The Collective
Thursday, December 4, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Canadian leader shuts Parliament to keep power

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down Parliament on Thursday in an unprecedented attempt to keep his government in power, fending off a no-confidence vote he was all but certain to lose.

Less than two months after winning re-election, Harper successfully asked the unelected representative of the head of state for the power to close down Parliament until Jan. 26, hoping to buy enough time to develop a stimulus package that could prop up the economy.

Or, more accurately, to buy time to find a way to keep himself from losing his job:

Governor General Michaelle Jean, who represents Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, granted the unusual request to suspend parliament. Had she refused, Harper would have had two choices: step down or face a no-confidence vote Monday he was sure to lose.

However, it seems unlikely that this maneuver will end up working to Harper’s benefit in the long run, even if it is a victory in the short term.

It is unclear to me (because I simply don’t know) as to what the constitutional parameters are here to allow the GG to grant this request, especially since the opposition has already publicly declared its intention to have a vote of no-confidence in Harper.

I have to agree with Matthew Shugart:

From where I sit, this is quite a breach of democratic protocol, to suspend the House because parties within it that represent a majority have declared they are set to form a new government.

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    1. One of the recent comment threads at Fruits & Votes has some rather extensive discussion of the constitutional issues (by folks who I know understand those issues).

      Reply to MSS

      Comment by MSS — Thursday, December 4, 2024 @ 5:05 pm

    2. Kewl–I shall give it a look.

      Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, December 4, 2024 @ 5:06 pm

    3. “It is unclear to me (because I simply don’t know) as to what the constitutional parameters are here to allow the GG to grant this request”

      I have to second this. I’m aware that the Prime Minister has a lot of control over what the Queen does publicly. IIRC, he gets to write most or all of her speeches (or at least his speech writers do).

      So it wouldn’t surprise me if the Governor General had similar restrictions.

      I can’t figure out why the Coalition trying to oust the PM is in such a hurry. I would expect it to be better politically to let him flounder a bit with the recession and then spring a no-confidence vote.

      Reply to Max Lybbert

      Comment by Max Lybbert — Thursday, December 4, 2024 @ 5:35 pm

    4. First off, it is unusual for a GG/LtG to refuse a call to prorogue. BUT it is also unusual for such a call to come right away at the beginning of a session. Usually progation comes toward the end of a parliament’s usefullness and is a signal of same. So Jean wasa faced with a new situation. She could decide either way. The tipping element is the upcoming Christmas break. A new government would have only a week or ten days to govern. What’s that? Cut the break? What are you, some kind of anti-Christmas fascist or something? We take our Christmas break very seriously in this country and most of us have plans that involve a total lack of sobriety from December 19 (some will start with the 12th, or Advent, or some other excuse, such as the first Xmas party of the season which, for me, is Saturday)to January 4. Or later, depending on, uh, whatever. Think Saturnalia. MPs, of course, get a longer break because they have to consult with sober constituents, which will be impossible until after the holidays.

      Reply to CCBC

      Comment by CCBC — Thursday, December 4, 2024 @ 8:59 pm

    5. I think this was the only legitimate response the GG could of had, as the coalition (exuding the BQ, as they are not part of it, only agreeing to support it on Some votes) do not have more votes than the conservatives, and the only other option was to vote again, for the second time in 2 weeks, as the Libs and NDP ran specific “non-coalition” campaigns.

      As this was all caused by fiscal update, which has had its contentious points removed, the PM will now have the time to actually table the budget is in the best interests of Canda as a whole.

      Just giving the Auto/Lumber industry money without any long term restructuring plans to fix their problems, as advocated by the coalition would be irresponsible. Even the US is requiring the auto sector to have a plan before they get the money.

      Mind you, you cant really hold it against the NDP, as this delay will directly effect their supporters (unions) and the PQ have a vested interest in a Lumber industry bailout, so they are not betraying their supporters, just selling out the rest of Canada for votes.

      Reply to LefterlyPanda

      Comment by LefterlyPanda — Friday, December 5, 2024 @ 1:35 am

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