In the wake of Mr. Harper's mutterings this week and his Justice Minister's threatening more confidence votes immediately upon their return, this editorial conveys an understanding of the damage Mr. Harper is inflicting and seeks to continue to inflict upon our parliamentary democracy:
Most public opinion polls taken in the months leading up to this federal election campaign suggested that another minority government for Stephen Harper's Conservatives was very likely. Mr. Harper was well aware of this, when he asked Governor-General Michaëlle Jean to dissolve Parliament; indeed he predicted another minority on the campaign's first day. Now, however, he is acting as though he would in effect refuse to accept that result.And that, in its entirety, is worthy of agreement.
For the second time in two days, Mr. Harper announced yesterday that his party would reintroduce anti-crime legislation that the previous Parliament did not pass – and that, if the opposition stood in the way, he would be ready to force another election over it. His aides indicated that the bills would be put to the opposition as take-it-or-leave-it propositions.
This is not how a minority government should work. Confidence votes are to be limited to money bills and measures at the core of the government's agenda – not routinely invoked by a prime minister whenever he wishes to put pressure on other parties to support less important bills. If Canadians elect the Conservatives with another minority, they will be explicitly saying that they have not entrusted them with full power over the legislative agenda – that they expect them to try to work with the other parties.
It is easy to understand why Mr. Harper does not believe he would need to make that effort. If they remain in opposition, the Liberals will likely begin another costly and all-consuming leadership campaign. In the midst of it, they will be in no shape to enter yet another general election campaign.
That does not mean, however, that the Liberals and other opposition parties should be unable to call Mr. Harper's bluff. If they have deep-seated objections to an anti-crime initiative, or any other bill, then they should vote against it. Mr. Harper should not put the Governor-General in the highly controversial constitutional position of having to think about declining a request to call another election in the near future and inviting the opposition government to form a government.
This campaign is a consequence of what Mr. Harper interpreted as political stalemate. He cannot keep creating dubious scenarios until he gets the result he wants. (emphasis added)
I cannot tell you how heartening this editorial was to read. The time is long overdue that Mr. Harper's free pass for his disrespect of our democracy be revoked.