Harper vows No Backroom deals to avoid fall of his Government
The 2008 Canadian Federal Election resulted in the allocation of 143 seats to the Conservative Party, 77 seats to the Liberal Party, 49 seats to the Bloc Quebecois, 37 seats to the NDP and 2 seats to independents. 155 seats are required to form a majority government. It also requires 155 seats to pass legislation in the House of Commons. The minority Conservative Government is 12 seats short, but can pass legislation with the support of any one of the other parties.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has led a minority Conservative goivernment for almost four years. This in itself has to be feat for a minority gouvernment to last this long. He called an election last fall, which increased the seats for his minority government.
Shortly after convening government after the election, he was faced with opposition parties that said they could no longer support his government and had struck a deal to form a coalition. The deal involved the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party supported by the BLOC Quebecois.
Stephen Harper got around this problem by going to the Gouvernor General, an appointed position, quasi Head of State, representing Queen Elizabeth II. He asked the Gouvernor General to parogue parliament. This is a procedure which essentially shuts down the session of parliament and gave him a time out to rethink strategy before reconvening parliament.
During this recess the Liberal Leader Stefan Dion resigned. He was largely blamed for the demise of the Liberal Party during the election due to his green platform of cap and trade, which Canadians saw as a tax grab. He was replaced by Michael Ignatieff as the Liberal Party leader. Ignatieff is an academic who had been outside of Canada since 1978.
His gouvernment was kept alive by the Liberal Party propping them up on important legislation which could be defeated with a vote of non-confidence. This allowed his government to survive to the summer recess of Parliament.
Prior to the recess of Parliament the Liberal Party was threatening to bring down the Gouvernment and Michael Ignatieff gave the Prime Minister four ultimatums, which were considered pretty weak. Ignatieff finally met with the Prime Minister. The closed door meeting, apparently had the two leaders agreeing to have a committee look at Employment Insurance Review and come up with recommendations. Yesterday the Liberals quit that committee.
As is the case with many political parties, the rhetoric and party information machines are working overtime presenting their point of view. Oh how to sift through the spin.
The Liberal Party has now given notice that they will no longer prop up the government. The stage is set for an entertaining fall session of Parliament.
Of course the Opposition Liberals cannot defeat the gouvernment by themselves. they require both the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party to make this happen.
As for Stephen Harper, he has already announced that he will have confidence legislation tabled early on, including the new Home Renovation Program introduced under the Canadian stimulus bill.
Jack Layton Leader of the New Democratic Party stated today that Stephen Harper must reach out if he wants his gouvernment to survive. Harper stated he would not make any backroom deals to avoid the fall of his gouvernment. Gill Duceppe leader of the Bloc Quebecois has also indicated that he will support the government case by case.
Ignatieff has indicated he will table a non-confidence motion at the earliest convenience and the other two party leaders have left their options open. Mr. Harper has signalled that he will give all three opposition parties and opportunity to defeat his gouvernment by tabling a mini budget, has left the speculation about a fall election wide open.
The stakes are high especially for Mr. Ignatieff. Polls in Canada indicate that the Liberals and Conservatives run neck to neck if an election were called tomorrow. Success in an election, for either party will depend on their ability to convince voters. In any case, it looks like another minority government.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to "reach out" to the NDP in Parliament to avoid the fall of his minority government and a fourth election in five years, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton said Thursday.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has already signalled his party will move a motion of no-confidence or vote against the Conservative government at the first available opportunity. The first chance for the Liberals to introduce their own no-confidence motion is on Oct. 1.
Speaking in Halifax, Layton said it is up to the government to work to find common ground in a minority Parliament.
"The prime minister has a responsibility to understand that he cannot govern alone," Layton said. "If Mr. Harper wants to avoid an election he must reach out to other parties. If he fails to do so, then we have an election."
Here is a liberal view from the Globe and Mail and Michael Ignatieff's latest moves:
In the last couple of days, we’ve seen some interesting message shifting by the Liberals and the Conservatives, in different directions. Today, a few thoughts about the Liberal shift.
Emerging from his caucus retreat in Sudbury, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff did himself some good by starting to elevate the argument in favour of an election, and elaborate on the case for voting Liberal.
Shifting from the narrow, unpromising idea of loosening EI rules, Mr. Ignatieff spoke of the need to replace a small-minded, petty government with one that had a more expansive, optimistic vision of the country.