Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On making minority government work

Star editorial gets it right on who is responsible for the constant state of uncertainty in Ottawa, despite all the rhetoric, particularly from the Prime Minister himself as late as last night:
Canadians have chosen minority governments in the last three federal elections. They are sending the politicians a message: make the minority Parliament work rather than return to the polls in a futile search for a majority. They want their elected representatives to address the very real issues facing Canada, ranging from the economy to the environment, instead of playing silly political games designed to make the other guys look foolish.

The chief responsibility here lies not with the opposition leaders but with the Prime Minister.

Harper's style is, to say the least, partisan. He would rather fight the opposition parties than compromise – an approach epitomized by last fall's economic statement, which included a measure to eliminate public campaign financing. That sparked a constitutional crisis.

Even in recent days, with the threat of an election looming, the Harperites seemed to go out of their way to alienate the opposition. Conservative attack dog Jason Kenney called the NDP "a party of hard-core left-wing ideologues ... (who) drink their own Kool-Aid."

It is incumbent on Harper now to make the minority Parliament work by compromising with the opposition. He might even find, as Bill Davis did with his 1977-81 minority government in Ontario, that he can make it work so well that voters will eventually reward him with a majority.
Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves on that last point.

Overall, it's right. But this PM has proven himself to be pathologically incapable of following such advice for the duration. The incessant confidence vote tactics, forcing an election last fall, yadda, yadda. His chance to prove to us he can make parliament work, really, is long over, he's just pulling the wool over the public's eye at the moment. The sentiment and point in the editorial are correct, it's just not likely to mark the dawn of a new cooperative Harper.