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 ...; 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.
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...
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...
If [the opposition parties] 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.
Would the opposition parties call Harper's bluff? I doubt it. At least, given past performance particularly by the Liberals, there's no evidence they would. But if they don't, the situation is worse than Harper bamboozling his opposition into adopting untenable positions.
He would effectively, through our representatives, be blackmailing the Canadian public into submission and forcing us to accept his way or no way.
Harper's blackmail has financial consequences too. Each election which must be run costs taxpayers millions. But Harper doesn't care about that, because it's all about forcing Canada into the direction he wants it to go.
Further, Canadians have elected three minority governments in the past eight years and is about to elect the fourth. We are demanding, through our votes, that parties work together.
Had we proportional representation and given the number of seats Harper is likely to get, he would be forced to form a coalition government - and if he couldn't or wouldn't, the other parties I'm sure would be happy to oblige.
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