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Harper’s Constitutional Double Down Strategy

April 23, 2011

This was meant to be a reply to the cat’s latest column, regarding Stephen Harper’s outrageous stance on forming government in a minority situation in parliament. Something went wrong with the form so I’ll post it up here instead.

I think Harper understands fully, which makes it worse. He is purposely setting up a constitutional crisis down the road where he has told his supporters that the only valid measure is winning the most seats. If any other party ever follows the rules and tries to do this they will cry holy murder and further divide this country. Its a reckless and destructive strategy worthy of the Bloc or PQ.

Yes, you heard me right.  Harper’s claims about how a party should treat elections and confidence in parliament is as destructive to our democracy as attempts to separate a province from the federation.

He is doing this because he assumes he will have the most seats after the election. So he’ll get his chance. Then when the opposition is thinking about defeating him or not he’ll have this argument out in the ether already as a hammer over them. He will claim that the only real options are support his budget or go straight to another election. Even though there are other options, he will say we wouldn’t follow those because that’s not ‘what Canadians would expect’.

I’m sorry but the constitution and centuries of precedent are precisely not about ‘what people expect’, that’s why we have them, sometimes people expect dumb things and over the centuries we’ve developed this system that works pretty well. Just because some people aren’t aware of it doesn’t mean its not there. And I think Harper is exaggerating how many people aren’t aware of it, I think Canadians understand their system pretty well. Most of the people against a coalition support a party which is itself a coalition of the old Reform/Alliance and PC party.  They don’t like a coalition because of who they expect it to be.

Harper knows all about parliamentary legitimacy, but he’s playing this as a strategy to set up later choices. Since he doesn’t actually expect to be in those situations at all he doesn’t need to worry about them. He’s doubling down his bet on what seems like a sure thing, it can only help him later, even if it does damage the nation.
Just like Jack talking about what he’d do if he were prime minister…oh wait, hmmm.

It shall be an exciting/heart wrenching election. I am looking forward to and dreading it in equal measure.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2011 3:01 pm

    You might have added a link to this 1997 video, which is the smoking gun: Harper expressly advocating a coalition led by the second-largest party, and explaining accurately why this is appropriate. He knows, as you say, better:

    • April 23, 2011 4:08 pm

      very true, thanks for posting it, can people see that?

      Mark

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