Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Forgotten Math

How does Harper pull it off? How does the Prime Minister carry himself like he has a majority, when everyone knows he doesn't? How can this person say he doesn't want an election in one breath, and the very next say he isn't interested in "horse trading"?

Forget about the NDP's desire for an election here, the fact of the matter is they have offered a very reasonable set of "demands". One could say the laundry list is paltry, meaning if the Prime Minister really did want to avoid an election, the "out" is sitting in his lap, with little pain. And yet, we get this odd stance from the government, they have their course and while they will listen, nothing will make them compromise. Hello? That's the posture of a majority, not the Parliamentary reality of a minority government. The Martin government was forced to deal to survive. In fact, you look at any minority around the world and "horse trading" is an inherent GIVEN, not even a question.

Why has everyone forgotten the math? Why can Harper make these proclamations about not wanting an election and the contradict in striking fashion, without any dissent? The math demands compromise, it laughs at Harper's "we will do what we feel is right" posturing, it insults common sense and it deserves to be challenged. Instead, the almost unthinkable, Harper is able to pull out "horse trading" resistance as though a virtue!

This is a minority, which demands the government curry favour with another party or risk non confidence. The inability to reach a consensus is a testament to government failure, PARTICULARLY when faced with a scant list of demands from a party clearly read to "deal". You really, really want to avoid an unnecessary, opportunistic, damaging to the economy, election Prime Minister? Well look no further than in front of your face Mr. Harper, the resolution is staring at you with alarming clarity.

Again, how does Harper pull it off? How has Harper so easily manipulated intelligent people into giving him a free pass on the most basic considerations? How has Harper managed to make everyone forget the math, forget how our Parliamentary democracy works?

Perhaps a visual aid?:


Greg said...

Harper is pretty sure the worst he can do is come back with another minority. He also knows if that is so, there won't be another election for a long time, he and his minions will make sure of that ("What? Another election, it will cost millions. How dare the opposition". We have heard it all before). So, if you know the status quo is the most likely and worst outcome, you get bold and fast.

doconnor said...

If another election returns the status quo, the return of the Coalition would be very likely, especially with the Conservatives being so infuriating to the opposition and undermining democracy in so many ways.

Marc Bernard said...

Exactly. There is no risk of non-confidence. Until there is, they are not going to change a thing. An election is simply another thing to blame on the opposition. They're hoping Canadians get tired of this and blame the opposition too, and reward Harper with a majority.

Tof KW said...

Answer; the "we don't want an election" line is bullshit, much like it is for the Liberals. Polls go up and down, but overall have been consistently stuck for years now, and both parties are frustrated with that and would rather go to the polls sooner that later.

The reason for the we don't want an election line is to 'pass the nasty' on to the other party when the writ is dropped. Blame the other guy for causing it.

However the Liberals are a little more genuine here in that their actions alone can not bring about an election, whereas Harper has the power to make it so. And yes looking at the recent polls he's probably happy to go on the campaign trail now.

Anonymous said...

This is funny. Im not sure you'd feel the same if the Libs were at 40%..then you'd be hammering away at how Canadians want change. Mr Harper is the only one who wants an election, and, if your sitting back and being an observer, who could blame him? If the Libs were at 40% we'd be in an election that they didnt want either. Same old same old.

Kirk said...

They can do it because the media buys their line wholesale.

It goes way back to when the Cons made every bill a confidence measure. That made every bill a call for an election so that every piece of legislation was no longer to be considered on it's own merits but on whether or not there should be an election.

The media's response to this was not to question this bizarre approach to making laws but to beat the Liberals over the head for not voting against legislation and causing an election over it, an election that the media said no one wanted. (Of course they also salivated over Harper's 2 years of trying to force an election at every chance under Martin's govt.)

Furthermore, the media praised this anti-democratic approach and proclaimed Harper a "master strategist" for subverting our elected Parliament.

This is when the Harper government got their "free pass" to act like a majority when the media said they could and should be praised for acting as one.

I know I berate the media a lot here but I think they have shown they deserve it.

Dame said...

The math says only one thing ...unite the left!!! or live with Mr Nasty.
We want an election ASAP

Paul said...

How does Harper pull it off? How does the Prime Minister carry himself like he has a majority"

The answers to these questions will give you clues....

1. How many times since Harper came to power have the Liberals sat on their hands when it came time to vote?

2. Has the Liberal Party learned anything new about fundraising in the last five years?

3. Have they come out with a clear platform so that Canadians know what they stand for?

4. Does using the word "coalition" have a positive impact or negative impact on the Party?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with giving Harper a majority? I mean conservatives would surely show their true colors and overreach, Harper may try to do something crazy like the good Governor in Wisconsin is doing. 4 years for Liberals to regroup and Harper unable to blame the opposition for his failures. That sounds pretty good to me.

Marc Bernard said...

heracles, I've been thinking the same thing lately. A Con majority might just be the best thing. Harper will show his true colours, without being able to blame anything on the opposition, or the unelected Senate, or a coalition.

Tof KW said...

heracles443, you can confirm with our good host here that I have, on many occasions, stated the best thing for the Liberal party would have been if Harper won a majority back in 2006 (or '08). Nice to see others are picking up on this.

Not the best thing for Canada mind you, but it would give the LPC four solid years to rebuild without the worry of being election-ready.

Tof KW said...

"Harper will show his true colours, without being able to blame anything on..."

Oh he'll find someone or something to blame. Because nothing is ever his fault. Harper is like a friggin' 5-year old in terms of personal responsibility.

Sean Cummings said...

Bigger stones - that's how. A divided opposition. A weak Liberal leader. Divide and conquer politics. Attack ads. Framing your opponent.

What part of the guy has bigger stones aren't you getting? For whatever reason, the opposition won't defeat the government. If he sees they're divided, he's going to govern as if he has a majority.

Want him gone? You have three options:

1) Unite the left.
2) Form a coalition with the separatists.
3) Hope for a sinkhole to swallow him up.

Facts are:

1) The left won't unite.
2) Both the Libs and Dips are afraid to be seen as being in bed with separatists.
3) Man eating sinkholes are rare.

Ergo, he can govern as if he has a majority. Pretty basic.

Steve V said...

I'm not sure why the opposition weakness even enters into this particular point. Just focus on the PM, he is the one saying we don't need an opportunistic, hurt the economy, needless election. Okay, so take him at face value. What then are you doing Mr. Prime Minister to ensure we don't have an opportunistic, hurt the economy, needless election? This contradiction has nothing to do with weak this or that, it has to do with a fallacy within the Harper argument, which should be called out. Period. People can take it wherever their own beef leads, but that's not the point of my post, so it's all really quite irrelevant in this instance.

Sean Cummings said...

You're frustrated, I get that.

Why does he get away with it? Because he can, that's why.

Look, you can't blame an opportunistic politician who thrives on a dysfunctional political system with a divided opposition and a Liberal party that is really just a regional hub for being an opportunistic politician who governs like he has a majority.

The question shouldn't be "why can he govern like he has a majority", the question should be "what are you going to do to stop him?" That he can get away with it is one thing - the reasons WHY he can get away with it are far more interesting and they all point to a divided left.

Steve V said...


I don't disagree, and I've discussed the issues you've raised at length. However, that is a separate argument from saying you don't want an election but showing no evidence that you are trying to avoid. That contradiction deserves a simple question, and the lack thereof is a failure that has nothing to do with Liberals, NDPer's, divided left, it has to do with a failure of accountability, and I find it quite odd.

ridenrain said...

"I'm not sure why the opposition weakness even enters into this particular point."

How can it not? Your desperate to frame the question as some failure of the Conservatives when the reality is the Liberals are fractured, uninspired and poor. You’re looking for some messiah leader when what you need is a policy you, and Canadians agree on. So far all you have is get elected.

Steve V said...


Sean Cummings said...

Steve - the entire situation sucks. Hell, I voted Harper last time and even I'm sick of the guy. But the fact is, the Conservatives have been quicker to the punch for the past five years and it shows. The Liberals need - DESPERATELY need to start from scratch and look at the reasons why they're nearing 20% in the polls. They need to figure out how to rebuild the party because a leader just ain't gonna do it - not Justin Trudeau, not freaking Pierre Trudeau for that matter. Organizational renewal. Better yet - look at what the Reformers and PC's did when they were in the wilderness. They learned. They had to moderate. They had to unite the right. Quite frankly, there is no credible national alternative to the Conservatives, they're just isn't. Yes Stephen Harper is a dick. Yes, we have a kind of PMO dictatorship right now. Yes, he snubs the media and ignores the will of Parliament ... but there is no other show at the theater, you know? It's a one team hockey game. They're scoring empty net goals left right and center and the Libeals haven't even laced up their skates yet.

I could go on. Harper will do what Harper does well. He will win the next election. He will probably get that coveted majority because Canadians are sick of the media playing "when's the next election! when's the next election!" for five years. Voters will eventually tire of him and they will do as they have historically done: kick the bastards out.

Libs would be wise to recognize this and start from scratch because they're going to lose the next election. Better have one now and get the job of rebuilding that should have been done five years ago, started as soon as possible.

Steve V said...

I have advocated for quite some time we need a two election strategy, that`s the realistic scenario, so you`re point is taken.

ottlib said...

He can do what he is doing because no one calls him out. Not the media, not the Opposition, no one.

That has been true of pretty much everything this guy has said and done since he came to power.

However, like Kirk I believe the largest part of the blame lies with our MSM. Part of the role of the media is to speak truth to power and they have utterly failed to do so for the last 5 years.

Maybe it is laziness, maybe it is Conservative bias I do not know. What I do know is the Liberals will gain power again, maybe sooner rather than later, and we will have to see if the media are as compliant towards a Liberal government as they have been to the current government.

I suspect they will not be which is why any future government should be preemptive and kneecap the media at the first opportunity.

Marpman said...

you know an election is coming when the money flows....in a time of fiscal restraint he sure is spending....a lot seems to be on the military.