Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 2 of Conservative elite agitating for a January election

Day 1 involved Conservative activist, Gerry Chipeur, making his contribution yesterday. Today we read contortions from Harper mentor, Tom Flanagan: "This coalition changes everything." His rationale for an election being required if there's a non-confidence vote in January centers on two points.

First, that there was no idea of a "coalition" placed before the electorate during the recent election. So I take it that Mr. Flanagan thinks that parties should be compelled to run on coalition proposals? What nonsense. When are they supposed to commit to this? There are 5 what permutations would they have to be articulated? Think about it playing out too. A party could start out high in the polls and see a majority in its sights only to have the election campaign change its fortunes. When the party stalls in the polls, is it then compelled to adopt a coalition stance lest it be forbidden to propose one afterwards? That's what Flanagan's argument is. Unless and until there's a firm electoral agreement among parties, in advance of an election, that they will indeed run as a coalition, their individual party results dictate whether they can join up after an election to defeat a government. That's what happened in 1985 in Ontario. No accord raised during the campaign. Our present electoral results from the October 14th election are those that will dictate whether a coalition of parties will bring down the minority government. This is the way it has always been in our system.

Flanagan's suggestion would take us on a never ending cycle of elections each time a minority government is defeated. In this era of a fractured parliament, that's a non-starter. The agreement of parties post-election to vote collectively against the government may be a change of stance he doesn't like given his affiliations, but it is very likely not the kind of "major change in the political situation" that some say would require an election. All the Governor General should be concerned with is whether there is a stable alternative to the defeated government. If there is, who said what during a prior election campaign is irrelevant.

Flanagan also argues there is a "great new issue of public policy" that's arisen in the wake of the October 14th election that would require a January election: "[b]ringing in the Bloc as a supporting partner with an effective veto over government policy...". More nonsense. No veto for the Bloc. Rinse and repeat.

This is a continuation of this week's Conservative flogging of the separatist threat for political purposes. Like the Bloc is something new on the national stage? Where have you been, Mr. Flanagan? They're the legitimately elected MP's from Quebec, like it or not. Their votes must be accounted for within the national Parliament. Until they no longer exist, they will be voting with the governing party or the opposition parties. The fact that the Bloc had agreed to vote with the NDP-Liberal coalition in writing seems to be the "hey now" kicker for Flanagan. That the Bloc has voted on an unwritten basis in support of Conservatives seems to be of no consequence to him. Nevertheless, it doesn't constitute a "great new issue of public policy" worthy of a national election. Particularly where the accord agreed to does not in any way advance any separatist goals of the Bloc. But Flanagan's obediently pushing this line, no doubt with the approval of the master tactician himself. Can't you just picture the national election that would result? What a great election that would be. Conservatives inflaming separatists in Quebec, inflaming the West against the East, inflaming all of Canada against Quebec. This is what such Conservative intellectuals are pushing.

Still waiting for that change in tone from the Conservative side of the ledger...