Professor Michael Behiels at the University of Ottawa has just weighed in, along with Democracy Watch as well, to support the Mendes position that Harper's planned Sunday call of an election is illegal:
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean should consider rejecting Stephen Harper's request to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election because he is violating his own fixed-election date law, a constitutional expert and a public policy watchdog say.Mendes has friends. Good to see. It was getting lonely out there on that constitutional limb! More:
"If she goes along with him, she, in a sense, is supporting his violation of the law," said Michael Behiels, a constitutional political historian at the University of Ottawa. "You're putting the Governor General into a situation that you should never put the Governor General in."
Duff Conacher, head of the citizen advocacy group Democracy Watch, said that Harper "has absolutely no evidence" to present to Jean that the Commons lacks confidence in the current government and should be dissolved.
"She should say, 'demonstrate that the House of Commons doesn't have confidence in the Conservative government.' The Governor General should just turn the prime minister back and say, 'No, I'm sorry, open the House and show.'"
Because the Conservatives have not lost a confidence vote, Behiels and Conacher argue that Harper is violating his new fixed-election law, passed in May 2006. The law was designed to prevent what they say Harper is now doing: using his position as prime minister to arbitrarily call an election at the most strategically advantageous time.
But with the passage of C-16, Behiels and Conacher say Harper is now on the wrong side of the law. They say the recent meetings he held with opposition leaders, which led him to conclude Parliament was dysfunctional, simply do not meet the constitutional test for calling an election.No argument here on that point. This is all quite fascinating.
"He tried to embarrass them, humiliate them. How would she (Jean) know they're not willing to co-operate? Why should she take his word for it?" asks Behiels.
"He's showing he's manipulative, that he thinks he's above the law."
It will be interesting to see if anyone acts upon these legal opinions come Monday morning.