“Eye on City Hall”
A column of Information, Analysis, Comment, and Unfiltered Opinion
Reprinted from Oshawa Central Newspaper
Bill Longworth, City Hall Columnist
May 2, 2011
If the polls prognosticating a vote surge for Jack Layton’s NDP turn out as predicted by the pollsters, we’ll have a new Canadian Government at the end of this voting day.
It’ll be a nightmare for Stephen Harper but a godsend for the Canadian people.
Fortunate for Canada, distrust and dislike of Stephen Harper runs as deeply within the walls of the House of Commons as it does out on the hustings, so even if Harper’s Conservatives do win a minority plurality, they will lose the government very quickly through a non-confidence vote of the House of Commons.
Jack Layton, predicted to have the second most number of seats will assume the Prime Ministership with the assistance of the other parties.
A potential coalition government would undoubtedly include Liberal MP’s but not BLOC as the NDP and Liberals alone would constitute a majority according to the current poll results.
There is danger of a constitutional crisis with such a scenario.
Following an election, it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister to call the House to Session and the timing for so doing is solely his responsibility. According to the Constitution, the House only has to be called into session once in any 12 month period and the Conservative Government winning the most seats could not be dissolved without a loss of Confidence Vote in the House.
If the House of Commons is not called into Session by Stephen Harper, his Government could not be rejected by the House.
In order to postpone his inevitable defeat in the House of Commons and retain his control of Parliament, it is not too far fetched to suggest that Harper might refuse to call Parliament into session for a lengthy period of up to the year allowed by the Constitution. After all, he did Proroque Parliament on two occasions---once to avoid a Loss of Confidence Motion that was going to carry in the House and the other to avoid tabling embarrassing information regarding Canada’s treatment of war prisoners in Afghanistan.
Part of the reason Harper has lost the confidence, not only of Parliament, but of the Canadian People is that they’ve come to see him as a contemptuous strong-arm demagogue, rather than the democratic and conciliatory “Pearson-esque” and principled leader Canadians deserve and expect.
After all, conciliation and co-operation are defining hallmarks of the Canadian psyche and of the traditions of Canadian Parliament since 1867 in governing the widely divergent interests of this great country.
And Canada’s priorities in governing produced the best country in which reside in the entire world, up to the last decade, according to international measures of such things.
We have slipped in international ratings over the past decade through cuts in support services for Canadians---and with Conservatives in power, the plug would be pulled on more "People Services" as concentrated spending would be directed to jets, jails, and corporate tax cuts rather than expenditures directly affecting Canadian’s support services such as Universal Health Care, Canada Pension, transfer payments to support higher education, decent housing and opportunity for all, women’s right to choose, etc., all of which are factors in determining liveability ratings.
Over this entire election campaign, rather than telling us the policies he would put in place, Harper has engaged in character assassination of Michael Ignatieff combined with his key campaign mantra that Conservatives are the best economic managers, and that anything other than a Conservative majority is dangerous and reckless, and that his leadership has led the G8 in economic recovery. Further, Harper claims only he knows what was best going forward for job creation and the economy.
Doug Porter, Deputy Chief Economist at the Bank of Montreal, was quoted in Friday’s Star stating that a Harper majority troubles Bay Street as it would embolden Stephen Harper to impose even tougher austerity measures which would be a mild threat to the recovery of the Canadian economic recovery.
Porter also states that the NDP surge is not a concern to Bay Street as Layton’s approach to governing would be to demonstrate his party capable of prudent government as Tommy Douglas did in Saskatchewan before introducing "novel" policies like Medicare.
What? Medicare a novel policy? It is now one of the foundations of this country and a model for the world.
Rather than scaremongering about NDP reckless government, Harper should acknowledge former Saskatchewan NDP Premier Tommy Douglas who lifted Saskatchewan out of the Depression while pioneering public health care and balancing the books through five majority governments.
Harper also fails to acknowledge a whole ream of successful and respected NDP leaders including BC’s Dave Barrett (Gov’t. Car Insurance, Gov’t Question Periods, Agricultural Land Reserves), Manitoba’s Ed Schreyer who developed the province's hydroelectric wealth and public auto insurance while investing heavily in affordable housing, introduced pharmacare and homecare, and Gary Doer¸ former labour leader and 10 year Manitoba NDP Premier won three majorities on economic policies that delivered balanced budgets, tax cuts, the lowest unemployment rate in the country, increased spending on education and health care and expanded public day care, a project later cancelled by Stephen Harper. On August 28, 2009, Stephen Harper appointed Doer Canadian ambassador to the United States
Despite this great NDP political leadership and in response to the NDP nation-wide surge in support putting the NDP ahead of the Liberals at approximately 100 seats, Harper has turned his attack ads, smear campaigns and doomsday scenarios against the surging NDP campaign of Jack Layton.
Rather than reckless and ramshackle leadership defined by Stephen Harper, the history of NDP leaders in Canada need not apologize to anyone for the excellence of their leadership and contributions to Canada. In support of that excellence you might think of NDP leaders Roy Romanow, Stephen Lewis, Mike Harcourt, and Ed Broadbent, as well as the current premiers of Nova Scotia and Manitoba, Darrell Dexter and Greg Selinger.... Ramshackle and reckless leadership---get real Mr. Harper!
Harper’s major policies, of course, are to put Canada deeper into the huge deficit he created by spending $30B on jets, $13B on jails (I guess to jail those who wouldn’t be able to cope with all the social program cutbacks necessary to pay for Harper's jets and jails), and $6B more of government revenue losses resulting from Harper’s final instalment of corporate tax cuts he had promised to promote job and productivity growth.
Harper’s promises to create jobs and improved productivity with corporate tax cuts are strongly disputed by Statistics Canada which has demonstrated that past corporate tax cuts simply went to increased executive bonuses, increased dividends, and increased corporate capital pools....and no increased jobs or productivity gains. In summary, Harper promised to help the working classes when in fact he was simply directing more capital to his rich friends in the corporate world.
Harper forgot to inform the Canadian People that following giant 2008 infusions of government capital into Canada’s banking industry, his economic and fiscal statement the following month projected budget surpluses going forward three years when the actual deficit ballooned to $55B in 2009, the largest deficit in Canada’s history.
Harper then announced $4.5B worth of public spending cuts on civil service wages, provincial equalization payments, and no new infrastructure investment that would have compounded the recession difficulties. Fortunately Harper removed these cuts due to threats of non-confidence motions.
Harper is all over the economic map like a drunken driver....just doesn’t seem to have any consistent economic direction at all.
Even’s Harper’s claims that Canada leads the G8 in economic recovery is in dispute by experts.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Canada’s unemployment rate was 18th and 13th on GDP growth performance out of 34 countries, 6th out of G7 countries in GDP per capita, 5th on productivity growth, and had the second highest trade and investment income deficit exceeded only by the USA.
These OECD figures demonstrate that Harper is misleading the Canadian people in our economic health. Rather than leading developed nations as he suggests, we are more following up the rear.
Stephen Harper has set himself up as the only leader able to lead Canada into the future and has warned of the dire consequences of anything but a Conservative majority. The Canadian people will show him what they think of this.
I must confess that all of these prognostications and opinions were written last Thursday, days before the vote and many are written in the presence of a die-hard conservative supporter who is claiming a majority Conservative victory.
The bets are on to see who is more accurate in their forecasting.
The visitor, however, would vote Conservative even if he were the last acknowledged Harper supporter on Earth....but hey, radicals, zealots, fanatics, and true believers can never be convinced of the real truths even if it hammers them between the eyes...and Harper must now be praying that many of his true believers don’t wake up with a renewed common sense on election day.
Besides a change of Federal Government in Ottawa, there will be other major changes.
We can expect Harper to resign or get pushed out by his party, Ignatieff to surrender the Liberal Leadership potentially to Bob Rae, and a call to unite the center left parties----which I predict will be the Liberal Democratic Party....You heard it all here first!
Canada needs your voice. Be sure to vote today!
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