Posted by: jmtoriel | December 4, 2008

Democratic Shift Happening

“Arrogance diminishes wisdom.”

— Arabian proverb

Let us begin with the 38th Parliament (Oct. 2004-Nov. 2005) under PM Paul Martin in which Leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper ganged up with Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc, and Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP to bring down the minority government. Here is Harper’s letter to the Governor General:

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1


As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister
to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada’

Given this factual historic data, it is absolutely rhetorical and unjust to presume that the Parliamentary conventions that Canada’s democracy follows according to our Monarchical multi-party Westminister system are “undemocratic”. Nearly 62% of the 59.1% of the electorate that actually participated in the election did not vote for Harper’s Conservatives. So, if the Government refuses to realize that they are governing in a minority rule, then the majority Opposition coming together is a perfectly legitimate alternative to overcome the arrogance and dictatorial leadership in order to focus on the economic crisis, Climate Crisis and further rolling back of public infrastructure and bring back confidence to the Parliament of Canada.

Harper had the opportunity to clarify the situation to Canadians in a television address (Dec. 3). He took the publicly paid opportunity to tell Canadians NOTHING of his intentions on how he and the Conservative government would attempt to reverse this economic downward spiral and bring stability back to Parliament in a cohesive way. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The shift of cohesion has already begun at the civic level in BC with enormous landslide victories of coalition the slate (Vision, COPE and Greens) in Vancouver, the grassroots democratic ideals that helped get Obama elected in the US are now being demonstrated by the bi-partisan appointments to important leadership roles in his government. Instead of taking Obama’s example, Harper has chosen to bring divisive “separatist” rhetoric back to the forefront knowing full well that the Bloc MPs will not be a part of Cabinet or have any direct influence in the Coalition. They will only support the Throne Speech and Budget in the next year. Coming from Quebec, any talk of “separatists” is pure slander and marginalizing the people of Quebec and down right hypocritical (see letter above).

Finally, the Green Party of Canada and Ms. May adds legitimacy to the Coalition with her endorsement with a fantastic website. This could reward her well with a Senate seat which would serve as a progressive gesture to work in a cohesive and non-partisan way towards a more functional and fair Parliament. This does not mean that we should not move forward on electoral reform to prevent all this from happening again.

Until then, let’s wizen up, leave our egos and partisan/regional differences at the door and get moving at fixing this mess!


  1. It’s fascinating watching Harper and his party pretending to not understand how Westminster parliamentary actually works.

    They either know very well and are actively misleading people (an assessment supported by the letter you post above) or they don’t know how it works and are – therefore – not competent to govern…..or represent anyone in he House.

    They are damned either way.

    I hate liars and cheaters…and Harper and his crew are looking more and more like both.

    Canada needs to dump First Past the Pst voting and move to a fair proportional voting system that will see all votes being equal in value as far as electing people goes, no matter where they are cast.

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