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Thursday, December 4, 2008, 12:16 PM
Governor General agrees to suspend Parliament (Parliament-Crisis) Source: The Canadian Press Dec 4, 2008 12:03
OTTAWA - Stephen Harper has won his battle to hang on as prime minister - at least until January.
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean agreed Thursday to Harper's request to shut down Parliament until he can present a budget late next month.
The decision pulls the teetering minority Conservative government a step back from the edge of a political precipice.
The Tories no longer have to face a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons on Monday that would likely have brought down the government.
But they will face another confidence test after the House returns Jan. 26 _ with a budget the next day _ setting up the prospect of a fierce battle for public support over the coming weeks.
Harper, whose provocative, trip-wire laden economic statement last week precipitated the political meltdown, is once again talking about co-operation with the opposition.
``Today's decision will give us an opportunity _ I'm talking about all the parties _ to focus on the economy and work together,'' Harper said after leaving Rideau Hall.
The Conservatives immediately prorogued Parliament, ending all debate.
Prorogation ends a parliamentary session and allows the government to start again at a later date with a fresh throne speech. It typically happens when a government has exhausted its legislative agenda, not before it's even begun.
...that, at least, seems to be what is sought for me ["Swillella"] and M. J. Murphy ["BCL"] at Free Dominion, a web site run by supporters of Stephen Harper (he has appeared onstage, side-by-side with the web site's owners). Here's a sampling, and the link:
Ed you sound like a good man, and if you lived in Alberta I would love to have you as a neighbour. But you are very PC. These bastards need a good beating. They need some time in the hospital. They need to know that when they cross the line they are going to be going on hospital food for awhile. Get a backbone. Couple of hundred bucks should get any of them a damn good beating. And let it be known. That is the old Canadian way.
In the good ole days this is the way scum were kept in line. If this was in practice now, do you think scum like swillella or BCL would be defaming good people?
Yes, we have passed it along to the police. But the question I have, for the many Conservatives who read this site (and who, butter not melting in their mouths, repeatedly express their concern for the political health of me and the Liberal leadership candidate I support), and the many members of the Conservative caucus who also read it (and who live in perpetual fear of what will happen to them, after the victory of the Liberal leadership candidate I support), the question is this:
Is the better way not the Michael Chong way? To admit that you made some mistakes, and seek compromise? Is saying nothing while your supporters place bounties on the heads of a couple of your critics a particularly good strategy?
It's time for everyone to cool down, on Parliament Hill and off. This country is too great to be lost to the whims and petty ambitions of a few stubborn men.
What will the GG do? Who knows. I sure don’t, and neither does anyone else reading this (well, maybe one person – one former GG once told me he/she actually read this little web site, God knows why).
Anyway. What we do know is, whatever she decides, Stephen Harper – as yesterday, when no less than the Globe's editorial board called on him to resign – seems unlikely to survive. If he were to indicate his intention to resign - if the Tories were to sign on to the coalition's main principles, and demonstrate some flexibility for the first time in their lives - it would go a long distance towards lowering the temperature.
Will they? Of course not. These guys are prepared to burn down the country to get their way. They've made that quite clear.
This morning’s sampling:
• L. Ian Macdonald, Montreal Gazette: “PM SHOULD HAVE A GOOD LOOK IN THE MIRROR – IT WAS HIS FAULT…Harper is already permanently damaged by this self-inflicted wound, but if he allowed the ouster of his government he would be finished as leader of the Conservative Party, which is incensed from the grassroots to the cabinet level at his reckless brinksmanship…Problem solved? Crisis over? Not exactly. Not for Harper, who will never again have a stranglehold over the House or his own party. The schoolyard bully has been called out, and no one will ever be afraid of him again.” • Don Martin, National Post: “NO UNDOING PM’S HISTORIC BLUNDER…Stephen Harper's increasingly frantic response, including his bizarre Commons allegation yesterday that three clearly visible Maple Leaf flags at the coalition's signing ceremony didn't exist, cannot change [the] unfortunate outcome…Unfortunately for the democratic process, if an infuriated electorate had the chance, it would vote a pox on everybody, blaming a dumb Harper provocation for a dumber Canadian alliance of misfits. One can only weep at the sad spectacle of it all.” • Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun: “The Harper Conservatives have lost the confidence of both the Commons and the Canadian people, after a monumental stumble rooted in overzealous partisanship…It was a monumental blunder by Harper last week that inspired the current furore. The Harperites alienated the opposition in a minority Parliament by proposing to cut public funding for political parties.” • Murray Mandryk, Regina Leader-Post: “HARPER HAS BLUNDERED BADLY…It was undoubtedly Harper's arrogance -- most evident in the recalcitrant move in his government's recent federal financial update to try and bankrupt his political enemies by slashing the per-vote subsidies given to all political parties -- that set off the painful sequence of events leading to what now looks like his government's demise. It didn't have to be this way. Had Harper shown one iota of humility or even contrition, his government might have survived. Alas, he and his Conservative ministers remain incapable of such remorse.” • Chantal Hébert, Toronto Star: “Ironically, it was Stephen Harper who first brought the option of vaulting to power from the benches of the official Opposition to the fore in the early days of Paul Martin's 2004 minority regime. Even before the presentation of Martin's Speech from the Throne, Harper had sought out his two opposition rivals to lay the groundwork of an alliance to unseat the Liberals. He would not have entered a formal coalition, but he was willing to advance key priorities of his opposition partners (starting with Gilles Duceppe) in exchange for their support for a Conservative government.”
Stephen Harper is in trouble. Of that, there can be no doubt. I have heard from senior Conservatives - and even some present and former caucus members - who are very, very angry at him. More than one noted to me how much Jim Prentice looked like a leader in Question Period – and how the Prime Minister looked like a shadow of his former self.
Some people are blaming Guy Giorno, but – speaking as a former staffer – that’s the chicken’s way out. Staffers only give advice; leaders, meanwhile, are supposed to lead. The Conservative leader didn’t.
I’m a Liberal active in this leadership race, so don’t just take my word for it. Here’s just a sampling of what the pundits and pols are saying this morning, taken mainly from conservative media:
• Sun Media: “HARPER’S FATE IN DOUBT…As the survival of the Conservative government hangs in the balance, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's leadership could also be on the line. Some Tories are quietly grumbling about the grave political miscalculation that is pushing the government to the brink.” • John Ivison, National Post: “Stephen Harper is another politician who looks like he's been hit by a train these days. The Prime Minister was barely audible as he replied to Stephane Dion's question in the House of Commons yesterday, asking him whether he still believes he has the confidence of the House. A tired-looking Mr. Harper…stood there, stripped of hubris, drained of energy, sending the message to Conservatives that resistance is futile. It looked as if losing the confidence of the House had affected his own faith in himself…what will be Mr. Harper's fate? The response of my unscientific poll of Conservatives taken on Parliament Hill yesterday was an almost unanimous thumbs down.” • Rob Granastein, Sun: “WHY IT’S TIME FOR HARPER TO GO…This is Stephen Harper's fault. If he loses power next week, Harper must be replaced as leader of the Conservative party. And even if he survives, his days should be numbered. Really, what the #$%^& was he thinking?" • Jeff Simpson, Globe and Mail: “His fate depends, it would appear, on the Governor-General's decision to grant prorogation or an election. Otherwise, he will have done a Joe Clark, miscalculating his way out of office.” • Randy Denley, Ottawa Citizen: “Most of the blame for this mess goes to Stephen Harper. If his government falls, he should resign. He is the architect of the crisis the country now faces. And all of it was so unnecessary. Harper just couldn't resist the chance to slip in a low blow against his opponents and it has backfired spectacularly. If he hasn't the decency to resign as a matter of honour, his party should insist that he go.” • Winnipeg Free Press: “TORIES OUTRAGED AT HARPER’S POTENTIALLY FATAL FUMBLE…astonished Conservatives are quietly fuming about the tactical lunder they fear could toss them into opposition. And the blame seems to be landing on the prime minister's doorstep. Stunned Conservative MPs are barely concealing their outrage. Many are venting their anger in private because of Stephen Harper's iron grip on the party and the uncertain prospects of a coalition of opposition parties.” • Don Martin, National Post: “…Stephen Harper may well join Stephane Dion as a former prime minister, the price for boneheadedly browbeating his opponents in dangerous times…Stephen Harper always projected confident, unflappable leadership. That changed yesterday when his sagging shoulders and lack-lustre performance gave him the look of a lost cause trying to come to mental grips with his six-week squandering of the largest minority mandate in Canadian history.” • Dan Lett, Winnipeg Free Press: “Harper returned to Ottawa and single-handedly toppled himself….Harper stumbled awkwardly into this predicament and since then has shown no capacity to extricate himself from a dilemma that appears to have evolved from political stunt to political checkmate. There are risks here for the opposition leaders, but they are not alone. Canadians are entitled to wonder how Harper would do leading the country through an economic crisis when he couldn't survive a political crisis.”
So what do you think, dear reader? I cannot see how Stephen Harper can survive if his government is defeated; very quickly thereafter, there will be two parties having a leadership race - not one.
Leadership candidates agree to Dion as PM Updated Mon. Dec. 1 2008 2:02 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The three main contenders to replace Liberal Leader Stephane Dion announced on Monday their unanimous agreement that Dion should lead a coalition with the NDP and serve as interim prime minister if the government is brought down.
Speaking outside of the Liberal caucus meeting, Dominic LeBlanc, standing shoulder to shoulder with Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, said they all back the deal forged with the NDP.
"The accord that was presented to us received unanimous support and the other issue which is very important is we decided the only person and the best person to lead and form a coalition government is the elected leader of our party, the leader of the opposition Stephane Dion," LeBlanc said.
Ignatieff echoed his words, saying the coalition deal is economically responsible, preserves Liberal ideals and upholds Dion as party leader until May, when a leadership convention will be held.
"We are at one, the three of us, that the only person who can lead the party is the duly elected leader of the party Mr. Stephane Dion," Ignatieff said.
Rae described the meeting as historic, positive, upbeat and moving.
Earlier Monday the candidates met with Dion, who presented them with the draft agreement that has been negotiated with the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, who would support the coalition from outside of government.
"They agreed that the terms were good, and they went to the Liberal caucus, where we are told they unanimously said they support Mr. Dion in being the leader," said CTV's Mike Duffy.
The current political storm erupted last week after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his economic update -- a blueprint that contained no stimulus package, temporarily shut down public servants' ability to strike and outlined plans to slash public funding for political parties.
As a confidence motion the fiscal update must pass in the House of Commons or the government would fall.
Almost immediately after Flaherty's announcement, opposition parties began meeting to discuss forming a coalition.
Details have been in the finalization process over the weekend and on Monday as party members worked to hammer out an agreement to topple the Conservatives.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported earlier Monday that a high-profile, four-person economic panel would guide a Liberal-NDP coalition government on finance matters.
The group would comprise Frank McKenna, Paul Martin, John Manley and Roy Romanow.
"This is a way to assure Canadians the economy would be managed properly," Fife told CTV Newsnet.