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Our new Governor-General is obviously a socialist/separatist lover

What other explanation for Conservatives is there, after reading this batch of heresy (for them) in a Sunmedia interview, of all places:

The new governor general says he sees nothing wrong or illegitimate with coalition governments — something Prime Minister Stephen Harper has attacked for being “undemocratic.”…Johnston said Canada — like many democratic regimes — has had experiences with coalition-type governments in the past. “I think that most jurisdictions that have a system of first-past-the-post or proportional representation will from time to have time have coalitions or amalgamation of different parties and that’s the way democracy sorts itself out,” he said.

I said I wasn’t going to post much for the next week unless something grabbed my attention – this qualified as grabbing my attention. I await with amusement the Conservative Party reaction as well as their blogging Tory sycophants. It’s not unusual for them to turn on someone who goes against official Conservative Party rhetoric/doctrine.. but it’s a little harder when the Governor-General who the Prime Minister picked is the person indirectly contradicting Harper – particularly someone who is familiar with constitutional law and convention.

39 comments to Our new Governor-General is obviously a socialist/separatist lover

  • Tomm

    Jon,

    That’s more like it!

    Redrum, Redrum, Redrum,

    Shine on!

  • Tomm

    Thanks for the drive by smear.

    I never knew you could get so much informtion on “Tomm” through Google. I’m only a “nuisance” to those that cannot discuss issues without showing some reasonable amount of objectivity.

    I wonder what I would get if I googled “Redrum”…

    Perhaps just a load of references to Nicholson, Kubrick, or King.

    Take Care

  • Tomm

    Redrum,

    I’ve said everything that is relevant. We clearly disagree on what this means.

    The facts are on the table. Journalists and bloggers have been pouring over them since November 2008. We entirely agree on what precipitated the coalition letter as well. You mis-state that the PM lost the confidence of the House however. That never did occur. In fact, he went to the house in 2009 as part of his agreement with the GG to determine whether he still had it and, he did.

    I can totally accept how the GG could accept a coalition government and can even see scenarios of this occurring. I have no issue with what the GG stated on this.

    It is entirely acceptable for the NDP, Bloc, and the LPC to pound this drum anyway they wish. And pound it they have. I have no issue with this as long as everybody gets their chance at the mic. Why isn’t it acceptable to you that the CPC use it?

    You seem to be holding them to a higher standard than your own party.

    • Redrum

      @Tomm, ah, you’re full of it. The only actual Party pounding the table on this is the CPC: the other Parties wish it would go away. It’s just “we people” out here in the blogosphere that are pushing back against the unrelenting scaremongering and misinformation from your team & its minions like you, as is our democratic right. And few of us are even members of a party, so, no, we’re not speaking for it or holding it to a different standard, so stop trying to attribute positions to me that aren’t mine. Anyhow, I’m done with you, too — I Googled you and found out you’re a CanadianSense-class nuisance of the RedTory site, which, yes, makes you a Concern Troll for your unsolicited solicitous “advice” here.

  • Tomm

    Redrum,

    My apologies, thought the post was from Scott. I mis-identified you.

    With respect to “concern troll”, and “negative messaging” coming from the PMO, I don’t know how to respond. Politics is very partisan. The LPC can’t claim the moral high ground in any argument. The negative imaging is coming from both sides. It seems you are under some illusion that this isn’t the case.

    I suggest that if you think a coalition of the left is sellable. Go and pitch it to the nation. The PM is clearly not going to let the nation forget the coalition letter, who supported it, and who signed it.

    • Redrum

      @Tomm, yeah, well, again, the Libs. aren’t running to govern as a coalition — they want to win at least a minority — so, sorry, no, there is no onus on them to defend or predefine what might happen if the CPC fails to get or keep the confidence of the House after the next election. And none of us kibbitzers here are running the show, so there’s really no point in your trying to tell us what we should or shouldn’t be selling or worrying our pretty little heads about, thank you very much.

      But as for the context — and your not so veiled threats about how the PM is going to continue to harken back to the aborted coalition of late 2008 to club all the opposing parties with — well, yes, let’s not forget:

      1) WHY that came about: because the CPC lost the confidence of the House when they tried to pass an economic update that tried to smother democracy by eliminating the political parties’ electoral funding and did nothing to stave off the recession that was about to hit us like a ton of bricks, and since this occurred so soon after the election (the third in as many years), the Opposition wanted to spare the election-weary country the trouble & expense of another pointless election by forming an alternative government with the existing members.

      2) That it wasn’t the first time in recent memory that the three Opposition parties – including the BQ – had tried to go to the GG to form an alternative gov’t in order to forestall a costly election when it appeared that the Gov’t had lost confidence and Parliament would otherwise have to be dissolved: Stephen Harper was the signatory to one such letter on September 9, 2004. http + ://www2.macleans.ca/2008/11/30/her-majestys-official-opposition-teams-up-with-separatists-to-topple-democratically-elected-government/

      or http + ://bcinto.blogspot.com/2009/09/video-stephen-harpers-undemocratic.html

      So, if Harper’s big plan is to keep waving the coalition bogeyman whining, “But if I don’t get a majority, they might form a coalition if we can’t maintain the confidence of the House,” the response of us CITIZENS is, “Yeah? So? You were prepared to do that yourself.” And that’s not “handwringing,” BTW: it’s countering — and hopefully neutralizing — threats, half-truths, lies, and misinformation with evidence and facts.

  • Tomm

    I am not suggesting you ignore comments made by the PM, the CPC marketing machine, or the GG; just put them in a more appropriate context. Your post identifies that the GG would accept a government that was made up of coalition partners. The previous GG would have done the same thing, as you well know. This stuff happens in a Minority Parliament. It does not make him opposed to the present government. He has to be neutral and follow parliamentary rules and precedent.

    The PM will oppose those who propose a coalition that does not include his party as the senior partner as being inappropriate. We all know the reasons why. Firstly, his party has the most seats and by precedent, the democratic right to govern. Secondly, the coalition would include parties that are politically unpalatable to many Canadian’s. The vast majority of Canadian’s (even many that vote for them) would not wish the NDP or BQ to be part of a government. Harper knows this and hammers this point home (again and again).

    My comment was about the hand wringing that goes on after the PM or CPC make their comments about a coalition. They have their point of view, it is political and it is shared with many Canadian’s. Heck, you probably agree that the BQ should not be part of a coalition governing Canada. But you also probably feel that it is the lesser of two evils given your opinion of the PM and his party.

    The intense focus on what the PM states has not done your cause any good. He is not the Delphi Oracle. He has a point of view, is articulate about expressing it, and is trying to influence Canadian’s in agreeing with him. The LPC, NDP and BQ leaders should do the same with their point of view. If they are not as successful in their task, it is strange that you blame the PM.

    • Redrum

      @Tomm, Again, I think this heckling is entirely misplaced, as is your “Delphic Oracle” metaphor or analogy or whatever that straw man is supposed to be.

      First of all, Scott was being ironic in his post: he was both celebrating the GG’s declaration of his considered opinion on coalitions as a vindication and predicting the con-bots likely reaction, in a mocking sort of way.

      Second, I don’t know anybody’s who’s regarded this PM’s almost always polarizing utterances as being cryptic or nuanced in any way: usually they’re infuriatingly clear — and very often clearly miselading, and clearly wrong.

      Third, you’re sounding more like a “concern troll” if your advice is that the Opposition should just ignore the negative messaging from the other side instead of pointing out the many, many lies that have been issued by the PMO and Conservative war room to try to manipulate voters.

  • Tomm

    Harper has all of you guys eating out of his hand.

    When Stephen Harper says something, everybody goes scrambling to the tea leaves or the pig entrails (depending which party affiliation we are talking about;)) to explain what it means.

    Harper is a politician. When the other three parties gang up on him two months after an election to rip his party out of government, what is it you expected him to say?

    He will fight back and do so in a way that makes his case stronger. Add a separatist party to the mix and he now becomes “Captain Canada”. What did Dion think was going to happen? And then they forewarned him about it giving him a chance to look at choices he had since he was still the PM.

    And now all of you are arguing the nuances of his statements like they were coming from the Delphi Oracle.

    No wonder American’s think we have an inferiority complex.

    • Redrum

      @Tomm, “And now all of you are arguing the nuances of his statements like they were coming from the Delphi Oracle”

      um, no: we’re taking the statement of the one whose opinion will probably matter the most on this in the not to distant future — the GG — as a launching pad for a discussion of what is undoubtedly going to figure prominently in the next election: viz., whether coalition governments are ipso facto illegitimate or undemocratic in Canada.

      And like it or not, Harper has the editors of all the major media outlets eating out of his hand — most papers ran the PMO’s “coalition of separatist & socialists” screed almost verbatim in 2008 — so it’s not as though people are just being neurotic in fighting back against those ill-informed & misleading talking points that have been continuing to circulate in the CPC speeches & fundraising letters since and are likely to rear up in a series of negative ads. Are you suggesting we just ignore it and hope it has no effect?

  • TofKW

    Mr Hickman, want the easiest way to refute Harper’s coalition nonsense? Iggy’s already said it many times throughout 2009. If he wanted to head a coalition government, he would be Prime Minister right now and Harper would be gone.

    Clearly he wants to lead government without partners and that’s how the Liberals will run in the next election. And that will only change depending on what the voters chose in the next election, whenever that is.

    Frankly, I think this is how all the parties must run an election campaign – to win, full stop. You can start talking about coalitions fresh after an election when the electorate give no clear mandate to any one party. Talking about it beforehand only helps to shoot yourself in the foot.

    • Jason Hickman

      @TofKW: See my response to Scott, above. From a legal/constitutional point of view, of course there’s no obligation on the part of the parties to inform the voters-at-large of their willingness to enter into a coalition. Ignatieff (and the others, for that matter) *can* therefore do exactly what you suggest. What I’m suggesting is that a future coalition’s legitimacy (in the political sense) would be *much* stronger if its members were to tell Canadians in advance of e-day that they will enter into this arrangement with that party if doing so would result in what would effectively be a stable (preferably, a majority) government.

      And I’m not exactly comforted by Iggy’s “if I wanted to head a coalition…” argument. He signed on to the ’08 deal, and has since gone back & forth about whether it was “legitimate” (again, in the political sense, not the constitutional one). He’s now the leader-most-likely to lead a coalition after the next election, and it’s up to him to tell us who he’d be prepared to enter into a coalition with, and (to at least some extent) on what terms.

  • Jason Hickman

    If the Libs & the NDP entered into a formal coalition agreement in advance of the election (like the Liberals and Nationals have done for years in Australia) or even if they were to announce in advance of the election that they would support each other in a coaltion government, with some of the details to be worked out afterwards (as was the case in the last New Zealand election), that would be one thing. But that isn’t what we (almost) had in ’08, and it’s debatable at best that we’re getting anything close to that now from either Ignatieff or Layton.

    In other words, if you want an easy way to refute all these Conservative talking-points, it’s this: tell the voters in advance of the election, and in clear language, what you will do, and with whom.

    • Redrum

      @Jason Hickman, ah, but the Cons’ talking points are like moles, or weeds: no matter how many you whack, others will pop up. Life’s too short.

      Suffice to say, whatever they might _think_ they’re doing, Canadians don’t vote for Prime Ministers, Governments, or even Political Parties in federal elections: they vote for individual MPs, and it’s those MPs who are called upon to form a stable government in whatever combination they can once the election’s over. That’s the Parliamentary model we have: the Cons. are just telling fables if they say otherwise.

    • @Jason Hickman, The Tories and Lib Dems didn’t do that in Britain – nor Labour for that matter – they all said that coalitions and minority governments were hypotheticals, and they were all running to win.

      Once the chips fell as they did (or in this case, the results), THAT is when the investigations into coalitions and such began. So, I disagree with you – there’s no need for any party to say they are running on or intend to form a coalition pre-election. Thus, when Iggy says that he isn’t running to get a coalition, but won’t rule it out as a possibility post-election, he’s actually gone farther in his pre-election statements then any of the British leaders ever did or said in their election campaign.

      I also think this incessant Conservative obsession with trying to paint all opposition parties as a “coalition” is fear-mongering that will not work this time around. The screeching of this every time the House of Commons passes a bill that the Conservatives hate is getting quite tiresome. People have seen it elsewhere -particularly in Britain – and it wont scare them. Opinion polls lately have consistently shown that Conservative fearmongering over a coalition government or the possibility of one is not resonating.

      • @Scott Tribe,
        In fairness, the LibDems did say that they would try to work with whichever party won the most seats, and they targetted four of their manifesto promises (tuition fees not being one of them) as 4 priorities that they would insist on if they entered into any sort of arrangement with another party. And they have achieved those four working with the Tories.

    • @Jason Hickman,
      It should be noted, however, that neither Australia nor NZ use first-past-the-post. NZ has proper PR, so coalitions are the expected outcome (as is the case in most European countries). Consequently, it makes sense for the parties to set out areas of possible cooperation beforehand. Australia uses AV at the federal level. The coalition between the four right-wing parties (Liberals, Nationals, Country Liberal and Liberal National Party of Queensland) is one of convenience to unite the right-wing vote against Labor. It’s not really a proper coalition – it would be more akin to having Reform and the PCs agreeing to govern together and campaigning together back in the day to stop the Liberals. It would probably make more sense for those 4 parties to just merge, but i’m sure they all have “valid” historical reasons to remain separate – at least in name if not in practise.

      In Canada and the UK, because of FPTP, it is expected that a single party will emerge with a majority of seats (tho rarely a majority of the vote, and sometimes they’ll win a majority while finishing 2nd in the voting), so parties are loathe to talk about coalitions beforehand.

    • Jason Hickman

      First of all: Man, did I get stuck with one fugly avatar! You got it set up so that Tories get the hideous ones, Scott? 🙂

      @Scott Tribe: What you say may have “flown” before the events of ’08. However, I think that aborted effort has changed the rules* in several respects. I think Canadians will expect to be told in advance what coalitions, confidence-and-supply deals, etc are the parties prepared to enter into. For that matter, while the UK coalition is _generally_ popular now, I think its existencec will also force the parties there to be up-front in advance of the next election as to who they will be prepared to enter into a coalition with. (*nb When I say “rules” I’m not talking in the strict constitutional/legal sense of the word; I’m talking about what most Canadians expect and demand in a political sense.)

      @Redrum: In theory, yes, we vote for individual MPs. But with the exception of the NWT and Nunavuut, the fact is that when we vote in federal or provincial elections, we vote for parties as well. And in fact, I seem to recall studies that say most people vote for parties and their leaders first and foremost, and in most cases, the name of the individual candidate means much less (obviously, that isn’t always the case in by-elections; I’m talking about general elections).

      @Radical Centrist: That’s a fair distinction, although NZ isn’t “pure” prop.rep. – there are still traditional constituencies, parties have to meet a threshold before they can get PR seats, etc. I think the Lib/Nat coalition is a little more formalized than you suggest (the Nat leader is assured of being deputy PM/leader of the opp., for example) but I take your point. However, it seems that no party other than maybe the CPC is in a position to form a majority in this country at the moment, and for as long as the BQ holds between 35 and 55 or so seats, that’s unlikely to change. That means the possibility of a coalition (or some other arrangement) will be front & centre, especially after ’08’s events.

      • Redrum

        @Jason Hickman, Not “In theory” — in reality. Sure, our _intention_ may be (and, agreed, very often is) to vote for the Party or the PM, and it may APPEAR to us that that’s what we’re doing, but we need to be disabused of that notion, because that’s not what we’re ACTUALLY doing in our Parliamentary system. Similarly, it may APPEAR to us that the sun rises & sets, or that the Earth is flat, etc.: but that’s just our idiosyncratic, poorly informed perspective.

        • Jason Hickman

          @Redrum: The fact is that parties (and their leaders) are an entrenched, legally-recognized part of our system, unless you want to abolish them and elect 308 independent MPs, a la NWT or Nuunavut.

          In fact, let’s recall the event that directly lead to the whole coalition “thing” in ’08 – the proposed elimination of public funding for *parties*. When you vote for your Liberal (or whomever) candidate in the next election, the individual you vote for doesn’t get your buck-and-change per year, his or her *party* does. AFAIK, independent candidates don’t see any of that money.

        • Redrum

          @Jason, now, now, let’s not go attacking straw men. I haven’t denied the existence of political parties, or their importance in forming governments, or even in winning elections and influencing voting intentions: I’ve merely pointed out that, in reality, no one can actually vote for a political party — only for an individual runnning to be his or her representative as a Member of Parliament.

  • ridenrain

    Even you people must admit that coalitions are a very rare thing in Canada. When the 3 parties that didn’t win the election (the losers), start a rumor that they will side-step the election results, go figure that over 60% of Canadians rejected the idea.
    That’s a real 60% also, not coalition math.

    http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/lorrie_goldstein/2010/05/28/14178601.html

    • @ridenrain, opinion polls of late show a plurality of Canadians do not reject coalitions out of hand.

      And talking about coalitions is NOT sidestepping election results when no one party has won a clear majority in the House. As everyone said in Britain.. the people have supported no one in that scenario.. and its up to the House to find a political party or parties that can command a majority of vote in the House. If Labour had gotten an arrangement with the Lib Dems instead of the Tories, it would have been perfectly acceptable if they were able to achieve the confidence of the Parliament there. That election, ironically, has shown Canadians that Harper was and still is fearmongering over that issue. So, I`m very pleased the Governor-General has spoke out on this topic.

  • ridenrain

    I don’t recall anyone in government saying it was illegal, just that it was undemocratic. There was that great line though, that coalitions were for losers. I loved that one.

    • @ridenrain, A line that he failed to use as I said earlier with Netyanhu and the forming of that Israeli coalition government, and which most conservatives like yourselves try very hard to ignore.

      And try reading the article in the Sun again. It quoted Harper as saying it was “undemocratic” and the GG dismissed that, albeit indirectly. I never said nor did the Sun claim that Harper said it was illegal.

    • @ridenrain,

      The Conservatives repeatedly made references to the opposition parties trying to “overthrow” the government, to “overturn” the results of the election, and to a “coup d’état”.

      Sounds to me like they were trying to imply it was illegal…

  • Anon ABC

    Either that or Harper himself is thinking of a coalition with those socialists/separatists (won’t be the first time, if you ask some people, eh?) and, especially, since Iggy is again inconveniently threatening an election.

    Wonder whether the new GG is just “coincidentally” having some positive thoughts about coalitions(see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/tories-soften-tone-with-ndp-ahead-of-2011-budget/article1850867/)?

    After all, this GG has appeared to be very perceptive, at least in regard to what both he and Harper deemed “well tilled grounds” in the Oliphant inquiry: http://www.thestar.com/article/818273, no?

    BTW, happy new year, Scott.

  • Add the GG’s remarks to the fact that Harper and crew seem quite unfazed by the installation of a coalition government in Merrie Olde Englande. I think the fractious nature of recent Parliamentary discourse (QP) could make the idea of a cooperative coalition quite attractive to many Canadians. A dedicated educational approach by would-be coalition partners would be beneficial, too.

    The big problem is that Ignatieff has been unequivocal in his rejection of a coalition. He’s played right into Harper’s framing of a coalition as illegitimate and painted himself into a corner. If he were to flip-flop now that a coalition might be more palatable to the voting public, it will be correctly portrayed as a lack of commitment to stated principles. Too bad he was reactive to Harper’s framing. He cut off an option that might have put him in the Prime Minister’s seat in a coalition government.

    • Redrum

      @JimBobby, This isn’t quite right, JB: back in July or Aug., Ignatieff clarified his position, that while he was not going to RUN on a coalition or an electoral accord & would try to get a Liberal gov’t w/o any advance deals, he of course would (no longer) rule out taking a look at where the chips lay if they failed to achieve at least a minority…. and that he’d consider forming a coalition at that point.

      And it’s not the case that he’s ever said coalitions are illegitimate: it’s just that he believes the Libs shouldn’t & don’t need to run on what he takes to be a position of weakness (that it could likely only form a gov’t with another Party’s help); in his view, the Libs are already — or soon will be again — a broad enough ‘big tent’ party to be a coalition in its own right.

      • @Redrum, With the polls as stagnant as they have been for the past couple years, the only way Ignatieff will be PM is by way of coalition. Either we have another CPC minority or we have a coalition. If a coalition is to be seen as legitimate by the public, politicians need to embrace the idea and educate the public on its validity. Ignatieff has done the opposite.

        Asked whether a Liberal government would enter into a coalition with the other two parties, Ignatieff said: “I think I made it very clear by my behaviour last January in relation to coalition politics. I didn’t think it was in the national interest. I could be standing here as prime minister of Canada, but I turned it down.”

        Read more: cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/09/10/ignatieff-harper-speech.html

        FWIW, I don’t think the country was ready for a coalition in 2008. That is changing and could change entirely if politicians didn’t allow the CPC framing to stand and had the guts to take a coalition proposition on the campaign trail. Some non-compete agreements in key ridings would help, too. Not only would non-competes prevent vote-splitting, they would demonstrate a willingness and ability for the LPC & NDP to work together with one another as they’d need to do in a coalition government.

        • Redrum

          @JimBobby, I don’t disagree w. you about wishing Ignatieff was more open to exploring such options, and have been disappointed with how he has handled matters, as well. I’m just trying to prevent YOU from painting him into a corner by pointing out that saying it wasn’t right for the country at that time (when so many balked at the time) isn’t the same as saying it’s “illegitimate.”

        • Redrum

          @JimBobby, here’s the link for what I’ve just said, courtesy of Spector:
          “Michael Ignatieff says coalition governments are “perfectly legitimate” and he’d be prepared to lead one if that’s the hand Canadian voters deal him in the next election.” June 6 / 2010
          www + .ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20100606/ignatieff-coalition-100606

    • @JimBobby,

      Harper’s unfazed about the UK coalition because, as he said when he visited Downing Street this summer – it’s a proper coalition, i.e. it includes the party that “won” the election. Had it been a Lab-LibDem coalition, not sure what he would have said then since it would have been a “coalition of losers”.

  • ck

    I wonder how long it took before Harper or his lap dog, Soudas rushed over to Rideau Hall to wrap the GG over the knuckles for that one? GG must not have been paying attention to the fact that the job entailed being Steve’s hyper partisan “yes” man & those who disagree with him suffer the wrath. Just ask Linda Keene, Richard Colvin, Pat Stogren, etc…etc…

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what he says. What matters is what the Tim Horton’s crowd thinks and what they would vote or not for.

    • Marie

      Or maybe our new GG is merely paving the way for the Reformatories bid to form a coalition in order to gain a majority. Nothing this man Harper does will surprise me at this point. He is nothing but a conniving leech with no morals to speak of.

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