This current political crisis has certainly energized many Canadians, after an election with a dismally low turnout of only 59.1%. There is lots of action to watch, but not sure if there's a direction or firm leadership. Watching Question Period yesterday, with both sides leaping up and now, yelling and waving their arms, I was reminded of the robot in the TV Seriesthat would react to any crisis by waving his arms wildly and crying, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" Lots of charges from each side that the other is being partisan, being un-democratic, non-constitutional, working to destroy the country. We are in the midst of a propaganda war. PM Harper stood up in Question Period yesterday and accused the coalition of not even having a Canadian flag in the background when they signed their agreement. CBC News then showed a clip of the signing - with a row of provincial flags and TWO Canadian flags in the background.
We have the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc forming a coalition and proposing they can deal with this crisis better that the current Conservative government. They have the numbers, Liberal (7), NDP (37), and Blog (49) totals 163 seats, compared to the Conservative 143. Note that those numbers do not mean that the Conservatives "won" the election, or that Canadians elected Harper as Prime Minister. The Governor General asks the leader of the political party that has the the support of the majority of the members of the House to form the government. And that person become Prime Minister - unless they lose support of the majority of the House.
Too bad in the midst of all this political maneuvering and quest for power we've forgot the economic crisis. Canadians were expecting major action from the government, and sooner than later. However, according to an article by Dan Gardner in today's (Dec 3/08) Ottawa Citizen, economic indicators here confirm we are not nearly as bad off as the U.S. , so maybe our response does not need to be as drastic as theirs. The newly proposed coalition says we need more economic stimulus than the Conservatives propose. The question to be decided is how much. Gardner says in part:
On Monday, StatsCan announced that “real gross domestic product increased 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, after remaining essentially flat over the first half of the year.” Admittedly, that is not the most thrilling sentence ever written. But it is important.
It means the Canadian economy is not in recession ... If Canada were a mature democracy with responsible leadership, this is the [economic] debate we would be having right now.
But we’re a silly country with petty leaders, so we’re yammering about Stephen Harper’s folly and the rest of the wretched little drama unfolding on Parliament Hill. The economy is treated as, at best, a secondary matter — nothing more than grist for partisans, who repeat hype and spin and whatever factoids suit their momentary interests.
Meanwhile, back on Parliament Hill, how this will play out changes daily. In the face of violent opposition to his proposals, Harper has backed down on a number of them. And promised a budget on January 27th, the day after the House is scheduled to reconvene. But the opposition still vowed to defeat him in a non-confidence vote on December 8th. Harper has several options, one being to not hold the vote, so shut Parliament down before then.This is called a prorogue, and is something the PM can decide to do, and then asks the Governor General's agreement. It's usually at the end of a session, when the Government has brought in most of the legislation they wanted to, they then end the current session, and take some time off to talk to constituents and plan the next session and its budget. It's never been done two weeks after the start of a session to avoid a non-confidence vote. The coalition proposes a number of economic stimuli, sooner than later, and I assume would keep working past the scheduled recess date of December 12th. Harper will make lots of promises too. The Governor General can agree on the prorogue, granting Harper what he calls a "cooling off period", or she can give the coalition a chance to do a better job. Most think she will pick the former, but you never know.
Stay tuned, I hope we don't have yet another election in the coming months.