SocraticGadfly: Breaking – Harper prorogues Canadian parliament

December 04, 2008

Breaking – Harper prorogues Canadian parliament

Gov. General Michaelle Jean agrees to suspension

In what is really the “nuclear option,” not U.S. Sen. Bill Frist’s threat to suspend rules of the Senate over judicial nominations, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has prorogued Parliament. Parliament will be shut down until Jan. 26, the day before Harper has to present a new budget.

For those unfamiliar with how we got to this point north of the border Harper called a snap election in October, afraid that waiting until after the U.S. election for the next Canadian election on a normal schedule would cause Obama-tilting north of the border to help Liberals.

He modestly improved Conservatives’ plurality, but, running against the weak Liberal leader Stephane Dion as his primary opposition, still couldn’t garner a majority.

He then hugely overreached politically. Nov. 27, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented a fiscal update that included cuts to funding for political parties’ national campaign finance program, limited civil servants’ right to strike and failed to offer a stimulus package to spur economic growth. The Liberals, New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois, said they would oppose the plan and negotiated an alliance.

Harper has backtracked on the first two points, but it’s questionable whether his credibility can be improved.

To explain Harper to U.S. voters, he’s a Grover Norquist type on government size and blending, with a mix of a smarter George Bush and the political style of Karl Rove in the mix.

And, what is Jean’s thought at this time? She has refused interviews on agreeing to the proroguing. And, she did so after meeting only with Harper and no follow-up with opposition leaders.

As for Jan. 27? Will the Bloc join Liberals and NDP in a formal no-confidence vote? (Such a vote wouldn't actually happen until February.)

The opposition will have to either put up or shut up at that point — by either moving a formal no-confidence vote or not.

And, it appears a few are already shutting up, whether being unwilling to boot Harper so early after new elections, or having second thoughts about partnering with the separatist-minded Bloc:
An early sign that (Conservative) pressure might be working came Dec. 3, when Liberal legislator Frank Valeriote told the Guelph Mercury newspaper that he wanted to work with Harper to deal with the economy rather than joining a coalition.

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