My aren't things suddenly very interesting in Canadian politics? (Yarn Harlot has an excellent synopsis to get you up to speed.) We move from an election that pretty much everyone knew would lead to another Conservative-lead minority government to a full testing of our parliamentary democracy and constitution (that I actually typed democraZy shows how extraordinary things have become).
Anyone who reads this blog knows that not a single atom of my being supports Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, and yet, as I try to step back from the possibility of Harper crashing and burning (which fills me with glee) I'm not completely convinced all will be well.
I will say that Harper messed up big time. Minority governments, by their very minority status must govern in ways which build coalitions with the other parties to pass legislation. In a country like Canada where no one or two parties represent the views of the majority of the population, minority governments are a good thing. People need to collaborate and fight to ensure that things happen, be that economic stimulus, the daily work of government, continuing to build a great country etc.
(And yes I said fight. I have no issues around decorum and playing nice that people seem to continually harp about, representing people's ideas is hard work and sometimes it means being forceful and showing leadership. It might even mean yelling. It's not being childish, it's being passionate and we could use a lot more of that in government).
Harper decided he would attach a confidence motion to his economic update and put the onus on the other parties to like it or lump it. Instead, they chose a plan C: We'll take you down, but offer the Governor General a coalition that can govern instead of having another election. They said, no more making us do your bidding by force, you come and talk with us instead. So far, Harper has done nothing to say, "let's talk" to the other parties and anything reassuring to the people of this country who are feeling the economic pinch. And while he has supporters, I think he's completely misread the mood of the population.
From where I sit, that works for me, I don't want Harper as Prime Minister, even less so than in October. But I'm not sure the coalition can hold together. I don't think Dion is a great leader. I believe he's an intelligent person, who cares about Canada and has sound ideas, but I don't see him as one to inspire others, strategize about how to implement his plans or work the details, which are an important parts of leadership. I think he'll have a tough time as Prime Minister which will shorten the life of any coalition.
I also don't know if the Liberals and NDP can find common ground if they do form a cabinet, especially if there is a leadership vacuum, but I also would like to see if it could work. It happens in other countries and would far better represent the interests of the majority of Canadians who did not vote Conservative in the last election.
I also have no real issue with their coaltion having the support of the BQ. They were duly elected by Quebecers and have no real appetite for separatism at this time. I see them more as boosters for their province who have managed to be a political force in their for nearly two decades. I don't like some of their policies and platforms, but I can say that about all the parties. The BQ could have sided with the Conservatives (and have done so in the recent past) but instead chose to work with those they felt could DO the work of governing.
And if this coalition does occur and suddenly a giant hairy monster named separatism comes rushing through the corridors of power (which is what Stephen Harper is predicting) then the Conservatives can step up, side with the Liberal and NDP coalition and save Canada.
Imagine that? Again with the working together thing.
Right now, the Governor General is consulting with her advisors after meeting with Harper, who asked that Parliament be prorogued (post-poned) until January as a "cooling-off" measure.
Wait, while looking for a link, it seems that Parliament is prorogued until January 26th. Then Harper and the government will present a budget (which is always a confidence motion).
I'm not sure if this means Harper will be walking over to Stornoway with a Toblerone and a bottle of Bailey's to work out something with Dion to stop this coalition, or if he will be making appointments, and changing anything not requiring legislation in a last ditch effort to govern like he has a majority (I do hope that if the proroging happens that Jean puts some limitations on the government), but he better not just put up the Christmas tree and sit in front of the fire; he's going to have to show Canadians that he has a plan to govern within a minority government and embrace the idea of collaboration. Since he's going to present a budget, he better start the consultations now.