EDITORIAL: A Pro-Rogue Indeed
Stephen Harper can no longer be Prime Minister. Even though Governor-General Michaelle Jean has allowed Harper to prorouge parliament until January 26, when his government must table a budget, he has lost the moral right to lead our nation. When Harper went on television last night and tried to insist that his government was ‘elected’ and that the nascent coalition wanted to ‘take’ power, he tried to mislead the Canadian public about the fundamental nature of their democracy—conflating the American model with our very different parliamentary system to serve his own partisan ends. And it’s shameful. How shameful? Try George W. Bush-stealing-the-US-election-in-2000 shameful. Such a man cannot lead our nation.
The facts. During the recent election, Canadians didn’t elect a government, they elected 308 MPs, the vast majority of whom are affiliated with political parties. The way our system of government works is the party with the largest number of MPs is asked to form a government by the Governor-General. Last time around, the Conservative party had the largest number of MPs, but not a majority. Harper’s ability to govern is understood to be founded upon his ability to gain the support of other parties in the House of Commons—to work cooperatively. Consequently, there’s a tremendous irony at the sight of our Prime Minister choking with rage at the thought of a coalition government replacing his minority one. The Harper government stands or falls on its ability to work with other parties, and this it clearly cannot do.
Stephen Harper can not work cooperatively with anyone, not even his own MPs, whom he dominates and muzzles. Now we see the real Harper. He is, at best, incorrigibly partisan; at worst, he’s a petty-minded bully. The confidence vote that was set to take place on next Monday was designed to hurt and humiliate the other three parties, not work with them on a plan for tough economic times. Harper had hoped to ram his plans down the other parties’ throats but miscalculated and, soon enough, he will have to pay the price for his arrogance.
When Harper tables his budget in January, his government will most likely fall. If an election results, he’s unlikely to gain a majority and then we’ll be back where we started: with a Prime Minister who enjoys the support of no one in the House of Commons but his mute chorus of MPs. If the coalition gets its shot, at least we’ll have some hope of a functioning government. Not much of a hope, I’ll grant you—but that’s the bed we’ve all made for ourselves.
Either way, though, Harper is toast. And given the tremendous economic challenges we face, the sooner the name on the door of 24 Sussex Drive reflects this fact, the better for all of us.