I’m going to take a little leap from local election perspectives and consider an issue more national in scope.
I’m having one of those days where I shake my head and ask if I’ve read something correctly. I read it again and it hasn’t changed. I check a few other references and they all confirm it.
The Toronto Star, MacLean’s and CBC are reporting an incredible statement made by Stephen Harper in an interview with Peter Mansbridge. Reaction has been a bit different, in that CBC seems to have glossed over it and both Andrew Coyne of MacLean’s and Bruce Campion-Smith of the Star are mortified… and rightfully should be.
Mr. Harper was asked about potential implications of a minority goverment and what would happen if he was ousted on a vote on the Throne Speech, Budget or early in the session. He stated that this should call for an election. His response about the constitutionality of other parties being asked by the Governor General to try to find the confidence of the House was astounding. He challenged the validity of such an action and stated, “that’s a question, a debate of constitutional law.”
“My view is that the people of Canada expect the party that wins the election to govern the country…”
These comments come despite the fact that the King-Byng affair has set a precedent directly opposite to Mr. Harper’s opinions.
This is something to set constitutional experts erupting. Dr. Ned Franks, Professor Emeritus at Queens University, was quoted in the Star article as saying, “He’s trying to change not just the Constitution in terms of what confidence means, he’s also trying to change it in terms of how governments are formed.”
I think we are owed an explanation of Mr. Harper’s words. Is this just a little bit of election rhetoric? Can we expect him to abide by the Constitution Act and common law for the conduct of a Westminister government? Will he attempt to prevent the Governor General from asking another party to try to find the confidence of the House if his minority government should fall? Will he hire lawyers and attempt to litigate against the constitution he is supposed to uphold? What other actions would he consider to prevent another party or parties from taking power?
Such a comment should create a great deal of fear for everyone in Canada until such time as a viable explanation is put forward.
Two statements from the past come to mind here. The first is a strange comment from John Baird in the last sitting day in Question Period, where he stated, “We will not let the socialists take power in Canada.” I’m hoping this isn’t related.
The second relates to a far more frightening concept. I’m hoping that prime ministerial buzz phrases do not repeat, as I can so easily hear in the back of my mind the expression, “Just watch me…”