Thursday, December 4, 2008
Conservative Government Fiddles While Rome Burns
Obviously I was wrong in predicting the Governor General's decision in meeting with PM Harper this morning. No one could have foreseen that she would make an unprecedented decision to allow parliament to be prorogued to allow the government to avoid facing a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.
This has never before happened to anyone's knowledge with parliamentary constitutional monarchies and sets a dangerous precedent for the future. The decision undoubtedly surprises Canada's premier constitutional experts.
The basic tenet of our parliamentary system is that government's continue to govern only while they maintain the confidence of the house. This seems to have changed with the Governor General's ruling today. It appears that future Prime Minister's now have precedent to request to shut down Parliament to avoid defeat through a vote of "non-confidence" in the house.
No one shall ever know the basis of Governor-General Michaelle Jean's historic decision because as head of the government, she need not answer to anyone. In addition, communications between the Governor General and the Prime Minister are privileged so we shall never know her rationale. Undoubtedly though, many constitutional experts will study her decision into the future. All of us will have to undoubtedly await a book of her experiences she writes following her retirement where she would undoubtedly reveal her thoughts on this historic day.
What seems to be true though...the constitutional landscape has been changed with the new precedent set today.
What also is true. We have no government at this critical time of economic uncertainty. Undoubtedly, though, the whole exercise has placed pressure on the Prime Minister to soften his autocratic, doctrinaire, and unilateral manner and he will produce a Good News Budget to garner widespread citizen support. The past week though may have undermined his Conservative Caucus and House of Commons support. The whole situation has poisoned the atmosphere of the house making a working minority parliament difficult.
Many also are blaming Stephane Dion's communication abilities as part of the weakness for the success of the coalition movement.
Could it be that we shall see new leaders for both the Conservatives and the Liberals early in the new year with another election taking place shortly after Parliament re-convenes in Late January.
I might point out that this post is no mea culpa in regards to my previous post and believe that the political landscape will change quickly in consideration of the constitutional challenges we have experienced in the last week.
In the meantime, Rome continues to burn!