but considering how recent the election was, it is highly unlikely that she would accede to a request by Stephen Harper to dissolve parliament to call another election.)

The Conservatives are appearing on news shows, talk shows and are organizing rallies putting out the word that what is happening in Ottawa is an attempted “coup”. At the centre of this inane claim is the proposition that Canadians just re-elected Stephen Harper as prime minister and that he has a mandate to govern.

It is true that the Americans directly elect their president and therein lies much of the confusion that is being stirred up by furious Conservatives over their punch bowls. The American Constitution (in my view grounded on a poor understanding of Montesquieu and the British Constitution following the Glorious Revolution of 1688) rests on the notion of “separation of powers”. The Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch (Congress) and the Judicial Branch each occupy their own hermetically sealed space and are protected from undue interference with each other much the way Vestal Virgins were protected in Ancient Rome. To their credit, the Americans have managed to make this ungainly system work with only one Civil War marring its record to date.

The Canadian prime minister is not a quasi-king in the manner of the American president. He or she rises or falls depending on the votes of the majority in the House of Commons. That is what is going on here. What is coming to an end is the rule of a prime minister who thought he was a king. What is coming is a government that actually represents the views of the majority of the members of the House, and for that matter the majority of voters in the recent election.

1 Comments:

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Ron said...

Hey Joe......take it to your local NDP MP....OHHHHH....that's right you DON'T HAVE ONE!!!!

 

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