Saturday, November 29, 2008

 

BAFFLEGAB AND THE MAN IN THE BLUE SWEATER

As is his prerogative, the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, has delayed the two crucial votes which could see his Government go down to defeat in the House of Commons two weeks after the new Parliament opened.

Somewhat like the ticking doomsday clock, the Prime Minister's gesture has moved back the hands of time to December 8th. That is the new time frame within which the Government's intentions, expressed in the financial update, will be put to a vote. As well as, to whatever degree it may be required, Stephane Dion's motion of non-confidence in the Harper administration.

The "mess" of what's happened this past week is of the Prime Minister's own making. It speaks volumes about his hard-right ideology. From his early days in politics more than 20 years ago, as the then chief policy adviser to Preston Manning's Reform Party, Mr. Harper has focused on changing politics in Canada. Although he has been a national party leader for several years, Prime Minister since January 2006, he remains of the opinion, as recently described by author Paul Palango that: "Ottawa (is) littered with land-mines and secret agents who (have) the tenure, experience and ability to thwart anyone bent upon changing the status quo."

Little wonder then that with the spectre of former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, and former New Democrat leader, Ed Broadbent, literally rising "from the dead" to counsel the opposition parties on their next moves, Mr. Harper has quickly abandoned the contrived softer, gentler, persona of the "man in the blue sweater" who as late as a week ago was promoting a more inclusive less confrontational Parliamentary session.

It seems to me Mr. Harper missed an opportunity at week's end in his late Friday afternoon address to rise to the challenges of real leadership and be magnanimous, inclusive and non-confrontational in the glow of our pending Constitutional crisis. Instead he's picked the "lower road" accusing those who oppose Finance Minister Flaherty's plan of trying to steal away the Government's power without the holding of an election.

Following-up on Mr. Harper's Friday address to the nation, several sources report this weekend that Conservative Party faithful, Members of Parliament and rank and file alike, are fanning-out across the country, speaking notes in hand, in support of the hysterics that the Liberals and the NDP want to steal power while the Government is single-handily focused on dealing with the economic crisis afflicting Canadians. Elizabeth Thompson of the "Montreal Gazette" says the east end Ottawa Conservative Party war room has been cranking-out lists of sympathetic radio hot-line hosts to call, comments to make, and issues to discuss come Monday.

I suppose the Prime Minister's one week delay in the crucial vote(s) of confidence gives both sides an opportunity to win over the "hearts and minds" of Canada's unsuspecting electorate who thought they had laid the entire matter to rest with the results of the October 14 Federal Election. Although Constitutional experts, lawyers and wannabees are already "on the clock" over this pending crisis, the Harper delay also allows the Governor-General, now promoting Canadian arts and culture in eastern Europe, to complete her four country visit before heading back to Ottawa on Friday of next week, December 5th.

Facing this imbroglio, the Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, may be the first since June 25, 1926 to confront a Constitutional crisis of the magnitude ushered by the potential defeat of this Government. In 1926, the then Governor-General, Lord Byng of Vimy, refused a request from Prime Minister MacKenzie-King to dissolve Parliament; and he called on the Leader of the Opposition, Conservative Arthur Meighen, to form a Government. In Canada's 141 year history that is the only precedent, and surely the one Constitutional experts now have a week to pore over.

I may sound repetitious: The Prime-Minister though should also be conscious that just more than 40 years ago the Liberal party dumped then Prime Minister Lester B.Pearson in favour of another after the best he could muster, in two elections, were two minority governments.

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