By George brown, editor
I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to waste it by running on and on, trying to make my point and just filling the space at the top of this page.
I’ll get right to the point.
Canadians don’t need another election.
So, you can stop reading this column now and carry on with the rest of the newspaper if you like. No hard feelings.
Read Mike’s Hammertime column for a good laugh today. Check out the great bargains our local merchants have to offer. You won’t miss anything here. With the prospect looming of our fourth federal election in five years, you’ve heard it all before. I don’t know if I will tell you anything new. I haven’t got there yet.
Jack Layton says Prime Minister Stephen Harper must “reach out” to his NDP caucus if he wants his minority government to survive what appears to be an inevitable non-confidence motion soon after Parliament resumes next week.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has raised the bar on political rhetoric, calling out the prime minister like some schoolyard yap: “Your time is up.”
And I never thought I would ever agree with John Baird, whose name has been on all of those infrastructure cheques our municipalities have been accepting in this summer’s endless string of photo opps. But he’s right when he said: “I can tell you the very last thing this country needs is an unnecessary election, less than a year before we had the last one.”
We didn’t need the last one either. The one Harper forced on Canadians after breaking his own law for a fixed election date. It seems like it was more than a year ago. How time flies. Remember we had a fall election and then a few months later we had the “crisis?” There was an agreement among the opposition parties to form a coalition if necessary, an alternative to Harper’s minority government.
This got everyone’s stuffed shirts in a knot, with the Conservatives complaining the opposition parties were railroading democracy when it reality that’s how our parliamentary system is supposed to work. The Governor General was recalled from Europe to preside over the “crisis.” In the end, she sent the combatants to their rooms for a precedent-setting but necessary time-out.
We know that after her trip to the Arctic that Michaëlle Jean has heart — she ate a slice of raw seal heart after gutting the animal herself. What she will need to do now is eat some prairie oysters. Does she have the cojones to tell the prime minister that it’s three strikes and you’re out and give the government over to Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition?
Parliament and Canada’s viceroy can avoid an election that will certainly solve nothing. While the Bloc Quebecois enjoys the support of the majority of Quebeckers, there is virtually no hope Canadians can give either the Liberals or Conservatives the seats necessary to form a majority government.
If Harper doesn’t have the confidence of Parliament — which he would not have if he lost a non-confidence vote in the House — and if it’s clear to the Governor General that an election would not change the makeup of Parliament — and the most recent opinion poll shows the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat — the most prudent thing for Jean to do would be to hand the reins over to the Liberals who would have to ensure that we would have parliamentary peace for a minimum two years. That would save Canadians more than $300,000 and some modicum of self-esteem, and dignity on the international stage.
Of course we used to complain that majority governments gave the Prime Minister the right to be a dictator.
It would be more beneficial to the future of the Liberal party to throw in with the NDP to form a government than to be seen as propping up the Conservatives. Regardless, with minority Parliaments Canadian government policy will slowly drift to the left; either by the Conservatives being forced by the Liberals and NDP to water down their policies or by the NDP allowing a Liberal minority to enact a more leftist agenda.
The Conservatives don’t want an election either. Especially Harper. His time as leader would be all but over if he failed to win a majority government in a fourth consecutive election. If he couldn’t beat the dithering Paul Martin after the sponsorship scandal; if he couldn’t beat the fumbling Stephane Dion with his carbon tax; and if he doesn’t beat an untested Ignatieff who hasn’t been accepted by Canadians, whom could Harper beat?
Well, there you have it. If you made it this far, thank you. I hope you found it enlightening. If not, I’ll try harder next week.
Unless I’m busy covering an election campaign.