12.04.2008

finding light on a dark day

Naturally I'm upset.

I'm upset that the Governor General allowed her office to be used for political chicanery and self-interest. And my disgust for Stephen Harper can scarcely be put into words.

But we are where we are, and we have to work with that. And we have a lot going for us.

We have a Liberal-NDP coalition in place, with real potential to defeat the Conservatives in an election. Only weeks ago, a centre-left coalition was a dream. Now we have it.

We have the Liberal leadership contest sorted out through next May.

We have six weeks for the public to get used to the idea of a coalition, and decide whether they prefer a centre-left coalition to the Harper Government.

We no longer have the excuse that there will be a change of government without an election. The confidence motion that Harper took such unprecedented steps to avoid was democratic and constitutionally legitimate, but many people didn't understand that. Now that fear has been removed from the table.

Stephen Harper has further exposed his true nature. This can only help our cause.

There are many negatives, of course. I'm not going to list all the things that could go wrong between now and a no-confidence motion in late January. You can turn on your TV or radio and hear them being listed almost any time of day, and there are plenty of bloggers for whom negativity is stock-in-trade.

Losing hope will get us nowhere. When we lose hope, we lose the incentive to work for change. And if we don't work for change, we won't get it. For me, hope is a necessary condition of making change.

Often when I blog about the resisters, people say, "But what good will it do? No one is listening." I know one thing. Doing nothing will get us nowhere. There are hundreds of inspirational quotes that are very meaningful to me, but there's a reason that only two win pride of place on wmtc.
You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

Let's acknowledge the pitfalls, but only briefly, and keep working for what we want.

Here, I posted the latest email from Canadians for a Progressive Coalition. Also see Make Parliament Work.

And please, if you haven't already, take a moment to support US war resisters in Canada. They need you.

19 comments:

phil said...

Why's it up to the GG whether to prorogue parliament, anyway?

Down here, each house of Congress gets to vote whether to recess. The President has some powers to call them back into session, but he can't force them to go home if they don't want to.

L-girl said...

The Governor General is the head of state. She is the Queen's representative in Canada. She opens Parliament, closes Parliament, represents Canada ceremonially, and such.

Only she can open and close Parliament, call an election, etc. When there is a no-confidence vote and a government falls, she technically calls the election. (That's not the proper term for it.)

In the US, the executive is also the head of state. In parliamentary systems, the head of state is separate from politics.

L-girl said...

Governor General of Canada

phil said...

I understand who she is and that she does have the power. It's just absurd.

Someone would have to schedule the election, but a no-confidence vote could automatically trigger one. Legislatures can generally be trusted to open and close themselves.

It's just silly.

L-girl said...

Sorry, I thought your question was actually a question.

I don't find it silly, and certainly not absurd. It's very useful to have a figure that is apolitical, that commands the respect of everyone in the country in a nonpartisan way. The US could use a similar idea, if there were a tradition for it.

In this instance, the GG (IMO) made a mistake. But I don't think the institution is silly. I think it's very good.

L-girl said...

Legislatures can generally be trusted to open and close themselves.

In Parliaments that evolved from a monarchy, this is the tradition. It's got nothing to do with what legislatures can be trusted to do. Obviously.

James said...

My brother sent this to me earlier today: The metaphor I've heard about Harper's prorogation of parliament likens it to
a high school brat pulling the fire alarm before an exam he knows he's going to fail.

L-girl said...

That's very good.

Unfortunately in this case the whole school suffers.

phil said...

Sorry, I thought your question was actually a question.

Sorry for not being clearer.

L-girl said...

No problem. I'm impressed you know what the GG is and her role. I didn't before I moved here.

JakeNCC said...

Thank you laura, thank you for this post. We all need some hope and you have encouraged me to keep up the fight, one email, one conservation, one letter at a time. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in a political outcome as I was today. I can take losing an election but I can't tolerate when democracy is stolen and is done so with the consent of so many Canadians.

In 1995 this country was almost lost and in the 13 years that followed much progress had been made in bringing Quebec firmly back into the family. Now I fear what it took 13 years to build will have been crushed in 2 days of Harper bigotry. As you say I scarcely have words to describe my disdain for this man and his party BUT I will not give up hope or the battle. This country is worth fighting for.

L-girl said...

I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in a political outcome as I was today. I can take losing an election but I can't tolerate when democracy is stolen

I know exactly how you feel. It's one of the principal reasons I moved to Canada.

Now I fear what it took 13 years to build will have been crushed in 2 days of Harper bigotry.

At least we know there'll be no Conservative ridings in Quebec for the foreseeable future.

Cornelia said...

I think different countries just have their various branches of government, their checks and balances and who does what exactly, organized in a different way. I am having a hard time understanding exactly, too right now re: how Harper can exactly get voted out of office and what he has done exactly to try to obstruct this. But I guess, I will know more as things develop! And I really hope so much that his government will soon fall. And Laura, I agree 100 % that keeping up hope is crucial to working for improvements and so is the latter for achieving it. I also know a lot of quotes I like and find inspiring and encouraging, both in English and German, haha!

James said...

I am having a hard time understanding exactly, too right now re: how Harper can exactly get voted out of office and what he has done exactly to try to obstruct this.

Harper can't get "voted out of office" exactly, but the Conservative Party can get voted out of government. If a non-confidence vote passes, it signifies that Parliament as a whole no longer supports the government. The GG can then dissolve Parliament. That's usually followed by a general election to re-form Parliament with a new government.

Harper got out of this by basically getting the GG to put Parliament in recess. Since Parliament isn't meeting, they can't vote. This is just a stop-gap, though. Once Parliament is back together, they'll be able to vote. Harper's hoping to use the 6 weeks to somehow torpedo the vote, probably by trying to make the idea so unpopular in the general public that MPs decide against it.

Cornelia said...

Thanks so much for the clarification, James. So Harper got the GG to send the Members of Parliament on vacation, kind of and in the meantime, he tries some nonsense, like scaring people and making propaganda against a coalition government? Hope he will get his pay day finally by January and hope that the coalition parties and Canadians for a Progressive Government etc. can help the population not to buy into what he's up to!!!

Cornelia said...

The metaphor I've heard about Harper's prorogation of parliament likens it to
a high school brat pulling the fire alarm before an exam he knows he's going to fail.

Sounds cool!!! Hope the high school bully will soon get a bill that will take him some time and many additional and vacation jobs to pay for, haha!

Unfortunately in this case the whole school suffers.

I know, I know. It's so shitty and further delay and stress and trouble and emotional anxiety. I hope that we will get these idiots sorted by January...that would be a great start to the new year, right?

Cornelia said...

And see them at the ballot (instead of "see you at the barricades or see them in court") at the new elections in Canada...and hopefully the Harper Conservatives will be sent packing then!!!

James said...

Hope he will get his pay day finally by January

This has a potential to really backfire on Harper. Come January, if the Conservatives lose the non confidence vote, then either the GG gives the Coalition the government, or calls an election. If the Coalition goes into the election announcing to everyone that they will maintain the coalition if the Tories get anouther plurality, Harper will not be able to pull the "subverting the will of the people" card at all, because the people will have gone to the polls knowing that a vote for a Grit or NDPer is a vote for the Coalition.

Cornelia said...

Thanks, James. That sure sounds cool!