Monday, January 24, 2011

Would Harper prorogue Parliament again to stop NDP-Liberal coalition after 2011/12 election?

Reading Chantal Hebert's article today in the Star got me thinking about an important question that I have not yet heard asked of Prime Minister Stephen Harper: if a coalition agreement between the NDP and Liberals is inevitable if his Conservatives fail to win a majority government in the next campaign, would he pull the same trick and prorogue Parliament again like he did in 2008?

Harper's incessant warnings about the coalition boogeyman have become increasingly annoying, particularly to the many Canadians who understand that such arrangements are completely fair and democratic. Most countries in Europe are frequently governed by coalitions between parties, including Great Britain at the moment.

It's now clear that the Harper Tories intend to make stopping a Liberal-NDP coalition a centrepiece of their next campaign, arguing that only a Tory majority can stop it from happening.

But history proves Harper a liar. In 2008, when just such a coalition was proposed, Harper stopped it in its tracks by demanding the Governor General prorogue parliament. After much over-the-top, anti-separatist rhetoric, Harper turned around public opinion against the proposed coalition and lived to fight another day (two more years at least, in fact.)

I hope every journalist and political reporter asks Harper point blank the next time he makes his anti-coalition warning in the upcoming federal campaign: if the Tories fail to win a majority and this alleged NDP-Liberal coalition starts to take shape, why wouldn't he just shut down Parliament again as he did in 2008 to stop it? If shutting the people's parliament was good enough in 2008 to stop the socialist-separatist-Liberal coalition, why wouldn't it also be good enough in 2011 or 2012?


doconnor said...

During and after an election parliament is essentially in a state of prorogation. It's up to the Prime Minister (via the Governor General) to decide when restart it.

Normally, if a governing party loses their majority to someone else, the Prime Minister voluntarily resigns and the leader of the newly elected party takes over without Parliament being involved.

In a minority, things aren't that simple.

If ab election, Harper could delay that for months by not starting Parliament. It would universally condemned as undemocratic, but I wouldn't put it past him.

When he did start Parliament, he would automatically face an unavoidable confidence vote on the Speech From the Throne. That is the traditional time to replace minority governments.

Glenn said...

You have the Liberals and the NDP. But you forgot to mention a party in that coalition in your title.

Matt Guerin said...

All the parties that agreed to form a coalition in 2008 are in my headline. Any other suggestion is revisionist history.

doconnor said...

After the next election, perhaps the Liberals and the NDP will have enough seat to form a majority without the Bloc.

Ian said...

I think doconnor hit it on the first post, however if the Lib+NDP seat total after the election is greater than the Cons, they could theoretically put forward another accord like was signed in 2008 and give it to the GG before a throne speech, in which case he could technically grant the coalition the government. I think this is how it happened in Britain after their last election. It took a couple weeks, but they didn't have a throne speech from the recently defeated Labour party. Although in that case the Tories may have had more seats than Labour (I don't recall and am too lazy to check).

doconnor said...

The Lib+NDP vote would have to make up a majority for them to from a government without the support of another party, not just be more then the Conservatives.

For what happened in Britian to happen here would require Harper the voluntairly resign. I think he would force the opposition to have a confidence vote, which he would delay as long as he could get away with.

A Strange Boy said...

Never overestimate Harper's integrity. Of course he will try to clutch onto power by any means possible.