Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Lessons Of 2006 and 2008


It's hard to predict the outcome of an election. But this time around, if the Harperites receive a plurality of votes, Nelson Wiseman writes that 2006 and 2008 should have taught the opposition parties a few lessons:

If the 2015 election produces another Conservative minority, the first lesson that should be drawn from the case of 2008 is that the opposition parties will be hard-pressed to bring down a minority government at a time and on an issue of their choosing.
If they pass the speech from the throne when the next Parliament convenes, they will give the government unconditional authority until it introduces a major spending measure. If the measure meets the opposition’s opprobrium, the prime minister knows he can repair to Rideau Hall once again to postpone and possibly avoid his government’s defeat as he did in 2008. He will ask for a prorogation or for Parliament’s dissolution and fresh elections. Given the history of his office and the record of his predecessor, the enfeebled Governor General will consent.
The corollary of this lesson is that in another Conservative minority situation, the opposition parties will have to act expeditiously and with greater resolve than they did in 2008. Expect negotiations on an alternative government to a Conservative minority to begin on election night and no later than the next day. A publicly acknowledged negotiation process by the Liberals and the NDP, if not the contents of the negotiations, will prepare the public for what may be coming.
The opposition parties did not do this in 2008 and they paid for it. An alternative government will emerge as a coalition government — where members of the two opposition parties are in the cabinet — or as a Liberal minority government after the Liberals sign an accord with the NDP, the likely third party holding the balance of power. Such an accord would ensure a stable Liberal minority government with the NDP refraining from voting non-confidence for a fixed period in exchange for the Liberals entertaining some of the NDP’s agenda.

The model is the accord between Bob Rae and David Peterson which followed Ontario's 1985 election. Expect Stephen Harper to claim that coalitions are illegitimate. That claim, of course, is completely bogus. And the present Governor-General is on record on that subject: “I think that most jurisdictions that have a system of first-past-the-post or proportional representation will from time to time have coalitions or amalgamation of different parties.”

This time around, the opposition know who they are dealing with. If they fail, they will have no excuses.


Lorne said...

We all have a responsibility of being as informed as possible to ensure a healthy democracy, Owen. It's a pity far too many prefer to live their lives in ignorance. We all end up paying a terrible price.

Owen Gray said...

In the end, Lorne, democracy will only work if voters are informed -- which implies that they will make an effort to be informed.

If we lose our democracy, it will be because we chose ignorance over education.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's all well and good but when you have a premeditated, well organized system of purposeful disinformation working as well as harpie's does, it really does take some extra work to get at and disseminate the truth as broadly as the corporate-owned and controlled right wing radicalized m.s.m. stations do. tv, the papers (for the huge part) and whatever garbage passes for radio these days are totally under the control of upstanding and wonderful beings like black and murdoch. Getting people educated is paramount but the question is: how do we do that on a large and effective scale so that it really does make a difference?

Dana said...

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H. L. Mencken

Owen Gray said...

I admit it's a problem, Anon. But social media provide an opportunity to counter the corporate juggernaut.

Whether they will or not remains to be seen.

Scotian said...

Agreed to the post and the first two comments in this thread. Which in turn leads to my point about the utter importance of a political media that does its job and always holds those in power to the highest focus of critical examination REGARDLESS of who they are. It is after all the rational of a free press in a democratic system of government so that they help create the condition of the informed voter upon which said system relies upon to work. When we lose that we are all diminished regardless of our political persuasion, at least those of us that believe that voting in AND out our governments is important.

Some of my personal frustration over the past few decades has been over the increasing amount of ignorance in the most basic understanding of how our system of government is both designed to work and actually works as opposed to how they think it should or wish it did. How can anyone be an informed voter if they do not even understand that much? Which is why I've long said, since my own years in public school even, that we need a mandatory civics course to prevent scammers from manipulating voters (and this is back in the late 70s to early 80s I was worrying about this as a teenager, coming from a family with strong political roots I was educated within my family on process truths so it made it really obvious to me how different I was from my peers even then) against their own best interest because I also understood that there are in all systems of government those who would do such, even in well mannered Canada.

So we need to be aware of all this going into the next election, and ready to fight against the Harper media campaign against coalitions in the event of minority conditions after the next election. Trudeau and Mulcair both need to be ready to pivot to such in that circumstance, and we ALL need to push back in that situation against the inevitable CPC spin that unless you pledge coalition beforehand it is a coup d'etat after an election to entertain the concept. What worries me is whether Mulcair can live with doing so, especially as he is almost certain to be reduced from LOO to third party status, and when you combined that with his clear antipathy (at the minimum) to Trudeau, well...*shrug*. While I agree that there is mutual dislike between them, I really get the sense that the intensity is worse on Mulcair's side than the reverse, although last falls nastiness on the harassment issue may have altered that somewhat. Combine that with resentment for losing position and I have to wonder if Mulcair could bring himself to enter into such even to remove Harper, I would like to think so, but human nature being what it is, well I worry.

Owen Gray said...

Mencken didn't have much faith in the people he called "the booboise," Dana.

Ever since the Scopes Monkey Trial -- which he covered -- we have wondered if perhaps he was right.

Owen Gray said...

Rae and Peterson had no great admiration for each other, Scotian. But, after 42 years in opposition, they were willing to make some compromises.

Let's hope that kind of thinking prevails -- if it is required.

Dana said...

I don't wonder if he was right any more, Owen.

mogs moglio said...

"The opposition parties did not do this in 2008 and they paid for it."

If they had we would not have seen Canada dissolve before our eyes between then and now. I find both NDP and Liberals repugnant for that reason. They aided and abetted the Harper-con clown show one dictator and a bunch of trained seals barking and clapping on command. Sickening the opposition does not have clean hands in these matters. They can not simply rinse their guilt off.

If they did not bother to research into Harper's background and sat on their laurels instead ---> What kind of opposition is that? There was plenty of information out there that Harper was planning on destroying Canada.

ron wilton said...

We didn't 'lose' our democracy, it was taken from us by stealth and corporate wealth.

Voting won't bring it back.

Owen Gray said...

Then we're in deep, deep trouble, Ron.

Owen Gray said...

They simply didn't take the threat he posed seriously, Mogs. They thought he led a small army of right wing cooks.

Anonymous said...

It will likely take both Mulcair and Trudeau to clean up Harper's mess. One of them would have to do, just fence mending of all the countries Harper has insulted and angered. Countries that used to be our friends, no longer are. Harper swearing at Obama and hanging up on him? Harper had better watch his mouth as, he won't have the US military to back his big mouth up anymore.

I notice Harper has been cut out of the talks with Russia. Angela Merkel has said, not to push nor threaten Putin as, that will not work.

I wonder how Merkel will get along with Harper, on her visit to the west? Merkel does not want the Ukraine to be armed as, Putin will not back down.

I am going along with many others. We will vote for the party that is closest to taking Harper out. We are voting to keep someone out, rather than voting someone in.

Owen Gray said...

Those same boobs threw out Hoover, Dana, and elected Roosevelt. In one of history's strange twists of fate, a wealthy man became the working man's friend.

And Roosevelt's enemies called him a "traitor to his class."

Owen Gray said...

If we change governments this year, Anon, I suspect it will be less about who we want in than who we want out.

Dana said...

An example from 83 years ago might as well be an example from a different species, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

If Hooverian economics is repeating itself, Dana, we might get the same reaction now. At the moment, it seems to be happening in Greece.

mogs moglio said...

"They simply didn't take the threat he posed seriously, Mogs. They thought he led a small army of right wing cooks."

But as it turned out they were right wing crooks.

Dana said...

Haven't you noticed the fracturing of the social contract since the advent of the world wide web, the untendered sale of political will, judgement as well as civil society to the billionaire boys club, the popular destruction of the intellect, wisdom and attention span of the populace, the ennobling of the trivial and the meaningless ?

With the whole hearted, enthusiastic, unquestioning participation of the booboisie.

That can't have all passed you by.

None of that is going to be reversed in this corporatized culture because it's vitally important for the survival of our corporate citizenry, and their shareholders (who are after all *us*), that we, the human citizens, remain in our trance and unable to discern our best interests.

It remains to be seen exactly what's happening in Greece and what may come of it yet still one thing is sure.

The almighty dollar is not going to suddenly become irrelevant.

Owen Gray said...

The Almighty Dollar has always held sway. And, as I've said before, Dana, you may be right.

I'm just not ready to surrender. Call me a cockeyed optimist. As Victor Hugo wrote, "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."

Neo-Liberalism's time came sometime ago. But there are countervailing ideas. And there's still time. But it's running short.

Owen Gray said...

And they were a bigger army than I -- at least -- understood, Mogs.