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Monday, December 01, 2008

King-Byng 2.0

It looks like the sitting Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, will be replaced by a coalition government at the whim of the Governor-General. Has this happened before? Students of history will recall the King-Byng Affair of 1926, which could be re-enacted in the Internet age if Mr. Harper asks to go to the country, on the quite reasonable grounds that his opponents did not campaign as a coalition, and is refused an election.

Everything old is new again. And I would suggest that Mr. Harper may want to emulate the strategy of Mackenzie King and beat Mr. Dion over the head with the wily Liberal P.M.'s arguments, where possible. Send those researchers to the libraries!

I recall that the Liberals won handily in 1926 on the slogan "King or Byng".

I can imagine Mr. Harper appearing in ads to the effect of "Who runs this country? The democratically elected officials or the appointed Michaelle Jean?" But, in order to do this, he will need to ask for an election this week, on the grounds that his government is expected to fall and that Canadians deserve a fair chance to pick between these two choices that they now have. If refused, he should then make his case on a speech on national TV and find ways to refuse to co-operate with the coalition.

As a traditionalist, I appreciate the role of the Governor-General...but what would be more appropriate would be an election, instead of granting power to an instant coalition. I am sure that there are Canadians who voted for the Liberals, or the NDP or the Bloc on the grounds that various promises were made to the effect that no coaliton was planned. I certain that there are New Democrats who did not want to see Dion as Prime Minister under any circunstances. I am sure that there are Bloc supporters who did not want to see Dion as Prime Minister. Allowing a jury-rigged coalition to come together is unfair to these kinds of voters.

If this coalition takes power, I would tell the Tories to follow the example of the protesting Progressive Conservatives of about 30 years ago and refuse to sit in the House of Commons. Let the division bells ring. If Canadians now only have two choices of policy, they deserve an election between these two choices of policy, with a proper debate and examination of these platforms.

Perhaps such a coalition would be appropriate in a dire national emergency, but we are not in one right now. Mr. Harper's government has only been moderately conservative, or conservatively moderate, but I fear that Mr. Harper's opponents are acting with an urgency that suggests that they see the Tories as "Nazis with sweaters."

If you must, defeat the government and then win the following election. That would be the fair, indeed the Canadian, thing to do.

Posted by Rick Hiebert on December 1, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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WLM King's arguments were that Canada needs to establish its independence from Britain. Don't see how far that would carry Harpo.

Posted by: LM | 2008-12-01 9:50:08 PM

No one, not one person in Canada voted in the just concluded election for this coalition.The Liberals don't even want Dion as their leader but they foist him off on the rest of the country as Prime Minister.Excuse me while I barf.And who says he will be gone in six months? Didn't we see this same trick with Trudeau? Dion always billed himself as an anti-separatist but now he has become one of them.God Help Canada!

Posted by: Rick hart | 2008-12-01 9:51:23 PM

Don't rush the election call. Stall and get the message out. Let the public rage build a bit first.
Give time for the coalition to show fissures. They cannot hold this together long.

Posted by: Monty_inBC | 2008-12-01 10:03:20 PM

The Liberals now have a clear choice for the position of leader of Liberal Party ... Jack Layton.

Posted by: CK | 2008-12-01 10:04:23 PM

I like Coyne's advice to Harper - let the coalition take power. Claim that you are putting country first and avoiding a constitutional crisis. And then sit back and watch the chaos.

Posted by: Craig | 2008-12-01 11:13:32 PM

While this “sort” of thing may have happened in the past, the internet was not around to get a sense of what people thought of it. I think this is THE biggest blunder orchestrated by the Libs/NDP in Canadian political history. It will undoubtedly initiate Western Canada to proceed with secession.

Posted by: D. Wilson | 2008-12-02 12:12:44 AM

While this “sort” of thing may have happened in the past, the internet was not around to get a sense of what people thought of it. I think this is THE biggest blunder orchestrated by the Libs/NDP in Canadian political history. It will undoubtedly initiate Western Canada to proceed with secession.
Posted by: D. Wilson | 2-Dec-08 12:12:44 AM

The Internet has made organizing the grassroots for a populist movement a breeze. When the Western Standard commissioned a poll on Western Secessionist sentiment in 2005, these is was the result:
""Westerners are very frustrated with their position in Confederation," said Faron Ellis, a political science professor at Lethbridge Community College, who conducted the survey.

Ellis said that separatist sentiment appeared to run highest among young people -- 37 per cent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 were open to the notion of breaking away from Canada.

Support was lowest -- 33.7 per cent -- among the baby boom generation aged between 45 and 64.

The Western Standard commissioned the survey to assess how well the federal government has been managing the issue of western alienation -- something that Prime Minister Martin promised to reduce as part of his 2004 election campaign."

If Westerers, young and old, tired of Liberal Ottawa rule were to take to tools like Facebook and Meetup.com, we could see an organized, motivated and significant separatist political force quickly develop in Western Canada.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-12-02 1:01:09 AM

All 308 Members of Parliament are duly elected in their respective ridings, and therefore all have a right to actively participate in the governing of the country.

The nature of our Parliament is that there will be a designated group of MPs who form the named government, and other groups of MPs who will sometimes oppose the government, and sometimes co-operate with the government.

The obvious first choice for the designated government is the party with the most seats, which after October 12 was the Conservative Party.

However, the Conservative Party, and their leader, Stephen Harper, have failed in their attempt to form a government which holds the confidence of the House.

In the face of this failure, another group of duly elected MPs, even though they represent more than one political party, have a perfectly valid claim for offering another alternative to forming a government.

When there are no other choices available, an election must be called, but what is wrong with first attempting to establish a functiioning government with another group of the already elected Members?

An attempt at avoiding another election so soon is a welcome demonstration of fiscal responsibility. It is worth noting that the Conservatives have not yet shown concrete examples of fiscal responsibility, at a time when this country needs them most.

Posted by: SteveH | 2008-12-03 9:45:48 AM

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