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Posts Tagged ‘parliament

A National Post writer has presented a historical fact I had not been aware of previously. In 1873, Sir John A. MacDonald, also facing a vote of non-confidence, asked the then Governor-General, Lord Dufferin, to prorogue parliament. He did so.

Here is that interesting story from a writer with the unlikely name of Barbara J. Messamore. (Doesn’t the middle initial mess the name up more?) You just know by her presenting her name with the middle initial she is a lawyer or professor.

The opinion of Barbara J. Messamore appears to be Governor-General Michaëlle Jean did the right thing by proroguing parliament. She is dead wrong, of course.

Michaëlle Jean, the immigrant Port-au-Prince born beauty and later tele-journalist who now holds Canada’s highest government office, has, as nature thankfully intended for her good looks and graces, no balls.
In fact, to verify such recognition of her official potential pin-up status, early on as Governor-General she declared, “I am hot!” to an Ottawa MP-press annual dinner where the government officials almost ritually make fun of themselves.
This past week the reins of government were thrust into her small hands to determine if a just-elected prime minister’s government will live or die.

One option provided her- in banana replublic style- just shut down parliament altogether to the PM can avoid a vote of non-confidence. Another option- grant a tri-party coalition of the second-best (declared so in the national election just six weeks ago) get to run things.

Not to second guess Her Excellency, but it was an opportunity to show the importance and necessity of a strong, wise and precedent-aware Governor-General.
First, no prime minister should be able to shut down parliament to avoid a vote of non-confidence. Now that it has been done, and G-G Michaëlle Jean has granted the prorogue sought by Prime Minister Harper, future prime ministers can use the same tactic citing historical precedence. Not a good thing in a parliamentary democracy.
There was, however, no doubt that Michaëlle Jean would grant his wish.
Her Exellency is hot indeed, but strong-willed she is not.

Her eyes are light as a bird, searching for safe perches of approval. In one photograph of her with Harper, she looks more nurse than Governor-General, her eyes full of compassion and concern.
Her role was to tell Steven Harper to face his music.
She should have gathered all the leaders at Rideau Hall, and read her decision sprinkled with history and precedent so future G-Gs, hot or not, will have a blue print to go by.
Her third decision to be made was whetherto grant the tri-party coalition the government benches.
That’s a tougher decision.
The sitting prime minister of Canada is a trained economist and disciplined leader who has just lead one of the longest-lived minority governments in Canadian history. Not a bad choice during a world financial crisis. The alternative is an opposition leader who has already declared he is leaving the leadership of his party, and who would lead, only for an interim period til March, two left of centre parties with the support of a third party whose sole purpose is to promote the independence of the only province it runs in. The coalition announced plans to spend millions right away as an national economic stimulus package.
The recent announcement that 71,000 jobs have been lost in Canada includes Southern Ontario’s automobile manufacturing woes and Elections Canada layoffs. Take away those elements and Canada looks like an oasis of economic stability compared to the United States. Why the hurry? Why not wait for the January budget?

The mother of all G-Gs, the aging Queen Elizabeth II, is filmed as she visits her horses, a kerchief ’round her hair and tied up under her chin. She wears a longish unflattering coat. She doesn’t look like a queen in this garb. She looks very ordinary, like a charwoman, more dressed to clean the stable than to rein it. But as a Queen, day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, she does a remarkable job at the pointy end. Her decisions are right. History will be kind.

Meanwhile, her representative in Canada, Michaëlle Jean, has reduced her Governor-General’s role to charwoman. She has declined to take a strong stand that would provide a historical corner-stone of precedent. Instead she cleaned up after Harper made his mess, an unelected official shutting down Canada’s elected parliament, following the opposition outcry to Harper’s attempt to take away millions of dollars in government grants away from federal political parties. A good idea, but the timing and lack of consultation revealed him to be a mean and petty man. It was an observation made long-ago by the opposition, now apparent to all. The actions of the opposition leaders following that decision (that was certain to provoke) has destroyed Harper’s once statue-like image of a strong, disciplined leader. He is wounded, and so is Michaëlle Jean, and in fact, so are they all.
There is a lesson here somewhere. Perhaps it is this. Never tell a socialist they can no longer have free money. You’ll damn well pay for it, and Harper has.

And perhaps one more lesson. If we continue to have a Governor-General, and it is an old post, older than the presidency of the United States by more than a 130 years- going back to Augustin de Mesy who began his term as Governor General of New France in 1663- it should be an elected position if the powers include shutting down an elected House of Commons. Ten years before the term of de Mesy began, the original House of Commons in England was shut down by a man named Oliver Cromwell, whose ambition included replacing even the monarch. The shutdown in that instance lasted seven years. The shutdown in this case will last seven weeks. You’d think parliamentary democracy would have evolved somewhat more in 355 years.

The longest minority government in Canada’s history is about to end, with Prime Minister Steven Harper’s expected election call keeping Ottawa on the edge of its over-stuffed seat.
Parliament is in summer recess, due to reconvene September 15.
Four byelections are coming up soon, all in Ontario and Quebec, with three slated to take place on September 10 and one September 22.
An election call before then would cancel the byelections.
The possibility of an election call has been made almost certain as Governor-General Michaëlle Jean has been asked to stay in Canada, and cancel a trip to China she had scheduled for September 6 to 10.
A chief reason for Harper’s leaning toward an election is his complaint that parliament has been dysfunctional.
That complaint has had little credibility for months.
The May discovery of a 200-page Conservative handbook on how to disrupt parliamentary committees has already established the Conservatives, not the opposition have raised havoc with parliamentary committee process.



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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence

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