After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

We elect Parliaments in this country. not governments when we vote.

Kady O'Malley at the MacLeans blog has a very good article from Friday Jan 23 09 up with an interview with the representatives of a group of Constitutional experts regarding how our system of government ACTUALLY works as opposed to the fictions we have been hearing from the Harper government and its allies/defenders in the media and in the online world. The core basis of how we are governed by the House of Commons is that each riding in this country elects an MP (that belongs to a political party or is independent, granted the former is more common than the latter but the latter still occurs as Bill Casey exemplified in the last election showing it is always the people's choice to support and not the parties that defined who runs all by themselves) to sit in the House of Commons. Then in turn the MPs decide who is going to be the government by voting for that government once in the House. The fact that we generally have one party with either a minority or the largest minority automatically being assumed to be the government does not change the process by which it is officially granted the authority under our rules of government.

That phrase I just used, the rules of government, are what is key here. Too often I have seen defenders of Harper claim that the "technical details" (as one of KO's commentators called it) aren't what is important to understand when discussing how governments are elected and operate in our system, an attitude which is terrifying when one actually thinks about it. Those "technical details" are how any government is granted the legitimacy and the authority to govern in a democratic system of government, and therefore are ESSENTIAL to the operating of a smooth transition to and from power for ALL governments. This is axiomatic in a society that is run by the rule of law, which ours most certainly is supposed to be.

That anyone can cavalierly dismiss these "technical details" off so lightly shows not only an ignorance for how our system of government is supposed to operate but naked contempt for it as well, and given we have been seeing that attitude not just from supporters of the Harper government but from that government itself (the way it called the proposed coalition government a coup is but one example of that contempt, there are so many more out there) this shows we are currently governed by those that not only would misinform/lie to the Canadian public about differences of political policy but on the very foundations of the rules by which we govern ourselves all for political partisan benefit. That is something corrosive to any democracy let alone ours and underscores yet again why I maintain Harper is not a traditional Conservative but a dangerous radical or worse revolutionary who cares only for power and how he can use it to remold this nation into his own idea of it regardless of the actual rules of governance as set forth in our laws and Constitutional framework.

though has shown time and time again that for it the only concern is its own grasp on power at any costs, regardless of what the rules say, and this goes back to when they were In this we find the reason why I have come to see Harper as a greater threat to the nation than the Quebecois Separatists. At least the Separatists are open and aboveboard in what they want and how they would go about getting there, and they have shown a willingness to play by the rules (the two referendums being examples) and accepting when they lose. The Harper CPCfirst elected to power. Impolitical has a post up regarding the 2006 in and out election advertising scandal the CPC has managed to keep covered for the most part now entering its latest phase where the Elections Commissioner is forced to go to court to have 5 million CPC documents unsealed to be examined for the evidence that this fraud occurred at the order of the highest levels of the CPC. One of those people just happens to be one of the 18 new Senators the Harper government is appointing making it impossible to compel his testimony before a committee (and when they tried to serve him last summer he ducked it), a man by the name of Irving Gerstein who headed their fundraising arm as well as being the party's official agent in that election.

When a party/government shows such disrespect and contempt for the basic laws that govern how we elect our governments and how they are required to operate we have a very dangerous situation on our hands. The Harper government has shown Canadians to believe itself to be above the same rules/laws that bind all parties and Parliamentarians, indeed to the same rule of law principle that binds all Canadians period. If you act as if the rule of law no longer applies to you while it must apply to all else (especially your opposition/opponents) then you have shown naked contempt for the most fundamental aspect of our democracy, which when a government does so is about the most dangerous situation imaginable in a democracy given the central critical role the rule of law plays in keeping a democracy viable.

Worse, this government shows this disrespect not just on minor matters but in the most serious and fundamental aspects, in how we elect governments by way of our Parliamentary system and the laws which govern how we run our election process itself. When a leader and party refuses to play by the same rules/laws that govern all then they are placing themselves above those laws and showing their contempt for our system, our way of life, and every single Canadian citizen. THAT is what makes the Harper CPC so inherently toxic to our nation, to our way of life, and why I have always been as hardcore and dedicated an opponent to Harper from the outset, for this was apparent in his thinking long before he became a sitting PM.

This latest example of his contempt with misrepresenting how we elect Parliaments and not governments is but the latest in along line of deceits and acts of contempt for the nature of Canadian democracy and governance, and no PM has the unilateral authority to change how our system of government is designed to operate. At the minimum that requires a majority of a Parliament and in many cases (like the Senate) requires Constitutional change requiring either 7/10 Provinces with 50+% of the population or unanimity (which is why Harper blaming Senators and the Liberals for blocking his Senate reform is yet another such a lie to Canadians).

The GG has every right to ask the LOO to form a coalition in the event of a loss of confidence in the Harper government this soon after the last election, it is after all how our system of government with its "technical details" is actually set up to function. The GG is not an elected person and a non-partisan so that they stand apart from such considerations and only follow the rule of law and the requirements of the Constitution where her Office is concerned in the role that she is required to play. To start claiming that it is undemocratic for her to do so is to further use the old FUD method of propaganda by the Harper CPC, and to further misrepresent the fundamental operating structures of our system of government.

Her office is defined by the Constitution and that Constitution was passed democratically by the House of Commons and Parliament which makes the calling of her position and her authority undemocratic yet another attempt to misuse the term and to so misinformation for partisan purposes, the hallmark of the Harper CPC. What I find truly sad though is how easily Harper has managed to get away with it in the media and with many in the wider public, because it speaks to an ignorance of how our system of government actually works, which I find a sad thing indeed. Mind you those in the media should know better since it is a part of their job to understand what they are reporting on (how else can the be sure they are reporting facts and not fiction otherwise) which is one of the reasons I am so glad to see this article from Kady O'Malley that this post is inspired by.

I missed a lot of commenting abut this sort of thing with my hiatus through last year. I am sorry to have had that happen, but I was not totally unaware of what was going on either. Believe you me I will be doing my best to stay on top of things this year, especially as they pertain to the Harper CPC abusing power, misrepresenting our laws and system of governance and in general why they must be removed from power as soon as can be done. I do not trust them to manage this country through such uncertain times, and while I understand the political calculus of some to let Harper stay in power for a while longer to wear this recession and economic mess I consider that too high a price myself. I am more concerned for the health of this nation than I am for partisan considerations for any political party.


Blogger Red Tory said...

Unfortunately, politicians like Harper are all too happy to not only exploit, but actively encourage the profound ignorance of the Canadian electorate.

Sun Jan 25, 11:09:00 AM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Scotian, I'm so glad to see your moniker again.

Has your health issue come around? Are you well? Or weller, at any rate?

Here's a hard comment...

I'm of the opinion that permanently eliminating income tax for seniors, those drawing CPP - including any supplementary income they may create for themselves, up to a limit of $75,000 would be a vote getter and would indeed get mine.

That's a modified position. Originally I thought I'd be in favour of eliminating taxes on seniors altogether.

We are the last generation of people who've taken the notion of citizenship seriously - and who've paid more than our share for the past 40 years.

Adding to this of course is my natural tendency toward cynicism which tells me that for all intents and purposes there is no longer a functional nation known as Canada.

We are America North. Soon to be America's dirty oil barrel.

I don't want to pay taxes for something that doesn't exist in any meaningful way.

Perhaps I'd be willing to pay them to Washington, DC where at least those taxes would bear some resemblance to political reality.

Though not without at least some kind of meaningful representation.

Though I pay them to Ottawa without any now so what's my quibble?

I'm increasingly dubious of the viability of this nation - and therefore of the viability or worth of citizenship.

All in all I'm swinging around to agree with Rene Levesque - this isn't a real country at all.


Mon Jan 26, 02:25:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Tomm said...


I'm afraid I'm not entirely with you. I would be in agreement if the other three parties had advised their voters of their intentiosn to form a coalition government if that became necessary given a minority Conservative government that they just could not support.

However that is not what they did. They used blatant self interest to over turn an election we JUST had. Harper was also guilty of using self interest in a partisan fashion.

Your point would have greater validity, if the parties did not have strict "whips" for confidence votes.

Tue Jan 27, 10:47:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Scotian said...


You can disagree all you want about whether it is morally or politically correct, but in terms of legality (which is the only standard that actually counts in this case as it is an issue of law, law I might add which was democratically created by Parliament so to declare it anti-democratic is wrong as well, and not morality I are discussing here) you are dead wrong. Indeed, when a party is elected with a minority and fails to gain the support of the House of Commons within the first 6 months it is entirely appropriate of the GG to ask the LOO (as the next largest party) to see whether they can form a working government with the support of a majority of MPs. If they cannot manage it then generally speaking it is appropriate to dissolve Parliament to have another election, but it is not something which is automatic to have just after an election just because the results created a minority government that cannot command the majority of the House in its support, especially when their own actions are why they cannot command that confidence in the first session after the election, indeed within the first couple of weeks of that session at that.

It *IS* how our system of government is designed to work, and it *IS* the way the rules of the House of Commons works. It really is that simple, and it is not any sort of coup or any of the other nonsense the CPC put out late last year. For that matter, what about the morality/propriety of a minority PM proroguing Parliament to avoid a Confidence vote he knows he will lose, something never before done in our history, why doesn't THAT bother you as anti-democratic as much as this business about the coalition, since of the two the latter is farther outside the norm of how we operate our system of government than the former?

Sorry Tomm, the rules are the rules, it is as simple as that. Indeed, the fact that Harper and his party spread around such obvious disinformation and propaganda about how our system of government is intended to work and so many of his supporters blindly swallowed it and repeated it shows a disturbing level of ignorance and contempt for the basic operating protocols of our system of government and that is something I find extremely dangerous. This idea some Conservatives like yourself have that the parties must campaign on a coalition for it to have legal standing is nowhere in our laws regarding the rules of governance, which is why I said you can argue it is immoral or anti-democratic but it is not illegal or improper by the operating standards of our democratic Parliamentary system of government.

There is a reason why I stressed in this post that the "technical details" are all important, because it is those "technical details" which are how we actually operate our government, how we hand over power from one government to another, etc, it is known as THE RULE OF LAW. In other words, it is following the law, and such profound ignorance of the law, especially from our head of government is something profoundly disturbing, profoundly troubling, and incredibly dangerous. Worse than that is if he knew better and knowingly LIED to Canadians about it, and if so it speaks very poorly about CPC supporters that they did not notice or worse did not care and repeated it instead of denouncing it for the misinformation/deception that it was. Personally, I believe one must place the rules of our government and how it elects governments, changes power from one to another ahead of any party interest, it is called placing the good of the nation ahead of partisan interests, and on this test CPC defenders and the CPC government itself profoundly FAILED this standard and further underscores why they should not be allowed to remain in power, PERIOD.

Such ignorance at best or deception at worst both speak to a innate contempt for the rule of law in how we govern ourselves, and that is something that in my books disqualifies any such leader and/or party from being one that should ever be trusted with power regardless of what their political ideology is, right, left center, wherever they fall on that scale. Indeed, a primary reason I have always opposed Harper so much is because he has shown this level of ignorance/deception/contempt for our basic rule of law and system of government and has shown his willingness to ignore it to suit his own needs, both before in hypotheticals and since once he came to power right from the outset.

That you do not see this for yourself does not speak well for your own understanding of the importance of this if you do actually understand how our system of government works or at least your willingness to stay ignorant and trust a politician to tell you the truth about something as fundamental and important as this. Me I trust NO politician's words on things this basic to our system of government, I bother to research and learn it for myself and see it as a civic duty. Indeed, I had done so well before I was old enough to cast my first vote for any government. It is called being a responsible and informed voter in my books. What is your excuse for your ignorance or worse willingness to deceive about something so basic and important as this?

Wed Jan 28, 03:25:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Tomm said...


You will be surprised to know that I agree that legally and tecnically the coalition was capable and allowed to do what it did. Our constitution clearly allows for this.

But that does not include the arrogance of the Liberal's to consider the results of the last election to be something other than a rebuke on their offerings. Don't you see a massive decline in their popular support and seats to be a rebuke on their policies?

In regards to proroguing Parliament. It is just as legal as the coalition. The GG weighed the alternatives and chose one, as his her responsibility.

The morality of allowing a 30 day cooling off period is certainly debatable. Hopefully we will get whispers of what went down during those 2 hours in some distant memoir. You know my view on the GG's choice so I will not belabour it here. However she did have a choice. She could just as legally have cchosen otherwise.

Harper was not "wrong" to ask for a 30 day progrogation. His recently elected government was at the door of being toppled. It was a perfectly reasonable request and also legal and constitutional, as was the coalition.

The pundits and bloggers from both sides had a field day with the politics of it all.

Sun Feb 01, 03:17:00 PM 2009  

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