Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Canada's Coup d'Etat

A Francophone immigrant who worked for the leftist CBC, a woman married to a Communist "filmmaker," is the former Liberal government's appointee to the position of Governor-General of Canada. She's the one the current government has to rely on for a decision whether the Conservatives can continue to run as elected to do as of six weeks ago.

I thought Obama was bad news.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has held power since February 2006 not only on the strength of his political cunning but also because no other political party is strong enough to mount a serious challenge to the Tories. Harper took a calculated gamble on calling an election this past October less than three years after the last election. While he won more seats, he still did not achieve a majority government.

But suddenly, only six weeks after that election, the other political leaders -- who were roundly trounced in the October vote -- have declared that Harper and the Tories are intolerable. They have formed a coalition to vote the Tories down and take power. This maneuver is legal in parliamentary tradition, and I wrote about this possibility two years ago in American Thinker.

Therefore, we could shortly have a new government headed up by the Liberal Party, who won only 26% of the vote in the last election, and a new Prime Minister, St├ęphane Dion, unpopular with his own party, who just announced he was stepping down as leader of his party after the Liberals disastrous showing in the polls. The Liberals are teaming up with the left-leaning New Democratic Party, but this still doesn't give them enough seats to overwhelm the Tories.

To gain power, they must form a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois, a party for which there is no American equivalent, although the old Dixicrat party
is the closest parallel. While other federal political parties campaign from coast to coast, the Bloc Quebecois operates only in Quebec and its avowed purpose is to represent the interests of the only majority French-speaking province in Canada.

It doesn't take political genius to understand that the Bloc Quebecois can only be persuaded to join a coalition with promises of what's-in-it-for-Quebec. A possible answer to that question lies in the fact that the coalition leaders declare they must urgently, swiftly, dramatically, start spending a lot more money, to emulate their neighbors to the south in a fiscal stimulus package to stave off economic disaster.

As columnist Andrew Coyne sarcastically notes:

How could the government be so blind? Can it not see that unemployment has soared to 6.2%? Why, that's four-tenths of a percentage point above its recent, thirty-year low. And what about Canadians' fears of losing their home, what with the proportion of mortgages more than 90 days in arrears standing at an all-time record 0.2%? Okay, it's an all-time record low, but still. When will it realize there's a Depression on?

[W]hat Canadians demand is "stimulus." And stimulus, we all know, in a sophisticated, 21st century economy, can be delivered in only one way: by hiring large numbers of unionized men to dig holes in the ground (see "infrastructure.") Loosening monetary policy doesn't count. Tax cuts don't count. It only counts as "stimulus" if the government spends it. [More....]

There are those who say that together the three opposition parties make up 66 per cent of the vote cast in Oct. and therefore, they, not the current government are the plurality. But they neglect to mention that this election showed the lowest voter turn-out in Canadian history, or something like that. I wasn't paying attention. What it tells me is that roughly 50 percent of the eligable voters didn't vote at all. To follow the course of the three parties who want proportional representation, I suggest that those who didn't vote be given their representation as well: leave half the arseholes in Parliament with no seats. Yup, empty seat to represent those who didn't vote. It's only fair.


truepeers said...

If she respects her office, her socialist past should have nothing to do with it. She must take her lead from the PM and the leaders in Parliament: that's what responsible government means. Layton and Dion are within their purely legal rights: this is not a coup, just an act of utter disrespect for the voters and the national and party interests: the fruits of an irrational hatred of Harper: a hatred that pushes men towards self-destructive vanity. Utopian evil.

Dag said...

This manoeuver might well be legal but only in a legalistic sense. One can justify any lie or any crime by law if one looks to the depths of laws rather than law; but the end result is legalism rather than Law itself. It's perhaps a good thing that defende att.s defend the worse of criminals, but it's not good that they win on positivist technicalities of legalisms rather than natural justice based on common law.

And a coup d'etat is a removal of the top leadership, not necessarily by military might but by force, which this seems to approximate too closely. This is probably legal but it's neither just nor democratic.

Anonymous said...

That Jean woman is not fit for the office of Governor General and here's why:
link 1
link 2
link 3

truepeers said...

And a coup d'etat is a removal of the top leadership, not necessarily by military might but by force, which this seems to approximate too closely.

-it seems to me the argument against this coalition is not that it can wield power, let alone force, but that it is morally illegitimate and led by an incredibly weak man with no real base for his leadership. It may, temporarily, appear - though this is yet to be proven - that the majority in Parliament supports him, but the Governor General must weigh whether the coalition of power hungry Larry, Curly, and Moe are really at all likely to form a stable government vs. the need for another election. (There can be no question of the Conservatives continuing in power if they lose a confidence vote in Parliament, that would be entirely against our traditions and law.) And she has not yet made their decision and there is as yet no transfer of power.

One may well have a good argument that Paul Martin should never have appointed Jean. But once she is the GG one who respects our system of government must defer to the office and not be in a rush to politicize her decision, especially given that she has yet to make any decision and may well, in the end, be served by a PM who does the responsible thing if and when the House votes against him.

Anonymous said...

I think the tone is set incorrectly when this is talked about like its a mad power grab.

The Conservatives threw the first punch with the cutting of the other parties funding which would basically cripple them thus allowing Harper a very good chance at a majority in the next election and forever. Now I don't know the solution to this problem but it seems really unfair that he do this and especially that he do it now when we need to focus on Economic events.

I realize that some people will not want money taken out of their pockets for parties that cannot raise it but that's the reality we live in. I would not want a situation where one upper class can exploit the majority lower class. I don't want to live in a country where the one party has a stranglehold on funding and the others have none, that just wont work and it not fair.

I would like to think that we can have a multi party system with equal funding and I dont know how you would keep every freak from making his own party but I'm sure we could figure something out.

it seems like its Harper and the Conservatives are the ones making a bold power move when they should be looking into Economic events ( which they have also been accused of not paying much attention to ).

Do I think the coalition would govern well,,, no,, but their hand has been forced and I approve of their actions. I want a system as fair as it can be.

truepeers said...


The obvious problem with your argument is that Harper has already backed down from the election financing measure. The opposition have won that one for now, and so that cannot justify what they are doing. Yes, Harper may be a bastard at times, but one has to be able to weigh one's resentments and know when they are taking one too far into dangerous delusions. The election gave him the only strong claim to govern at present; it gave no such claim to Dion who should know better - he is damaging his own party. People should deal with that reality and fight their issues vigorously, and not push things into crisis at such an early stage. The complete impatience of the opposition parties to grab power is very revealing. One has to fall for cheap scapegoating to pin all the blame on Harper, though of course a lot of people are doing that now.

As for your thoughts about party financing, you seem to be enamored of maternalist rhetoric under which every child gets treated equally, no matter what they do or deserve. You also talk about some ruling class lording it over the rest. Are you not aware that the CPC membership that gives the donations that keeps that party ahead of the rest are hardly Canada's elite, for the most part. They are decidedly middle-class people. Furthermore, it is precisely by giving the Liberal Party the means to finance itself without needing to appeal to the ordinary voters for many little donations that guarantees they will remain the primary voice for elitist Canadians. Harper should not have acted so precipitously, but in the long run it would be good for democracy if parties had to actually appeal to voters for their survival, and not only at the polls. A party that can command no more loyalty than a vote every four years (when none of the choices is usually that good anyway) just doesn't have the same legitimacy as a party that can call on people to volunteer their time and money. If donations are capped at a $1000, or thereabouts, then no party can be controlled by a rich few, as the Liberal Party has been historically. The other parties aren't really interested in you contributing to the democratic process. They prefer top-down party rule and that is why they prefer public financing and not grass roots financing. Of the big three, only the CPC still values the grass roots. SO why fall for the LPC and NDP maternalist rhetoric? why not get involved and take on your share of the risks and injustices of the real world? Why do you prefer to just sit back and be taxed and feel you are doing something noble?

Anonymous said...

"Harper has already backed down from the election financing measure."

My Bad. So, if this is the case then I do not support the coalition at all. I feel silly for not having known this.

"donations are capped at a $1000"
We should be doing that for sure, I would be very happy with that.
You're making good points about parties hanging around with public money instead of grass roots money. I don't want parties 'on the dole' more than anyone else.

truepeers said...


there is a further point that occurs to me after watching Harper's speech tonight, which I thought was inadequate. He really had nothing to say, giving us no serious sense of how he is going to deal with this crisis, what he thinks is the right thing for him to do, what he would offer to negotiate with the other parties or parts thereof. It strikes me that he must either have some very good reason for being cagey that I can't think of, or he just doesn't have a lot of ideas about how to re-present Canada's national interest in ways that can point towards new pacts that can lead us out of this crisis. Stephane Dion also had little creative to say, besides repeating his election campaign rhetoric.

So, I see this as signs of a bigger crisis in the field of representations, a lack of representations that could set in flow a new and freer political exchange in this country.

This kind of crisis no doubt has many causes but a lot of them are to do with too much top-down politics and not enough room in the political arenas for creative interactions among ordinary Canadians. We need more space for political entrepreneurs. What I saw tonight from Harper and Dion were men who look as if they are frozen in ice. And ultimately, that is somewhat related to how our political parties are run and financed. The CPC may be more skilled at grassroots organizing and fundraising than the others, though the NDP uses the unions to put together pretty impressive electoral machines in certain ridings, but Harper himself is clearly too much of an autocrat who is just too insecure about others' power plays to negotiate effectively in a minority government. Canada is a huge problem, and it is not surprising that we don't have many skilled at representing a common national interest. But that is what we have to work towards, or give up. And making parties more dependent on grass roots would be part of that.

Dag said...

"Fair"? If the world were fair we'd all be sentenced to summary execution before the time we reach the age of five. Fair is a bad dream for dreamers who don't think through the realities of living in the real world, as hard as it is, and who won't accept that life is better when it is hard. Your version of fair is my nightmare. How fair is that?

Dag said...

CH, I didn't get your later comments till I looked here directly, the up-dated conversation not arriving even now in my mailbox. I'm happy to see you're not the committed ideologue so many others seem to be.

I have no idea about the finer details or even the general outlines of Canadian parliamentary politics, going only on intuition and experience in the world, and this situation is plain dirty to my eye. The legalities are no fig-leaf at all. This, to a disinterested outsider, is just a dirty power-grab by unelected politico who seem willing to do anything at all for power at the expense of the people. I've seen this behavior in Latin America, the only real difference here being the lack of guns in play. The heart of the matter is the same.

reliable sources said...

This was a good overview. And funny too.

I read it out loud to a friend who supports the coalition.

Dag said...

I was laughing too, right up till I started reading the links Vancouver Visitor left here.

I'll have to work extra hard to regain my sense of humor after going through that.

There must be a joke in here somewhere, one of those "What do you get when you cross a Liberal with New Democrat and Quebec sepratists?" Maybe a government of Three Stooges who want to separate you from democracy while taking your money and leaving the country.

N'yuck, n'yuck, n'yuck.

OK, it was off the top of my head. I'll do better in time for my opening on Broadway.