Friday, June 22, 2007

Harper And The Constitution

Harper is saying it is "constitutionally impossible" for the government to comply with the Kyoto bill. Interesting that Harper uses the constitution for backing, because the early reaction from constitutional experts, Harper must comply:
If the government fails to produce a Kyoto plan within six weeks, the government could be taken to court by citizens or the opposition parties, said Lorraine Weinrib, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Toronto.

"There are ways of doing this that wouldn't involve expenditure," said Weinrib. "The idea that the government has no obligation under this bill, which seems to be the comment the prime minister is putting out, that's hard to understand."

Harper cannot ignore the will of Parliament, said Stewart Elgie, a professor of environmental and constitutional law at the University of Ottawa.

"A fundamental principle of democracy is that ministers are not above the law in this country. The thing about this bill is, it ends the debate about whether Canada should comply with Kyoto. Parliament has said yes.

"It's up to cabinet to decide if they want to use regulations or spending or some other combination," he said. "They do not have the option of not complying with Kyoto."

The bill's passage is good news for Canadian democracy, he added. ``It reaffirms that our elected representatives pass the laws in this country, even if the prime minister may not agree with them, and that's how a democracy is supposed to work."

Harper would be better served to stick to the economic cost angle, because he can make a stronger case appearance wise. I watched a roundtable today, and the point was made that Canadians are accepting of the fact that we can no longer meet our commitments. This emerging reality means the opposition can embarrass the government, but there is a risk of backlash if the costs look excessive.

An example:
But Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas later said the government was open to applying the bill if the Liberals would tell them how to do it.

"If the Liberals have a plan or a way to reach six per cent below 1990 on greenhouse gas reductions they should share that information with us so we can work together on achieving it."

I see risk for all sides as this debate moves forward, but Harper should stop drawing attention on the constitution because it might prove a political loser.

7 comments:

Dana said...

Harper, like Cheney, is a fair weather constitutionalist.

If he needs to get the Senate to behave itself the constitution is his friend.

If the same document requires something of him he resents having to do then the constitution is not his friend.

He and his gang of recalcitrant miscreants still think they should be allowed to make it up as they go along.

Like they were able to do all those years in opposition when they decried complying with the constitution as weakness.

knb said...

I have to agree with Dana. Harper is sitting at both ends of the table right now as it relates to the constitution and he chooses his seat as it pleases him.

This is not fly by the seat of your pants stuff. He see's the constitution as his life long battle.

I think we're in for something here, though I think he is in his ideological bubble on this one. He has spent his life looking at this stuff and I'm sure he believes he has a case. This may be the time where he hauls out his intellect, but who is going to get it, let alone buy it?

Steve V said...

"I think we're in for something here"

I agree, but I'm not sure Harper can win the battle of legalities, which is why his constitution reference is strange. I wonder if it ties into his threat against the Senate, with the "terrible mistake" comment.

Mentarch said...

Fourth Principle of incompetence: incompetents do or say anything to defend themselves.

This post exposes another example of the 4th principle ...

Steve V said...

mentarch

Does that principle apply to blaming the opposition for the situation in Afghanistan?

Anonymous said...

Like most Canadians, I was shocked by the actions of Harper on the first day of his new government. Raiding his competition and appointing an unelected cabinet minister was quite the eye opener from someone who preached ethics, morals and common honesty so vociferously for years. If he'd taken his pants down and mooned for CTV cameras he couldn't have shown more contempt for voters in this country. It was immediately clear on day #1 that Harper could give a rats heiny for voters; he got what he needed from them. It is also very clear that Steve sees his destiny tied only to bludgeoning the Liberal party.
Harper contemptuous attitude and pretense at 'compromise' when finally backed into a corner sneers at parliament, tradition and law. Unbelievable though, is his utter contempt for voters in Canada. He must believe Canadians are as stupified as voters in some of his favorite countries.
We will see.

ottlib said...

"If the Liberals have a plan or a way to reach six per cent below 1990 on greenhouse gas reductions they should share that information with us so we can work together on achieving it."

So said Stephen Harper's spokesman.

To which I say:

The Liberals should not have had to use a private members bill to force the government to come up with a plan to meet Canada's Kyoto commitments.

The Conservatives are the government now so they have to stop blaming the Liberals for their problems. And in this case stop looking to the Liberals to create their policy.

Cooperation is not in the Conservative vocabulary.

Finally, stop making excuses. Parliament has spoken, the government is responsible to Parliament, so just get on with it.