A cornered bully is a dangerous beast. Through his own making, Stephen Harper is now a cornered bully. He is desperately trying to save his prime ministerial skin at any cost.

First, he delayed a non-confidence vote for a week until this coming Monday. Now, afraid that he will lose the vote then and be replaced, he wants another delay at least until the end of January next year. And he is prepared to put the office of the Governor-General in jeopardy to get it.

This morning Governor-General Michaelle Jean returns to Ottawa, having cut short her European trip because of the constitutional crisis here. Chances are that later today or tomorrow Harper will visit her at at Rideau Hall and ask for a prorogation of Parliament until the end of January.

If and when Harper makes this request the Governor-General has two options:

She can decide the request is a ruse by Mr. Harper to avoid meeting the House of Commons, and refuse to prorogue because the House has been sitting only two weeks and has conducted virtually no business. In that case Mr. Harper would have to resign because the Governor-General rejected his advice, and she wouldask the new coalition to form a government.

Secondly, she can decide that Mr. Harper’s request is legitimate because he is asking for an adjournment of only a few weeks – which includes the Christmas holiday – and he plans to introduce a budget as soon as the House resumes sitting.

In your view, should the Governor-General grant Harper’s request to prorogue or should she refuse it?

Should Harper be trying to shut down Parliament to duck a confidence vote?


  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Harper should face the music and either call the bluff, if it is one, or be done with it, which is more likely.

  2. 2
    Cate McB Says:

    Obviously, a non-confidence vote is inevitable, whether on a budget or whatever. So such a vote would be better held sooner rather than later in my view because we all deserve a functioning parliament ASAP. The GG could also call an election and some favour that, although I don’t. If I were the GG, I would immediately refuse Harper’s request to delay the inevitable, let’s have the non-confidence vote, and move on to a coalition government. I would, however, ask the coalition leaders for a definite plan of how they’re going to conduct Parliament until the next election. As for Harper, he’s an unbelievably spectacular failure, and he should step down ASAP, as the Globe & Mail suggested yesterday.

  3. 3
    neilmckentyweblog2 Says:

    Cate, if the G-G refuses Harper’s request to prorogue Parliament, the P.M. would have to resign immediately (there would no non-confidence vote.) Then presumably she would summon Mr. Dion to form a new government.

  4. Good morrow, all!
    Should Harpoon shut down Parliament? No, Parliament should shut down Harpoon. The Prime Minister is (supposed to be) accountable to Parliament, not the other way around. He is the ultimate servant of the people, as represented by the Members of Parliament (Trudeau’s opinion of the “nobodies” that surrounded him notwithstanding) Dion and the Belmonts, er, I meant to say, the other members of the coalition, are exercising what they believe to be their own best judgment, as outlined in parliamentary procedure, in service to their constituents. What a concept! How revolutionary! Man the barricades! Off the pigs! Burn, baby, burn! *ahem* Flashbacks can be a bitch…
    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…only the curtain has been drawn aside, hasn’t it? The Mighty Oz is…well, he has no clothes, either, if you don’t mind a melange of metaphors, a rattatouie of references, a clutter of cliches, a potpourri of paraphrase…now, where was I? Oh, yeah, right…Harpoon should not simply step down, he should keep on stepping until he disappears Into The West. We should all be so lucky…
    Harpoon, Flim Flam and Bellicose Baird were lost in the woods. Harpoon came upon some tracks. “Look, bear tracks!” he declared. “No, those are wolf tracks!” Flim Flam flim-flammed. Baird bellowed bellicosely: “No, those are lion tracks!” They were still arguing when the train ran them over. Who survived? Canada! And so I digress…CTZen

  5. 5
    Cate McB Says:

    Listening to all the news reports, it’s my understanding that Harper’s request to prorogue Parliament is, by definition, only a request for a parliamentary time-out, not a request for the dissolution of parliament. At the end of the time-out, however, Harper will inevitably face a non-confidence vote. The line being used this a.m. by the Liberals is that in asking for a prorogation, Harper is ringing the fire-bell to get out of an exam (a non-confidence vote) that is inevitable. I’m not hearing that the dissolution of parliament without a non-confidence vote automatically follows a refusal by the GG of a prorogation. I’m no expert on these matters so I await further clarification.

  6. 6
    Joe Agnost Says:

    The way I heard it this morning on the radio (the radio NEVER lies!) the GG doesn’t have the authority to ignore the PMs prorogue.

    It would not be a request, it would be a statement that the PM has the right to make and then carry out. I don’t think anyone can stop him if he decides to prorogue.

  7. 7
    exposrip Says:


    Was Chretien a bully? I say he was. But he was our kind of bully, huh? Right? Call a spade a spade.

    The problem is not Harper per se. It’s bigger than that. Methinks we’re being a tad one-sided here.

    It’s a naked, cynical power ploy. Canadians have every right to be upset. The motives are suspicious.

    Who had the real “hidden agenda” I ask?

  8. 8
    neilmckentyweblog2 Says:

    Cate, as I understand it, what follows from a dissolution of Parliament is a general election. What follows from a prorogation of Parliament is that the same Parliament meets after a “time out” at a date agreed to by the PM and the G.G.

    Joe, the radio is wrong. The Governor-General, through her discretionary powers, has the right to refuse the P.M.’s request to prorogue Parliament.
    In which case, she would summon Mr. Dion to form a government and the P.M. would have to resign. I do not expect she will follow this course. She will assent to Harper’s request to prorogue but the powers of his government will be severely limited during this “time-out” period.

  9. 9
    Barbara Says:

    Proroguing Parliament during these economically and politically difficult times seems to me unconscienable. But what do I know about a Parliamentary system? I sounds like the bully (to use Neil’s image) has decided to let the country hang while he attempts to cobble together a budget that hasn’t a snowflake’s chance in hell of being accepted. Losing the confidence of Parliament is a pretty one way slippery slope, as I see it.
    I had a chat with my more politically astute former colleagues today and they all seemed content with the idea of a coalition government. It is an acceptable option and more of the voters voted for coalition partners than against.
    Curious country, still.

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Yes Barbara, curious but lovely. By the way, someone from Ignatieff’s campaign has answered my Email, 2 weeks later. He explains, about Iraq, that in Canada Iggy does not have to please the classroom. Rather lame I must say.

  11. 11
    jim Says:

    Everyone wants to be bailed out financially. If parliament is prorogated
    it would mean that the parties would not have to give an answer to the
    unions as to what their position is on handing out a bailout. The politicos would hope that the economic situation will have changed for the better, before Jan 27th after which a bailout would not be required or at least one not as huge.
    Helen Forsey, daughter of Senator Eugene Forsey (leader on parliamentry procedures), wrote an excellent article on the subject.

  12. 12
    exposrip Says:

    Just heard Dion say in his “address” to the people say in his coalition “with the NDP…” No mention of the Bloc.


  13. 13
    exposrip Says:

    Would you consider posting it here, PC? If anything, for kicks.

  14. 14
    Chimera Says:

    “No mention of the Bloc.”

    The actual coalition is between the NDP and the Liberal parties. The Bloc is only supporting it; they’re not a part of it.

    And yes, Chretien was a bully. The difference between him and Harper is that he had a majority.

  15. 15
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I tried, and here it is through sheer luck since I thought I could not do it. I’m real proud of the old guy.
    “Sir, I would like to understand how you could be in favour of invading Iraq as a University professor and against it once a canditate for the before last election and the last leadership race. I’m a puzzled liberal sympathiser.15/11/2008 2:14:40 PM

    Hello Paul,

    My name is Scott Hamilton, and I am a volunteer at Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Party leadership campaign in Toronto.

    Michael and the rest of us here thank you for your support, kind words, and helpful suggestions. Your question for Michael about Iraq is a good one. From my understanding, Michael’s views as leader of the Liberal party would intend to reflect the views of Canadians – not necessarily the views of the classroom. With leadership, comes the necessity to meet the wishes of those governed.

    We are sure that with the recent news from Ottawa about Canada’s potential coalition government, you are wondering how Canada, the Liberal Party, and the Liberal leadership race will be affected.

    As Michael has said, the new coalition government will ensure “national unity and equality — values that our party has always believed in.” Michael reminds us that the Liberal leadership campaign will continue in an orderly and civil manner, and that we now have the chance to make history — all it will take is the help of dedicated Canadians like yourself. Together we can help Canadians move on from the disastrous politics of the Conservative Government.

    Please feel free to visit to stay updated on the current campaign status, and to support Michael and the Liberal Party.

    Thank you again for helpful comment, and your continued support!

    – The Ignatieff Liberal Leadership team”
    Have fun and make your own conclusion.

  16. 16
    exposrip Says:

    Lucky him.

    Yeah, saw that as it becomes more clear what the Bloc role will be…still. The idea of it…

  17. 17
    jim Says:

    I perish the thought that the person (GG) making the decision about the future of Canada was not born in Canada and whose past indicates she has walked with the separatists and believed in their goals.

  18. 18
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Before Vincent Massey no GG had ever been born in Canada, they were not even citizens of this country, or Dominion as it was then called. Adrienne Clarkson was born in Vietnam, or was it China?
    The current GG was a competent journalist for both CBC/Radio-Canada networks. Her husband, a French born cineast did some footage on the separatist movement in Québec, does that make him or her separatists?
    As I wrote before lets not be paranoid.
    As for the Bloc, Exposrip, they will support the Coalition for 18 months along the terms of the written agreement between the parties. Under these circumstances they are fighting for their survival in the next election. Don’t forget they were elected not only by separatists but also by a good many federalists who could not countenance either the Liberals or the Harper gang of Reform and Alliance people.

  19. 19
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    I think there will be another election. I think the coalition will remain as such and with some adjustments bring the Green in and make them a center, left leaning Coalition party.

    I always believed in coalition parties, in this sense, you bring the best minds together from as many parties as possible to serve the needs of the people.

    A strong opposition party can do the same. The conservatives know other center, right leaning groups that could organize, coalase and in time form another coalition party.

  20. 20
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I was just thinking about the last election – you remember it? It’s the one with record low turnouts that bored the nation for about a month.

    Anyway – it is pretty clear to me that we learned 2 things and only 2 things from that election. These 2 things were CRYSTAL clear as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll be interested to hear what y’all have to say about them. They are:

    1. Canadians liked the CPC, but not enough to give them a majority. They seem to distrust harper and only feel comfortable with his party in a minority (albeit a strong one) role.

    2. Canadians STRONGLY dislike Dion and the liberals for making him leader. This is clear by the record low popular vote count and the number of seats they outright lost. It was SO obvious that immediately following the election Dion was forced to resign his leadership for the good of the party.

    So – from this information it should be clear how parlaiment should proceed. Harper needs to be taught a lesson (I don’t know how) – but the minority CPCs should stay in power.

    The second point (above) should be enough reason to ignore Dion’s plea of a coalition – or at the very least he can’t be the leader of it!!

    Am I wrong?

  21. 21
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    No Joe you are not wrong. Harper and Dion both have to go for the good of the nation and of their party.

  22. 22
    jim Says:

    Paul:- My remarks about the GG’s separatist leanings were based on her social circle in Montreal.
    You forgot to add that we had GGs who had a home in Canada but lived in England, but that was then and now is now.
    There are so many great Canadians who could have been called and weren’t.
    With regard to Jean, I’m pitting my ear to the rail, and listening. I don’t trust her.

  23. 23
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Look Jim I’m, despîte evrything said and written here and elsewhere, a convinced federalist, yet most of my friends and former colleagues are seperatists. In Québec, in certain circles, arts, TV, universities, if you avoid separatists, you are condemned to a very solitary life.

  24. 24
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “In Québec, in certain circles, arts, TV, universities, if you avoid separatists, you are condemned to a very solitary life.”

    Sounds like a wonderful place! (roll eyes)

  25. 25
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Dear Joe,
    Come down for a spell, you’ll see what is really going on. You will also notice that like aniwhere else the circles I spoke about are but a tiny fraction of the population. That’s the circles our GG was working in as a journalist/commentator/reporter and wife of a cineast with the NFB. I was on the fringe of those circles and believe me it was not so bad.

  26. 26
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I missed the “in certain circles” part of your post….. my bad.

  27. 27
    jim Says:

    I lived in the Beauce when it elected a member of the Bloc Populaire, a staunch separatist party, to sit in Quebec (by the way Jean Drapeau, prior to his becoming mayor of Montreal was also a member of the party). “I was on the fringe of those circles and believe me it was not so bad” Well Paul, your right it didn’t look bad until I found out that the leaders were not representing people who wanted to separate but were out to line their own pockets, the current crowd being Duceppe and his henchmen pulling in millions of Federal Govt dollars. Have you noticed that Colonel Blimps such as Parizeau were educated in England but they want Quebecers to stay “chez nous”, learn one language so that when the Province raises taxes to the highest in North America so
    Quebecers can’t escape because they can’t communicate with the rest of the North Americans. By the way, couldn’t a better qualified person for GG have been found in all of Canada rather than a piece of fringe.

  28. 28
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    80% of Quebecers are bilingual.

  29. 29
    jim Says:

    According to the latest stat from statcan 40% of Quebecers “speak both english and french”

  30. 30
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    It may not be 80%, but it is more than 40%. Most Quebecers can deal with necessities in both languages. Reading and writing in both languages is another matter. The 40% in that case is probably right. Amongst non-fracophones the proportion is getting much higher. They are called the children of bill 101. They are the leaders of tomorrow and lots of things could then change.

  31. 31
    neilmckentyweblog2 Says:


    I think the Bloc Populaire was a federalist party. How could they elect someone to Quebec City?

  32. 32
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The Bloc Populaire was a federal party but not a federalist party. They were created in response to the conscription law and sent several members to Ottawa. The most renowned: René Chaloult and André Laurendeau. Jean Drappeau, although a member never ran, if I recall, for federal office. But, after the Organized Crime Inquiry he ran for mayor of Montreal while Pax Plante his closest colaborator and his chief of police, for his safety fled to Mexico where he lived until he died of natural causes.
    They were disgruntled Liberals, furious at McKenzie-King’s broken promise not to have conscription and were all nationalists, later active in the early separatist movement. Laurendeau became editor at le Devoir.

  33. 33
    neilmckentyweblog2 Says:


    You are quite right. I should have called the Bloc Populaire a federal rather than a federalist party.

    However, I do believe that Jean Drapeau ran for federal office as the Bloc Populaire candidate in a famous by-election in Outremont in 1944 only to be defeated by Mackenzie King’s candidate, General LaFleche.

  34. 34
    jim Says:

    Neil – The Bloc Pop existed at both Prov and Fed levels:
    Laurendeau Prov 1944
    Maxime Raymond Fed 1944
    Jean Drapeau Defeated in Outremont at Fed level in 1942
    Jean Drapeau Defeated in Jeanne Mance at Prov level in 1944
    Trudeau was a hanger-on. Jean-Louis Roux later rejected as Lt. Gov Prov Que because during these years he was running around town wearing swastika “T” shirts. Camillien Houde was in jail on St. Helen’s Island. Fred Rose won a seat in parliament under the communist banner. I was trying to get into Mabel’s drawers. She thought the $2.00 sitting on the table was for her, but, really, it was for the beer. Anyhow, the point about most of the above and is still rampant today is that politicians will sell their souls and join any party that’s handy, in order to get elected.

  35. 35
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Unfortunately Jim you are right and it does not help trusting our so called leaders.
    For Jean-Louis Roux, he was not running around town with swastika T-shirts. He wore a swastika armband once over his white medical frock at a student disguised party. The legend seems to be growing.

  36. 36
    bluemoosebicycle Says:

    Reblogged this on Exchange and commented:

    In view of the upcoming election, we continue to revisit Neil’s thoughts on Harper…

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