Thursday, September 03, 2015

What Happens After October 19th?


The outcome of this election is uncertain. But regardless of who wins, Andrew Coyne writes, what happens after October 19th is also uncertain:

So it’s an unusually unpredictable election. But that doesn’t begin to describe how uncertain the outcome is. Because it isn’t just the results on election night that are impossible to predict: it’s what happens after. Even if the polls as they now stand turn out to be an exact reflection of each party’s share of the vote on Oct. 19, that still doesn’t give us the first clue who will be governing us.

For one thing, it is always difficult to know how precisely the polls will translate into seats. But suppose the current projections are right: that the NDP wins about 125 seats, to the Conservatives’ 120 and the Liberals’ 95. What then?

In a properly functioning democracy, the Conservatives could try to form a government:

Among the imponderables: who does the governor general call upon to form a government? The answer is not, as popularly believed, the party with the most seats. Rather, by convention it is supposed to be the incumbent who gets first crack. Probably that is what would happen, and probably Stephen Harper would accept. But what if the gap in seats between the NDP and the Conservatives were larger? Would he try to form a government with, say, 110 seats? 105?

And, what if Harper -- like Joe Clark -- refused to call back the House for five months? Or what if the Governor General called on someone else to form a government and -- like Mackenzie King --  Harper refused to accept Donald Johnston's decision? This is a man who believes that all decisions rest with him and him alone.

My bet is that a prime minister who has kept two dozen orders in council secret would not go quietly or easily. However, if the Conservatives were reduced to third party status, much of the uncertainty would be cast in the dustbin.


Rural said...

" Rather, by convention it is supposed to be the incumbent who gets first crack." Having repeatedly thumbed his nose at parliamentary convention it would be most ironic if Harper decided that he would follow this one, Owen! Those unpublished orders in council are very troubling, who knows what self serving 'laws' he has secretly brought in.

Owen Gray said...

A man with that much to hide simply can't be trusted, Rural -- in small and large matters.

Anonymous said...

Is there any question that even if Harperman comes in second in the number of seats, and the NDP (or Libs) comes in first but without securing an outright majority, that he would refuse to give up power unless forced to do so?

Unfortunately, based on his track record, David Johnston could be expected to accede to Harperman's play. Remember that Johnston was apparently rewarded with his post for crippling the Mulroney inquiry under Harperman's direction. Johnston had limited the terms of the inquiry to exclude the issue at the heart of the Mulroney-Schreiber saga, the alleged Airbus kickbacks. That inquiry had cost taxpayers $15M but was limited to asking questions only about the alleged sales of the armored vehicles, totaling what, two hundred thousand? And an alleged small pasta factory. Yep, that was Johnston for you, but then, Harperman has an apparent habit of corrupting everything he touches.

Which brings us to what I think is a really important issue during this election: can the Libs and the NDP ever put aside their partisan sniping at each other and join into a common cause to remove this blight on our land?

Remember that if Trudeau keeps saying that he can never form a coalition with the NDP because the values are too different, how is he going to justify even an accord with the NDP? Does the problem with different values simply disappear if it is merely an accord, where presumably the Libs commit to support NDP programs in return for some of their own?

And then there is the unthinkable (at least to some of us). I don't think the NDP would support a Cons minority government. Their party would break up. Recall the NDP youths and occupation of NDP MP offices over the lack of criticism of Israel during the Gaza conflict. Supporting Harperman would be even a bigger no, no. I suspect many Libs too would tear up their memberships if Trudeau supports a Cons minority government. Trudeau, however, despite his protests that he would never form a coalition with the NDP, has never uttered a word about a non coalition with the Cons. Have you noticed that too?

Owen Gray said...

I have, Anon. But I assume that Trudeau knows that supporting a Harper government is political suicide. On the other hand, necessity might lead to an accord between Mulcair and Trudeau but not a coalition.

Mogs Moglio said...

Yes Trudeau and harper united would be a slow lurching Frankenstein type government. But I can't see harper swallowing his ego and putting aside his pride to endorse this remember he hates liberals more than he hates anti-Jewish terrorists.

Speaking of ego's the Libs and the NDP had a chance to cripple the harper-cons in 2009 but Layton opted out. I don't know what it is but it is the weirdest trip I have ever seen that of stephen joesph harper. He should never have been able to sneak into power given his tortured background. Anti-Mandela, anti-abortion, anti-medicare, anti-social services of any kind vets seniors the disabled the unemployed [are all hated and considered 'useless eaters by harper], anti public service basically anti core values of Canada and the majority of Canadians. Of course he is the darling of the 1% of Canadians and the world, Multi-Trans-national Corporations and right wingers and religious christian zealots. Not to mention anti democracy.

He has survived minority governments before plus he is most definitively a "go it alone' guy. Some times I feel like the Liberals and the NDP are making it easy for him. They instead of 'taking the gloves off' tip-toe around harper's worst offenses. What have we gotten into as Canadians that we have a shadow self running the show and others let him or even empower him. Is he a vampire? His once blue only eyes now often turn cold and grey. What the hell is that all about?

Owen Gray said...

Stephen Harper came to Ottawa to get even, Mogs. And the list of people on his hit list keeps growing.

Toby said...

Mogs Moglio is right. What is wrong with us that we let this Zombie destroy us? Canadians have fallen into the same malaise of sleepwalking out of their democracy and their civilization as have others of note. We ask ourselves how "they" could let it happen but never how we can let it happen.

Owen Gray said...

The old adage is still true, Toby. We get the government we deserve.

CanadianMalcontent said...

Potentially one hell of a mess that may need the courts to resolve. Harper may not go away easy either.

But it may come down to who JT will support. If he decides to back Steve he would hurt his party and he says he will not support a coalition with NDP so he is in a predicament...

Owen Gray said...

If he supports Harper, he'll kill the Liberal Party, Malcontent. And I'm sure his father's ghost will haunt his dreams.