Thursday, December 4, 2008

Prorogued

Everybody* knows by now that Parliament has been prorogued until mid-January, thereby sparing Harper from tomorrow's confidence motion.

At first I was going to write something about how I disagreed with the Governor General's decision. If her discretion in the matter exists for any non-ceremonial purposes at all, then surely those include preventing the Prime Minister from evading confidence motions? And is the spirit of all these rules not to ensure that whoever holds that title has the confidence of the house?

As I did my best to consider the opposing arguments, though, I really couldn't think of a good rebuttal to this one: Parliament will resume in less than two months, and if the opposition's coalition can't hang together that long then they shouldn't be governing the country. Certainly there is a cost; we lack a proper government when we really need it, but I think that one way or another we'll be better off afterward.

If the coalition holds together, we'll at least know that they can offer some stability, and we'll have a government that balances the interests of a majority of the electorate. If it disintegrates, we'll have Conservatives who know that they can't get away with the sort of machinations seen in last week's economic update, and most likely will have to behave like a minority government for the first time since coming into power.

Another possible side-effect is that the Liberal Party finds a new leader in time to take up the reins. A recent poll in my local paper concluded that a strong majority of Canadians are against having St├ęphane Dion as their Prime Minister, even in the Liberal stronghold of Ontario. Personally I'm more tolerant of him than most (are the people who claim that "St├ęphane Dion is not a leader" aware that they're just regurgitating the punchline of a two-year-old Conservative attack ad?), but when centre-left voters are unwilling to support a centre-left coalition, you know there's a serious problem. The best possible outcome, which is admittedly a lot to ask in a short time, is that by January we have a coalition with the support of the majority of Canadians.

I close with an example of Peter MacKay's magnificent powers of reason:

Defence Minister Peter MacKay defended the Conservative leader's move, saying the Governor General was "duty bound" by precedent and parliamentary procedure to accept Harper's prorogation request.

...

"This is certainly an unprecedented situation that we saw unfold."

She's duty bound by precedent in this unprecedented situation? Riiiight.

* Or at least, every one of the three of the people who might read this.

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