Saturday, August 23, 2008

Harper Off His Game, Terrified of Parliament Holding Him to Account

Surely the blind Conservative partisans won’t see this, but it’s plain to see that in the past week Harper has been all over the map and now seems to realize he’s between a rock and a hard place. Take just over a week ago when we saw this story.
Harper plans pre-election trips as Tories say Dion will 'cave' on vote
OTTAWA — The Conservatives are laying the ground for a charged political season this fall by taunting Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion with assertions his own party's support for his key policy is shaky and that
he will again “cave” on triggering a vote.
So on August 13th he’s taunting Dion saying he doesn’t have the guts to bring him down - basically daring him to do so. Then Harper calls a by-election he didn't need to in Don Valley West for September 22nd. Whether that election happens or not, millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent because of that call. Then just days later when absolutely nothing has changed, and after being so sure there would be no fall election, Harper decides to throw up his hands and say “Parliament is dysfunctional!” This is when he knows full well nothing has changed and any “dysfunction” is due to Harper and the 200 page Conservative chaos manual all his MPs have on how to disrupt Parliament themselves.

So now he’s actually musing about calling a general election BEFORE any by-elections take place!

If he does this it will signify several things to the public:
A) He knew his party was going to lose badly in all 4 by-elections
B) He knew the Liberals were going to win all 4 by-elections and get strong momentum out of them
C) He has NO regard for the views of the people in the ridings where by-elections were scheduled. To call an election days before they would get to cast their vote is extremely anti-democratic - if he calls an election anytime before Sept. 22 this still applies - remember he didn't have to call that one. Surely we should ask a PM to have made up his mind about an election call sooner though I guess it’s not easy for Harper to make priorities. EVERY Conservative candidate in these 4 ridings should be asked this week what their view is on Harper calling an election before the people in their ridings have a chance to cast their vote.
D) He has NO regard for taxpayer money whatsoever. While some Conservatives will try to claim Harper is respecting taxpayer money by having a general election before the by-elections, that argument falls to pieces because Harper didn’t have to call a by-election in Don Valley West and millions will have been spent for no reason. Not to mention all the money that went into drafting and passing Harper's own fixed elections bill that he will be showing to have been useless. In such tough economic times Harper would be showing he could care less about wasting taxpayer funds. No matter that the money could have gone to crucial priorities - all that matters is serving his partisan interests.
E) He is fine with going into an election with his word meaning ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Harper specifically promised to take away the advantages of the PM to call an election at a time of his/her choosing and leave the decision of whether to go before 4 years up to Parliament. Add to that to the incredibly long list of other lies Harper has told, but this one would DEFINITELY be an election issue Harper would have to answer for. How can he trusted with ANY of his promises in a campaign when he has broken others so blatantly? Dion certainly doesn't have that kind of reputation (even Layton has praised him as an honest principled man) so it would be a great contrast.

So why would Harper willingly take all these risks by calling a premature election?

- He’s terrified of having it fully revealed what a financial mess we’ve been put in. Flaherty’s hocus pocus yesterday certainly does raise a few questions and it does seem ominous for what’s to come.
- He's terrified of the result of the U.S. elections helping the Liberals.
- He’s terrified of what will be revealed in more committee hearings on In and Out.
- He’s terrified of what would come out in the Mulroney Inquiry.
- He’s terrified of more investigations into the Bernier Affair.
- He’s terrified of facing a confidence motion with the opposition unified against him (I might remind Conservatives that Martin didn’t have a fixed election law and yet he still faced a no confidence motion when he could have called an election instead – quite the contrast) amongst other reasons.

Harper knows there is nowhere to go but down. Despite what Paul Wells (whom I read often and like) has consistently said about Harper wanting to go the distance - the PM has clearly given up. No matter – whichever option Harper chooses it will be very far from his ideal election scenario. Someone so terrified of governing should surely not be given a renewed mandate. If Harper calls an election it will be out of weakness not strength.

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marie said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but
According to Wikipedia;

Barring war, insurrection, or an earlier dissolution of Parliament, the 40th Canadian federal election will be held October 19, 2009, in accordance with the provisions of the Canada Elections Act, which were amended in the 1st Session of the 39th Parliament. In the past, the Prime Minister could select an election date of his or her choosing, usually at the four-year mark or when he or she believed that his or her party had the best chance of winning the election. However, in 2007 the Parliament of Canada passed a law fixing federal election dates every four years and scheduling the next election date as October 19, 2009. As the current parliament is led by a minority government, it is possible that an election will occur sooner, in 2008 or earlier in 2009, as the opposition parties can still bring down the government on a vote of confidence. No minority government in Canada to date has enjoyed a full four-year term.

Nowhere does it say Harper can call a federal election because “Parliament is dysfunctional!”