Monday, January 25, 2010

New IR Poll: 3-pt Conservative Lead

Ipsos-Reid has released a new poll, confirming some of the new story lines of 2010. There are some problems, however.So, at 34% the Conservatives are polling at the higher end of what we've seen so far this year, while at 31% the Liberals are higher than they've been for quite some time. The 17% for the NDP is well within their norms. This marks a three point loss for the Tories since Ipsos-Reid's last poll at the end of November. It's a seven point gain for the Liberals, and a loss of two points each for the NDP and the Greens.

Let's start with the reliable regionals. In Ontario, the race is very close, with 38% for the Liberals and 37% for the Conservatives. At 15%, the NDP is polling at its usual, and a little unrealistic, low. This is a nine point gain for the Liberals, while the NDP has dropped six and the Conservatives two.

In Quebec, the Bloc is down only one point to 37%, while the Liberals make a big six-point gain and stand at 30%, very healthy. The Conservatives are down five points to a problematic 15%, and the NDP is down three points to 9%, also problematic.

British Columbia is showing what we've been seeing lately, namely that the Conservatives hold the lead but are relatively low for them, while the NDP and the Liberals duke it out for second. At 36%, the Tories have lost one point while the Liberals at 24% have gained seven points and the NDP at 27% has lost seven points.

Alberta also looks good, with the Tories at 64%, the Liberals at 17% (up three) and the NDP at 11% (up two).

We then run into problems in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, which isn't surprising as the samples were about 60 people. In the Prairies, the NDP make a massive 21-point gain to reach 36%, while the Conservatives drop 12 points and the Liberals five. In Atlantic Canada, the Liberals make a similarly massive 22-point gain, while the Conservatives drop eight and the NDP drops three. The problem here is that the Greens have gone from 21% in November to 3% this time. So, in all likelihood, these numbers are relatively accurate while the November numbers were the problem.

One interesting breakdown was by income. For those who make less than $30,000/year, the Liberals lead with 31%, followed by the Conservatives at 27% and the NDP at 20%. For those who make between $30,000 and $60,000 per year, the Liberals lead with 33% followed by the Conservatives at 27% and the NDP at 21%. For those who make $60,000 per year or more, the Conservatives lead with 39%, followed by the Liberals at 30% and the NDP at 14%.

So, contrary to public perception, the "Tim Horton's crowd" actually support the Liberals more than the Tories. And the NDP over-performs here. In other words, we can call Conservative supporters the "Starbucks crowd".

In fact, the Liberals have the most constant support level among the three income brackets, indicating they aren't the party of one particular class.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 124
Liberals - 105
Bloc Quebecois - 50
New Democrats - 29

The Liberals make up for their shut-out in the Prairies by winning 44 seats in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The Conservatives win 70 of their seats in the West and North. So, a similar result to the 2006 election.

128 comments:

  1. Hmm the 34% Conservative fits in with the HD and AR polls.

    So these numbers look pretty bang on, except for the noise in the regionals.

    Which leads me to object to this conclusion:

    So, contrary to public perception, the "Tim Horton's crowd" actually support the Liberals more than the Tories.


    I'm guessing this is just more noise from a small sample size. Polling consistently shows that Conservatives do better with high school or less educated voters which tends to correlate with the lowest income in society, compared to Liberals doing better with the univeristy educated crowd.

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  2. Eric wrote:

    "So, contrary to public perception, the "Tim Horton's crowd" actually support the Liberals more than the Tories. And the NDP over-performs here. In other words, we can call Conservative supporters the "Starbucks crowd". "

    Um ... no.

    When "Tim Horton's crowd" vs. "Starbucks crowd" is used, it is not mainly about income levels but more about other sociological distinctions that some people determine from it.

    Some of these are objective: Starbucks is much more popular in large cities than in rural areas or smaller cities -- MonToVan is one of the few remaining Liberal areas of strength.

    Other sociological factors are much more subjective:
    - Conservatives like Tim Horton's (a Canadian institution) while Liberals love Starbucks (a foreign institution)
    - Conservatives are ordinary folks who like coffee while Liberals are pretentious fops who simply must order a latte with a non-dairy creamer using Italian words like "grande" from a "barrista".
    - Conservatives understand the value of money while Liberals fall over each other to overpay for the latest fad

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  3. --- "Polling consistently shows that Conservatives do better with high school or less educated voters which tends to correlate with the lowest income in society, compared to Liberals doing better with the univeristy educated crowd."

    As a liberal arts major, let me tell you that the university educated aren't always the big earners.

    --- Other sociological factors are much more subjective:
    - Conservatives like Tim Horton's (a Canadian institution) while Liberals love Starbucks (a foreign institution)
    - Conservatives are ordinary folks who like coffee while Liberals are pretentious fops who simply must order a latte with a non-dairy creamer using Italian words like "grande" from a "barrista".
    - Conservatives understand the value of money while Liberals fall over each other to overpay for the latest fad"

    All I see are ugly generalizations. Disappointing and juvenile.

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  4. yeah but Eric they always do that...always.

    So hopefully you're not surprised by the CPC guys making those generalizations. I agree though it's nauseating

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  5. Eric wrote:

    "All I see are ugly generalizations. Disappointing and juvenile."

    Good grief. I should have thought it obvious that those remarks were intended to be:
    a) subjective (as stated explicitly)
    b) a partisan interpretation
    c) intended with a touch of humour

    But seriously Eric, the Tim Horton's vs. Starbucks distinction is used as illustrative of character/sociological differences rather than mainly an economic indicator.

    Your posting was nonsensical.

    I was merely striving to point out (albeit in an exaggerated way) the folly of your interpretation.

    (And how can you seriously object to "generalizations" when you yourself are the one who labelled Conservative voters the "Starbucks crowd".)

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  6. "As a liberal arts major, let me tell you that the university educated aren't always the big earners."

    Of course, there are obviously exceptions. But these issues are dealt with in the aggregate and liberal arts majors are already factored in.

    Ekos last week showed the Conservatives doing better with lower educated voters.

    Its proven that, in the aggregate, post secondary education increases your earning power.

    So i'd really have to see more polling to back up these income brackets. Otherwise its probably just noise.

    "All I see are ugly generalizations. Disappointing and juvenile."

    Martin was explaining to you the sociological context in which the terms are deployed and how the terms are not directly associated with support amongst various income groups but rather carry a great deal of cultural baggage as well.

    Its unclear from your statement, are you dissapointed in him, suggesting he is juvenile and making ugly generalizations ??

    If so your remarks are uncharitable in the extreme.

    If not I suggest you take it up with the chattering class! I've always found the term annoying as well because it borders on dismissive.

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  7. Shadow: Polling consistently shows that Conservatives do better with high school or less educated voters which tends to correlate with the lowest income in society, compared to Liberals doing better with the univeristy educated crowd.

    Shadow is right. Conservative support consistently goes down with increasing education level and Liberal support goes up. This is easiest to see in the Ekos polls.

    Interestingly, Green support is erratic compared to education level, or even tends to decrease. I put that down to Green age demographics. Green supporters are skewed to the young end. Many will earn one or more degrees in future but are still being educated today. So the average education level is somewhat low, perhaps painting a false impression of Greens.

    So what's the point? Simply that polls need some interpretation in addition to a healthy dose of skepticism.

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  8. I, too, find the "Tim Hortons" and "Starbucks" labels to be insulting. Martin effectively illustrated why, and how both terms are insulting to people on the "left".

    The first is often used as a positive (hard-working, pick-up truck type people who vote Conservative and drink good ole Canadian coffee) and the second as a pejorative (effete urbanites who follow trends and vote Liberal).

    I was using the numbers to turn the labels on their head, because you can easily show that they are inaccurate, and that often the richest Canadians and retirees tend to vote Conservative, demonstrating that those "hard-working" Canadians aren't Tory-blue. Every party is guilty of trying to make out their supporters as the best of Canadians, but the Conservatives seem to do this the most without strong evidence to back it up. This irks me, because I tend to be in the categories that are dismissed.

    It was also a response to one of the comments last week about the unemployed voting Liberal and NDP while the hard-working Canadians vote Conservative.

    And, in any case, Tim Hortons' coffee is horrible. So, whoever is in the "Tim Hortons" crowd has no taste. I don't like Starbucks' coffee either, aside from their beans which I buy and use in my own coffee machine.

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  9. Timmehs is like a dessert...I find it tasty but it aint coffee, dislike Sbux entirely and I voted Conservative 2 elections ago and Lib in the last one, I tie my shoes the opposite way of the normal and I am ambidextrous....generalize me!

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  10. Thanks for the great updates.

    Would it be possible to post the error margins (and include error bars on the graphs)? Statistically some of the results reported (like the 1% difference today) are meaningless.

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  11. I for one prefer Timothy's and the Second Cup.

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  12. "Every party is guilty of trying to make out their supporters as the best of Canadians, but the Conservatives seem to do this the most without strong evidence to back it up. This irks me, because I tend to be in the categories that are dismissed."

    Oilpatch, "the west", anti-american, English vs french(50-49%?), hidden agenda, knuckledraggers, ALBERTA!!omg!, gun owners, immigrant vote.... etc etc etc.

    You say that the conservatives are the best at defining groups and divide and conquer??? I don't know, but I would like to counter with "The pupil learning from the Chretien." I don't know if he has actually surpassed the master or not, but I am certainly impressed with his skills to learn and extrapolate.

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  13. .... and starbucks... ugh. I can barely tolerate Timmys, but I do because the wify likes it.

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  14. I think we need a Godwin's Law for the mention of Chretien.

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  15. "I think we need a Godwin's Law for the mention of Chretien."

    With the ascension of Peter Donolo it all seems rather pertinent though.

    "Every party is guilty of trying to make out their supporters as the best of Canadians, but the Conservatives seem to do this the most without strong evidence to back it up. This irks me, because I tend to be in the categories that are dismissed."

    Lol. Ever heard of the NDP ?

    They got the unions so all their supporters are apparently loggers, car makers, and the salt of the earth.

    Never mind the student activists, the university lefties, and the pensioners concerned about kitchen table issues.

    The CPC are no worse than others, as you say you probably just notice it more when it comes from them because you're on the other side of the divide.

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  16. If you would like you can invoke it.

    Much like Layton's prorogation law tho it would probably require a constitutional amendment to have any use tho.


    Should we also ban talking about Iggy or Layton's drawbacks??

    See, my problem is that people want to bury decades of history on the actions that have come before. They want to look at Harper and say "he shouldn't have done that we should replace him."

    That's a problem. Because if we do we don't have a mythical beast known as the perfect prime minster. We have Iggy, and Layton. We have The liberals and the NDP..... and if we don't compare what those 2 would do differently than Harper and the tories. Then we are being intellectually dishonest.

    And when I compare Harper and the tories to real alternatives The leaders, their parties and their policys and there histories. (not the mythical beast)....

    Harper doesn't come out so bad.

    You can wipe Chretien off the books when you can convince people that the people comprising the liberals and the liberal party will act, think and do differently now then when he ran the show.

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  17. "Chretien did it" is not a legitimate defense. Is it too much to ask that Harper have better moral and political standards than Chretien?

    Harper is Prime Minister now. He is responsible for his own actions now. If you want to point hypocrisy of Chretien supporters, fine, but that is a completely different argument. No one here is saying what Chretien did was right or should be emulated.

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  18. Shadow wrote:

    "Its proven that, in the aggregate, post secondary education increases your earning power. "

    More generally, increased education correlates with higher income. On average:

    - high school graduates have higher income than those who did not complete high school
    - those who did non-university post-secondary education (community college, skilled trades) have higher income than high school graduates
    - university graduates earn more than college graduates

    See for example, the 'Higher Earnings' section here:

    http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=54#a2

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  19. Eric I think you're ignoring the fact that people are being asked to switch VOTES based on these issues.

    Some polls have the Liberals flat but others have them up. I see nothing wrong with arguing that this isn't a ballot box issue because the Liberals did this too.

    Like the laughable spectacle of Bob Rae going on QP this weekend and attacking prorogation when he did it three times in five years and under questionable circumstances on one occasion!


    The NDP gets a win on these sort of issues because having never been in gov't they have no baggage.

    And I actually endorse and support their new legislation. I don't think it should be binding but I think its fair for the PM to allow the HOC to express its opinion on the matter in the form of a resolution.

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  20. Actually i'm not even sure the NDP get a pass on this.

    Bob Rae aside, i'm certain we could find uses of prorogation by NDP premiers under questionable circumstances.

    And on the PC side of things Danny Williams didn't call back his legislature for like 6 months after his last election I believe.


    So one wonders why Harper is suffering in the polls for something all leaders in Canada do, of all poltiical stripes.

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  21. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 12:28

    So one wonders why Harper is suffering in the polls for something all leaders in Canada do, of all poltiical stripes.
    To paraphrase some 'Murrican President, "It's the torture, stupid".

    NO other Canadian Prime Minister has prorogued Parliament to avoid answering questions and providing evidence demanded by Parliament in a case where there is a question of possible complicity in war crimes at the highest levels of government. Not one. Not once. Not ever. Never. Do you understand now?

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  22. John wrote:

    "Shadow is right. Conservative support consistently goes down with increasing education level and Liberal support goes up. This is easiest to see in the Ekos polls."

    That is not quite correct.

    Ekos uses three education categories: high school or less; college or cegep; university or higher. The Conservatives' best category in Ekos polls is almost always the middle one (College). Conversely, the Liberals worst category tends to also be the middle one (although this one is somewhat less consistent).

    In other words there isn't a straight line through the three categories for either party.

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  23. ""Chretien did it" is not a legitimate defense."

    I absolutely agree. We should always try to better things, and Chretien is not the example to hold up for morality.

    But Harper is not operating in a vacuum either. He is governing with an opposition who contains not just many of the same MP's, but much of the same staff that Chretien had. Will they do things differently?

    Once again... Compare Harper to the alternative (the liberals or the NDP, Iggy or Layton), not to the mythical perfect person who does everything perfectly.

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  24. Liberal supporter that made me chuckle.

    "Not one. Not once. Not ever. Never. Do you understand now?"

    You do know that you just defined down the catagory of "prorogation abuse" to a set of circumstances so narrow that it would have been virtually impossible for any other event to fit in said catagory.

    In actuality there is an entire range of circumstances that could fit into the catagory of "prorogation abuse". And we know that NDP, Liberal, PC, whatever governments at all levels and across the Westminster system have used this power.

    There is no justifiable reason to make this a ballot box issue where the Liberals would benefit from voters leaving the Conservative party.

    Not one. Not once. Not ever. Never. Do you understand now?

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  25. liberal supporter.

    I assume you don't included shutting down the Somalia inquiry (where there actually was evidence of war crimes) as part of your little scenario???

    And continuing with the theme of comparing to the alternatives....

    ON WHEN TORTURE ISN'T EVIL
    "...in a situation of extreme necessity, the possibility, even a slight possibility, that it [torture] may reveal some life saving result would almost certainly overwhelm any consideration that it is evil." - Michael Ignatieff, The Gifford Lectures, University of Edinburgh, January 2003

    Warcrimes.... are ok. if they help you.... right?

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  26. Concerned Canadian25 January, 2010 13:12

    Do conservatives support child pornography?

    If the answer is no, then could someone please explain why Harper decided to kill the following legislation before it became law;

    C-58 Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation) (cracks down on child pornography)

    Unfortunately it's difficult to understand why they would kill such legislation without forcing us to come to our own conclusions.

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  27. "Much like Layton's prorogation law tho it would probably require a constitutional amendment to have any use though."

    First of all, even if a prorogation law might not be legally binding, it could make it politically more difficult for a PM to prorogue without getting the House to acquiesce. Right now there are fixed election date laws in various provinces including Ontario, BC and NB (to name a few). Any constitutional scholar can tell you that these fixed election date laws are purely symbolic and that in reality a provincial premier can set the date for an election whenever he wants. BUT, doing so creates a political problem for a premier so for the most part the fixed date seems to stand. Dalton McGuinty knows that if he tried to ignore his own fixed election date law and post-pone the next Ontario election because Fall 2011 was not politically convenient for him - it would create a tidal wave of censure and embarrassment etc...

    It should be noted that reforming the senate is supposed to require a constitutional amendment as well - that doesn't seem to stop Harper from cooking up endless schemes to change the senate in underhanded ways that avoid opening up the constitution.

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  28. Interesting poll, even if the some of the regionals seem skewed. Even so, it confirms everything that has been happening: the Conservative lead has basically dropped, and until Iggy does something stupid again, it probably won't climb back up.

    And about the Tim Horton's vs. Starbucks crowd stuff: grow up. That is an absolutely stupid generalization that only the most petty partisans would take advantage of. It isn't even one that is true - I only know two Liberals that prefer Starbucks over Tim Horton's. The rest are like any other Canadian.

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  29. Concerned Canadian,...

    I assume it is so that the bill can be try to be passed in its original form rather than have Iggy gut it and allow for 3-5 offenses before they are allowed to come to trial.

    Yes a stupid answer.... to an even stupider premise/question.


    The bill like others is easily reintroduced. And passing it to second reading (or even third) is also an easy feat given that the other parties also do not support child predation.... Do they? (see stupid insinuations are easy to come by...)

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  30. Martin: In other words there isn't a straight line through the three categories [of education level], for either party.

    Good catch on the Tories; you are right and I was wrong. I stand by my comment with respect to the Grits. Their polling numbers were uniformly up with increasing level of education for three of the last four Ekos surveys. (All polls are noisy.)

    I will let others debate the implications of this on coffee preferences.

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  31. "Chrétien did it" may not be a valid moral defense, but it is a valid political defense. If Chrétien did it, and Chrétien is not widely vilified by the Liberals, then it makes no sense for the Liberals to vilify Harper for doing it.

    Pointing out that Chrétien did it is not a defense of Harper. It's an attack on the obvious cognitive dissonance of Liberals.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I happen to count internal inconsistency as a grievous character flaw.

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  32. If you look at the income demographics you'll see that Tory support tends to rise as income rises. Liberal support tends to be flat across income segments and NDP support tends to be higher among people with lower incomes. Tory support also seems to be a lot higher among men and older people - and yes there seems to be a bit of a tendency for the most highly educated people to be less into voting Tory.

    In other words, the quintessential Conservative voter is a man over 55 who didn't go to university education, but who has a high income.

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  33. Concerned Canadian, your comment is ridiculous and embarrassing. In fact, you're using the same sort of language that the Conservatives used in the past when they said the same things about Paul Martin and the Bloc Quebecois.

    For everyone else, Ignatieff has set down some proposals for reforming the use of prorogation. They sound very good to me, and put a damper on the statements made here about it being unfair to hold up to Harper standards Ignatieff wouldn't follow:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/trumping-ndp-michael-ignatieff-lays-out-tough-new-prorogation-rules/article1443101/

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  34. Concerned Canadian.

    On your advice I took a look at the voting records and bills up for debate... or rather at the absentee records.

    I added up the top 100.. and the bottom 98 (10 people at 99th.. doesn't = 100).

    Worst attendance records.... in addition to the major party leaders who you would expect to miss a bunch. (btw Harper missed 1 more than Iggy).

    Party standings for people with the worst attendance records. Liberal 43, Tories 22, Bloc 18, NDP 14. Keep in mind that the Tories have nearly as many MP's as the other 3 parties combined....

    On the other hand, in the category of best attendance. Speaker Peter Milliken with 0 yay :). (oh, and 12 other tories). The top 100 comprise 6 or less absences.

    The tories lead with 72, 11 bloc, 10 NDP and bringing up the rear: 7 liberals.

    .....

    So the NDP 10 up, 14 down 37 members is not a bad spread. The bloc too has 11 up, 18 down with a caucus of 48. The tories are amazing at comming to class.... 72 up, 22 down with 145 in their cacus. But what happened to the liberals (the ones currently defending their "right to be in parliament" 7 in the top 100 attendances and 43 in the bottom 100 attendances? That leaves only 27 in the middle ~100.


    So concerned Canadian. Where is the outrage? Do you need the opposition parties to spoon-feed you? Can Iggy and the liberals really be a credible defender of democracy? Demand the right to be in parliament.... but only when they feel like showing up?? Is Harper the (only) one on holidays?

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  35. Ira,

    --- "I don't know about the rest of you, but I happen to count internal inconsistency as a grievous character flaw."

    Harper made the same criticisms of Chretien when he used prorogation. Do you consider his character be grievous flawed because of it?

    From http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/proroguing-parliament-a-travesty-yet-clever/article1415391/

    "Mr. Layton remembers when Mr. Harper, as leader of the Official Opposition, lambasting the Chrétien government's plans to prorogue Parliament back in 2003, to prevent the Auditor-General from reporting on possible abuse of the sponsorship program in Quebec.

    “The government will prorogue the House so that it will not be held accountable for its shameful record,” Mr. Harper thundered."

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  36. "Ignatieff has set down some proposals for reforming the use of prorogation."

    None of which actually curtail the rights of the PM or the GG to proceed as usual. What Iggy wants is 10 days to study the issue. Let everyone be heard. Before the GG makes a decision. Sounds like it has the same teeth as the tories attempts so far at senate reform or the fixed election dates law. And we know how the opposition has received them.

    Iggy seems to be following the Harper standard. He would hate to curtail his own power should he get to the job.

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  37. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 15:06

    I assume you don't included shutting down the Somalia inquiry (where there actually was evidence of war crimes) as part of your little scenario???
    Sadly, the channel changing continues. The Somalia inquiry should have continued. However, there was no indication that it involved the highest levels of our government being complicit in war crimes.

    And continuing with the theme of comparing to the alternatives....

    ON WHEN TORTURE ISN'T EVIL
    "...in a situation of extreme necessity, the possibility, even a slight possibility, that it [torture] may reveal some life saving result would almost certainly overwhelm any consideration that it is evil." - Michael Ignatieff, The Gifford Lectures, University of Edinburgh, January 2003
    .
    Can you provide a link to this? Not a link to the numerous bloggers that repeat it, but the original source in context. For you see, and correct me if I am mistaken, in this passage he is stating the conundrum of any liberal democracy. Later he states clearly that torture is not acceptable, even in the proverbial ticking bomb scenario.

    Warcrimes.... are ok. if they help you.... right?
    No, they're not. And that is the whole point. The CPC leadership seems to believe otherwise, and won't either admit it or provide the documents that Parliament has demanded that could clear this up.

    You continue to have failed to refute my earlier statement.

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  38. "...lambasting the Chrétien government's plans to prorogue Parliament back in 2003, to prevent the Auditor-General from reporting on possible abuse of the sponsorship program in Quebec."


    What? Lies!! Liberal supporter said there was not one example of a PM proroguing parliament to escape responsibility on an issue... NOT ONE!!! of course this is the second charge against the liberals for doing so in the last 15 years. Seems it is not so uncommon. So why the spoon fed rage against Harper for doing so??

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  39. "and won't either admit it or provide the documents that Parliament has demanded that could clear this up."

    sounds like the aforementioned other inquiry. yes??


    original source in context. Yes, I have read a bunch of "nuances" in iggy's position. He argues both sides of the torture issue often in the same paperor speech,... and continues to argue the other side even after he claims conclusion. Which side is he actually on??? Or am I to simply believe that on such an important issue that the man who would lead the country does not even know which side he is on??

    Are the Liberals the only ones capable of a "nuanced" position? Why do they not recognize such a position in the tories positions?

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  40. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 15:15

    You do know that you just defined down the catagory of "prorogation abuse" to a set of circumstances so narrow that it would have been virtually impossible for any other event to fit in said catagory.
    No, I am explaining to you why this is hurting the CPC, despite you "what me worry" attempt at wondering why Canadians could be so capricious.

    In actuality there is an entire range of circumstances that could fit into the catagory of "prorogation abuse". And we know that NDP, Liberal, PC, whatever governments at all levels and across the Westminster system have used this power.
    That has nothing to do with the fact that this prorogation is hurting the CPC because they appear to be using it to cover up possible complicity in war crimes by the highest levels of our government.

    There is no justifiable reason to make this a ballot box issue where the Liberals would benefit from voters leaving the Conservative party.
    If we do indeed have war criminals in office, it is a ballot box issue.

    Not one. Not once. Not ever. Never. Do you understand now?
    Thank you for conceding. You concede when you have nothing left but sneeringly stealing my words.

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  41. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 15:21

    What? Lies!! Liberal supporter said there was not one example of a PM proroguing parliament to escape responsibility on an issue... NOT ONE!!!
    I made no such claim, and you know it. I didn't say "escape responsibility on an issue". What I said was "NO other Canadian Prime Minister has prorogued Parliament to avoid answering questions and providing evidence demanded by Parliament in a case where there is a question of possible complicity in war crimes at the highest levels of government. ".

    Speaking of the "education levels" of various parties' supporters, what would be the education level of someone who cannot read with comprehension, as you have demonstrated above? Or did you understand what I wrote, and simply chose to lie about it? That is something that some from all education levels have done.

    of course this is the second charge against the liberals for doing so in the last 15 years. Seems it is not so uncommon. So why the spoon fed rage against Harper for doing so??
    Why the smirking characterization as "spoon fed rage"? Is it because you know the game is up and are getting increasingly desperate?

    You continue to fail to refute me.

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  42. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 15:25

    Yes, I have read a bunch of "nuances" in iggy's position.
    Where is the link?

    He argues both sides of the torture issue often in the same paperor speech,...
    Which is what academics do. You should try it, you often understand an issue better.

    and continues to argue the other side even after he claims conclusion.
    Link?

    Which side is he actually on??? Or am I to simply believe that on such an important issue that the man who would lead the country does not even know which side he is on??
    Nice try, and you continue to avoid providing a link, where his position would be obvious, if you can be bothered to read it.

    Are the Liberals the only ones capable of a "nuanced" position? Why do they not recognize such a position in the tories positions?
    Explain the nuance in telling diplomats to stop reporting torture, and explain the nuance in lying about when they knew about it.

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  43. Barcs,

    --- "Iggy seems to be following the Harper standard. He would hate to curtail his own power should he get to the job."

    I point you to this from the G&M article: "In addition to a requirement of written notice, Mr. Ignatieff said prorogation must be brought before the House for a full debate and consent of MPs would be required if a shutdown was requested within the first year after a Throne Speech."

    I'm disappointed you didn't even read the link I posted but still felt the need to respond to it erroneously.

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  44. To expand on the Iggy-prorogation-rules stuff, the Liberal plan does include ways to ground it within the powers of the House of Commons that are actually binding. This plan goes right into the heart of the House's procedures and standing orders and fiddles with it to make the executive's power accountable to Parliament.

    People may point out that the powers of the GG aren't curtailed, which is correct - however, we all know that the GG is only a ceremonial executive, and the power is truly exercised at the PM's discretion. As Iggy said - the problem isn't the GG, its the Prime Minister. The Liberals are addressing that.

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  45. Prorogation is a prerogative of the PM, pure and simple. It has been used by governments of all stripes in Canada including Bob Rae's NDP in ON and Chretien's Liberal. We may not like it being used but it is a power of the PM.

    It seems to me that the press has seized upon this issue to pillory the current government.

    Harper and his government might deserve such attacks were they not bringing back Parliament for a year or even six or seven months. That is clearly not the case. If the issue is torture in Afghanistan then let's call a spade a spade. Otherwise there just isn't anything to squawk about.

    Both Layton and Iggy with their plans to limit the prorogation powers of the PM are whistling in wind for political purposes only.

    We seem to compare Harper to the perfect standard as has been pointed out here. It would seem more realistic to compare him with his peers. Eric while you point out Harper's criticism of Chretien's prorogation there wasn't the constant day to day hammering of his government on the issue in the press.

    Finally if the opposition finds the PM's actions so anti-democratic then they should defeat the government at the first possible opportunity and be prepared to fight an election on the issue. Now is the time for Iggy to boldly proclaim "Mr. Harper, your time is up". But neither he nor Layton, NDP the BQ have done so? Why?

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  46. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 16:33

    If the issue is torture in Afghanistan then let's call a spade a spade.
    Close, but the main issue is what did Messrs. MacKay and Harper know, when did they know, and what did they do about it. Proroguing to shutdown the questioning and thwart the will of Parliament in demanding the uncensored documents is part of that issue.

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  47. Earl, sure, prorogation is at the discretion of the PM, and sure, others have done it - but since when has "others did it too!" because a justifiable excuse? I don't care if Chretien or Rae did it - it needs to stop. Plain and simple.

    And why haven't Iggy and Layton called an election? Well, its because they aren't idiots, nor do they fall for obvious Conservative ploys that in the end smear themselves just as much as the Opposition. Ignatieff took his bumps for his attempt already - on what grounds do you think he'll be stupid enough to do it again? Hm?

    Spare us these pathetic arguments and get down to the facts - Harper prorogued, people are pissed off, the Opposition put forward their ideas, but they know people will turn against them if they call an election. Anyone with half a brain knows that sacrificing yourself on an ideological basis will not get you far. The Opposition is being careful and being pragmatic - they're being smart. It is only Conservatives that want them to be stupid.

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  48. Volkov:

    If people are as opposed to prorogation as the press is making them out to be then an election should be an easy win for Iggy. Let's be honest Harper has not distinguished himself here.

    The limits the opposition are proposing on prorogation are not likely constitutional. If those limits passed and Harper ignored them would the opposition then go for an election? Only if the polls showed they could win. Again men of principal do something about something they see as very wrong. They fight to convince the public that there really is something to this prorogation stuff. If they can't convince the public then they deserve to lose. Similarly if Iggy and Jack and Duceppe just see this a political opportunity then let's be honest here in this forum and admit it.

    I for one get tired of the posturing. Sure we all have our partisan biases. I don't care for Shadow's approach anymore than I care for the approach of those opposite him.

    That's my point of view.

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  49. Volkov I think the lack of willingness of the opposition to stand on principle and announce they will vote against the gov't the first intention they could get betrays the rage "Liberal Supporter" is spewing is utterly false.

    All this talk about dictators is revealed as meaningless. It boils down to a minor procedural complaint.

    I mean, if it were really as bad as some have said, wouldn't men of principle and character fight for their beliefs ?

    So i'm left with the impression that the opposition are either cowards or are exagerating the seriousness of this situation.


    "but since when has "others did it too!" because a justifiable excuse?"

    A lot of us support possible changes to the rules.

    But in the context of being persauded to switch our votes it is very, very relevent.

    As I said, since everybody does this it can NOT be a ballot box issue.

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  50. liberal supporter25 January, 2010 18:31

    Volkov I think the lack of willingness of the opposition to stand on principle and announce they will vote against the gov't the first intention they could get betrays the rage "Liberal Supporter" is spewing is utterly false.
    Spare me your projection. You are the one filled with rage. Not surprising, since your house of cards is collapsing.

    I explained to you why this prorogue is hurting the CPC. You can pretend it is all just irrational loonies if you wish. However, I believe this will continue to hurt the CPC, and all the obfuscating, denial, smug smirking and putdowns from the partisans just goes to show there really might be something to hide.

    Until this is cleared up, you should not expect an easy ride in the polls.

    Your malarkey about "standing on principle" goes both ways. If Harper is such a man of principle, why doesn't he call the election over this? After all, he is now under a cloud, that his government may have been complicit in war crimes. Why not call an election to clear the air?

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  51. Those Atlantic Canada polls are WAY off.

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  52. Éric - it would depend on Harper's motivation for proroguing. He criticised Chrétien for using proroguation to delay the arrival of the Auditor-General's report. If Harper then prorogued to stop the Afghanistan hearings, that would be hypocritical of him, yes.

    If, however, he prorogued to allow the senate committes to adjust to the change in the balance of power, then he has not shown himself to be hypocritical.

    Since I can't know his motives, I withhold judgment.

    But the criticisms of Harper's proroguation appear not o be that targetted. That he prorogued at him whim is the complaint, and Chrétien did that very thing.

    Semantics matter.

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  53. "I'm disappointed you didn't even read the link I posted but still felt the need to respond to it erroneously."

    I read it this morning.. I read it again when you posted it. I came up with no different answer in my head. Constitutionally it is the PM's right to go ask the GG to do something.. Constitutionally it is the GG's decision to follow the advice or not (and by convention better have a damn good reason not to follow the advice) of the PM who asked.

    The fact that Iggy wants 10 days for the house to bang away at the government while studying the issue and issuing a report to the GG has no bearing on the PM's constitutional power, nor on the GG's constitutional power.


    All his proposal does is give a week and a half to shame whatever government is in power.

    You go read it again.

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  54. liberal supporter:

    There is no reason for Harper to call an election over prorogation. He is acting within his constitutional powers, while not abusing them, by say calling Parliament to sit one day a year, all that is constitutionally required and ruling by order in council. It is the other parties who suddenly see an "anti-democratic" government, not Harper. I'll say again if prorogation is so bad then force an election. The "anti-democratic" government of Stephen Harper isn't preventing you from doing that. And prorogation seems to be an issue with some legs. Show some guts and stand up for the rhetoric, however hypicritical, you and the rest of the opposition is spewing.

    Again if the issue is about the treatment of Afghan prisoners and who knew what when, then you have a scandal, at least in your eyes. There's an election issue. My guess is that had the opposition concentrated on the alleged cover up they'd be ahead of the CPC in polls and have their election issue.

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  55. "And why haven't Iggy and Layton called an election? Well, its because they aren't idiots, nor do they fall for obvious Conservative ploys"

    Its a conservative ploy to the opposition parties by destroying democracy and making them stand up to him to save democracy.... Thereby tanking themselves in the polls and giving him a majority mandate so he can further destroy democracy??

    That may be one of the crazier arguments I have heard to stand up for the leaders who claim to want to save Canada... its just doing it is the problem... lmao

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  56. Liberal support the massive evidence of polling data shows the issue has cost Harper 2-3 points.

    If you honestly think anybody, anywhere is worried about 2-3 points you're kidding yourself.

    Nobody is planning an election so what would it matter ? Its a blip.

    I believe new polling from this point on will show no further declines for Harper.

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  57. Barcs,

    Please read again: "Mr. Ignatieff said prorogation must be brought before the House for a full debate and consent of MPs would be required if a shutdown was requested within the first year after a Throne Speech."

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  58. Eric aren't these the same guys saying term limits on senators requires a constitutional ammendment using the 7-50 rule?

    And yet they are suggesting a completely and utterly unconstitutional limitation on the powers of the GG.

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  59. sigh... Eric, please read again: Where does Iggys limit on parliament alter the constitutionally guaranteed powers of the GG to prorogue parliament on the advice of her chief adviser the PM??

    The answer is it doesn't. Neither did Laytons bill requiring the government to observe Kyoto, neither does Harpers 8 year term limit on the senate, neither does the fixed election dates law.


    There will probably be some political price to be paid for quote "ignoring the will of parliament". But the constitutional power of the PM, and the GG remain to do... the same thing that just happened.


    "And yet they are suggesting a completely and utterly unconstitutional limitation on the powers of the GG."

    Funny how limits on democracy and the agents and icons within seem to ebb and flow depending on whether people are for or against the limits being discussed in that democracy.

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  60. I don't know about the constitutionality of it, but if such a thing was passed, and the PM went to the GG without consulting Parliament about prorogation (or worse, losing that vote and still going to the GG), I think we'd see the GG deny prorogation based on Parliament's vote.

    Perhaps someone can chime in on whether such a change to parliamentary procedure requires an amendment to the constitution.

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  61. "I think we'd see the GG deny prorogation based on Parliament's vote."

    Really? A sitting GG going against a sitting PM? We haven't had that for happen for 85 years now.

    We had a similiar precedent recently where parliament passed a bill fixing the date of the next election. The GG, of course, ignored the law and granted Harper's request for an election.

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  62. Shadow wrote:

    "fixing the date of the next election. The GG, of course, ignored the law and granted Harper's request for an election."

    She 'ignored' no such thing.

    The very first section of the bill in question specifically preserved the power of the GG to dissolve Parliament earlier.

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  63. Eric wrote:

    "Perhaps someone can chime in on whether such a change to parliamentary procedure requires an amendment to the constitution."

    It probably would require a Constitutional amendment.

    The question would then be whether such a Constitutional amendment would require the section 41 amending formula (unanimous consent of all 10 provinces) -- a difficult task indeed.

    It is possible that, if done properly, an amendment by the federal government alone would be sufficient (this is the same amending formula under which the Tories are attempting to introduce fixed terms for Senators.)

    My guess is that the simpler amending formula would be sufficient (again, if done properly).

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  64. If the amendment is deems to impact on the powers of the queen, GG or crown....

    Then it requires unanimous consent. That means house, senate, 10 provinces.

    It is possible that this might fall under s44, Amendment by parliament (if it doesn't impact the GG's powers). where the house and the senate alone can pass it.

    But I am wondering if it would pass the senate what with the 5 new senators. 51 conservatives, 2 PC, 1 no affiliation (kicked form PC) 2 independents: 1 appointed by Trudeau, 1 appointed by Mulroney.

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  65. Chantal Hebert's Take:

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/755280--proroguing-pattern-is-now-set

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  66. If we take Harper at his word he will prorogue parliament a third time next year for the 2011-12 budget.

    In fact i'd count on it.

    Doing so, under normal circumstances, will prove that the first two cases were done for recalibration/budget prep as well.

    It'll be interesting what the public reaction will be.


    (Also great point about the Conservatives now being able to block opposition bills in the senate!)

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  67. Shadow,

    Not bothering to address the idea that Harper will be in power until 2012 for a minute, I don't think anyone with a sense will believe that the other two were "recalibrations" unless history somehow gets rewritten.

    Everyone knows why Parliament was prorogued the first time (the Coalition), and you can bet that the Opposition will never let down the current accusations over this prorogation - and I don't think Canadians are as stupid as to believe that this wasn't Harper either avoiding Afghan committees, getting a partisan advantage in the Senate, just going on vacation, or a combination of whatever idea is floating out there.

    And I mean, especially the Coalition prorogation. Do you honestly believe anyone will ever believe that Harper did it because he wanted to 'recalibrate' or prep a budget? One thing Harper is not - subtle.

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  68. Hey Volkov, next year is gonna be 2011. So unless there's an election planned this year (which I understand there isn't) i'm guessing he'll do it pretty much one year from now.

    "unless history somehow gets rewritten."

    That's the point. Each time has been about preparing the budget. It'll establish a precedent of pre-budget prorogation to consult with Canadians.

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  69. Shadow, you said 2011-2012, not just 2011. I noted that little discrepancy.

    And again, it hasn't been "each time its been to prepare the budget." No one believes that line. We all know what the first one was for, and we all know - though have different ideas about - what the second time was for. There is no established path yet, and I doubt there ever will be.

    Besides, what perverse form of executive power allows Parliament to be suspended, and debate cancelled, on a confidence matter such as the budget, as normal procedure? And even if that were to be the case, what harm is there in asking for the House to grant such a request, as to not railroad over the elected Opposition?

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  70. Shadow wrote:

    "If we take Harper at his word he will prorogue parliament a third time next year for the 2011-12 budget."

    Assuming there has been no election in the interim, I would be surprised if next year unfolds in a similar fashion. Whether justified or not, there has plainly been an undesirable level of negative publicity around the issue.

    He might request a prorogation; the Session will have lasted for nearly a year after all. However, if he does so, I would be quite surprised if the prorogation period is so long as this time.

    Even in the present circumstances, very little of the negativity would have occurred if the period of prorogation had been short (let's say no more than a week or two).

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  71. Historically, the "norm" has been that maybe once during the a government's four year term, instead of adjourning for the summer they prorogue for the summer. This is usually in the context of the government having addressed everything that was in their Throne Speech and having passed all bills. Then it makes sense to prorogue over the summer and come back in the Fall with a brand new Throne Speech and a whole new legislative agenda.

    That isn't anything like Harper's latest scheme. That's Harper's biggest weakness - all tactics 100% of the time and zero actual governance.

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  72. "Shadow, you said 2011-2012, not just 2011. I noted that little discrepancy."

    I believe the fiscal year runs from may 2011 to may 2012. That budget will be introduced about a year from now in the New Year of 2011.

    That's how budgets are refered to. We're going to have the 2010-2011 budget introduced this march and probably recieving royal assent about a month after that.


    "Besides, what perverse form of executive power allows Parliament to be suspended, and debate cancelled, on a confidence matter such as the budget, as normal procedure?"

    Until a budget is introduced there is NO confidence matter before the house. Actually, even when the budget is introduced it isn't until the budget implimentation bills are being debated that there is an issue of confidence.


    Not a lot actually happens in the New Year. Its sort of a weird period before the budget is introduced.

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  73. DL go back and read the last Throne Speech. Its focused almost exclusively on dealing with the first phase of the economic action plan.

    Harper has changed the Paul Martin scattershot approach to picking a short list of things he wants to accomplish. Its an easily understood agenda for Canadians so they know what their gov't is doing.

    I see nothing wrong with updating that list every year.

    America has an annual SOTU, so why not an annual Throne Speech ?


    (PS read Paul Wells at some point. The opposition focuses on tactics 100% of the time. Complaining about random procedural issues nobody cares about.

    Meanwhile Harper is making rather fundemental changes to the character and natural fo the Canadian government in an incrementalist manner.)

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  74. Getting the partisan advantage in the Senate is the legitimate reason why he might have prorogued. The rules are parliament rest on the implicit assumption that the balance of power does not shift while parliament is in session. The King-Byng affair was largely a result of this happening and the PM and GG disagreeing on what to do about it.

    So here we are with the balance of power shifting in the Senate, and one avenue available to allow this to take place properly (when parliament is not in session) is to prorogue.

    I would have preferred Harper not prorogue until the shift was actually taking place (doing it early was too obviously opportunistic) and then only for a brief time - perhaps a few days - to make it clear why he was doing it. As it is, it's not clear why he did it, so people are (unreasonably) jumping to conclusions about it, and it's harming him politically.

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  75. Of course we all know that the REAL reason for the prorogation was the evade having to answer any embarrassing questions about the Afghan detainees in committee hearings. Otherwise, it would have made much more sense to have the house come back Jan. 25, finish passing the 35 bills that are now lying dead on the order paper, have a budget in late February or early March, debate it and pass it in its various passes through the spring, THEN prorogue in June over the Summer and come back with a new throne speech in the Fall - unless of course Harper decides to break his own fixed election date bill yet again and call an early election for no reason.

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  76. DL wrote:

    "Historically, the "norm" has been that maybe once during the a government's four year term ... "

    That is simply not true. A large proportion of Canadian Parliaments have had 3 or more Sessions (i.e. 2 or more prorogations).

    For examples:
    - 37th Parliament under Chretien/Martin had 3 Sessions despite lasting less than 3-and-a-half years
    - 34th Parliament under Mulroney had 3 Sessions
    - 30th Parliament under Trudeau had 4 Sessions
    - 28th Parliament under Trudeau had 4 Sessions
    - 26th Parliament under Pearson had 3 Sessions despite lasting less than 2-and-a-half years
    - 24th Parliament under Diefenbaker had 5 Sessions

    I could go on but I trust the point is made.

    "instead of adjourning for the summer they prorogue for the summer."

    This is also not the "norm". Prorogations have frequently occurred at several times of year -- pre-budget timing is not at all unusual. For examples:
    - 37th Parliament was prorogued under the Liberals in November of 2003 until the following February
    - 35th Parliament under Chretien was prorogued Feb. 2 of 1996 to resume Feb. 27.
    - 34th Parliament under Mulroney was prorogued Feb. 28 of 1989 to resume April 3.

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  77. DL, as a big NDP booster, it should be pointed out that Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae prorogued three times during his five years.

    3/5 ~ 1/4

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  78. Shadow, again, how does precedent truly justify the antecedent? Rae prorogued three times - big woop. If he wants to change it now, then all the power to him, I say. Even if he doesn't we should still change it.

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  79. Volkov there are two seperate issues wrapped up in this discussion.

    One is in regards to public policy, the other into partisan politics.

    As far as public policy goes I fully support dialogue into whether the power of prorogation is an appropriate thing for our premiers/PMs to have and under what circumstances it should be used.

    As a partisan political issue, however, the opposition has ZERO ground on which to stand.

    Since there is no discernable difference between Harper's conduct and that of those of other parties this should NOT be an issue that effects voter intention.

    The idea that Jack Layton and Ignatieff would try to score votes off of this is laughable.

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  80. I disagree Shadow. The Opposition parties have every right to play politics with this issue - that is, after all, their job. They propose the solutions and it us up to us, the voters, to decide whether or not they're actually going to go through with that, or whether we like it.

    You or I or DL may be biased as to who is more credible for what policy, but that doesn't mean there is zero ground for any party to stand on - we can't decide that, only voters can. And so far, Harper is the one who has lost the ground, while the Liberals are the ones slowly building it up. You can't claim there is no basis for support, when clearly there is already an impact on the populace.

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  81. Voters are not reasonable. As such, they are ill-equipped to determine whether the opposition's objections are reasonable.

    They sell, which is why they are offered. It would be foolish to expect politicians to do anything other than seek every advantage for personal and partisan gain - especially in a minority parliament.

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  82. Volkov you asked:

    Shadow, again, how does precedent truly justify the antecedent?

    In terms of public policy it does not. Chretien, Liberal MP Bob Rae (likely the next leader) and Harper were all either wrong or right.

    In terms of partisan politics it is fair to remind the public when discussing the credibility of the policies the opposition is putting forward the history of said parties.

    I frequently hear people say that just because Chretien did something does not mean its OK for Harper to do it.

    Which is perfectly fair in some kind of moral sense. But in an electoral sense, when Peter Donolo is back in charge its VERY relevent and knocks the feet right out from under Ignatieff on this discussion

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  83. In terms of public policy it does not. Chretien, Liberal MP Bob Rae (likely the next leader) and Harper were all either wrong or right.
    I smell an excluded middle. I wonder why?

    In terms of partisan politics it is fair to remind the public when discussing the credibility of the policies the opposition is putting forward the history of said parties.
    Even better when said history is relevant to the topic.

    I frequently hear people say that just because Chretien did something does not mean its OK for Harper to do it.
    That is turning it backwards. Harper does things, then his supporters say "but but the Liberals". You are glossing over Harper promising to do things better. It's not about holding Harper to a higher standard than Chretien, it is about holding Harper to his own standard.

    Which is perfectly fair in some kind of moral sense. But in an electoral sense, when Peter Donolo is back in charge its VERY relevent and knocks the feet right out from under Ignatieff on this discussion.
    No, it doesn't. Harper is the very first to prorogue to avoid questions about complicity in war crimes at the highest levels of government. I think he is also the very first to prorogue to avoid a confidence motion to be held the very next sitting day.

    You're sounding more and more like a professional wrestler doing the "trash talk" before a match.

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  84. Liberal supporter you completely and utterly invalidate yourself when you use legal terms for which there is absolutely zero basis in fact.

    Macleans contacted a variety of legal experts on whether or not Canadians could be charged with war crimes. The resounding answer was NO. To be complicit there is a requirement of maliscious intent.

    The only exception was NDP candidate Michael Byers who hoped there was the political will to investigate and prosecute our soldiers.

    That can be added to a list of regretable remarks by various NDP and Liberal members. Remarks which casts aspersions on our men and women in uniform.


    Prorogation was largely about shuffling the cabinet, preparing the budget and taking control of the senate.

    But protecting the morale and support of our soldiers was a wonderful bonus.

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  85. Ira,

    Canada is a democracy, not a noocratic dictatorship. Voters might be "ill-equiped" but they are the ones that choose whether or not someone gets a job as MP, or Prime Minister. You can't simply toss them aside and attack politicians and political parties for doing what they're expected to do in a democracy, especially one such as ours.

    Shadow,

    Donolo never had these restrictions during Chretien's era, so even though this is generally a straw man, it still falls flat on its face. On the chance that Ignatieff and the Liberals do get into power, Donolo will be facing a very different PMO than before, in more ways than simply this prorogation business.

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  86. Volkov the powers of the PMO have expanded greatly since Chretien's day.

    The prorogation restrictions are going nowhere and we shouldn't expect the Liberals to follow their own rules, this is after all the party that broke its GST promise.

    So the voters have a choice between Harper's brass knuckle politics or Chretien's.

    Since there is no difference I suggest they ignore procedural issues and vote whichever party offers a better economic vision.

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  87. Liberal supporter you completely and utterly invalidate yourself when you use legal terms for which there is absolutely zero basis in fact.
    Which legal terms would those be?

    Macleans contacted a variety of legal experts on whether or not Canadians could be charged with war crimes.
    Good for them. However you haven't cited any.

    The resounding answer was NO. To be complicit there is a requirement of maliscious intent.
    No there isn't. No malice required, it may not even be a crime to be complicit.

    The only exception was NDP candidate Michael Byers who hoped there was the political will to investigate and prosecute our soldiers.
    You'll have to elaborate on who this person is. However, the situation is not about prosecuting our soldiers, much as you're entire comment attempts to restate it as such.

    That can be added to a list of regretable remarks by various NDP and Liberal members. Remarks which casts aspersions on our men and women in uniform.
    Baloney. You're not going to pull the "you hate the troops" and get away with it this time. This goes to the highest levels of government. They are the ones who ignored the reports, then demanded that the reports stop coming, then tried to silence everyone involved. Are you going to use the "Nuremburg" talking point next? It doesn't work because the troops were not given illegal orders.
    Stop cowering behind the troops. They deserve better.


    Prorogation was largely about shuffling the cabinet, preparing the budget and taking control of the senate.
    And let's not forget shutting down the committee that was investigating what did MacKay and Harper know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it. Do you really believe Canadians will buy your story if you simply keep repeating it?

    But protecting the morale and support of our soldiers was a wonderful bonus.
    How is morale improved for soldiers who now know the highest levels of the chain of command are liars and obfuscators? They certainly know of the support of all of us, and presumably many of them are as dismayed at the government's actions as many of us are.

    No matter how you try to twist and turn, belittle and sneer, or make false equivalences, this is not going to go away.

    However, I am going away for tonight...

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  88. You would Shadow - except that is only your apathy talking. If they do go somewhere, you better start eating your words. We shall wait and see.

    And besides, what economic vision? Both parties are exactly the same in economics ever since Harper's cave-in to Keynesian policies. Hell, even the NDP have a hard time distinguishing themselves.

    And by the way - the Liberals never broke their GST promise, except in that they never replaced the GST with an MST, as was promised by the Red Book. Too many people - my own mother included - think that because Sheila Copps was silly enough to call for its abolition, that was the Liberal policy.

    Besides, if you really want to get into broken promises - I know 17 people wondering what happened to their income trusts not being taxed.

    And in light of the economic policy similarities, the possibility remains that the next election will be based more on government accountability and honesty, for which the Harper government hasn't been doing too well on, despite strong expectations - even from me.

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  89. Volkov wrote:

    "the Liberals never broke their GST promise, except"

    Hahaha.

    Right. The Liberals never broke their promise, except ... except that they did!

    I'm still not sure if you were trying to be funny.

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  90. Martin,

    Had you not cut off the rest of the quote, you would see where I pointed out how the Liberals broke their promise, in regards to the switch to MST, and not abolition of the GST, which is a common mistake made by people who believed the pandering by Copps and others.

    Of course, I don't expect someone with no intention to actually engage in honest discussion to bother to read the entire thing.

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  91. Volkov,

    I did read the entire thing. But you are being ridiculous.

    The Liberals promised to 'abolish', and 'kill' the GST. Oh, yes, they did say that they would replace it with something else.

    But to claim that the Liberals "never broke their GST promise, except ..." goes way beyond sophism to pure absurdity.

    How can you with a straight face claim that the Liberals did anything remotely like follow through with their promise to "kill
    ", "abolish", "replace" the GST?

    And you have the nerve to talk about "honest" discussion. Give me a break.

    Chretien: "We hate it and we will kill it."

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  92. Martin,

    I never did claim that they followed through. If actually read it, not claimed to have read it, you would note that it was aimed at dispelling the falsity of the "GST will be abolished" rumour - not that the Liberals upheld their promises on the GST, either by switching it to MST or anything else.

    That is the whole purpose of saying "the Liberals never broke their promise, except in that they never replaced the GST with an MST, as was promised by the Red Book."

    Please, again, note down where I said "the Chretien Liberals never went back on what they said they would do, and was the most honest government ever. Go Jean!"

    Until you show where I said this, please, stop typing without thinking beforehand.

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  93. Volkov how about the Green shift, Kelowna accord, national daycare ?

    There are plenty of substantive, non-process issues that differentiate the Conservatives and Liberals.

    The only process issue that I can see gaining any traction is the possibility of a coalition.

    I find it interesting that the proposed rule changes will make a coalition unstoppable.

    I have a feeling that once the new legislation is passed that the opposition will vote down the government and play for a coalition.

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  94. Volkov,

    "GST will be abolished" was not a rumour.

    After Chretien started backpeddling, various people had no trouble digging up quotations from Chretien that the Liberals, once in office, would "kill", "abolish", "scrap" the GST.

    It was not a rumour, those were Chretien's words.

    But even if you cover your ears and shout "lalala I can't hear you" to all of that, there is still the Red Book promise to "replace" the tax.

    Your duplicitous claim the Liberals never broke their promise "except" is an appalling abuse of both the English language and elementary logic.

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  95. Shadow, I was thinking the same thing. I don't know whether to act positive or negative towards such a prospect - however, if the prorogation rules do go forward, I don't think Ignatieff will push a coalition without an election call.

    At least with that kind of strategy, he can say that if the combined Liberal/NDP seat count is higher than that of the Conservatives', it shows that the coalition has support. But, for Christ's sake Iggy, don't bring in the Bloc.

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  96. Martin, I don't deny that. I never have. Not once.

    If its grammar you have an issue with, then I apologize - next time I'll try to be so grammatically correct, you'll label me a Nazi.

    But if that isn't your issue, then please, again, point to me where I said the Chretien Liberals never, ever, ever, went back on their promises.

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  97. Martin.. I prefer this one:

    Feb. 11, 1993: "I say we will replace the tax. This is a commitment. You will judge me by that. If the GST is not gone, I will have a tough time the election after that." — Liberal Leader Jean Chretien

    But failing its use:
    April 4, 1990: "I would abolish the GST.'' — Liberal MP Paul Martin


    I think this is the passage from the red book: 1993 — Liberal Party Red Book: "A Liberal government will replace the GST with a system that generates equivalent revenues, is fairer to consumers and to small business, minimizes disruption to small business, and promotes federal-provincial fiscal co-operation and harmonization."


    And finally I love this one... especially back when Harper wanted to reduce it to 5%... Which oddly enough seemed to be more of an attack on the weak and low income than implementing it in the first place...:
    Sept. 23, 1989: The GST is "an attack on the weaker regions of the country, regressive, against the lower income groups, invisible, sneaky and of course ... an administrative nightmare." — Liberal Leader John Turner

    Odd isn't it??

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  98. I think Volkov... his problem was with "the Liberals never broke their promise, except in that they never replaced the GST with an MST...."


    IE the liberals never broke thier promise on GST, but here is how they didn't keep it.

    Which .. as Harper was able to reduce the GST from 7 to 5%... The GST must still have been in place despite the promise to repeal and replace it.

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  99. Feb. 11, 1993: "I say we will replace the tax. This is a commitment. You will judge me by that. If the GST is not gone, I will have a tough time the election after that." — Liberal Leader Jean Chretien

    You know whats funny about this statement? He was right - 1997 was a near-disaster.

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  100. Maybe you could clear up that last lingering question for me tho. Is trudeau right that implementing the tax is an attack on the low income and weak? or was Dion right that repealing the tax (or even lowering it) is an attack on the low income and the week.

    The two statements to me seem to be polar opposites.

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  101. Volkov,

    All I was endeavouring to point out is:

    [Let's ignore all of the 'kill', 'abolish', 'scrap' quotations for the moment.]

    What was the Liberals' promise regarding the GST? To replace it.

    Did they keep that promise or break it? They broke it.

    It thus makes no sense at all to begin a sentence:

    "And by the way - the Liberals never broke their GST promise ... "

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  102. Maybe you could clear up that last lingering question for me tho. Is trudeau right that implementing the tax is an attack on the low income and weak? or was Dion right that repealing the tax (or even lowering it) is an attack on the low income and the week.

    The two statements to me seem to be polar opposites.


    In a way, they can both be right. In Trudeau's time, the GST was a brand new tax that appeared almost out nowhere and added a burden on business, which would of course place a burden on consumers. It was seen as unnecessary and hated by populists - hence the rise of Reform and the like.

    Now, I don't know when Dion said that, but if he said it all the way back then, it is a contradiction. However, if he said it now, it does make some sense; the GST has been in for almost two decades, and it established itself as a tax that funded quite a lot of government programs. If it was repealed now, it would severely harm government programs that help citizens.

    The main factor here is time. However, that is just my guess, and not necessarily what was actually going through anyone's mind.

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  103. Martin,

    If your problem was honestly just poor grammar, then I apologize. However, I did add that the Liberals did fail to keep a promise, and that I never denied the Liberals failed to live up to some of their policies.

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  104. Volkov I believe there was some weird hinting about a coalition in one of Iggy's year end interviews.

    One key factor in all of this is that Harper will control the senate.

    I don't think he'd have any qualms at all about using his majority to block every single piece of PM Ignatieff's agenda, including the budget.

    One way or another the coalition would be dragged back to face the electorate.

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  105. Good point Shadow, though Harper doesn't have a Senate majority - he has a plurality, and will rely on PCs and a few independents, and while Senate voting history isn't my forte, I think a few of them are willing to vote with the Liberals. So, there is some hope for certain bills getting by.

    And I would be glad if the coalition faced the electorate, wouldn't you? The one thing I could never stand about the 2008 coalition, regardless of how needed it ended up being at the time, was how undemocratic it was. If someone wants a coalition government, be they Conservative or Liberal, they should face the electorate. Simple as that.

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  106. Hey Volkov the fact that the senate appointments have been delayed for so long makes me wonder if Harper isn't planning to appoint 13 new senators.

    A quick visit to the Queen (I don't think a telephone call would suffice) and the Olympics used as cover and presto he has a very strong majority and strong control of all senate committees.

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  107. That is a possibility. He wouldn't have to wait too long, though he can take control of the Senate committees now, even without an outright majority, I believe. It would be nice to have that large number of Senators, though, and it would effectively kill the chance of any Opposition legislation getting anywhere. And if Harper lost power, that would be a mighty big blue thorn in the side of an Ignatieff government.

    Now I see why the Liberals are going through the Standing Orders to get the changes done - it by-passes the Senate.

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  108. You know, this just reiterates the need for elected Senators. We aren't going to get it with the Harper government, so when the hell can we?

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  109. Iggy and Layton met on the issue today I think. Layton prefers actual legislation I believe.

    I really don't think standing orders can have any force outside the house of commons though.

    As for elected senators I think Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba should all have them soon.

    If the Tories win in Ontario in a few years they'll have them too.

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  110. Shadow wrote,

    "...makes me wonder if Harper isn't planning to appoint 13 new senators. A quick visit to the Queen (I don't think a telephone call would suffice) ..."

    A telephone call would suffice. That's what Mulroney did the last time Section 26 of the Constitution was used to appoint extra Senators.

    Secondly, section 26 allows for the appointment of either 4 or 8 extra Senators. Combined with the 5 current vacancies, 4 'extras' would be sufficient to produce a CPC majority in the Senate.

    Thirdly, I think the idea is inadvisable.

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  111. I'd prefer any elected Senate to be universal, not only from a few provinces. I also have a big issue with the provinces running it - it will make for easy partisan manipulation. It should remain a federal matter, and tagged to Elections Canada - not the various Tory administrations in whatever provinces.

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  112. Martin why do you think it would be inadvisable ?

    Do you think the "stacking the senate" storyline will compound and worsen the "shutting down parliament" storyline ?

    As Volkov points out, Harper will only have a senate plurality if he goes with 5 senators.

    Having the full compliment will allow him to pass various pieces of senate reform legislation later this year.

    It'll excite the base and return a lot of his democratic reformer credibility.

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  113. Shadow,

    You know any legislation passed would be purely ceremonial, right? The current system gives the provinces veto over any legislation, and without the consent of the provinces, reform is impossible.

    Only Trudeau has been able to get any changes to the Senate - setting an age limit of 75, instead of having life peers - and Mulroney came close to actual electoral reform with Meech Lake.

    I have no doubts it will give a boost to his electoral fortunes - but it won't advance anything meaningful.

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  114. Shadow,

    Yes, that's basically it.

    Although perfectly legal, S.26 is very rarely used (only once before). Its use now would feed into the image the Opposition is trying to paint of Mr. Harper.

    Even the Mulroney precedent might not help as much as one might think. Mulroney had a majority government in the Commons that was being obstructed by unelected Liberals in the Senate. Harper can logically make the same case (even though he doesn't have a majority government, bills that pass the Commons still pass with a majority), however, the appearances are different.

    There would be howls of outrage about the "unprecedented" "abuse" of Constitutional provisions.

    "It'll excite the base and return a lot of his democratic reformer credibility."

    Will it? I'm not sure Senate Reform is such a burning issue for most voters. I could be wrong but I think it unlikely the Tories would get a big boost from their Senate Reform initiatives.

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  115. Volkov wrote:

    "You know any legislation passed would be purely ceremonial, right?"

    The Senate term-limit proposal is a Constitutional amendment and would be enforceable.

    Legislation to hold consultative votes on senate nominees would not produce the same enforceable effect. A future government would not be bound to name the individuals who "won" such votes to the Senate.

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  116. I know Martin - and therein lies the issue. What good would legislation do if it is essentially non-binding?

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  117. Volkov,

    "What good would legislation do if it is essentially non-binding?"

    Well, there is accumulated custom. If voters got used to their input being taken seriously in Senate appointments, then a future PM might be loath to revert to the old ways -- and if he did, he might pay a penalty at the ballot box.

    There is some merit to this argument, as public expectation can change and then become somewhat entrenched.

    Whether it would happen that way, however, is not at all certain.

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  118. concerned Canadian..... Can I ask you again? When you divide off the top 100 and the worst 100 attendances from the last session of parliament. Only 7 liberals are in the top 100, and 43 are in the bottom 100. (caucus of 77)

    That means that more than 1/2 of the caucus is among the worst attendance wise. Do the liberals Hate parliament and democracy??

    (yes that was meant to be a stupid question... its just not quite as stupid as the ones you have asked)

    But this one is a little more serious: Given there record of attending parliament.... why are they so outraged that it has been prorogued for 2 and a half weeks when days off for most of them amounted to 3 and a half weeks?

    Is it just because Harper closing the doors for 2 and a half weeks cuts into their vacation time? (ok, that last was atleast as stupid as accusing the tories of "Harper and the cons think victims of 9/11 can go f*&k themselves")

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  119. "DL, as a big NDP booster, it should be pointed out that Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae prorogued three times during his five years."

    Bob Rae is a Liberal MP - any actions of his are now 100% the responsibility of the Liberal Party.

    I find it quite amusing how these Tory apologists try to justify this outrageous prorogation to evade embarrassing questions about the detainee issue - by saying "the Liberals did it too so its OK". What next? Will we see the Tories creating a sponsorship program and having ad agencies give briefcases full of cash to Tory hacks in parking lots - and then the justification is "what's the big deal with stealing millions of dollars from the taxpayers? The Liberals did it too!?"

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  120. DL,

    The quotation that you mock (Shadow's comments) as well as my own comments at 15:58, are factual counter-arguments to your non-factual claim about what is the "norm" regarding prorogation (which you posted at 12:56).

    So, if someone points out when you are blatantly misrepresenting history, that makes them a Tory apologist? Ha ha!

    Here's an idea for you: don't make up stuff and claim it as 'fact'.

    "Bob Rae is a Liberal MP - any actions of his are now 100% the responsibility of the Liberal Party."

    But Shadow is not talking about current actions of Rae's. When Rae was busy proroguing, he was an NDP premier -- supported by a gaggle of NDP MPPs.

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  121. There is nothing wrong with proroguing when its clear that the major elements of a throne speech have passed and its time for a new throne speech and a new session etc...The problem here is that Harper has TWICE in one year padlocked parliament for no other reason than to avoid an inconvenient vote or to avoid inconvenient questions by the opposition.

    The federal NDP doesn't need to justify what a majority NDP provincial government did almost 20 years ago with the complete consent of the opposition parties at the time.

    The fact is that the one and only reason why the Conservatives are in power at all was that in 2006 they promised more ethics in government and more accountability. That was it. They promised to set HIGHER standards than the Liberals - instead its been the exact opposite - we've been treated to just about the most unaccountable, cynical and unethical government in our history.

    Anytime that a politician tries to justify the unjustifiable by saying "what's the big deal - the other party did the same thing xx years ago" - you know that they are in full-blow retreat and that they know that they have laid an egg.

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  122. DL,

    You just cannot stick to an issue can you?

    You made ridiculously false claims about what was true "historically" and you got in a huff about it because some posters dared point it out.

    Why don't you show a little class and admit you were wrong.

    Regarding your interpretation of the defence:

    "the other party did the same thing xx years ago"

    Entirely misses the point.

    Various Opposition politicians and supporters have been making absurd claims that the recent prorogation is unprecedented (in various ways), that it has never happened before, and that Mr. Harper is going against convention.

    It is entirely reasonable to point out when such claims are unsupported or even patently false.

    It is the surest evidence of intellectual bankruptcy when your argument consists of citing supporting "facts", and then when proven false, you basically claim "Bah! facts don't matter".

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  123. DL wrote:

    "There is nothing wrong with proroguing when its clear that the major elements of a throne speech have passed and its time for a new throne speech and a new session..."

    Oh good, well the Throne Speech for the recently concluded Session mostly talked about several initiatives to address the Recession. That stuff pretty much passed. So, since the "major elements" have passed, I guess you'll now conclude that prorogation was a good idea.

    "The problem here is that Harper has TWICE in one year ... no other reason than to avoid an inconvenient vote or to avoid inconvenient questions by the opposition."

    That's certainly the opposition's spin on the recent prorogation -- that doesn't make it a fact. Partisan spin does not equal evidence.

    "padlocked"

    Spare us the melodrama.

    "The federal NDP doesn't need to justify what a majority NDP provincial government ... "

    In the first place, who's talking about "justifying" anything. The issue was the history of prorogation in our Westminster system.

    Secondly, the NDP is an integrated federal-provincial party.

    Thirdly, I thought this was a general issue about Parliamentary practice in Canada? Do you not care if provincial legislatures are "abused"?

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  124. Up until Harper - just about the only time parliament was ever prorogued was when all the elements in the government's Throne Speech had been passed and it was clearly time for a new session. I know, I know - Chretien prorogued once to postpone the report on the sponsorship scandal - well guess who used the most hyperbolic language imaginable to condemn that? - Stephen Harper. and, Harper went on at length at the time to brag that if he were PM he would NEVER do anything so crass and contemptuous of parliament. Why does MR. Harper think prorogation was such a terrible thing when Chretien did it and since becoming PM it's become his favourite trick to avoid inconvenient questions and inconvenient votes?

    Its clear that prorogation has unexpectedly turned into a political fiasco for the Tories. Now they have their shills out in full force on every blog imaginable trying to defend the undefensible. Its really quite amusing. Its hard not to feel some pity for these Tory hacks - after all that work trying to make Harper seem like a vaguely normal human being who actually have any emotions (apart from hate) by stunts like having him do his piano playing routine at the NAC. All down the drain. Now people have been reminded once again of why they mistrust him so much and why he's such an utterly unpleasant, petty, small-minded little man.

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  125. PS: Ask anyone in Britain about how prorogation is used there. I have a friends in London who have read about the bizarre goings on in Ottawa and they are wondering what kind of odd perversion of parliamentary democracy we have in Canada. In the UK it is totally unheard of for the PM to unilaterally prorogue anytime he or she felt like avoiding embarrassing questions in parliament. There in Westminster - the mother of all parliaments, the custom and the convention is that prorogation is something agreed to by the house leaders of all the parties and it happens by consensus.

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  126. DL,

    I think it's quite sad that you are so unable to defend your position with reasoned arguments that you have to resort to calling people who disagree with you "Tory hacks" and "shills".

    "Up until Harper - just about the only time parliament was ever prorogued was when all the elements in the government's Throne Speech had been passed ... "

    You just never get tired of spouting nonsense, do you?

    It is true that normally the main elements of the Throne Speech are addressed before proroguing Parliament -- but that was true this time as well!

    Does that mean absolutely everything on the government's agenda is taken care of before prorogation? Absolutely not! Any brief perusal of unpassed legislation in earlier Parliaments puts the lie to that notion immediately.

    "he or she felt like avoiding embarrassing questions in parliament."

    There you go again, asserting spin as if it were fact.

    Your claim about the current practice in the UK is interesting but largely irrelevant. Universal agreement of all parties has certainly not been the practice in Canada. It is more than bizarre to suggest that Harper's failure to adopt a novel practice from another country somehow constitutes divergence from our historical norms.

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  127. I think the point DL is trying to make is that by example, the UK situation with prorogation seems to be quite a lot more respectful of Parliament, and more stable, than Canada's system. I see nothing wrong with this position, and he is right.

    Now, I know Conservative literally equals traditionalism, but I fail to see how wanting to follow a very likeable example that the UK has set is such a bad thing to want. I mean, if it comes to the point where thousands of people are coming close to asking for abolishment of the whole damn practice, its clear we have some issues.

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  128. Volkov I find it interesting that you object to senate elections because they would be unenforceable and a future Liberal gov't might abandon them.

    And yet you also object to prorogation because you have some unenforceable notion of how it should be used.

    Given your contradictions, doesn't it seem clear then that all sides pick and choose what non-binding precedents they wish ?

    Doing what they can get away with to further their agenda ?

    That's why I ignore procedural questions and choose the party who's economic and social platform I most agree with at the time.

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