Least of the Weevils

I think that the improbable and utterly unforeseen resolution to the current crisis in Parliament may have finally been hit upon.  The situation was quickly becoming a cluster of impossible options.

We can not have another election so soon after the last one, which was called prematurely to begin with and resulted in very little change.

Harper can not continue to govern without the confidence of the House, and has no prospects of winning it back.

Dion can not become Prime Minister of an unstable minority coalition after being thrashed in the election and being scheduled to resign in five months.  Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy Enough to Work?

Say what you want about the Westminster System, it does make for some interesting politics when it gets going.

When the Conservatives moved late last week to cut off the per-vote public funding that Chretien brought in as part of his donation cap system, it very quickly pushed the Liberals and NDP to a new level of desperation.

Harper, for his part, seems to have completely lost touch with the idea of his government being responsible to the House, instead governing from some imaginary majority mandate.  To be fair, the Liberals under Dion have been so absurdly agreeable that it was a fairly good bet they would have agreed to almost anything; anything, that is, except for their own demise.

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The Economist

Despite Manatee’s perspicacious analysis of a month ago, I must say I doubted that an economic downturn would have a significant negative impact on the Conservatives.  I thought that the view of Harper’s Conservatives among the public as the party to turn to for cold hard cash-handling ability was simply too entrenched for any other party to capitalize on dire financial news.  Yet that seems to be just what has happened since the leaders’ debate last week.  The Conservatives still have a healthy lead, mind you, but certainly don’t seem to be anywhere near majority territory these days, and are instead poised to make only modest seat gains.

Read the rest of this entry »

One of these things is not like the other?

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, in the last election we promised Canadians a genuinely free vote on the issue in the House of Commons. My party, including the cabinet of my party, will vote freely on this issue.

I know that the new Leader of the Opposition has said he will not allow a free vote by his caucus members. I hope that proves not to be the case because I think the rights of members of Parliament are some of the most important rights we have in this country.


In case you were wondering, the issue in question is not whether Québec is a nation. For that vote, held just over a week ago, Harper whipped his cabinet, forcing a minister to resign rather than support it. Apparently Harper doesn’t think recognizing ethnic groups as nations constitutes a moral issue. Or he’s just a hypocrite. One of those.


Defence of reason

Ted MortonI certainly expected no less from Ted Morton than his regressive Bill 208, but I was quite surprised to hear that the federal Conservatives are considering a similar Defence of Religions Act, presumably aimed at keeping their socially conservative supporters and MPs in line by attempting to specifically allow discrimination specifically against same-sex couples.

I dearly hope the title of that act was something salacious cooked up to sell papers over at the G&M, because if that’s the sort of language being tossed around in Ottawa backrooms these days, I will be deeply worried. Defence of religions? Where do they think they are, Battleground Homosexuality? Let’s keep that kind of ignorant hostility on the Internets where it belongs, please. A party in government has no excuse for adopting language which buys into the offensive and wrong characterization of religious persons and gay and lesbian persons as two disctinct, opposing groups. Remember that the first same-sex marriage in Canada took place in a church before a minister. Exactly which religions were the Conservatives planning on defending?

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Not having to deal with constitutional challenges: Priceless

It seems a little redundant to write two posts slagging the Tories for access to justice issues in just three days, but I couldn’t pass this one up. A recent announcement of $1 billion dollars in cuts includes giving the axe to the Court Challenges Program, which provides federal funding (about $3 million per year) for minority groups wishing to challenge laws they believe violate their constitutional equality rights, and unable to finance their own legal team to face off against the goverenment’s.

The program operates at arms-length from the government, and on the basis of solicitor-client privilege does not disclose whom it approves funding for, or how much. Justice Minister Vic Toews has been particularly critical of this aspect of the program recently, though one would suspect that the Tories would need little excuse to get rid of a program which provides access to constitutional justice. When you decry any recognition of constitutional rights as judicial activism, it makes very little sense to provide those equality-seeking thorns with funding.

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Quip of the Week

The Quip of the Week award goes to the Prime Minister this week, for the following snappy comeback, as reported by the CBC:

Stephen Harper

Munson also questioned if Harper’s proposals would lead to the “Americanization” of the Senate, which is elected in the United States.

“I don’t think the Americans have particular monopoly on democracy,” Harper said.

It’s rather depressing to see a senator insult something simply by labelling it “American”. I’m a fan of archaic government institutions when their purpose is purely formal, like the Queen or Governor General, but the Senate is supposed to actually wield legislative power. The fact that senators are appointed, and can sit until age 75, is rather an embarrassment in this day and age. To oppose a democratic Senate simply because America has one… well, that’s just silly.

~ Gnomes