Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fun With Hansard

Listening to the nonsensical rationalizations from Conservatives, trying desperately to justify a snap election call, I thought it might be fun to remember the wise words of these same people when they introduced the Fixed Election Act:

Jay Hill, Parliament Debate

If a prime minister went against the spirit of this legislation and purely called an election because he or she felt the opportunity was ripe, that the situation for his or her particular political party was very advantageous to go to the polls, I suspect that person would quite likely be punished by the Canadian people in the subsequent election campaign.

Let's hope you're right Jay, this type of cynicism can't be rewarded.

Tom "Type A" Lukiwski Parliament Debate

We currently have a system where at the will of the government it can call an election. That obviously leads to many things along the lines of manipulating voters and manipulating dates to get the most beneficial time to the governing party to call an election. Obviously, as many speakers before me have indicated, this would bring an element of fairness to the whole equation.

That allows the governing party to have a political advantage over its opponents. Only the governing party knows the dates of the next election. If the polls happen to be favourable and it looks like the governing party might be returned in either a majority government or at least a strong minority, the governing party can call an election at its whim.

This legislation would take care of that. It would make it incumbent upon the present government and governments in the future to adhere to a fixed date for federal elections. The manipulations of governments trying to buy voters with their own money would come to an end. This is a very important step in our package of democratic reform.

Canadians do not want to think that the timing of a federal election will be held behind closed doors where a bunch of party hacks and pollsters get together and say that this would be their best chance to win the next election and that they should call the next election on a particular date. That should have no bearing on the timing of a federal election...

We want an election after four successive budgets. That would ensure that we stay in power for an awfully long time.

Party hacks, good point Tom.

Rob Nicholson, Leader of the Government in the House, during committee debate of Bill C-16:

What we have is a situation where the Prime Minister is able to choose the date of the general election--not necessarily what is in the best interests of the country, but conceivably what is in the best interests of his or her party. Bill C-16 will address this situation and produce a number of other benefits.

Rob Nicholson, Leader of the Government in the House, Parliament Debate

When the prime minister, under the current system, requests the dissolution of the House, the governor general, unless there are unusual circumstances, agrees and the country finds itself in an election. What we have is a situation where the prime minister is able to choose the date of the election, not based necessarily on the best interests of the country but on the best interests of his or her political party. I believe Bill C-16 would address those concerns.

Instead of the prime minister and a small group of advisers being the only ones who know when the country will move into the next general election, once this bill is passed, all Canadians will have that knowledge, which makes it fair.

I can't disagree Rob, who wants political advisors deciding when the country should go to an election.

Hey, have any of you guys raised these relevant points recently to your Prime Minister, or any of the political hack advisors that are manufacturing a crisis to avoid future unfavorable terrain? Oh ya, that was then...

I think the first quote would make an excellent ad ;)


Anonymous said...

I have to say, this whole fighting the calling an election we no is certain,

has an expiry date of a few days,

but has a lingering affect on the perception of being afraid of an election, long after it has been called.

I'm not sure who is advising Dion, but complaining about the chance to take the government, by the leader of the opposition, is a very, very, very poor decision.

Steve V said...


It isn't just Dion, it's all the opposition parties, which is a complete positive politically. You, yourself admitted it would have an effect for a few days, then be forgotten. Fine by me :)

Steve V said...


I would also add, the fact that a Con is trying to spin this as very bad for Dion, tells me it's actually working quite well. Thanks for the advice, lol.

Blues Clair said...

Exactly Steve. Harper breaking his own law won't be a huge issue after a few days. But I think it is a great way for the Opposition to start a campaign. I say, come on and call the election Mr. Harper... be decisive for a change.

Gayle said...

Oh Biff - I have to give you points for desperately clinging to something.

You may be correct and this may not last once the election gets going, but your problem is that right now this is coming across like Harper is the one running scared.

He is not exactly getting good press either:


Anonymous said...

When has Harper ever received positive press? Especially from the Globe.
Thanks for the chuckle.

Steve V said...


Actually, McGill did a study of the last two election campaigns, and Harper received more favorable coverage than negative in both campaigns from the G and M, whereas the Liberals received more negative than positive. Nice straw man, but just the facts please.

Gayle said...

Steve - don't bore them with facts and figures.

They NEED to believe it is the media who are against the CPC. God forbid the CPC be accountable for their own bad press.

northwestern_lad said...

Well done Steve... leave it you to find these kinds of good quotes. Can't wait for the ads ;)

Gayle said...

Actually, I have decided it is all an eleborate hoax. Once again Harper has been playing chess while we have been playing checkers.

He will back down, wait to meet with Dion until after the by-elections, and the the CPC will sweep those elections, making Dion look like a fool.

Harper will then go on to win a majority, be crowned King of the World and be offered a life time pension of 10 million dollars a year by grateful Canadian taxpayers.

Eric said...

Very impressive research work.

I think Harper is bluffing though. He wants one of the party leaders to cave and guarantee him the fall.

If they break their promise he'll use that as ammo during an election. If not, then next spring he'll blast anyone who tries to bring the government down as wasting money since an election would be only a few months away.

I find it amusing how both sides are being so hypocritical. Dion by now resolutely stating that there is no reason for an election (even though for months he's been saying how much he wants one) and Harper by his threat to violate the spirit of his own legislation.

One thing though.. why doesn't Harper just wait till the HoC reconvenes, introduce a motion of confidence and vote on it immediately?

James Bowie said...

Good research Steve.

JimmE said...

I love, love, LOVE the election style graphic at the present PM's podium that reads: A STRONG CANADA. Guess nobody amongst the Ditto Head brain trust remembers THE LAND IS STONG. Please, oh please, OH PLEASE! Let that be the Tory campaign slogan!

Anonymous said...

That's right Steve, the law applies only to the Conservatives, not the Liberals or the other opposition parties. Clearly it doesn't work in a minority context.

The more interesting question is why do the Liberals so fear facing the people of Canada in an election. This is becoming a habit. Paul Martin in the last election, Stephane Dion this go round.

Steve V said...


The funny part, it would appear Harper is terribly afraid of something?

bigcitylib said...

Congrats! You made NNW. Did you send link to him or did he just find it?

I always tell people that if you think you've found news email NNW.

He's a bit Conservative, but blogger friendly.

Steve V said...

I guess they found it.

Anonymous said...

Harper is afraid? You gotta be kidding! Dion is all full of bluster about how this government doesn't deserve to remain in power - that is, until he has an opportunity to defeat said government. That's when he tucks tail and votes to support the government!

Now who's afraid of an election?

JimmE said...

Anon: "Harper is afraid? You gotta be kidding"
Seems you're a little touchie; overcompensating for somethin' ??
& um, Dude, this Present PM guy does not play well with others, he IS a bully (just ask Deb Grey or Presto). Thing is man, bullies are always afraid, that's why they're bullies. So keep drink'n or smok'n whatever it is you're into.

Steve V said...

Another Liberal media slant:

"Harper slammed for election posturing"



If you think anybody is buying the "Liberals afraid" angle, outside of Conservative partisans, I think you are in for a rude awakening. I just saw a CTV poll, which is generally freeped by your side, and a full majority BLAME Harper for the supposed dysfunctional Parliament. Hey, the campaign will move onto other things, but if you ask me, I can't think of a better way to head out of the gates, than the media questioning Harper's logic and opportunism. Dion isn't afraid, it's called SHREWD.

Steve V said...


Could you point me to one news article, that doesn't revolve around Harper breaking his word? Can't seem to find any "Dion is afraid" articles...

BTW, having Layton and Duceppe signing in unison with Dion also provides weight to the argument. Everyone wondering what he's up to, nobody buying it, Harper isolated and looking desperate.

Anonymous said...

Chretien called early elections every time and never suffered for it, and that was with a majority.

The fixed election date was always intended for majority governments. All those Hansard comments you've posted are in that context.

A recent Ipsos poll showed 40% want an election ASAP.

Steve, I've seen that McGill study too, the media tends to be more fair during an election, especially toward the opposition. And you're right that the media isn't focussing on Dion looking scared, though to spin it as Harper being afraid is pretty nonsensical. Afraid of an election he's pushing for? Afraid to govern any longer? You know he wants to stay the PM right?

Gayle said...

"Chretien called early elections every time and never suffered for it, and that was with a majority."

Harper will not pay because he called an early election. He will pay because he broke a promise.

Get that? He lied.

So much for accountability.

Steve V said...


Actually Chretien lost seats when he did something similar, and I might add he was well up in the polls at the time, unlike Harper. A few seats now, Dion minority, given his fragile hold.

It isn't nonsensical at all, Harper manufacturing a crisis begs the question, what are you afraid of? Afraid of heading back to Parliament to answer tough questions? Afraid the economy is going down the drain and your fiscal management is unravelling? Afraid of "in and out" hearing? Bernier hearings? Afraid of the by-election results?

Sorry, none of this speaks to strength, the fact he changes his tune daily, not to mention the yardsticks, has many wondering, if I can use Layton's word "what is he up to". Maybe suspicion is a better word than fear, but whatever, it's a negative frame no matter how you look at it.

Karen said...

The GG has cancelled her trip to Beijing.

Start your engines?

Karen said...

Oops, I forgot the link, oh and the fact that the PM is announcing this.

Anonymous said...


I'm loving it. Watching Stephen languish in his anguish, I mean.

He's desperate to cancel the by-election because he knows (he has the best internal polling service, bar none) that he's about to get his booty booted.

Ah... too bad. He's such an awesome Prime Minister, ya know, eh?

ottlib said...


In 1997 PM Chretien called an election early, much to the chagrin of many. He was sitting on a 23 seat majority, the economy was perking up, the Liberals had just released a balanced budget and the Liberals were facing a fractured main opponent on the right.

They lost 20 seats.

It is widely acknowledged that one contributing factor to those losses was the early election call.

There is no predicting how Canadians will react to this. Will they be appreciative of being thrust into an election campaign just after the end of summer? Will they be appreciative of Mr. Harper breaking his own word and his own law to do it?

Time will tell but I will say one thing. I will have no problem if the first couple of days of the election campaign is Stephen Harper having to defend his decision to send Canadians to the polls.

Anonymous said...

Gayle,for gods sake will a majority get you to shut up.You act like this is your private soap box for the Libs.The Libs days are over and their days of sitting on their hands in parliament are over.I heard Dion on the radio today,he sounded like a little school kid crying.And you think PM Harper is getting bad press.???When hasn't he got bad press from this gang of liberal swine.

Gayle said...

A little touchy there anon?

I know it has been a hard day for you CPC fans. Don't worry - I won't hold it against you.

But yes, if Dion wins a majority I will stop blogging. Hopefully that will turn a few votes his way. :)

Steve V said...

Sounds more like bravado than confidence.

Anonymous said...

He's desperate to cancel the by-election because he knows (he has the best internal polling service, bar none) that he's about to get his booty booted."

You are right about one think-the cons do have the BEST polling service. And that polling service is (and has been for some time) telling them they can get a MAJORITY.

And Harper won't have any problem convincing the public that the opposition has been stonewalling the goverment on many issues Canadians want. How about Senate reform? How about law and order reform? There are many issues that resonate with the public. And the Green Shaft is simply an non-starter. A poor policy dreamed up by a weak desperate leader(?)

I do agree that Harper doesn't have the charisma of a Cruton, or Martin or gasp! Turdeau. But I'll take substance over style any day.

Horny Toad

Gayle said...

Hey toady - how, exactly, have the opposition been stonewalling the CPC on law and order reform? In your reply, don't forget to refer to the fact that the vast majority of the crime bills would have passed a year before they did if Harper had not been so intent on proroguing parliament and killing them.

Also, how, exactly, is Harper going to go about with his senate reform without constitutional negotiations? Or did you miss that part where the Premiers of a couple provinces, including Quebec. told the Senate that they will initiate a court challenge if they allow the senate elections bill to pass as it requires a constitutional amendment.

So, I guess you may be right, so long as Harper gets away with continuing to lie to us...

JimmE said...

Mr Toad:
"I do agree that Harper doesn't have the charisma... But I'll take substance over style any day."
- & this substance is what exactly?
The present PM either breaks stuff, or gets legislation & lets it die. So how is that substance again? Oh, sorry I forgot his triumphs like Bali or the World AIDS conference.
- Fine Substance Abounds! Mum, Fine Substance Abounds!
This is a small man with a small view of a small Canada. Even Presto or Joe- Head-Waiter-to-the-Provinces-Clarke had more of a positive vision of Canada.
This person who lives @ 24 Sussex must know about more scandals that are about to break down the pike, & does not want voters to know about them - like Walkerton II - AKA Maple Leaf Listeria or the promised, & not delivered Muldoon inquiry to see the light of day.
The present PM makes statements that sound all full of TRUTHIENESS but this is all bluster. Truth is not the present PM's friend; nor yours.

Eric said...

Oh yeah... Harper is really scared at losing bi-elections in seats that his party hasn't held since... when? Decades ago?

Come on. Something else is up. Probably he's bluffing, but maybe he's angling for something else. Who knows.

Eric said...


The reforms that were being made are completely constitutional. Changes have been made to the Senate in the past without the need for opening up the constitution.

If memory serves.. it was the Liberals who reduced the terms of Senators from life to 75... right? I'm doing this by memory so give me a break if I'm wrong. Whoever did it didn't bother reopening the constitution then.

The provinces starting a court case shouldn't necessarily even be feared. It would probably be a good thing to settle once and for all what the government can do with respect to the Senate. Moreover, there is no legal requirement for the elected 'Senators' to be appointed, its a consultory election after all.

Steve V said...

"You are right about one think-the cons do have the BEST polling service. And that polling service is (and has been for some time) telling them they can get a MAJORITY."

Please, their own polling from the PMO shows support eroding, on every measure imaginable. The only reason we know this is because of access to information. I think they are so desperate to go now because they see Dion getting traction, and they know the numbers won't improve in the coming months. You can put all this false internal polling nonsense, but if you watch the body language, it suggests otherwise. I would also add, from what I'm hearing, those by-elections are turning into a BAD night for the Conservatives, which hardly jives with this MAJORITY nonsense you are spewing. Keep hope alive!

The Cons have concluded they have passed their best before date, now they want to make the sale before it goes completely ROTTEN.

Gayle said...

sosuthern - are you an expert in constitutional law? Or are you just partting what Harper has told you.

Provinces have objected to the requested reforms, and that is why the senate has refused to pass them until there is further study.

If a court challenge is such a good idea, why doesn't Harper make his proposed changes into a reference case and then we can hear what the SCC hs to say?

Could it be because he is far more interested in making this an election issue than he is in "democratizing" the senate?

Gayle said...



Gayle said...

Ummm "parroting"

Anonymous said...

"Harper manufacturing a crisis begs the question, what are you afraid of? Afraid of heading back to Parliament to answer tough questions? Afraid the economy is going down the drain and your fiscal management is unravelling? Afraid of "in and out" hearing? Bernier hearings? Afraid of the by-election results?"


Anonymous said...

The polling is NOT done by the PMO but by the Conservative party. They have so much money they are able to do in depth consituency level polling.No the usual polls of a few hundred but thousands and thousands at every constituency in Canada. They have this money, by the way, because conservatives in general donate in droves to the party unlike the liberals who, since Cruton shafted them, don't have Power Corp to fund them anymore.And besides,liberals expect the government to do everything for them. And if it doesn't-well you can always steal from the country.Does the word Adscam ring a bell? Dion still owes -what- 3/4 of a million dollars -from the convention. He can't even afford to pay his own light bill. And the libs are basically bankrupt given the lawsuits against them. Harpers suit may be politically motivated but the greenshaft lawsuit (8.5 million) is a bonafide action thats going to cost the libs bigtime and Power Corp won't be able to pay that either.(snicker-snicker) This is further evidence that the libs will screw anyone and everyone-be they private citizens or the country in general, in their quest for power.

As for the provinces not wanting senate reform, I think you mean Quebec doesn't want senate reform. The rest of the country would welcome it.

So take off your liberal tinfoil hats and get ready for a conservative majority.

How's that old saying go. "If your young and a conservative you have no heart but if your young and a liberal you have no brain".

Oh yeah, even though they stole all our money and ruined the country I'm still voting liberal cause I'm a f**king moron.

Horny Toad

Steve V said...

Sorry "insider" not buying, we've heard this crap for the last year. And, I know they do lots of polling, and I have a little birdy who told me that the by-elections are looking VERY BAD. LOL, keep spinning.

Steve V said...

BTW, how many months can you keep posting the same line on Liberal blogs, I mean the name changes but its the same BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Anonymous said...

steve, again I don't know if you're addressing the holes in your logic there. None of that stuff you're suggesting Harper is afraid of will be avoided with an election, unless you're implying there will be no opposition at the end of it. He wants to stay PM and it stands to reason that the opposition will bring all this up again when the 40th Parliament begins.

gayle, as I said, the fixed election date is (and always has been) intended for majority situations. Chretien abused his power and called snap elections. Harper is saying he won't do that in a majority.

In a minority all bets are off as the opposition has far more ability to take down or impede the government.

It's actually not that complicated.

Steve V said...


You actually use logic, then you say the opposition can still talk about these issues, but that is AFTER an election. Weak stuff, not to mention a silly rationalization.

Gayle said...

"gayle, as I said, the fixed election date is (and always has been) intended for majority situations. Chretien abused his power and called snap elections. Harper is saying he won't do that in a majority."

Great - then I guess you can find the quote where Harper said that (and I am referring to a quote from before this week).

Maybe you can also explain why he fixed October 19 for the election too - what with it not applying to a minority government and all.

Anonymous said...