12.01.2008

a great day for canada

Like everyone in Canada, I just finished watching a press conference where Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe signed an agreement and announced the formation of a coalition government, unprecedented in Canadian history.

They will bring down the Harper Government at the first opportunity - next Monday, December 8 - and begin a new Government.

Although most bloggers will be pounding their keyboards with commentary, concerns and cavils, I simply want to express my thanks and gratitude to all three opposition parties and their leaders.

They are creating a model of democracy that can set an example for Parliaments all over the world, as the parties acknowledge their important differences, but focus on improving the greater good. They are putting Canada before politics.

During the question period, Jack Layton said that if Canada had a proportional representation electoral system, we would be accustomed to this kind of cooperation. I was thrilled that he mentioned proportional representation on this big stage. Perhaps this new Government is a step towards that greater democracy.

The Harper Government was elected shortly after we arrived in Canada, allowed to stay in power far too long, then, against all my hopes and beliefs, elected again. As my former countrypeople to the south celebrated what they believe to be a new beginning, I was cringing at the prospects for Canada.

I kept thinking, if the right stays united, and the centre and left stay divided, if the partisan continues to trump the practical... what will become of us? Whither Canada?

And now, this has happened. I am thrilled.

I'll read the caveats, I'll familiarize myself with the pitfalls. But for now, I will just savour the moment.

Thanks to shrewd leadership and open minds, Canada has stepped back from right-wing ideology and can begin to rebuild its proud progressive tradition. Leadership will reflect the will and the values of a majority of Canadians. That's democracy, and nothing is more important than that.

* * * *

US readers, please feel free to ask questions about what's going on up here! A few years ago, it would have confused the hell out of me, too. Don't be shy.

49 comments:

redsock said...

FUCKIN' A!

L-girl said...

WHOOOOO-HOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay.

So does this mean there will be a new prime minister de juro or de facto?

I understand the concept of the three parties agreeing to work together explicitly to pass their policy and whatnot, but does it actually remove Harper from office?

I'd be doing more research but I'm swamped with homework tonight.

If nothing else, I definitely recognize the historic importance of this based on what I've read on CBC and a couple blogs. Yay Canada!

cls said...

I hope the coalition government will mean good things for war resisters. And soon.

L-girl said...

So does this mean there will be a new prime minister de juro or de facto?

Stephane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party, will be the Prime Minister until May 2009. At that time, the Liberals will choose a new leader, and that person will take over as Prime Minister.

I understand the concept of the three parties agreeing to work together explicitly to pass their policy and whatnot, but does it actually remove Harper from office?

Harper is an MP of a riding in Alberta. He will still be the MP for that riding, but now he'll be the leader of the Opposition (as he was before his party formed the government).

Because the executive is part of the legislative, there's no removing from office, unless he were to lose his seat in an election.

Let me know if that helps, and if not, I'll keep going! :)

If nothing else, I definitely recognize the historic importance of this based on what I've read on CBC and a couple blogs. Yay Canada!

YEAH!

L-girl said...

I hope the coalition government will mean good things for war resisters. And soon.

I believe as soon as this Government is in, we have won.

I can barely permit myself to say that, and I'm sure others from the Campaign would be more cautious, but I believe our battle is over.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, l-girl! That definitely helps clear it up.

James said...

It's been a historic fall for democracy in North America. Keeps things interesting.

Robyn said...

This is truly, truly incredible. Who said Canadian politics were boring? ;)

L-girl said...

It's been a historic fall for democracy in North America.

When I first read this, I thought "fall" meant the fall of democracy, democracy has fallen. I thought, a wingnut commenter named James?

But no. :)

redsock said...

Canadian Press:

Conservatives "fume" about blunder

OTTAWA – Their blades remain sheathed but astonished Conservatives are quietly fuming about the tactical blunder they fear could toss them into opposition.

And the blame seems to be landing on the prime minister's doorstep.

Stunned Conservatives MPs are barely concealing their outrage. Many are venting their anger in private because of Stephen Harper's iron grip on the party ...

*****

James said...

When I first read this, I thought "fall" meant the fall of democracy, democracy has fallen. I thought, a wingnut commenter named James?

I should have said "autumn", maybe?

redsock said...

G&M: "The NDP says it may pursue criminal charges after the Conservatives covertly listened in, taped and distributed audio of a closed-door NDP strategy session."

M@ said...

I started looking up the legal basis for the prime ministership, to see whether it had to be the leader of a party, or whether it could be someone else. (I thought maybe technically the largest party (or coalition!) in the House nominates the PM, and now that means that the leader of the party is sort of nominated in advance.

Turns out there's nothing about it in the constitution; it's all pretty much done by convention, modelled on the UK's conventions in place in 1867, but those weren't codified in their own constitution till 1905. As far as I can tell, the GG can just appoint any sitting member the Prime Minister. By tradition, that is the leader of the largest party in the house, so that's who she chooses. It's all because our head of state still holds the power, but does his or her best, most of the time, not to get in the way of the democratic system we're saddled with.

Another interesting fact: the Prime Minister can also sit in the senate, and we've had two PMs who were in the senate, not the commons.

Anyhow, finalhalo's question got me wondering, and I thought some of the other nerds around here would be interested too... :)

Nikolas said...

Now we have to hope Harper has the decency to accept it and not recess Parliament. Given his track record I'm not hopeful.

But I LOVE this

L-girl said...

Thanks M@ - it is interesting!

An interesting autumn. ;)

L-girl said...

"The NDP says it may pursue criminal charges after the Conservatives covertly listened in, taped and distributed audio of a closed-door NDP strategy session."

Nail their sorry asses!

JakeNCC said...

I think some focus should be put on our Governor-General who will have the final say over this entire saga. Although many think of the Governor-General as a figurehead she actually, as I understand it, has absolute power to decide if the coalition will be asked to form government if the Tories fall. She also has absolute power to decide if Parliament is prorouged. If Harper asks here to prorouge she doesn't have to, if the government falls she has the power to either call an election or ask the opposition to form government. It will all be in Ms. Jean's hands. We really have an amazing system of government. But lets not forget that this British Parliamentary System has proven over time to serve the Commonwealth and its democracies extremely well.

JakeNCC said...

Amen Laura! Let's hope the new Justice Minister is from the NDP.

L-girl said...

Now we have to hope Harper has the decency to accept it and not recess Parliament. Given his track record I'm not hopeful.

I don't think it matters one way or the other. He'd only be postponing the inevitable. They can get him now or get him in January. Either way he's going down.

He doesn't have much decency, but he might have a shred of political brains left, which should tell him to exit sooner rather than later.

JakeNCC said...

I'm sorry for the multiple postings but I'm just so excited I can hardly sit still. This could mean so much for so many. Just think of the war resisters and their families, the working poor who may have better housing options, women who won't have to worry about Harper's hidden agenda to take away their rights, the GLBT community who will know their rights are secure, First Nations who will now be able to negotiate their land claims in a fair and equitable way, our soldiers who can be assured they will come home and not be sent to anymore American wars, a Finance Minister that understand what true stimulas is and of course a government who will finally tackle global warming. I'm so happy!!!!

L-girl said...

The GG has a lot of power, but she has the weight of a long, long tradition behind her that tells her not to interfere unduly in politics. She is personally a very decent person. It's extremely hard to imagine Michaelle Jean standing in the way of the will of the majority of Parliament.

But lets not forget that this British Parliamentary System has proven over time to serve the Commonwealth and its democracies extremely well.

Not sure what you mean here. You mean serve the Crown well? Or serve democracy in general...? If it serves democracy welll, that's a good thing, no?

L-girl said...

No need to apologize Jake, I'm with you all the way!!!

I gotta dig up our old "why we don't want another Harper govt thread" to remind us of all the things that can be better now.

L-girl said...

Here it is!

We don't want another Harper Government because...

JakeNCC said...

My comments about the British system I guess were just a preemptive defense of our system of government. Many Americans think the British system inferior to theirs and I think ours is best. Not sure why I felt the need to defend when no one has attacked.

L-girl said...

Not sure why I felt the need to defend when no one has attacked.

Canadians are often defensive about... well, many things. :)

I think there are pros and cons to each system. I don't see one as inherently better than the other, although I know people vehemently argue on both sides.

hesperia said...

It's amazing how it fees to be hopeful. I just didn't feel it for Obama, though sure enough, I'm glad he won. I guess I like the possibility of this deal because it includes the NDP and there just might be some REAL progressive to be found in this bunch.

I think this just might fly. If Harper prorogues, I think he actually will add to the movement to bring him down, because that will mean waiting even longer to do something about the people who are suffering hard economic times. I hope he doesn't do that, because it WILL mean that - months to go for any stimulus or relief. But it certainly would be the final sign of his autocracy.

I'm never sorry to be a Canadian, but I'm really happy to be one this week. Hope is SO cool!

Sarah Gates said...

BRILLIANT! Well done, oh my neighbors to the North!

redsock said...

"An Accord on a Cooperative Government to Address the Present Economic Crisis"

3-page PDF

L-girl said...

Thank you Sarah!!

It's amazing how it fees to be hopeful. I just didn't feel it for Obama, though sure enough, I'm glad he won. I guess I like the possibility of this deal because it includes the NDP and there just might be some REAL progressive to be found in this bunch.

Yes, exactly. I'm also happy Obama won, but there is no hope for real change there. He's a Democrat and he'll continue to be one.

If Harper prorogues, I think he actually will add to the movement to bring him down,

I agree.

I'm never sorry to be a Canadian, but I'm really happy to be one this week. Hope is SO cool!

Yeah!!! I agree.

neutron said...

It's not my birthday but I really feel like it is! Cheesy ... maybe ... but I mean it.

Scott M. said...

If Harper *attempts* to prorogue parliament, that is.

For those not "in the know", back in 1926 WLM King (leading a Liberal/Progressive coalition) seeked a dissolution of parliament and a general election in order to avoid a loss of confidence motion. Lord Byng of Vimy refused, saying that the Conservative party of Arthur Meighen (who won the plurality of seats) should have a chance to find the confidence of the house.

As it stands, Meighen could *not* command the confidence of the house (lost by one vote) and an election was called.

There is nothing that says the Government must be run by the single party that has the most seats. Coalitions are allowed. As long as a government can command the confidence of the house it is allowed to stand.

M@ said...

I've said before but it bears repeating, I think: don't be surprised if he prorogues, and the GG consents. While they're the sitting government, she will always do what the government asks her to.

It's when there's no sitting government (i.e. because the former government falls) that things become interesting. That's why I'm really happy with how the coalition was approached. If it were five MPs from each party with a letter saying "hey! why not... try something else!" then it would be a non-starter.

But this coalition has the favour of all the opposition MPs, to my knowledge. They have a clear idea of what they're doing in terms of the coalition's mechanics (who gets to do what, who will lead, etc), and they have a legislative agenda. Plus they've shown that not only the MPs, but the entire apparatus of both parties is behind it. That, I think, is part of why Chretien and Broadbent were involved. Basically, they need to give the GG reason to believe they will be a lasting and stable government. And I'm quite confident they've succeeded.

JakeNCC said...

The Tory faithful are rallying their troops to write the Governor-General. I say if they can so can we.

The address is:
info@gg.ca

She is to be addressed as Excellency.

L-girl said...

Neutron, I know just how you feel!

M@ and Scott M, thanks for the info, great stuff.

JakeNCC, thanks!

James said...

Today's Toronto Sun headline:

NO! NO! NO!

A pretty good sign that it's a good idea. ;)

Anonymous said...

. . .Stephane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party, will be the Prime Minister until May 2009. At that time, the Liberals will choose a new leader, and that person will take over as Prime Minister.
------------------
L-girl 6:21 pm Dec. 1

Actually, Dion will step down on May 2 of this year (2008) after the leadership convention has chosen who shall be the new leader.
============

I believe that most of you are missing an important point.

We do not vote for a government.

Rather, we vote for a parliament.

The parliament--once convened--forms itself into the best possible way to carry on the nation's business.

There is a distinction there and one would do well to read the writings of Peter Russell or Sen. Eugene Forsey.

L-girl said...

I believe that most of you are missing an important point.

We do not vote for a government.

Rather, we vote for a parliament.


I understand that, but I think most people would be confused by that description.

I think most voters would not agree that they vote for a Parliament. I think most Canadian voters believe they vote for a party, represented by an MP.

one would do well to read the writings of Peter Russell or Sen. Eugene Forsey.

Not sure who the "one" is here, but when people are confused about how a system works, I don't refer them to anyone's writing. I just explain it in the simplest way I can think of.

Thanks for your thoughts, they're good to throw in the mix.

L-girl said...

Actually, Dion will step down on May 2 of this year (2008) after the leadership convention has chosen who shall be the new leader.

He will step down on May 2, 2008? How is that possible?

M@ said...

Torontoist, you're pretty much preaching to the choir here, I think.

But I happened to notice that Peter Russell is consulted in this story in the Star. Russell sees prorogation as a sign that Harper plans to govern without parliament, which sets a dangerously undemocratic precedent. Interesting article.

Prorogation would, however, give him the chance to arrange for some movers to come to 24 Sussex. I mean, it's probably too late to get someone on the 9th.

hhw said...

It's very exciting, but bittersweet for me as I no longer qualify to apply for skilled worker PR under the latest rules. I'm hoping to go to grad school in Canada, and perhaps they'll revise the restrictions again in a few years once the backlog is cleared. Anyway, I don't mean to rain on the parade! Time to get to work on those application essays...

L-girl said...

HHW, do you mean the rule changes recently put forth by the Conservatives? Those may soon be irrelevant.

Or are you referring to some other changes? If you have a moment, please fill me in. People ask me questions all the time, I'd love to get an update. Thanks.

L-girl said...

I guess there's no word on that Liberal time machine yet.

hhw said...

they finally posted the new criteria for skilled workers, retroactive for applications received since late February 2008. Since it took nine months for the Harper government to revise its own rules, I'm not holding hope that it will take much less time for a new government to change them again. especially since one reason for the restrictions is to help clear the backlog -- a new government would still have to deal with that in any case.

the new rules say (I'm paraphrasing, in case that's not obvious) that if you don't have arranged employment, don't bother applying unless you have experience in one of 38 jobs. they will be returning the applications (including the fee) of those who sent them in since February who don't meet these criteria. Applications received before that date will be processed by the previous rules (a much longer list of acceptable job experience).

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/apply-who.asp

L-girl said...

HHW, oh yes, sorry, I did know about that. I am reasonably confident that will quickly change under a new government, especially if Olivia Chow becomes Immigration Minister. Everyone was furious at the way those rules were put into effect. I understand your unwillingness to get your hopes up, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

L-girl said...

Since it took nine months for the Harper government to revise its own rules,

Sure, since they dislike immigrants and immigration.

especially since one reason for the restrictions is to help clear the backlog

That is a myth - propaganda. Their intention was never to clear the backlog. I think under a new govt applications will get moving again.

Thanks for reminding me to post about this.

hhw said...

I am happy to shift my attitude over to cautious optimism! Thanks for the encouragement.

godoberto fellini said...

me too, thanks L

L-girl said...

You're both welcome! I will try to post about this tomorrow.