Thursday, February 4, 2010

New EKOS Poll: 0.9-pt Liberal Lead

EKOS has their weekly poll out today. Nothing majorly different from last week's, but that alone is news.The Liberals gain 0.3 points from last week, and are within an inch of 32%. The Conservatives only lose 0.1 points and stand at 31%. Statistically insignificant gains and losses, yes, but with a sample of 3,406 it isn't as insignificant as it appears.

The NDP gains 0.8 points, but at 15.4% they are still struggling. The Greens only lose 0.1 points.

Let's start with Ontario, where things are stable. The Liberals make a small two point gain, while the Conservatives remain stable. But now that the gap is 40.6% to 32.4%, being stable is not good news for Stephen Harper.

In Quebec, the Tories are showing a little life with a two point gain. They are still only at 18%, however. The Liberals lose two points, as does the Bloc.

In British Columbia, the Conservatives are really starting to sink, dropping two points to reach 30.4%. The Liberals and NDP make tiny gains, and stand at 27.6% and 23.0%, respectively. The Greens are at 16.4%, which means Elizabeth May could be in the race.

For the small-sample regions, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada are worth looking at. In the Prairies, the Conservatives have dropped four points to below 40%, at 39.9%. The NDP is up 11 points (!) to 31.2%. Likely an anomaly, but nevertheless. In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives and Liberals swap five points, but the NDP is down two to 19.2%.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Liberals - 121
Conservatives - 110
Bloc Quebecois - 49
New Democrats - 28

The Liberals move into government with the help of 62 Ontario MPs. They also win 21 in Atlantic Canada, 19 in Quebec, and 12 in British Columbia. The Tories only elect 32 Ontario MPs, and their 16 in BC and 20 in the Prairies hurt them as well. Twenty of the NDP's MPs are from British Columbia and Ontario.

So! What does this poll say. Not too much, except that the close race between the Liberals and Conservatives is solidifying. And as the Conservatives have gained in only two regions, compared to three for the Liberals, the Grits have the advantage. The NDP is slowly being pushed aside as the Liberals have re-gained some anti-Tory credibility.

200 comments:

  1. Volkov Good Morning!

    The Ontario numbers must make you very very happy.

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  2. Hi Eric:

    Slightly offtopic..I said this to you at your twitter feed; if you want to regulate your comments a bit more, just get one of those add-on comment systems to replace the native Blogger one. there are several of them out there you can use.

    Back on topic.. when do those top line predicted seat numbers of yours change again? They havent really moved much even with the plethora of bad polls ofr the Conservatives.. you still have them at 136 seats in your top graph, which i presume is weighting all the polls you see.

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  3. Hi Scott,

    --- "if you want to regulate your comments a bit more, just get one of those add-on comment systems to replace the native Blogger one. there are several of them out there you can use."

    Do you have a suggestion?

    --- "Back on topic.. when do those top line predicted seat numbers of yours change again? They havent really moved much even with the plethora of bad polls ofr the Conservatives.. you still have them at 136 seats in your top graph, which i presume is weighting all the polls you see."

    I need a few more polls to come out before I update the projection. Since the last update there's only been two. I know, the projection is rather slow. But I think that is its strength. It makes it harder for momentary shifts to really gain hold of the projection.

    So, if the Liberals manage these numbers for another month or two, it will be hard for the Conservatives to budge them, just as it is difficult for the Liberals to drag down the Tory numbers.

    But, I can tell you that with the big gaps we've been seeing in Ontario, the projection will move relatively quickly. With this last EKOS poll, the gap in the projection has been reduced to 0.7 points.

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  4. Haloscan is obviously one, Echo seems to be picking up in popularity around some Blogger site I've seen. IntenseDebate is another one.

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  5. SO I guess the NDP start propping up the gov't again ?

    (A lot of people think they've been doing that since september but in actual fact the Liberals started voting with the gov't before the winter break, their whole vote no on everything confidence didn't last long once their numbers collapsed!)

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  6. Strike that actually.

    The budget is going to contain MAJOR de-regulation of the telecom and broadcasting sectors. NDP could never support such a thing.

    I doubt the BQ could either. And with numbers like these Iggy will definetly go to the polls.

    SPRING ELECTION 2010 IS HERE !

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  7. Shadow: SO I guess the NDP start propping up the gov't again ?

    With these numbers everybody props up the government, with the Tories at the head of the line. Don't expect to see any suicidal or simply maniacal legislation in the near future.

    (We will see the obligatory law'n'order bill, a sort of parliamentary garnish that's not meant to be eaten. It will die once again before royal assent so that it can be reintroduced at a later date to the thump of chests being beaten and the clang of brass spheres colliding. That's a safe gambit because nobody takes it seriously anymore and it's not worth fighting on the irrelevant basis of reality. You heard it here first.)

    Who would benefit from a writ drop tomorrow? Ignatieff needs much stronger numbers (and a larger kitty) to move. His escapade last fall was never meant to end in an election. The NDP were supposed to back down. The problem wasn't Dipper cold feet; it was a massive failure in Grit spin doctoring in which a win ended up being portrayed as a loss.

    The next election will be spring 2011 unless there are truly major moves in the polls. A chance at a Grit minority government doesn't cut it.

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  8. Hey John I thought the same thing as you.

    However BQ is ready to go whenever, probably sooner to get it out of the way and prepare for the provincial election.

    NDP just won't support telecom/broadcasting deregulation. There's just no way.

    Which leaves the Liberals.

    To this day Ignatieff feels upset that he didn't just simply go to the polls last spring. No big "your time is up" announcement. Just simply show up one day and vote NO.

    He's probably planning a coalition anyways. The man is like 64 and probably wants to start being PM while he is still young !

    I say he goes for it.

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  10. The next provincial election in Quebec is two or three years away, so I don't think the Bloc is thinking about that just yet.

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  11. I don't expect an election to result from these numbers. Iggy should be wary that things can change really quickly and should/may be considering finding ways to buff up his image prior to an election. He's trying to sound off on policy now and I think it's because he's trying to see if he can reverse the negative impression of himself. Should he succeed, I think then he'll take action.

    I think that it's possible that Iggy may make some (Minor? Major?) demand when it comes to the budget, and Harper will agree in order to avoid being the one to force an election when he's already not doing so hot.

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  12. Hey Kevin I don't think Harper would go for any demands.

    He never has in the past unless they are minor procedural type things (report cards, EI panel).

    He's learnt the lesson of Paul Martin and how he got burnt by the NDP budget.

    Anyways, so long as there are no poison pills in the initial budget Harper can plausibly say that he was not the one provoking an election.

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  13. Afternoon Kevin,

    These numbers do indeed make me happy. :D

    Well, sort of. I'm not taking anything for granted, mind you. It might be a structural change but there is still a lot left to be done to make sure it stays this way. My guess is that the Liberal lead won't last for long, and the Conservatives will swap places. I mean, there is a lot of good, positive news today that, while everyone except Dippers should rejoice, will probably give a small boost to the Conservatives.

    But wholly jeez, how cynical is it of the Conservatives to attempt and cancel the spring breaks and etc. for Parliament! You know they're only doing this because of the anti-prorogation feeling. That is one thing I don't think will improve their fortunes. It seems way too cynical now.

    And Shadow; I don't know if the Tories are willing to risk a Spring election. Forget the Liberals and the NDP - think about how the Conservatives are feeling right now. It isn't good. They'll probably hold off until the prorogation line dies down. But, hey, I could be wrong. Hopefully I am - hey hey, ho ho, Stephen Harper's gotta go! XD

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  14. "SO I guess the NDP start propping up the gov't again ?"

    Why would they? Most polls show the NDP holding its own. A lot of money had flowed in since last fall so the party is wayyy better positioned now than it was then. If present trends continue the NDP would be able to gain a few Tory held seats out west, while having more of a defensive strategy in Ontario. When all is said and done the NDP knows that they will get much more concessions from a Liberal-led minority government than from a Conservative-led one - so now is as good a time as any for an election.

    I predict that the NDP and the BQ will vote against the March budget and it will be up to Iggy if he wants an election now.

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  15. Shadow's vain hope that *something* will turn the tide and bring back the 10% who fled from the CPC in the past month is just like the Leafs supporters who vainly hope that *something* will turn the tide and help the Leafs win the next Stanley Cup.

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  16. Woah woah woah. That is incredibly insulting to CPC supporters.

    No one should ever be compared to a Leaf fan.

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  17. Eric, you've just given me my first laugh today. Good job.

    Mind you, you're absolutely right - hence why I'm a Canadiens fan.

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  18. Lets face it these polls are totally irrelevant as there is no way the NDP is going to force an election with such bad polling figures of 15%.

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  19. P,

    Hey now, have faith in the Dippers. 15% isn't terrible for them, and considering the good numbers in BC, this might be a boon for them. So long as they're hitting around 30, I think they'd be willing to take the risk.

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  20. Shadow

    Tad personal on Iggy (I mean he's 64 and want's to be PM while he's still young)

    From what I recall Iggy has categorically ruled out a co-alition

    Didn't Harper wan't to form a co-alition himself with the BLOC, and the NDP.

    I believe those guys even wrote a letter to the GG, asking her to consider all her options when Paul Martin was PM, and they suspected an election call?

    Just wondering

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  21. Hey Volkov Iggy did the impossible and got the Conservative base fired up again.

    Everybody is mad as hell at Ignatieff for his abortion hand grenade. (So is Liberal MP Paul Szabo btw).

    That's the social conservative side of things, as for the fiscal conservatives they're going to LOVE deregulation of telecom and broadcasting.

    A free trade, free market election would get them to the polls in no time flat.

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  22. Hey Kevin the Conservatives never planned a coalition with the NDP/BQ.

    A coalition is when you give cabinet seats to another party.

    An accord is when you simply agree to work together for a period of time which is what the letter to the GG was about.

    As for Iggy he is perfectly open to a coalition. He hinted at it in one of his year end interviews. It is most definetly NOT ruled out at this point.

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  23. Shadow,

    If Iggy stirred up the Conservative pot with the "abortion hand grenade," which to my recollection no one has bothered to say anything about to me as of yet, then it stands to reason that he did the same with the Liberal and NDP base.

    And if we are really going to go over to the deregulation of communications programme, you're going to get both sides also spurned into action. Not to mention it will p*ss off these Local TV people, whom deregulation hurts the most, and they already have a campaign going that is doing quite well.

    In other words - if you're going to expound on tit, it stands to reason that the Liberals will expound on tat.

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  24. Coalition, Accord... either way, Harper still worked and plotted with the socialists and the separatists.

    And this is the guy with the holier than thou attitude on Parliamentary co-operation?

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  25. Volkov

    Well said

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  26. Shadow

    To work together for a period of time?

    Like the NDP/LIBS wanted to with the support of the BLOC

    Either way Harper was in cahoots with the NDP/BLOC.

    THE DREADED SOCIALISTS AND SEPARATISTS

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  27. Volkov, Kevin you're off base.

    There is a fundemental difference between bargaining from a position of strength and from a position of weakness.

    Harper made no policy concessions to the Socialists/Seperatists and was ready to go to an election at anytime.

    Meanwhile the Liberals negotiated a coalition gov't with NDP cabinet seats and a veto to the BQ.

    NOT at all the same thing.

    NOT EVEN CLOSE.

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  28. Shadow: However BQ is ready to go whenever, probably sooner to get it out of the way and prepare for the provincial election.

    Why would they want to go to the polls? The provincial election is irrelevant at this point. (You can make a stronger case in Ontario, who have a date for October 2011.)

    NDP just won't support telecom/broadcasting deregulation. There's just no way.

    I don't see why not, although as always, the devil is in the details.

    Which leaves the Liberals.

    Who would like to bring the telecom industry into the 21st century. Who believe that they can do better when the Ignatieff brand has been buffed for a year and the coffers have been filled. Who have set their sights higher than squeaking out a Liberal minority.

    Iggy has said there will be no election this year, repeatedly and clearly. If pictures of Harper eating kittens and boiling babies in oil come out and the Tory numbers drop to 20%, of course Ignatieff will reconsider. Right now he's on a trajectory he likes, but it's early days on that trajectory.

    One more party has some say in the matter: the Tories. They're not going to put forward legislation unless they expect it to pass. They are the exemplar of pragmatism and tactical decision-making; Joe Clark left 24 Sussex a while ago.

    Telecom regulations in this country are long overdue for updating. The Tories know that. The Grits know that. The Dippers know that. The Bloc know that. And finally, the industry knows that.

    There will certainly be some contentious aspects requiring negotiation, but behind the on-camera screaming there will be a lot of consensus--as there should be. We may even end up with a bill that all parties support.

    That's how parliament is supposed to work.

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  29. Volkov I thought the NDP and Liberals were ALREADY fired up from prorogation ??

    You can't get EXTRA fired up.

    I'm simply pointing out that the Conservative base is back in action and is ready for a fight after being depressed for a period.

    So expect full turnout at the polls from us.

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  30. The Bloc Veto is a myth. The Bloc agreed not to vote against the government on motions of confidence for 18 months. There was no veto. They had as much of a veto as the Tories did.

    There certainly was a coalition between the NDP and the Liberals. There was none that included the Bloc.

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  31. Hey John part of the deregulation includes increasing the acceptable level of foriegn ownership.

    Iggy has already shown corporate nationalism with his stance on Nortel's assets being sold to RIM instead of Ericksons.

    Although that may have just been pandering.

    As for the NDP they HATE deregulation of all kind.

    Free markets ? That's poison to the socialist base.

    Mark my words, you're going to see the opposition screaming "they're trying to destroy the CBC" and running attack ads saying Harper is trying to sell our media and technology to those creepy foriegners.

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  32. Kevin wrote:

    "From what I recall Iggy has categorically ruled out a co-alition"

    First of all, Dion was pretty categorical during the 2008 election campaign and we all know how that turned out.

    Secondly, Ignatieff was far from "categorical" during his comments last September about the possibility of a coalition. He was initially evasive saying repeatedly "I don't have to answer that question", until finally uttering the rather strangely worded: "we do not support a coalition today or tomorrow."

    Right, so not during a couple of days last September, but what about a newly configured Parliament after another election? Maybe he is in favour of a coalition then?

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  33. John wrote:

    "Iggy has said there will be no election this year, repeatedly and clearly."

    What ?!?

    When has he done that?

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  34. Eric how is the Bloc veto a myth ?

    Conservatives alone could not bring down the coalition. So they had no veto.

    But the Bloc could because the configuration would always be Liberals + NDP Yea, Cons Nay, BQ = deciding vote.

    Liberals and NDP had a coalition and that coalition had an accord with the BQ.

    But accords have very little weight behind them.

    Effectively every decision was subject to the BQ keeping their word.

    Which is the same thing as a veto.

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  35. Shadow,

    There is no real difference, actually. Harper still worked with the socialists and the separatists to bring down the Martin government. That is collaboration with a purpose. The coalition was similarly a collaboration with purpose. There is no difference except in how it was inked. Period.

    And how can you not get "extra fired up"? Prorogation was a catalyst - continued Iggy probing against Harper's agenda sustains the "fired up" mode.

    And I doubt there will ever be such a thing as a "full turnout" in our lifetimes.

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  36. Shadow,

    You're assuming the Conservatives would never support the government. One would hope they'd be more responsible than that. The coalition government would have been as solid as any minority government that requires only the two largest opposition parties to vote against them.

    The coalition could easily have put forward policy compromises to gain the support of the Conservatives, or enough of them.

    The "separatist veto" line was simply divisive rhetoric. It worked.

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  37. Shadow

    Harper made no concessions to the NDP/BLOC

    We don't know what he did or did not promise to Jack and Jill (pun intended)

    From accounts of Jack and Jill Harper was the one pursuing them, not the other way around.

    We don't know what Harper was prepared to offer, to become Prime Minister. I suspect the price would have been high, which he would have been more than willing to pay.

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  38. Sorry

    Last post was from Kevin

    I goofed

    ReplyDelete
  39. Anonymous/Kevin wrote:

    "We don't know what he did or did not promise to Jack and Jill (pun intended)"

    Come on now. If there had been any promises, Jack and Gilles would have been shouting about it from the rooftops during the December 08/January 09 controversy.

    And they didn't.

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  40. Eric wrote:

    "The coalition government would have been as solid as any minority government that requires only the two largest opposition parties to vote against them."

    I think your analysis overlooks a number of crucial details.

    Let's go back to the start: why did the Liberals and NDP involve the Bloc at all (beyond agreeing to vote non-confidence)?

    Even combined, the Libs+NDP had only 114 seats in a 308-seat Parliament (vs. a 143-seat Conservative caucus). This would have been an unprecedentedly weak government caucus with considerably lower odds of having the GG give them what they wanted. If they failed, they risked a fresh election with a possibly furious electorate. Hence the perceived need to include the Bloc in the arrangements.

    This was most definitely not an ordinary case of a minority government surviving by cobbling together votes in Parliament.

    It seems quite obvious to me that the Bloc would have had an outsized influence on the Lib+NDP coalition. 'You had better do what we want, or we'll defeat you.' How attractive would a fallen government and a fresh election seem to the humiliated coalition partners?

    I'm not discounting your point entirely but I think you drastically oversimply the situation in painting it as anything akin to a normal one in terms of the level of influence the Bloc would have carried.

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  41. Martin

    At that time I seem to recall
    that they were indeed bragging, that they had a similar pact with Harper.

    When Harper started ripping on them that's when they said that Harper wanted to do the same thing.

    Jack,Jill, and Steve did plot a way to try and form a government when Paul Martin was PM.

    I don't know how it would have played out, but I don't think it would have been pretty.

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  42. Kevin wrote:

    "At that time I seem to recall that they were indeed bragging, ..."

    But you had claimed:

    "We don't know what he did or did not promise"

    Neither Layton nor Duceppe have ever asserted that any promises were made by Harper -- not on cabinet posts and not on legislation.

    It is your musing about 'promises' that is misleading and mischievous.

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  43. Of course if the Tories thought that it was such a terrible thing for the BQ to have any influence of any kind on the coalition government - they could have remedied that by offering to support the government on all confidence votes - freeing them from any dependence on the BQ.

    Meanwhile in sovereignist circles in Quebec, everyone was screaming "betrayal" at Duceppe for agreeing to help make an uber-federalist like Dion PM in exchange for...NOTHING.

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  44. Martin

    I will concede that point to you.

    Maybe nothing formal was in place but Jack Jill, and Steve, still wanted to try and form something, when Martin was PM. Hence their letter to the GG, asking her to keep all her options open.

    So it is all speculation on my part as to what would have happened,if that had happened.

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  45. Volkov I take issue with this statement of yours:

    "There is no difference except in how it was inked. Period."

    There is no difference between a coalition and an accord ?

    Really?

    You cite cooperation as the common denominater between the two. But parties cooperate all the time, that was NEVER the objection to the coalition.

    The objection was the elevation of NDP MPs and policies to the gov't and handing the BQ a veto.

    An accord, being propped up by the opposition, parties agreeing to avoid an election = normal things that Conservatives don't object to.

    Coalitions = far different thing.

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  46. Kevin no need for speculation at all about the Harper plan, i'll explain it to you.

    The three opposition parties would have voted down Paul Martin, Harper would have been named PM and formed gov't.

    He would then put together a throne speech and budget.

    If the opposition didn't like it we'd have an election. If they did Harper would remain PM and go on to impliment his policies.

    Its pretty much what would happen in any government.

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  47. Shadow

    When EKOS does their polling do they do any leadership numbers?

    Is this the first time in a while that more people think the government is going in the wrong direction than right?

    Will you watch CTV/CBC Power Play or Power and Politics today?

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  48. "The three opposition parties would have voted down Paul Martin, Harper would have been named PM and formed gov't.

    He would then put together a throne speech and budget.

    If the opposition didn't like it we'd have an election. If they did Harper would remain PM and go on to impliment his policies."

    RIGHT - and so after the next election as long as there is any outcome other than a Tory majority - The three opposition parties would have voted down Harper, Iggy would be named PM and formed gov't.

    He would then would put together a throne speech and budget.

    If the opposition didn't like it we'd have an election. If they did Iggy would remain PM and go on to impliment his policies.

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  49. DL if that is the plan then Canadians need to hear about it now so they can answer the ballot question "Tory majority vs Liberal minority propped up by Socalists/Seperatists".

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  50. Sigh. The Tory minority is currently being propped up by the Liberals, the NDP, or the Bloc, depending on the legislation.

    And has been since 2006.

    A Liberal minority would be no different.

    The Bloc, and only the Bloc, has voted with the government over the last four years on various issues. Does that mean the Conservative government is propped up by the 'separatists', that they are doing their bidding?

    Of course not.

    Enough doublespeak, please.

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  51. Hey Kevin I watch PowerPlay but not the CBC (too biased to enjoy).

    Having inverted wrong track/right track numbers is not good for the Tories.

    Basically they flipped after prorogation which is when the Tory numbers fell.

    EKOS doesn't do leadership numbers to my knowledge.

    There are a great deal of upcoming good news events though.

    Buy American is about to be repealed which is a huge win for Harper.

    The economy and jobs numbers will be important, not sure if they'll be up or down.

    And, of course, the Olympics will put politics on ice for a period. Anger over prorogation may just fade somewhat.


    I think Volkov is right in that we'll probably see Tory numbers bounce back a couple of points with the budget.

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  52. Eric the party with the most seats forms government.

    Period.

    Canadians know that. If anything unusual or out of the ordinary is going to happen they need to know.

    So if the second place party is going to take power propped up by the opposition that is important to know.


    There is a fundemental difference between the two situations.

    It is doublespeak to say otherwise.

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  53. The EKOS polls simply will not be credible until they fix that Green problem. Those Green numbers are far too high, and they have been for years.

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  54. Eric wrote:

    "The Bloc, and only the Bloc, has voted with the government over the last four years on various issues. Does that mean the Conservative government is propped up by the 'separatists', that they are doing their bidding?"

    But are there any examples of CONFIDENCE VOTES where the Bloc was the only opposition party supporting the government? I cannot think of any.

    But also, the leverage one has is always dependent upon whether the consequence is something unwanted. At most periods over the past 4 years, a fresh election was hardly something the Tories were desperate to avoid.

    In contrast, if the Coalition had taken power in December '08 or January '09, they would have been very highly motivated to avoid an election.

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  55. I believe the 2007 budget only passed with the support of the Bloc.

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  56. Eric the party with the most seats forms government.

    Period
    .
    No. The party with the confidence of the House forms government after being invited to by the GG.

    Usually there is only one party that can claim to have the confidence of the House. Should there be more than one claimant, the GG decides which is more likely to be able to prove that claim by gaining the confidence of the House. Should they fail, another claimant can be invited.

    Canadians know that. If anything unusual or out of the ordinary is going to happen they need to know.
    They need to know that the rules will be followed. You are attempting to claim that political parties have supremacy, and any working together of MPs across party lines constitutes a new party which must face election as a party. That is untrue, since political parties have no legal standing in our system. The Constitution only allows multiple political parties, but does not impose any particular requirements, such as the new legal standing you wish to invent here.

    So if the second place party is going to take power propped up by the opposition that is important to know.
    They will know if it happens. "Propping up" and other metaphors aside, it is the party that gains the confidence of the House that forms government.

    There is a fundemental difference between the two situations.
    Only in the artificial construction you presented which is based on a faulty premise.

    It is doublespeak to say otherwise.
    No, it is an opinion different from yours to say otherwise. Calling it "doublespeak" is an appeal to authority to support your opinion.

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  57. Liberal supporter I believe you are incorrect.

    Martin is more of an expert on these matters and he'll correct me if nessecary.

    But I believe once chosen the Prime Minister remains PM until he resigns (there are situations under which he is required to resign) or dies.

    A theoretical, untested coalition winning more seats while he maintains a plurality is NOT a requirement for him to resign.

    "The party with the confidence of the House forms government after being invited to by the GG."

    No. That's backwards. How can a PM have confidence BEFORE being PM ?

    Historically the PM has always been the individual from the party with the most seats in the HOC.

    "That is untrue, since political parties have no legal standing in our system."

    You are aware that Canadian law extends beyond the bounds of the constitution right ? And that there is a body of procedural rules parliament has created for itself ?

    "Only in the artificial construction you presented which is based on a faulty premise."

    The entire span of Canadian history since confederation is an "artificial construction" ?

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  58. Liberal Supporter

    Where have you been hiding?

    Please more commentary

    Brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  59. But I believe once chosen the Prime Minister remains PM until he resigns (there are situations under which he is required to resign) or dies.
    He must resign after losing the confidence of the House. Paul Martin could have remained PM after electoral defeat in 2006 until the House voted no confidence in his Throne Speech. Then he would have to resign. But obviously there would be no point.

    A theoretical, untested coalition winning more seats while he maintains a plurality is NOT a requirement for him to resign.
    He must resign after losing a confidence vote.

    "The party with the confidence of the House forms government after being invited to by the GG."

    No. That's backwards. How can a PM have confidence BEFORE being PM
    ?
    The confidence of the House can be presumed by the election results, which is why I said anyone attempting to form a government must prove their claim to confidence.

    The situation is like in a card game, suppose you are dealt a "lay down" hand. You can simply lay down the cards and the game is over, unless of course you miscalculated. You can go through the formality of playing them one at a time, and you might if there was betting involved, but it saves everyone's time if you don't.

    Historically the PM has always been the individual from the party with the most seats in the HOC.
    Usually, not always.

    "That is untrue, since political parties have no legal standing in our system."

    You are aware that Canadian law extends beyond the bounds of the constitution right ? And that there is a body of procedural rules parliament has created for itself
    ?
    Yes. But political parties do not have the legal standing you are trying to invent for them.

    "Only in the artificial construction you presented which is based on a faulty premise."

    The entire span of Canadian history since confederation is an "artificial construction"
    ?
    Your faulty premise falls fall short of being the entire span of Canadian history since Confederation, and it remains the basis of your artificial construction, attempting to draw distinction between two cases of the party which can gain the confidence of the House forming government.

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  60. Shadow: "The party with the confidence of the House forms government after being invited to by the GG."

    No. That's backwards. How can a PM have confidence BEFORE being PM ?


    By liberal supporter's following paragraph: Usually there is only one party that can claim to have the confidence of the House. Should there be more than one claimant, the GG decides which is more likely to be able to prove that claim by gaining the confidence of the House. Should they fail, another claimant can be invited.

    This is not new territory. Read up on the King-Byng affair. King was given the opportunity to form a government even though he didn't have a plurality of seats or even a formal coalition. Punditry, please note.

    It's important that Canadian voters understand our system of government. It's doubly important that people who hold forth about what "should" happen understand it. Google rocks. Research pays. Time spent reading instead of typing is seldom wasted.

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  61. Actually it is the right of the sitting Prime Minister or his/her successor to face the House after an election. The opposition may then defeat the Speech from the Throne. It is then the prerogative of the GG to either call an election or ask the opposition to form a government. Since the GG is expected to act on the advice of the PM one would expect another election, UNLESS the PM did what Frank Miller did in Ontario when he resigned as Premier before facing the House and recommemed the LG call upon the Leader of the largest opposition party to form the government. In another variation the PM after being defeated by the opposition on the Speech from the Throne could suggest that the GG call upon the leader of the official opposition to form a government. There is no legal or unwritten tradition in Canadian Parliamentary history for an opposition that fails to win the most seats to combine after the election to govern. If the LPC and NDP want to form a coalition they they ought to tell voters of their intentions during an election campaign. The Ontario example is not relevant because Frank Miller resigned without being defeated in the legislature and asked the LG to call upon the leader of the official opposition to form the government. The LG did not violate the wishes of the Premier.

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  62. Eric wrote:

    "I believe the 2007 budget only passed with the support of the Bloc."

    Interesting. On both 2nd and 3rd reading of Bill C-52 (2007 budget implementation) the combined Liberal and NDP 'No' votes did not outnumber the Tories' 'Yes' votes. The two opposition parties seem to have had enough 'stay at homes' to ensure that didn't happen.

    In other words the Bloc could have abstained and the budget would have passed.

    Still, it's probably a (mostly) reasonable example.

    ReplyDelete
  63. liberal supporter wrote:

    "He must resign after losing a confidence vote."

    Not quite.

    He must either resign or request a fresh election. If the GG does not agree to his request for a fresh election then he must resign.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Liberal supporter, John, why is the PM only sworn in once and not after each election?

    Because he is the PM before, during, and after an election.

    Until he dies or resigns.

    So as long as Stephen Harper maintains a plurality of seats after the election he REMAINS as PM. Parties DO matter. That's our system.

    There is no picking and choosing by the GG.

    Its him. Period. End of story.


    He then presents a throne speech and if it the opposition defeats him he can request dissolution of the house. If the GG denies he is required to resign.

    The King-Byng affair happened in this order.

    It did NOT happen in the order Liberal Supporter is suggesting, which is manifestly false and NOT our system.

    His suggestion was that Iggy would become PM after the election because Liberal + NDP had more seats.

    That's just not the way its done.

    PM Harper always gets first bite of the apple, gets to bring in a throne speech.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Earl wrote:

    "The Ontario example is not relevant because Frank Miller resigned without being defeated in the legislature "

    That part is not correct.

    There was a vote in the legislature and Frank Miller's government was defeated on a motion of no-confidence.

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  66. Liberal Supporter can you please name when in Canadian history, directly following an election, the GG has asked someone to become PM who's party didn't have the most seats ??

    The King-Byng affair obviously doesn't count because it didn't happen directly after an election.

    Please point out the example and i'll study it.

    ReplyDelete
  67. John wrote:

    "King was given the opportunity to form a government even though he didn't have a plurality of seats or even a formal coalition."

    No, he was not "given" the opportunity.

    King was already PM prior to the 1925 election. After the election, he decided not to resign. There was no "deciding" done by the GG at this point.

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  68. I don't undestand how the Tories could have only 20 MPs elected in the Prairies?

    Would you mind giving us details about your seat projetions? Like how many seats each party would win in every region? Because now you're only partially doing so and I always have some questions :)

    ReplyDelete
  69. Shadow,

    I don't know if you're from BC, but a coalition government did run the province for several years. That is just once example of a coalition in Canada - there are others as well.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Hey Volkov, we're not arguing over whether coalitions can exist or not.

    Liberal Supporter and John just had their civics wrong.

    They were under the mistaken impression that after each election the GG chooses a new Prime Minister based on who she thinks is most likely to hold the confidence of the house.

    In fact the GG chooses a new Prime Minister only after the current one resigns.

    Liberal Supporter had this ridiculous arguement that parties don't matter and that if Iggy and Layton said "we're working together" that Iggy would be named PM.


    In actual fact Harper remains PM, gets to bring in a throne speech and has to be defeated on it.

    At which point the Liberals need to be ready to set up a gov't of their own.

    Which is an unusual circumstance that to my knowledge has never happened before in federal politics, a new gov't forming directly after an election that didn't have a majority of seats.


    Such unusual circumstances most certainly require the parties planning them to give Canadains an explanation BEFORE an election is over.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Well, I only noted the BC coalition example because it is a point in history, in Canada, where a coalition was formed between two parties, and that where the Monarchy recognized its legitimacy as government - even if it was two different parties. This is also a noted example because there was transition between two Coalition Premiers, and its just an interesting thing to look up for precedent.

    But, you are right Shadow - the Prime Minister stays on until he or she resigns. At least, that is my understanding of it. A Prime Minister can, however, be removed by the GG if he's demonstrated a loss of confidence in the House. This occurs after an election or a confidence vote. We've only ever had one issue with this federally, and thats the King-Byng affair.

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  72. liberal supporter wrote:

    "The confidence of the House can be presumed by the election results, which is why I said anyone attempting to form a government must prove their claim to confidence."

    That's nonsense. There is no "presuming" anything. For Confidence to be lost, there has to be an actual vote of non-Confidence in the House.

    After the 2006 election, the GG did not say to herself, "I presume that Mr. Martin has lost the Confidence of the House therefore I am going to demand his resignation and appoint someone else."

    Paul Martin could have tried to hang on as PM and wait for a vote of non-Confidence before resigning.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Volkov wrote:

    "A Prime Minister can, however, be removed by the GG if he's demonstrated a loss of confidence in the House. This occurs after an election or a confidence vote."

    No. Once again, an election result does not entail "loss of confidence in the House". A GG would never force a PM from office because of an election result. The PM can choose to test the Confidence of the House.

    "We've only ever had one issue with this federally, and thats the King-Byng affair."

    Mr. King did not lose a vote of non-confidence and he was not removed by the GG. King resigned in a huff because the GG declined to follow his advice for dissolution and a fresh election.

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  74. Hey Volkov my understanding is that even if a sitting PM loses an election they can remain PM.

    Look up the 1925 election.

    King won 100 seats to the Conservatives 115 but stayed by winning the support of the Progressive party.

    So even if the Liberals win a minority next election the Conservatives could stay on with the help of the BQ.

    (Not saying it would ever happen, just pointing out our PM until he resigns or dies system).

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  75. Lol Martin you wrote all that while I was still typing !

    And basically said the same thing. I could have saved myself the trouble.

    Although I did have a handy 1925 reference in my post !

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  76. It is usually a given that a PM would resign if he lost an election. That is the way it has worked out for most of Canadian history, and that is what has become expected of sitting Prime Ministers who lose elections.

    So yes, constitutionally, a PM can stay on until they lose the confidence of the House, thereby opening the door for coalitions and the like. However, it would fly in the face of not only tradition, but what is expected of our system. I'd consider constitutional changes to enshrine it, in all honesty.

    I never denied this, nor did I say that the King-Byng affair was about it, though it was certainly apart of it.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Ira said something earlier about Ekos having green numbers too high.

    They seem a little high to me as well.

    If they are too high which way would they break in an election.

    Sorry to interrupt you guys, just wondering

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  78. Tyler,

    I'm not sure how they would break. The Greens are a very fractured movement, with social democrats, liberals, and libertarianish groups all within the party. I think Greens usually break for the two leftist parties, but I bet the Conservatives siphon off a few as well. I remember during canvassing how many times I went up to homes with a Conservative and Green sign, and the wife turns out to be a Tory-turned-Green, and the husband Conservative.

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  79. Liberal supporter, John, why is the PM only sworn in once and not after each election?

    Because he is the PM before, during, and after an election.

    Until he dies or resigns.

    So as long as Stephen Harper maintains a plurality of seats after the election he REMAINS as PM
    .
    He remains as PM regardless of his seat count until he resigns or dies. He resigns upon defeat to avoid having to go through the motions of losing the confidence of the House.

    Parties DO matter. That's our system.
    Your statement does not follow from your premise. Plus you are misstating my position. Of course parties "matter" in the sense you are using now, yet they have no legal standing, other than being permitted to exist. The GG does not invite a party to form a government. The GG invites a prospective PM to form a government. The fact they they gain the confidence of the House because they lead a political party is irrelevant to the fact that the individual is invited, not the party.

    There is no picking and choosing by the GG.
    I was referring to the situation after the PM resigns due to electoral defeat or confidence defeat.

    Its him. Period. End of story.
    I can actually hear you stamping your feet.


    He then presents a throne speech and if it the opposition defeats him he can request dissolution of the house. If the GG denies he is required to resign.

    The King-Byng affair happened in this order
    .
    True.

    It did NOT happen in the order Liberal Supporter is suggesting, which is manifestly false and NOT our system.

    His suggestion was that Iggy would become PM after the election because Liberal + NDP had more seats.

    That's just not the way its done
    .
    And that is not the way I suggested it would be done. I am claiming that if the PM loses the confidence of the House, the GG can invite Iggy to form a government, especially if he has claimed he can form one. You are taking that claim and changing it to be "Iggy becomes PM simply because the CPC does not have a majority of the seats".

    PM Harper always gets first bite of the apple, gets to bring in a throne speech.
    Of course he can. And upon defeat, another claimant can be invited to form a government.

    You are asserting that a coalition is not legal, and the partners in the coalition are required to stand again for election as a single party. However, this is not required, because the GG does not invite a party, or consortium of parties to form a government. The GG invites an individual who reasonably claims they can form a government. Your premise that I suggest a coalition could form a government without the PM resigning or giving the PM a chance to be defeated first is interesting, but it is not my premise.

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  80. Liberal Supporter can you please name when in Canadian history, directly following an election, the GG has asked someone to become PM who's party didn't have the most seats ??

    The King-Byng affair obviously doesn't count because it didn't happen directly after an election.

    Please point out the example and i'll study it
    .
    I don't know of such an example. Nor should I, since you are asking me to defend a premise of your choosing, rather than the one I presented.

    However, if Harper is defeated on his Throne Speech, especially immediately after an election, the GG does not need to dissolve Parliament, and can invite someone who can gain the confidence of the House to form a government.

    ReplyDelete
  81. HST news from BC:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bill-vander-zalm-approved-to-fight-hst/article1456695/

    Now we will see if there really widespread opposition to the HST in BC. The petition, if successful would have the effect of changing the budget of the government without forcing an election. It would put Mr. Campbell in an interesting position. Would he resign? Would he dare to call an election on the HST issue, or would he just continue to govern and turn the other cheek. Glad BC has a mechanism like this that allows the people some say.

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  82. Liberal Supporter:

    "However, if Harper is defeated on his Throne Speech, especially immediately after an election, the GG does not need to dissolve Parliament, and can invite someone who can gain the confidence of the House to form a government."

    The GG is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the PM. The GG is expected to follow the advice of the PM. If the GG did not follow the advice of the PM then then PM could in theory ask the Queen to fire the GG and then the PM could replace the GG with someone who would call an election. I think this would be perfectly acceptable if the LPC stated clearly during the campaign that they would not enter a coalition. Again if the LPC and NDP want to leave open the possibility of a coalition they have an obligation to so state during the campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Earl

    Isn't there recall legislation in BC?

    ReplyDelete
  84. Hey Volkov, we're not arguing over whether coalitions can exist or not.
    You appear to be.

    Liberal Supporter and John just had their civics wrong.
    Perhaps, but your say so does not make it so.

    They were under the mistaken impression that after each election the GG chooses a new Prime Minister based on who she thinks is most likely to hold the confidence of the house.
    I don't believe you were actually mistaken in believing that, I think you chose to argue a different premise than the one presented.

    In fact the GG chooses a new Prime Minister only after the current one resigns.
    True.

    Liberal Supporter had this ridiculous arguement that parties don't matter and that if Iggy and Layton said "we're working together" that Iggy would be named PM.
    Name call if you need to, but Iggy can be asked to form a government if the PM resigns due to defeat on non confidence. It doesn't matter if Iggy is relying on support from MPs of other parties, what matters is he can win a confidence vote.

    In actual fact Harper remains PM, gets to bring in a throne speech and has to be defeated on it.
    Yes, so why do you pretend I am suggesting otherwise?

    At which point the Liberals need to be ready to set up a gov't of their own.
    No, a person who can gain the confidence of the House needs to be ready to form a government.

    Which is an unusual circumstance that to my knowledge has never happened before in federal politics, a new gov't forming directly after an election that didn't have a majority of seats.
    Yes it is ususual, but it happened in 1925. Perhaps you inserted "directly" to continue to support your canard, but the fact is if the PM is defeated on confidence right after an election, another who can gain confidence can be appointed PM by the GG.

    Such unusual circumstances most certainly require the parties planning them to give Canadains an explanation BEFORE an election is over.
    No, they do not, any more than people running for office need to explain they will follow the laws of the land. It is obvious that such a possibility exists.

    You would, however, prefer to make the election a choice between a CPC majority, and a coalition with the bad Liberals, and the evil separatists and the horrible socialists.

    Because you really need something to scare everyone into giving you a majority. The policies and positions of the CPC are not doing it.

    When in fact, the Liberals would prefer to have their own majority, or a minority where other parties support them in exchange for some of their own initiatives being considered.

    The fact is, given a CPC minority result, the Liberals and NDP could form an accord, similar to the one in Ontario in 1985, and after defeat of the CPC Throne Speech or Budget, Iggy would be invited to form a government. Whether it was a formal coalition, with NDP cabinet members, or simply an accord that the NDP would support the government for a limited time, is really immaterial; the difference would simply depend on the result of the negotiations on the accord.

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  85. Earl,

    I've said before on another blog - that step towards crazy hyper-democracy isn't one to celebrate.

    California has a similar system, and they also have some of the worst finances in the US. The reason why is because every tax measure must be put forward for voting, and as you can guess, its rare that voters pass a tax increase. Yet, at the same time, they also vote for increases in services. So you get a system where voters want to increase the budget, yet never let the government bring in new revenue. It isn't wanted.

    There is a reason why we vote in politicians - so they can do the job for us. But if they do something wrong, then we vote them out. That is how the system works, and that is how the system should stay - hyper-democracies are barely functioning.

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  86. Liberal Supporter you've completely changed positions now that you've gotten a civics lesson.

    How about not letting your pride get in the way and just accept that you were wrong to challenge my initial premise ?

    Which is that it is highly unusual for a sitting PM to win a plurality of seats, be rejected by the house, and replaced by the party with the second most seats.

    So unusual that such a plan must be disclosed to voters before hand in order to maintain democratic legitimacy (which is a seperate issue from constitutional legitimacy).

    I believe this passage illustrates that you were in error:

    "The confidence of the House can be presumed by the election results, which is why I said anyone attempting to form a government must prove their claim to confidence."

    Election results are meaningless. The PM is the PM until he resigns or dies.

    Nobody proves a claim to confidence BEFORE forming gov't.

    That's backwards, confidence is PRESUMED until it is lost.

    "Should there be more than one claimant, the GG decides which is more likely to be able to prove that claim by gaining the confidence of the House."

    People don't nominate themselves for the job or make "claims" to confidence.

    The GG calls upon someone. Almost always the party leader of the party with the most seats in the house of commons.

    With only one historical exception in federal Canadian politics - the King Byng affair which many believed to be highly immproper.

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  87. The GG is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the PM. The GG is expected to follow the advice of the PM. If the GG did not follow the advice of the PM then then PM could in theory ask the Queen to fire the GG and then the PM could replace the GG with someone who would call an election.
    The PM can only request the Queen recall the GG if he continues to enjoy the confidence of the House.

    I think this would be perfectly acceptable if the LPC stated clearly during the campaign that they would not enter a coalition.
    They could make such a statement, but there is no need to. I'm sure Harper would make such categorical statements and try to claim the moral high ground, but it would be seen as yet another example of his focus on political games and gotcha politics.

    Again if the LPC and NDP want to leave open the possibility of a coalition they have an obligation to so state during the campaign.
    They have no such obligation, legal or moral, much as you would have us believe they do.

    What they are expected to do is to run on their respective platforms, and should an accord be desirable, form a government that will respect those platforms, as all government attempt to do.

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  88. Hey Earl I believe you are correct.

    The GG has no ability to actually dismiss the PM. They can ask for the PM's resignation but the PM can refuse.

    In 1896 Charles Tupper refused to resign as PM after losing an election.

    The GG at the time, Lord Aberdeen, refused to make appointments on his behalf and Tupper ended up resigning.

    But if he had the backing of the Queen he could have easily asked that the GG be fired and a new one installed.

    So if Michelle Jean had refused Harper's request for an election in fall of 2008 he could have called the Queen and ask that she be fired.

    Interesting.

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  89. Liberal Supporter if the Liberals are planning to do something that to my knowledge has NEVER happened before in the history of federal politics then they need to tell Canadians ahead of time.

    Its that simple.

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  90. Liberal Supporter you've completely changed positions now that you've gotten a civics lesson.
    No, I haven't. On both counts.


    How about not letting your pride get in the way and just accept that you were wrong to challenge my initial premise ?
    First you put words in my mouth, now you want me to lie? How about you not letting your desire for a gotcha moment get in the way of discussion. You continue to seek to prove your premise that parties may not work together to form a government without running as a single party in an election. However such a position is not supported by your words.

    Which is that it is highly unusual for a sitting PM to win a plurality of seats, be rejected by the house, and replaced by the party with the second most seats.
    It happens. Ontario 1985. Canada 1925. You can certainly say it is unusual, but that doesn't prove anything.

    So unusual that such a plan must be disclosed to voters before hand in order to maintain democratic legitimacy (which is a seperate issue from constitutional legitimacy).
    Baloney. It is within the realm of possibility, as you should know, being a civics lessons dispenser and all.

    I believe this passage illustrates that you were in error:

    "The confidence of the House can be presumed by the election results, which is why I said anyone attempting to form a government must prove their claim to confidence."

    Election results are meaningless. The PM is the PM until he resigns or dies
    .
    True, but he is expected to resign upon loss of confidence from the House.

    Nobody proves a claim to confidence BEFORE forming gov't.

    That's backwards, confidence is PRESUMED until it is lost
    .
    Yes. The passage you quote is describing how the GG chooses who to call upon to form a government, after the existing government is defeated.

    "Should there be more than one claimant, the GG decides which is more likely to be able to prove that claim by gaining the confidence of the House."

    People don't nominate themselves for the job or make "claims" to confidence
    .
    No, they write a letter to the GG, asking that the GG consider all options, as Harper did when he believed he could form a government supported by the separatists and socialists. Or they write a letter to the GG telling the GG they believe they can secure the confidence of the House.

    The GG calls upon someone. Almost always the party leader of the party with the most seats in the house of commons.
    Yes, unless they have just lost a confidence vote. You make it sound like I don't agree with this, or are you just lecturing aimlessly?

    With only one historical exception in federal Canadian politics - the King Byng affair which many believed to be highly immproper.
    And therefore, my premise holds.

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  91. So if Michelle Jean had refused Harper's request for an election in fall of 2008 he could have called the Queen and ask that she be fired.
    Unless he had lost the confidence of the House. In December 2008, by the time the Queen received his request, while considering it, another sitting day would have occurred and he would have lost the confidence vote.

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  92. Liberal Supporter if the Liberals are planning to do something that to my knowledge has NEVER happened before in the history of federal politics then they need to tell Canadians ahead of time.
    No, they do not. There are counter examples. They are not "planning" something, they want a majority. There is no talk of having some contract in place ahead of any election, much as you would like to pretend there is one, since your policies alone will never win a majority.

    If they vote against the budget or throne speech and the government falls, they can be invited to form a government. Should they secure the confidence of the House, they form a government.

    Its that simple.
    Indeed.

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  93. Liberal Supporter:

    You are suggesting that it is perfectly alright to deceive the Canadian people as regards the intentions of the party leader and party. You rail on about Harper but that would be the most undemocratic thing a party and its leader could do - reject the possibility of coalition and embrace it immediately after the election. In such a case it is almost certain that sitting PM having attained the most seats would ask for an election with the fraud perpetuated by the opposition exposed. The GG is expected to follow the wishes of the PM. That was affirmed in the King-Byng affair as the people of Canada made it clear in the election results that they did not want the unelected GG to defy the PM.

    If the people of Canada are afraid of the coalition then the voters have spoken. If Iggy and Jack are unable to win while openly embracing the idea of coalition then people don't want it. Yes Harper will use the specter of coalition in the next election and properly so. The NDP and Liberals were ready to enter into such a coalition in 2008. The Bloc was ready to support such a coalition. The LPC leader had expressly denied that he would enter into a coalition. It is a genuine issue now that the other parties have raised it.

    I have no problem with a coalition between the party of government and a another party. Should Iggy win the most seats and become PM and he then desires to bring the NDP into his government that is right. It is not the right of the opposition parties to campaign against coalition and then combine to steal the government. That amounts to a coup.

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  94. Shadow: Liberal supporter, John, why is the PM only sworn in once and not after each election?

    Because he is the PM before, during, and after an election.

    Until he dies or resigns.

    So as long as Stephen Harper maintains a plurality of seats after the election he REMAINS as PM.
    ...
    There is no picking and choosing by the GG.


    First, King requested the dissolution of the 14th parliament. Had he been defeated, he would have had to resign as PM. This will not be the case if any of the current parties engineers a non-confidence defeat.

    In any case, this is beside the point due to the reserve powers of the governor general. In 1896 Charles Tupper refused to resign after losing an election. Governor General the Earl of Aberdeen chose to not recognize him as PM. Tupper's only option at that point was to resign.

    Byng chose to let King continue as PM notwithstanding his lack of a plurality, a coalition or even a seat. He warned King not to expect to be granted dissolution. If Meighen had pressed the point and had demonstrated his ability to show the confidence of the House, Byng could have made the opposite decision and refused to recognize King as PM.

    These precedents are old. They are still valid.

    Parties DO matter. That's our system.

    They do as a convenience, but not as a matter of law. Parties as we know them came well after the office of prime minister, albeit not in this country. The GG selects a person to be prime minister who appears to have the confidence of the House.

    Our party system makes this easy in a majority sitation: count noses and assume that every member of a party has confidence in their leader, then choose the leader of the majority party. However, that's not in the legislation. That's why the separatist socialists (or were they socialist separatists? I can never remember) signed a document to take to the GG. It backed up the confidence claims.

    I never took a Civics class, but I'm guessing I'd pass.

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  95. Liberal Supprter:

    There is one problem with using the Frank Miller example:

    Miller was defeated in the legislature on a motion of confidence (my mistake earlier). however he recommended the LG appoint the Leader of the Opposition whom he now believed had the confidence of the house. The LG acted on the advice of the Premier. There was specualtion in 1972 that the sitting PM , Trudeau would actually end up with fewer seats than the the PC's. It was still Trudeau's choice to meet the house and see if he had the confidence of the house. When the PM resigns, the PM advises the GG who to appoint as the new PM. When Martin resigned in 2006 he advised the GG to appoint Harper as the PM. The GG acceded to Mr. Martin's request. The GG does not act on their own or you have a constitutional crisis.

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  96. Martin:
    "Iggy has said there will be no election this year, repeatedly and clearly."

    What ?!?

    When has he done that?


    Well, here for a start. Google for as many more as you'd like.

    Yes, I concede that "clearly" is a debatable adjective. One which seldom applies to any politician's statement.

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  97. Liberal supporter I think you mean 1926.

    But that wasn't on a throne speech, that was 6 months after the election.

    Ontario 1985 is the only valid example but even then the out going premier ENDORSED the action.

    BTW losing a confidence vote in the house does NOT force you to resign as PM. As has been pointed out you go to the GG for dissolution.

    If she refuses you are still PM and can go to the Queen and ask she be removed. If the Queen says no you're out of luck and at that point resign or the GG uses her reserve powers to ignore your advice and you become irrelevent.

    "If they vote against the budget or throne speech and the government falls, they can be invited to form a government. Should they secure the confidence of the House, they form a government."

    The GG appoints a PM. The PM nominates appointees to cabinet positions. In the sense you are using the word this is the gov't.

    It exists before securing confidence. It formulates policies, puts them forward, and the house decides whether it can support them or not.


    The entire basis of our system is that Canada shall always have a PM and a government. There is none of this first they must win the confidence of the house nonsense.

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  98. liberal supporter wrote:

    "Which is that it is highly unusual for a sitting PM to win a plurality of seats, be rejected by the house, and replaced by the party with the second most seats.
    --
    It happens. Ontario 1985. Canada 1925. You can certainly say it is unusual, but that doesn't prove anything."

    That is not a correct characterization of Canada 1926.

    In 1926, the Liberal government was replaced by a Conservative government which had MORE seats than the Liberals.

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  99. John this is simply not the case:

    "If Meighen had pressed the point and had demonstrated his ability to show the confidence of the House, Byng could have made the opposite decision and refused to recognize King as PM."

    No. Only if King had lost a confidence vote in the HOC. If a GG summarily decides to invoke reserve powers to ignore a sitting PM she would be removed from office by the Queen in a snap.

    All sitting PMs have the option of having their confidence tested in the house after an election regardless of how many seats they win in the HOC.

    "These precedents are old. They are still valid."

    There's a single precedent that many believe was wrongly decided. The voters certainly rejected it, overwhelmingly siding with the wrong PM.

    Regardless, it would be up to the Queen to decide if the current PM refused to resign and asked the removal of the GG.

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  100. John wrote,

    "I concede that "clearly" is a debatable adjective. One which seldom applies to any politician's statement."

    But surely even by politician-standards, the quoted comments are not very clear at all. "I think that will continue in 2010." is a particularly weak prediction.

    Moreover, Ignatieff has, in more recent comments, merely stated that he is not keen on a spring election. Down from a whole year to merely a season -- that seems meaningful to me.

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  101. John sorry that meant to say that the public sided with the WRONGED PM.

    While all this constitutional wrangling might provide possibilities that are technically legal its important to remember what the Canadian people want.

    A GG needs to be careful in trying to install an unelected coalition.

    As Earl and I have pointed out if the Liberals do have such a plan in the works they need to tell us ahead of time.

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  102. Shadow wrote:

    "Regardless, it would be up to the Queen to decide if the current PM refused to resign and asked the removal of the GG."

    It seems to me that you are stepping into quite fanciful territory. This would not happen.

    In the first place, after a defeat in the Commons, followed by a refusal of dissolution, if the PM did not then immediately resign, it is likely the GG would dismiss him. As soon as he is no longer PM, he has no authority to advise the Queen.

    That aside, I cannot imagine a Canadian PM trying to get the GG removed simply because his advice for dissolution had been refused. It is virtually unbelieveable.

    And if in some bizarre parallel universe it did happen, there's almost no way the Queen would accept his advice.

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  103. John wrote:

    "[Political parties] do as a convenience, but not as a matter of law."

    That seems something of an overstatement. For example, certain types of election spending have limits PER PARTY. In the last election, the Conservatives were only allowed to spend half as much of that as the (unannounced) Liberal-NDP coalition were.

    Granted that doesn't change the basic system of a Westminster Parliament but we have attached so much party-related detritus to our governmental appartus that some purist elements have been compromised.

    So, if certain parties:
    - present themselves to the electorate as separate
    - are allowed to exploit spending limits as a result
    - swear-up-and-down that they will not do a particular thing

    Then, it is inevitable that their surprise coalition announcement after the election may be seen as lacking democratic legitimacy.

    And, like it or not, any GG is bound to take such issues into consideration. After all, it will almost always be the case that a "safe" option for the GG will be to send it back to the people and let them decide.

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  104. Martin there are a multitude of concievable situations in which a PM might ask for the removal of a GG.

    The ability for the PM to advise the Queen to remove the GG is a nessecary failsafe in case she goes bonkers, commits a crime, does something deeply unpopular, or gets in the way.

    "I cannot imagine a Canadian PM trying to get the GG removed simply because his advice for dissolution had been refused."

    OK the PM wants a mandate for a controversial item that wasn't in his platform. He requests dissolution and the GG refuses.

    Seems like a good reason to me.

    "if the PM did not then immediately resign, it is likely the GG would dismiss him. As soon as he is no longer PM, he has no authority to advise the Queen."

    Until a new PM is named the current PM remains.

    So it would literally be a matter of who contacts the palace first, the GG to ask for the appointment of a new PM or the PM to ask for the appointment of a new GG.

    "there's almost no way the Queen would accept his advice."

    We shouldn't speculate on what the Queen would or would not do. She takes her duties and powers very seriously and has no problem using them.

    And the advice of PM's is always taken seriously and weighed carefully.

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  105. What's this? I'm offline for a few weeks to finish a project, and return to find the governing party's popularity in freefall. Ahh, the sweet smell of democracy!

    One thing that hasn't changed is the manipulative reasoning of certain Harper supporters on this website. You can almost hear the gears grinding in their minds. Here is their twisted logic:

    1. No one else may form a government until Harper resigns (or dies).

    2. Harper doesn't have to resign if he loses his plurality in an election - but if another party receives the second largest number of seats and enjoys the confidence of the House, it may not form a government.


    3. The Governor General has to do exactly what Harper, as the sitting Prime Minister, wants, or else he can call the Queen and have her fired and replaced with someone else who will do what he wants. If the Governor General exercises her discretion (i.e. if she does her job) she may cause a constitutional crisis.

    4. No organized cooperation between parties is allowed after an election unless it was promised to the public before the vote (an egregious example of confusing political obligations with legal and constitutional ones) - the fact that the final results of an election cannot be predicted beforehand is irrelevant.

    All of these "principles" are dead wrong constitutionally. Moreover, they are transparent attempts to justify a possible attempt by Harper to cling to power, even if he loses an election (as the polls now suggest he might).

    All of this would be funny, if it weren't both sad and alarming.

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  106. John wrote:

    "In 1896 Charles Tupper refused to resign after losing an election. Governor General the Earl of Aberdeen chose to not recognize him as PM."

    In the first place, it should be noted that Laurier's Liberals had won a majority government in the 1896 election. There was no prospect of Tupper retaining the Confidence of the House.

    More importantly, the Earl of Aberdeen recognized Tupper as PM until he finally resigned. Aberdeen even agreed to most of the post-election appointments that Tupper advised. What he refused to do, however, was to sign Orders-In-Council whose effects would not be reversible by the next government -- such as appointments of Judges and Senators.

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  107. Shadow wrote:

    "Until a new PM is named the current PM remains."

    That is not correct. If a PM is dismissed he ceased to be PM immediately.

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  108. Ishmael points 1 through 3 are the law of the land and have historical precedents to prove them.

    Point 4 is not a constitutional or legal requirement but is instead a basic tenant of democracy.

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  109. Ishmael:

    If the LPC has more seats than the CPC, I would expect Harper to resign. Should he not resign he would have to gain the confidence of the house. Should he fail to gain the confidence if the house then he has no choice but to resign and recommended to GG that the leader of the party with most seats be asked to form a government. That's accepted and very clear.

    What might seem murky is if the opposition campaigns separately and then combines to defeat the larger party. In mind the GG must respect the wishes of the PM. In all likelihood he would ask for dissolution and an election. Assuming this is the course of action taken by the PM, then it would be up to the electorate to choose who they wanted to govern them. If the PM was defeated in plurality by the two opposition parties who formed the coalition one would expect him to resign and recommend to the GG that the head of the coalition form a government. We have no history in Canada of parties campaigning separately and then ousting the government and taking over, save for 1985 in Ontario where the outgoing premier recommended the leader of the coalition be called upon to form the government. In this case the Premier did not ask the LG for an election, and as such there was no refusal to follow the elected Premiers direction.

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  110. Martin what is the constitutional basis for the term "dismissal" ?

    I believe there is none.

    All PMs remain members of the privy council for life.

    A GG advises the Queen who she has selected from the PC to be her main advisor and to form her majesty's government - subject to the pleasure of her majesty.

    As far as the Queen is considered the PM remains as such until she hears otherwise from the GG.

    Even when the GG has invoked reserve powers to name a new PM as her advisor without the resignation of the current PM the Queen must be informed before her majesty ceases to recognize the current PM as the head of her government.

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  111. Shadow:

    1. If a Prime Minister goes insane, and refuses to resign or is not capable of resigning, the Governor General may exercise her reserve power to call on someone else who has the confidence of the House, whether or not the incumbent resigns. You have no legal precedent to rebut this.

    2. We have multiple examples of second-place parties being called upon to form the government when it is clear that the incumbent cannot secure the confidence of Parliament or the legislature.

    3. You have misinterpreted King-Byng. King won the election (the political aspect) and went on to form another government, but Byng was right about his reserve power (the legal aspect).

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  112. Ishmael,

    "You have misinterpreted King-Byng. King won the election (the political aspect)"

    "won"? Given that the Liberals in the 1925 election won FEWER seats than the Tories, that would seem to be quite qualified "win".

    "and refuses to resign or is not capable of resigning, the Governor General may exercise her reserve power to call on someone else who has the confidence of the House"

    Yes, but only after the previous PM has been removed from office by the GG.

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  113. Earl:

    A Prime Minister may refuse to resign. Tupper caved, but another might not. In that event, the Governor General may choose someone else, even in the absence of a resignation.

    There is an accepted convention that if an incumbent government is defeated within a few weeks or months of an election, the Governor General may select someone else to head the government, even if the incumbent demands another election. Byng was right about his reserve power in such a situation, and the current Governor General would have had the power to call on Dion in December 2008, because whatever the political optics or the ensuing public outcry, it was clear that he had the support of a majority of MPs at that time.

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  114. Ishy:

    "3. You have misinterpreted King-Byng. King won the election (the political aspect) and went on to form another government, but Byng was right about his reserve power (the legal aspect)."

    The Canadian people rebuked Byng on his use of the reserve power. No GG since has used the reserve power. King fought the election not against the Conservatives but against the use by Byng of his reserve power. King won. The Canadian people spoke.

    "2. We have multiple examples of second-place parties being called upon to form the government when it is clear that the incumbent cannot secure the confidence of Parliament or the legislature."

    We do in Canada? please enlighten me. what you are saying is quite different than the current PM meeting the house to seek confidence but with fewer seats than the opposition. The sitting PM has that right.

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  115. Shadow wrote:

    "All PMs remain members of the privy council for life."

    Yes but so do ALL Cabinet Ministers and a number of other individuals -- even Jack Layton is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. The Privy Council is not really relevant to our discussion.

    "Martin what is the constitutional basis for the term "dismissal" ? I believe there is none."

    Dismissal is a well-understand power of the Queen's viceroys (although thankfully rarely required). If you want to read up on an example, I would refer you to the 1975 Australian Constitutional crisis where the GG dismissed Prime Minister Whitlam.

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  116. Martin:

    - I was talking about the 1926 election. King won the political battle, but he did not negate Byng's legal reserve powers.

    - a Prime Minister may be removed/replaced by the Governor General without resigning; that's my point.

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  117. Ishmael there is nothing written to support either argument. I believe that GG would have been wrong, terribly wrong to allow Dion to form a government. I see no precedent for such action in Canadian politics. I believe King's position was vindicated by the electorate in 1925-26. The GG is appointed at the convenience of the PM and acts on the instructions of the PM, otherwise you have a constitutional crisis.

    If you want a coalition then say so and campaign for one. Face the electorate and win the vote. No-one has a problem with that. It seems that those who want a coalition want to sneak it by the voters. Why is that?

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  118. Earl:

    3. You are talking about politics, not law. This point has not been tested since, but that doesn't mean that the reserve powers of the Governor General have been reduced. There are very good reasons for preserving those powers.

    2. Ontario in 1985 and Meighen in 1925 - I am rebutting the notion that only the incumbent may form a government in the absence of a plurality.

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  119. Ishy read my prior comments about Miller and 1985. The situation is not same. Byng was repudiated!

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  120. Earl, once again you are suggesting that a politically difficult sitution changes the law. It does not. We have a precedent in Byng's actions. There was no legal pronoucement at that time to establish that he was wrong. And there has been no precedent since to reduce the reserve powers of the Governor General.

    There will only be a constitutional crisis if the Prime Minister does not understand that he must obey the Governor General on those rare occasions when she exercises her reserve powers.

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  121. Earl: Byng has never been repudiated LEGALLY, and you have no authority that says otherwise.

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  122. Ishy I reject your notion that it was merely a political act. In fact the repudiation by the Canadian people was symbolic step in Canada's growth towards full independence from Britain. We rejected the right of the Queen's representation to over rule out elected officials.

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  123. Ishmael wrote:

    "and Meighen in 1925"

    But again, this doesn't rebut any scenario under discussion. King was not "invited" to form a government after the 1925 election (despite not having a plurality), he was already PM and declined to resign.

    Suppose the next (2010?) election resulted in the following seats:

    CPC: 110
    LPC: 120
    NDP: 40
    BQ: 38

    And suppose the CPC PM did not resign and was subsequently defeated in the Commons.

    I don't think anyone here is suggesting that under these circumstances that it would be improper for the GG to ask the Liberal leader to form a government.

    That scenario is closer to what happened in 25-26.

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  124. Agreed Ishy. Byng was repudiated by the people. There was no legal repudiation. Much of what the GG can and can't do is convention, a part of our unwritten constitution. I'm off to bed my friend.

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  125. Martin, we don't disagree - I am simply rebutting the notion, suggested if not articulated above, that a government formed by a second-place opposition party with the confidence of the House would somehow be illegitimate.

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  126. Good night, Earl. Should the Governor General's reserve powers be clarified and updated? Perhaps. Should they be eliminated entirely so that she has to do whatever the Prime Minister wants. No.

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  127. Earl wrote,

    "In fact the repudiation by the Canadian people"

    I have to mostly side with Ishmael on this one. A vote in a general election does not a Constitutional change make.

    Firstly, even if one were to interpret the 1926 election as showing popular disapproval of the handover of government to Meighen (which I do not), it does not follow that any similar decision in different circumstances is also out-of-bounds.

    Secondly, keep in mind that Meighen is the one who must accept political responsibility for his own appointment.

    Thirdly, it should be noted that even though Mr. King won the 1926 election (although still no majority), his party received fewer votes than Meighen's Conservatives. That would seem to weigh against any claim that the 1926 election was a clear expression of Canadians' desire for Constitutional change.

    However, Ishmael,

    It is a fact that the decision caused controversy and it seems clear that future GGs felt more limited than they might have otherwise.

    Legally possible is not the same as what a viceroy can practically do.

    In principle, the GG and LGs have wide discretion to not grant Royal Assent to bills. But how often does that happen? It has never happened federally since Confederation and not in more than 60 years at the provincial level.

    Does that mean the power is dead? No, of course not. But it does mean that any GG/LG would only exercise the power with extreme reluctance.

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  128. Martin according to what i've read on the 1975 crisis it seems to be the ONLY example in Westminster history since 1834.

    Nor it is at at all clear whether its even legal anymore.

    Anyways from what i've read it appears the GG was indeed afraid the PM would ask for his removal.

    He had arranged for the opposition leader to be available to be sworn in minutes after the current PM was "dismissed" and had pre-arranged writen dispatches so there would be no chance for the Queen to be involved.

    This seems highly improper, essentially planning a strategy without asking the advice of the PM.

    Regardless, i'm guessing the "dismissal" had no legal effect. The PM was PM up until the moment the Queen was informed that a new PM was sworn in, which was instantaneous because of the GG's plotting.

    Anyways, since there's been no legal ruling on the subject by any supreme court its all very academic.

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  129. Martin, we agree on the rarity of the exercise of the Governor General's reserve powers. But it was suggested above that she can be dismissed whenever the Prime Minister doesn't like her exercise of those powers - this would effectively negate them.

    I am not simply making a black letter legal argument; I'm also saying that there are good policy reasons for preserving those powers.

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  130. This is all getting wayy to arcane - but let me just put in my two cents worth about what happened in Ontario in 1985.

    1. For the record, the Ontario Liberals and the Ontario NDP NEVER campaigned as prospective coalition or accord partners. It was considered a given that if a minority parliament was elected the 3rd party would side with whichever party they were able to negotiate the best deal with.

    2. Frank Miller and the Tories tried to use every trick in the book to stay in power and they even presented a Throne Speech where they were so desparate to stay in power that it was way to the left of the platform the NDP had run on (which had to be pretty humiliating for a rightwing crank like Frank Miller).

    3. There was a confidence vote on the Throne Speech and Miller was defeated. Meanwhile the Liberals and NDP had negotiated an ACCORD (not a coalition an ACCORD) and they were prepared to go to the LG with it. It is true that Miller resigned after losing the confidence vote and recommended that Peterson be appointed Premier - but he really had no choice. It was common knowledge at the time that there was ZERO chance that the LG would grant a dissolution just weeks after an election.

    The precedent is very clear - If the Tories have a few more seats than the Liberals but the Liberals and NDP have way more seats than the Tories - the following will happen. Either Harper will see the writing on the wall and be a gentleman and resign, in which case the GG invites Iggy to be PM OR Harper digs in his heels and stalls as much as he can and finally brings in a Throne Speech - he is instantly defeated. He can beg and plead for a dissolution - but it is considered common knowledge that that in a case like that the GG would say NO and dismiss him. Otherwise, why do you think Harper bothered asking for a prorogation last December in the first place?? He asked for it because he knew that if he lost a confidence vote - the GG would refuse to dissolve Parliament and would instead invite the leader of the opposition to form a government. Let's be realistic, if Harper had thought for one second that he could have forced a snap election call in December 2008 - he would have gone for it and probably have won a majority!

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  131. Perfectly expressed, DL.

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  132. Shadow wrote:

    "according to what i've read on the 1975 crisis it seems to be the ONLY example [of dismissal] in Westminster history since 1834. "

    There is at least one other example:

    Jack Lang was dismissed as Premier of New South Wales by that State's LG in the 1930s.

    I'm afraid I have to go to bed now too ...

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  133. DL wrote:

    "He asked for it because he knew that if he lost a confidence vote - the GG would refuse to dissolve Parliament and would instead invite the leader of the opposition to form a government."

    Nonsense.

    The PM "knew" no such thing. And neither do you or I.

    While some Conservatives made over-confident claims that the GG would grant a fresh election, there were equally over-confident claims by some in the opposition that of course the GG would refuse.

    I don't think it is at all clear which way the decision would have gone, had it been required.

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  134. Really, Martin, everything's fine if you simply replace the first "would" in your selective DL quote with the word "might". The final sentence in his post still stands.

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  135. Ishmael/DL

    I like you guys I really do

    Nice counter balance to Shadow

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  136. Ishmael I never suggested that the use of the GG's reserve powers are grounds for her dismissal.

    However, I believe that in a dispute between the GG and the PM that the Queen has the final say.

    She is the higher authority and is very much a part of our system of gov't.

    The queen CANNOT be removed from the equation.

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  137. Hey Martin it seems like decisions to use reserve powers (while perfectly legal) are often viewed as improper and unpopular:

    King William IV sacking Lord Melbourne, King-Byng, 1975 Australia, Wales.

    Granting an election really does seem like the SAFE option for a LG/GG.

    Putting an issue like say the coalition that sprung out of nowhere to the people to decide seems the wisest course of action.

    Anyways, that's my opinion on the matter.

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  138. Shadow:

    You've said that the Prime Minister may contact the Queen to have the Governor General removed from office if the latter "does something deeply unpopular, or gets in the way."

    I don't know where you came up with this formulation, but it comes down to demonizing the Governor General in public if she does something the Prime Minister doesn't like, such as exercising her reserve powers (the part of her job that is most likely to place her "in the way" of the Prime Minister).

    The Queen of Canada has delegated the exercise of all of her reserve powers in Canada to the Governor General. In the absence of a Governor General, those powers revert back to the Queen. But a sitting Governor General cannot be pitted against the monarch because, legally, there is no space between them.

    The Queen is our head of state (the current Governor General and the previous one were wrong to arrogate that title to themselves). But the Prime Minister will reap the whirlwind of a constitutional crisis if he calls up Buckingham Palace to have the Governor General fired.

    Your consideration of this and other scenarios that push our constitution to the breaking point at the very moment that the government is falling behind in the polls is deeply disturbing.

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  139. Based on his track record I can't see Harper passing up the opportunity to put something toxic in the budget and describing it as "necessary restraint"?

    Thus I figure we will see a slash in Health Care funding or some other social program funding that both the Libs, NDP and Bloc simply can't support and thus a Spring Election.

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  140. Peter

    I don't think so.

    Harper and the cons took a hugh hit over prorogation, which turned out to be a move that eas too cute by half.

    I don't think the cons will try and get the hackles of the voters up again, so soon.

    Their latest move about March break seems a little cynical as well.

    I think you can only play games for so long, that everything you do is seen through that prism.

    Just my own personal opinion, I think a lot of Canadians are becoming jaded to Harper's tactics.

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  141. Ishmael cut the "deeply disturbing" nonsense.

    I find it deeply disturbing that the coalition partners would lie to Canadians during an election and claim there is no coalition and then try to form one after the election is over. Not gonna happen again.

    "The Queen of Canada has delegated the exercise of all of her reserve powers in Canada to the Governor General."

    What's your point, it doesn't mean she's powerless in these matters.

    From section XV of the '47 Letters Patent:

    And We do hereby reserve to Ourselves, Our heirs and successors, full power and authority from time to time to revoke, alter, or amend these Our Letters Patent as to Us or them shall seem fit.

    "In the absence of a Governor General, those powers revert back to the Queen."

    To the chief justice of the supreme court actually.

    "But a sitting Governor General cannot be pitted against the monarch because, legally, there is no space between them."

    They are two seperate individuals, one serving at the pleasure of the other.

    Make no mistake who is in charge.

    A GG certainly can be fired for all sorts of reasons.

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  142. Shadow, I said the Queen is our head of state. Period. But you stated that the Governor General may be fired if the Prime Minister convinces the Queen that the GG is "in the way". That is wrong from a constitutional standpoint. And please don't tell me what I am allowed to find "deeply disturbing".

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  143. Ishmael if a GG is getting in the way of the healthy functioning of the Canadian nation then by all means she should be removed.

    Witholding royal assent from bills would be one such instance.

    "That is wrong from a constitutional standpoint."

    It is perfectly legitimate for the Queen to remove a GG, acting on the advice of her PM or on her own volition.

    The GG serves at the pleasure of her majesty at all times.

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  144. I might add that when we had the prorogation "crisis" in December 2008, there were a number of articles and opinion pieces that speculated on what Queen Elizabeth would do in a similar situation. The unanimous consensus was that the Queen with the thousand year history her family has etc... would NEVER in a million years agree to prorogue Parliament so that a PM could avoid defeat in the House. In fact British observers of what happened in Canada were shocked at the very idea of a PM trying to prorogue at all in the UK it would be considered totally beyond the pale to do such a thing. (Of course in the UK all prorogations only happen after a CONSENSUS between government and opposition).

    Harper got his way with Michaelle Jean because she is only serving a five year term and wants to be reappointed. He probably threatened her with all kinds of repercussions if she didn't obey and and knowing him he probably smacker her around a bit. If harper had to go before Queen Elizabeth you can be sure she would have told him to go to go to hell with his prorogation request.

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  145. I find it deeply disturbing that anyone would like an unelected, political appointee, to make the decision about who becomes PM, rather then letting the people decide in an election.

    Ishmael, point blank:

    Is it right to denounce any idea of a coalition during an election, and then attempt to form one immediately afterwards?

    Is this an honest way to take the PMs position?

    Is it a legitimate representation of the will of the people?

    I know how most Canadians would answer these questions.

    Those who would try to justify such actions are blinded by Harper-hatred, and would be shouting from the rooftops if the situation were reversed.

    The coalition question WILL be revisited during the next election.

    It should be interesting.

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  146. Shadow:

    Your problem (and it is a problem) is that you cannot accept that the Governor General may exercise her responsibilites to dismiss the Prime Minister. But that is clearly within the reserve powers of her office.

    Your discussion of the dismissal of the Governor General is a transparent attempt to float the idea of a pre-emptive strike, whereby the Prime Minister would arrange to have the Governor General fired first.

    You said the following:

    "So if Michelle Jean had refused Harper's request for an election in fall of 2008 he could have called the Queen and ask that she be fired."

    Then you floated the insane idea that the Prime Minister and the Governor General could each race to the phone, trying to convince the Queen that the other should be fired:

    "So it would literally be a matter of who contacts the palace first, the GG to ask for the appointment of a new PM or the PM to ask for the appointment of a new GG."

    The ensuing "deeply disturbing" constitutional crisis would be entirely due to the Prime Minister not knowing his place constitutionally.

    It's also curious that you seem to think that the Queen would side with Harper. She knows her powers, and those of her viceroys, very well, and has lived to regret following the advice of certain politicians, including that of Macmillan in the appointment of Douglas-Home as British Prime Minister.

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  147. Wow, I've been voting wrong all these years. I've always been voting for my local representative. I didn't know I could vote for the PM!

    I thought that was my local representative's job.

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  148. DL,

    You're in fantasyland with that "unanimous consensus" BS.

    That "consensus" only took place in your head.

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  149. AJR79:

    As I've said more than once, there's a difference between political optics and the legal reserve powers of the Governor General. If you don't understand this difference, then we can't go anywhere in this debate.

    To repeat: the idea that no organized cooperation between parties is allowed after an election unless it was promised to the public before the vote is an egregious example of confusing political obligations with legal and constitutional ones.

    You might as well argue that whenever Harper breaks a political promise (and he has broken many) that the Governor General should demand his resignation.

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  150. Eric,

    You never consider how your federal vote affects who would become leader of this nation?

    Somehow I doubt that.

    I love how the left can in one breath talk a bout strategic voting to prevent a Harper majority, and then turn around and claim that they vote based only on the local candidates.

    That does not compute.

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  151. Ishmael,

    They don't have to promise a coalition, but they must at least leave to door open for a coalition, if they are to have any legitimacy with the public.

    That is not just an average election promise.
    It is a misrepresentation of what party you stand for.

    A coalition, after ruling one out during an election, would likely destroy the LPC.

    If it happens, I will be with Shadow (and Dions wife), that the LPC is on it's way to the "dustbin of history"

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  152. The rules are the rules. I can vote for Joe Conservative, and the day after being elected he can choose to sit with the Marxist-Leninists. You have to know who you are voting for at the local level. While it might not make your decision of who to vote for, it often can make your decision who not to vote for.

    Anyway, this coalition stuff sounds a lot like charges of a "hidden agenda".

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander! I hope in the debate they'll ask Ignatieff if he is planning a coalition with the socialists and the separatists and Harper if he plans to limit abortion and gay marriage.

    Apparently, we must always assume our leaders are planning things they aren't discussing.

    Every side has a hidden agenda, apparently! But one side's hidden agenda is worthy of discussion and the other's is a baseless accusation.

    I don't like getting involved with the comments here, I try to avoid it, but I get tired of each side saying that when their guy does X it is bad but when the other guy does X it is good. Or when X argument means Y from one side, it means Z from the other.

    Frustrating to watch.

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  153. Eric

    Well said

    Every side seems to have a lot of sanctimony going for it

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  154. I think Harper has been clear about the abortion, and SSM issues.

    He is wise enough to see these for the minefields they are, and will not put the CPC at risk by catering to the religous right.

    He has allowed a free vote on the SSM issue, and has stated that he would not be bringing any abortion legislation forward.

    I believe that Ignatieff is also wise enough to see that if he rules out a coalition unequivically, and then attempts to form one, he will be destroying his party also.

    I have no problems with either of these questions coming up in the televised debates.

    Any dishonest answers on these questions would have the dynamite to destroy either party, IMHO.

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  155. AJR79, the possible demise of the Liberal Party of Canada, or of any other party, is beside the point, because that's a political consequence, not a legal one.

    We've been talking about what the Governor General is empowered to do, and whether the Prime Minister may block her in the exercise of her powers. I, and perhaps many Canadians, would find it deeply disturbing if a minority Prime Minister, in order to achieve short-term political aims, pushed our constitution to the breaking point of an unprecedented constitutional crisis. And for what - so that he could hang on for a few more months?

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  156. I would also be deeply disturb if an unelected offical precipitated a constitutional crisis, by failing to heed the advice of an elected PM.

    If you would like him/her to wield that kind of power, against an elected PM, then I would suggest that the position of GG should be transformed into an elected position.

    I'm in favour of that, and a Canadian Republic.

    This constitutional monarchy buisness is soooo 18th century.

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  157. --- "Any dishonest answers on these questions would have the dynamite to destroy either party, IMHO."

    Exactly. You can ask the question to Ignatieff, but he doesn't have to answer yes or no. He leaves himself open to questions if he doesn't answer yes or no, just like the Conservatives and their "hidden agenda".

    So, Ignatieff can say that he doesn't want a coalition, but wouldn't rule it out, and that's fine. That's as much as you can expect, and it's an honest answer. Politicians know they don't have to answer hypotheticals unless they want to.

    We can only go on what politicians say, what their track record is, and whether we believe them.

    That's it. You can certainly believe that what your guy says is true and what the other guy says is a lie, but you can't demand others to also have that view.

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  158. Ignatieff did sign that coalition agreement, although in a rather cheeky way.

    Raising the spectre of a coalition is not only good politics, but it has some basis in reality, as it was JUST attempted last year.

    That agenda is not so hidden anymore.

    Any mealy-mouthed avoiding of the coalition question by Iggy would (rightly) be portrayed as an endorsement of a possible coalition.

    If thats the way it shakes down during an election, then I like the Conservaives chance at a majority.

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  159. If I were Ignatieff, I'd answer a question about a coalition this way:

    "I don't want a coalition. I want a Liberal majority government, or even a strong minority. But, if a situation arises where the majority of Canada's elected representatives decide a coalition government is necessary, and that I should lead it, I would certainly consider it."

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  160. Just like how the Conservatives are free to govern as they like and deal with the consequences in an election, the Liberals and NDP could form a coalition and deal with the consequences in the next election. If Canadians like what they did, and they governed well, they'd get re-elected. If they don't like what they did, then they don't get re-elected.

    That's just the way it works. No government does EVERYTHING it said it would do once elected and no government ONLY does what they said they would do once elected. And it isn't because they were dishonest. It's because the reality of governing is different than the proposals of an election campaign.

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  161. I wonder why these Tories are suddenly so sanctimonious about parties having to lay all their cards on the table about any arrangements etc... but I still remember how in 2006 thousands of people voted for David Emerson in Vancouver-Kingsway because he was running as a Liberal and promised to be "Stephen Harper's worst nightmare" - then two weeks later he electorally RAPED the people of Vancouver-Kingsway who voted for him by joining the Conservatives. Where was the outrage back then from all the resident neo-cons???

    As I mentioned before in 1985 the Ontario Liberals and NDP did NOT campaign as a team in the election and promise to form an accord. It all happened after the election - and no one seemed to mind except Frank Miller.

    Personally, I think that Igantieff should refuse to answer any hypothetical questions about post-election arrangements aqnd simply say that he intends to win a majority in the election and that if not he will consider his options. Period. IF, he explicitly rules out any "coalition" then fine - he has ruled out a 2008 style scenario where the NDP is part of the government and has cabinet seats. But there are other arrangements where the NDP would support a Liberal minority government but whch don't involve cabinet seats being shared. Those arrangements are NOT coalitions - but they would be perfectly valid ways of deposing Harper post-election.

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  162. I'd find that a very acceptable answer also Eric.

    Any coalition formed after an answer like that would have been put to the public in an election, and would have a legitimate mandate from the people.

    I also believe that an answer like that, would give the Tories their majority.

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  163. Think of the Liberals and the GST, or the Conservatives and the income trusts. Were they lying during the campaign, or did they take a look at the books once in government and decide that what they promised wasn't the best course of action after all?

    Call me crazy, but I tend to give politicians the benefit of the doubt.

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  164. --- "I also believe that an answer like that, would give the Tories their majority."

    I think an NDP-Liberal coalition (sans Dion as head) is more palatable to more people than a Conservative majority.

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  165. "I would also be deeply disturb if an unelected offical precipitated a constitutional crisis, by failing to heed the advice of an elected PM."

    The PM is elected by the House of Commons. If at the first meeting of the house after the election, Harper cannot establish confidence he is ipso-facto NOT an elected PM - he is a lame duck caretaker with no mandate and the GG is under no obligation to follow his advice.

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  166. I see where you're coming from there Eric, and we will have to agree to disagree.

    Many Liberals would probably find Jack Layton - Minister of Industry, as scary a prospect as I do.

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  167. AJR79, hazy dreams of a Canadian republic might be pleasant, but we have a working constitution that, by and large, gives us good governance and, like most good constitutions, is not easy to change.

    One thing that wearies me is the kind of tactical thinking that collapses our entire future as a country into the short-term political manoeuvres of the next few weeks or months.

    In this thread, scenarios have been thrown around that contemplate gutting the vice-regal office so that a minority Prime Minister may eke out a bit more time in office.

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  168. --- "Many Liberals would probably find Jack Layton - Minister of Industry, as scary a prospect as I do."

    Sure, but the Liberals would find that scary as well. They wouldn't give him a portfolio like that, and everyone who follows politics closely knows that well enough.

    I wouldn't want Bruinooge being given the Minister of State (Status of Women) portfolio, or Pierre Polievre being given the Indian Affairs ministry.

    Harper is smart enough not to give controversial MPs controversial cabinet seats. Do you really believe Ignatieff isn't equally as smart? That is pretty basic politics.

    It bothers me when people make statements like yours, because they are meant to get a sensationalistic reaction, when you know very well that it would never happen.

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  169. Ishmael,

    Others on this thread sound like they are pineing for another King-Byng affair.

    Thats not too cool either.

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  170. No Eric, I didn't pull Minister of Industry out of nowhere.

    If you followed the coalition debacle, as closly as I did, then you would very well know that it looked like a very good possibilty that Layton WAS in line for that post.

    Minister of Finance was the only one the Liberals took off the table.

    Jack Layton is the leader of the NDP, and was lobbying for that post from a position of strength.

    It was the Dion Liberals then too, not the Ignatieff Liberals.

    I wonder how many Dippers would be comfortable with supporting Iggy as PM?

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  171. This is a bit of an absurd discussion. First of all, let me just say that I really don't know what exactly would be so "scary" about Jack Layton being Minister of Industry. I think the only thing Liberals find "scary" about it is that he would prove to be a competent, moderate, pragmatic minister and as a result more people would be willing to vote NDP instead of Liberal in the future.

    But let's set that aside. Realistically, I don't think anyone sees much chance of a new "COALITION" after the next election. I think that what is far more likely is some sort of a Liberal/NDP accord like what happened in Ontario in 1985 or like what Layton and Martin negotiated in 2005 or like the Trudeau-Lewis arrangement of 1972-1974.

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  172. The reason the coalition of 08 was so completely unacceptable to the public, was that people did not want Dion as prime minister. He had just been massively rejected by the public.

    The cons also played the BLOC thing brilliantly. The Bloc agreed to support the coalition on confidence matters. The BLOC had no cabinet positions, and were not part of drafting any legislation. So in my mind "A coalition propped up by the separatists was false"

    We don't really know how the public feels about a coalition now. Things change.

    A79 any talk of a con majority now is a pipe dream.

    If Dion was unacceptable to the voters as Prime Minister, I feel that the majority of the public now thinks the same thing about Harper being a majority Prime Minister

    In an election campaign if Harper should be asked "If returned with a minority would you reject the support of the BLOC, on confidence matters, if the NDP/LIbs vote against your government"

    That question would be completely speculative, so I don't think we would get a difinitive answer from Harper either.

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  173. AJR79, what made the King-Byng affair an "affair" was King's grandstanding for political gain, not Byng's exercise of his duties.

    This topic is no less "cool" than endless discussions about a Triple-E Senate :(

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  174. AJR79,

    My only response is that Ignatieff is no Dion. Dion was in a desperate position, a position of weakness.

    We can be reasonably confident that Ignatieff would only consider a coalition from a position of strength. Layton had almost half has many MPs as Dion. That is unlikely to happen with Ignatieff.

    I agree with DL that Layton as Industry Minister wouldn't be scary, and that, in any case, the more left-wing elements of the NDP would be moderated pretty heavily by a Liberal-dominated cabinet and Ignatieff as PM. That seems pretty self-evident.

    Anyway, I think this discussion is pretty unnecessary. I don't think a coalition is a likely scenario and could only happen if Harper wins a minority and then dares the opposition to do something like this. I don't think he would make the same mistake he made in 2008.

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  175. I agree with Kevin, Harper should be pressed to categorically state that he will reject any support from the Bloc on confidence measures and that if the Liberals and NDP vote non-confidence and have more seats between them that do the Tories - he will resign.

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  176. You think an unelected official should defy the PM.

    I would like an elected senate.

    Which is more democratic?

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  177. AJR79, if a Triple-E Senate elects the same number of Senators from Ontario as from P.E.I. (or even Alberta), then it is democratically deficient.

    But I understand - you're the valiant democrat, and I'm the dastardly monarchist! That's a brilliant rhetorical stroke.

    Constitutionalism is a welcome feature in every state, except totalitarian ones.

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  178. A79

    Good luck with an elected senate.

    That requires a constitutional ammendement.

    Quebec and Ontario have allready said they are not on board with that idea either.

    PEI, Nova Scotia, Nfld, NB, will not agrree to an elected senate either if it moves to a Rep by pop senate, as they would lose influence under that scenario.

    I wish Harper with stop with this faux populism, on the senate, he's thrown enough red meat to his bas lately.

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  179. Ishmael wrote:

    "Really, Martin, everything's fine if you simply replace the first "would" in your selective DL quote with the word "might"."

    But that is exactly the point.

    He made several grandiose claims to the effect that the GG would certainly have refused the request for dissolution. That is simply wrong. There was no such certainty.

    If one wishes to claim that in December '08, Mr. Harper was unsure whether (if defeated) the GG would grant a request for dissolution and that that uncertainty influenced Harper's actions -- that claim I have no problem with, as it is a reasonable proposition.

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  180. Kevin wrote:

    "In an election campaign if Harper should be asked "If returned with a minority would you reject the support of the BLOC, on confidence matters, if the NDP/LIbs vote against your government" "

    I see this discussion is getting more and more absurd.

    No PM has the authority to ban MPs from other parties from voting this way or that.

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  181. Ishmael,

    Perhaps you should look into what a republic is.

    It doesn't mean that we would not have a constitution.

    We could even produce a much better constitution.

    If a republic isn't an option, then I will contiue to advocate for reforms in our system.

    Australia has a Westminster parliament with an elected senate.

    Is it that out of place to suggest that Canada gets one too?

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  182. AJR79, a republic is not necessarily democratic, or at least not thoroughly so. There are often traditional, non-elected elements which serve as checks on democratic exuberance. In fact, Canada is a republic in all but name! We don't need an elected president to have a republican style of government.

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  183. Martin

    Cons seem to want a definitive answer from Iggy that he will forever rule out a coalition.

    So it's fair game to ask Harper if he will rule out support from the Bloc on confidence matters, if the NDP/Libs vote against him.

    After all his prognostications on the separatists, why does this seem absurd to you?

    And what does banning votes from other parties have to do with anything. Harper can only control his own party. I think his influence in the NDP, LIBS, and BLOC, party and how there going to vote on anyting is completely non existent.

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  184. Kevin wrote:

    "And what does banning votes from other parties have to do with anything."

    You had written: "would you reject the support of the BLOC"

    What does "reject" entail to you then? The PM cannot forbid Bloc MPs from voting with the government.

    Your proposition is entirely nonsensical -- silly season writ large.

    "Cons seem to want a definitive answer from Iggy that he will forever rule out a coalition."

    I don't think that's entirely accurate. The response that Eric posted at 11:00 would be a different, reasonable answer from the Liberal leader.

    But of course he is reluctant to give such an answer because Ignatieff wants to have his cake and eat it too. He is not the first politician to do so of course. But it is also quite reasonable for CPC supporters to point out Ignatieff's contradictory behaviour.

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  185. He must have a hidden agenda!

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  186. Now this is an interesting development ...

    "NDP leader Jack Layton to announce political future

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2526967

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  187. Ishmael,

    If you think we are a republic in all but name, why on earth would you think that the GG using her reserve powers is A-OK?

    I don't mind telling you that the GGs powers flow from the monarchy, the unelected "part" of our "republic".

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  188. --- "Now this is an interesting development ... "NDP leader Jack Layton to announce political future"

    Wow. A run at mayor of Toronto? It would fit well with Layton's political experience.

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  189. Eric,

    As I pointed out before, his signature on the coalition agreement is not hidden.

    The agenda there was quite clear, and in the open.

    It is not out of line to think that he may favour one again after the next election, or question him if he would, and under what circumstance.

    His statements thus far have not been very satisfactory to this voter.

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  190. I don't see why he has to rule it out one way or another.

    Anyway, word is that Layton will temporarily step-down as leader and get back surgery, or something.

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  191. Living in Ontario, I was a bit nervous of Jack running for mayor.

    I should write Selley and tell him to not give me a heart attack.

    I wonder if Jack is going to go on the common mans waiting list for his surgery?

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  192. AJR79, you missed my point that a republic does not have to be, and typically is not, thoroughly democratic. In fact, any system that you could design could also be attacked for being anti-democratic in some respects.

    Not every part of our constitutional machinery has to be elected, so long as it does its job within our legal framework and provides us with stable government.

    By the way, how would you feel if every elected President of a Republic of Canada came from Ontario? How do you think Quebecers would feel if every President were a unilingual anglophone? Unlikely scenarios, perhaps, but those would be instances where an elected President would provide us with less stability than our current arrangements.

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  193. Toronto Star now reporting that Layton is seriously ill.

    I'm saddened to hear it. Hopefully we'll learn something more positive during his 2pm announcement.

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  194. Best wishes to Jack Layton

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  195. Jack will remain as NDP leader as he battles prostate cancer.

    Good for him and good luck !

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  196. I would just like to clarify my comments on the Bloc/Harper subject earlier.

    My comments in response to Martin were very poorly thought out and phrased.

    I wished I had stated them like DL.

    If Harper were to be asked a hypothetical question about facing a confidence vote, if he were to be returned to office with a minority, would he state "If the NDP/Libs vote non confidence in my government, and they have more seats than myself , I will resign.

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  197. Sorry above post was from Kevin

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  198. Hi Eric,
    Ericrw here.
    I noticed that when you published the %s lost/gained by the parties in January it didnt add up to 100%. When you take the losses of the tories(4.4) and the ndp(.8) and subtract the gains of the libs(2.0) and greens(1.8) you still are missing 1.4 percent. The total is also 98.6 what happened to it-is it other?
    Thanks,
    Ericrw

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  199. Yes, it would be. And rounding, of course.

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