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Thu

04

Dec

2008

Rally for Canada: The Last Refuge for Harper
Thursday, 04 December 2008 06:35
by C. L. Cook

There is a crisis of democracy unfolding in Canada. Yes, staid, stable, and plainly boring Canada is in the middle of a politcal power struggle that has injected the capital Ottawa and the nation with a substance foreign: Excitement!

Forget Obamarama; Canada today is buzzing with the hope three successive minority-government rule will be coming to an end. What this potentially means is real change, for the time being, in the way the country is run.

The British parliamentary system allows the occasional quirks of the dissolution of parliament and unseating of government outside the electoral process. That is the usual fate of minority governments, where the party in power has the single party majority, but not the total seat majority in a multi-partied parliament. Stephen Harper's ruling Conservatives are in this unenviable position and now, through Mr. Harper's natural bellicosity and incessant bullying, the opposition parties are driven into each other's arms to bring down the prime minister in the House of Commons and form a coalition government. This barely six weeks after "winning" his second minority "mandate."

Though Canada's tradition has long included third parties, the country has essentially suffered the caprices, venality, and corruption of either the Liberals or Tories by turn since its 1867 confederation. Canadians seem tired of this endless yo-yo-ing and the last federal election returns verify this, if turnout is an accurate indicator. Roughly 43% of those eligible did not cast a ballot. That is the highest disaffection percentage in the nation's history. While Canadians watched the Obama hype building to crescendo in the south, they turned off the Harper v. Dion '08 race.

But that may have been premature.

While Obama's rising star seems to have crested, its zenith abruptly stunted by Empire's changeless Realpolitic, his message of hope seeming less a possibility than wishful thinking with each new appointment, the Canadian political scene promises a real change at a time when the nation's policies and political structures so desperately need it.
 
Stephen Harper came out swinging today, vowing to fight the conspiracy of the opposition Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic parties with everything he has. It's easy to catalogue just what "everything" Harper has to work with:

i) Legal options: None. The opposition has every legal and democratic right to question the competency of the governing party; and, failing to find confidence in that party, they and the Governor-General are duty-bound to find confidence in the House.

Harper has threatened to prorogue the parliament. This simply means ceasing the political operations of the parliament, thus avoiding introducing any legislation that would provoke a no confidence vote. This would be unprecedented at this stage of any sitting Canadian government. Proroguing is always the last act of a government before an election. Never has this kind of closure been used for this purpose in the history of the nation. Nevertheless, Harper is expected to request of GG, MichaĂ«lle Jean the stoppage to buy time.  

ii) Extra-legal options: Harper has friends in high places. Canada's corporate and State-run media coverage reveals an obvious pro-government slant. It runs daily in seamless concert with an expensive election-style advertising campaign launched by the Tories in an effort to sway public opinion, and bring pressure to bear on individual members of parliament and Governor-General Jean.

The Conservative campaign foot-soldiers who featured so large during the recent election too remain well organized, ardent, and are currently spearheading a media/on-line message blitz, and have set up "spontaneous" demonstrations, (some of the images of which appearing uncomfortably reminiscent of the "grassroots Florida" supporters that stopped the vote recount in the 2000 election of George W. Bush). They're planning a national day of protest for Saturday, December 6. Whether accidental, or emblematic of Harper's disdain for feminist, or even female-friendly initiatives and programs, the Tory's 'Rally for Canada' will share public space with remembrance ceremonies for the fourteen women massacred by a mad gunman at Montreal's l'Ecole Polytechnique in 1989; Canada's "Columbine."

In support of this rally, the prime minister has evoked the twin terrors of every Christian conservative: Socialism and Separatism. Harper, whose animosity toward Quebec is famously available on the internet, is now invoking a Bloc Quebecois bogie man to scare Canadians into the streets in his support. And, in an echo of the defeated John McCain, the north of 49 Republican is lashing out at the "socialist" New Democratic Party coalition member. As he did during the election, Harper has chosen divisive politics with truly ugly undertones in a desperate effort to maintain his "win at all cost" political philosophy.

The conservatives and their allied foes each offer explanations for what has shaken Canada's political scene over the last week. It is no surprise these differ significantly. But, neither party has uttered the real reasons behind the attempted ouster of Stephen Harper's government. Harper has run rough-shod over the country's traditional values, replacing whole cloth the political and social culture with a cheap facsimile of the disastrous late-American variety. He is unapologetic about his nation-changing program, if low-key about its particulars and what they mean for the future of the nation.

In the final analysis, Canada has returned an unprecedented three minority governments. Nearly two-thirds of those voting preferred left of centre policies, yet the most stridently right-wing prime minister in modern history calls Sussex Drive home. Harper's big mistake was to provoke the majority opposition with legislation they could not swallow, (in this case, proposing legislation to end federal matching funds to political parties), again humiliating them; this so soon after their respective election losses. For this hubris Harper will fall, and we can only thank the humility of the Liberal and NDP and Bloc Quebecois leaders who may now must hold their noses to sit together and make Canada back from what remains after Harper's tenure.

[Below are a couple of the first salvoes in the PR war in full swing in boring old Canada's political battle to the death.]

You may or may not have visited the website "Rally for Canada"  http://www.rallyforcanada.ca/. It is the last desperate act of supporters of the Harper Government.  An attempt to stir patriotism against a coalition of political parties holding a majority of seats in the House of Commons and, through such, being enabled by Parliamentary custom to recommend the Prime Minister of Canada to the Governor General.

The action of seeking to launch rallies against legitimate change among a people already shaken by a world wide economic crisis that places them in fear of their livelihoods can be described as nothing else than the last refuge of scoundrels seeking to maintain power at any cost.

Visit the site, there is a dialogue taking place if you have the skills to fully access it.

Joe Hueglin

p.s. Just in as this was written is a supportive document from Stephen Harper's former employers who are, apparently, ignorant of the working of the Parliamentary system.

ncc@nationalcitizens.ca (The National Citizens Coalition)

Subject: An Open Letter to the Citizens of Canada

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Canada Use Your Voice.   Stand Up For Democracy

This letter is an appeal to all Canadian citizens to share your concerns and fight for democracy.

In the recent federal election, Canadians voted for a minority government.  You did not vote for an opposition coalition that has given veto power to a party determined to tear apart this country.

This is an unprecedented power grab, and we believe its wrong.

Voting Matters!

The confidence of the people is far more important than the confidence of Parliament.

Contact the Governor General today and let her know it is her responsibility to protect democracy and ensure the citizens of Canada that their voice does matter.

This coalition government is undemocratic and unaccountable - Don't let them take away your voice!

Contact Michelle Jean today and demand that this decision be put in the hands of the Canadian electorate.


The above text is an example of an ad we will be running in the National Post on Friday, December 5, 2008.  With you support we can continue to run similar ads in publications across the country.Click here to donate to our campaign to Stand Up for Democracy.  Your support is needed now more than ever.

E-mail us at ncc@nationalcitizens.ca
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