The Blame Game

I would like to respond to Gerald Hall’s letter in the Sept 10, The Now, Coquitlam, which starts with the complaint: “So Ignatieff and the Liberals are prepared to force a totally unnecessary and unwanted election on Canadians …”

Yes, Mr. Ignatieff has indeed announced that the Liberal caucus would not be further supporting the government. This has been widely misreported of course, as a threat to avidly seek each and every opportunity to defeat it, and to attempt at every opportunity to do so — this is like taking a warning that we won’t be able to hold the ladder any more, as a threat to dash over and knock it down. Not the same thing at all. But it does free us to vote on the merits of any particular question itself, and let the chips fall where they may.

Mr. Harper and his government are famous for their disregard of the institutions of Parliament, even producing a booklet for their caucus advising on strategies for disrupting the workings of committees.

And he has a track-record of delaying, then unnecessarily lumping contentious items into bills that if defeated would bring down the government, and to stonewall amendments in committees — a “my way or the highway” approach. This, needlessly, over and over again, puts our elected representatives in the untenable position of having to hold their noses and avoid an election “that no one wants,” or to truly represent the best interests of their constituents by voting against the particular matter, if that is their position, even if in so doing it might trigger an election.

They’re damned for “supporting” the disagreeable items if they vote one way, or damned for “irresponsibly” triggering an election if they don’t, and scorned if they don’t vote at all. For Canada, this is a lose-lose scenario all ’round.

In this bitter and acrimonious environment, the Liberal caucus has, as have the other opposition caucuses as well, gone extraordinary lengths to find common ground upon which the parliament can come to terms, to get the work done and represent the best interests of Canadians, as well as to avoid an election “that no one wants.” If Canadians truly “don’t want another election,” it is regrettable that they’ve offered so little regard of our constructive efforts to avoid one.

But even so, the simple and clear fact of the matter is that “the Liberals,” alone, cannot force an election.

The only single entity in Parliament that can do that is Mr. Harper himself, if he chooses again to ignore his own clearly worthless fixed election-date law. But for the opposition Parties to defeat the government requires all three of them to do so.

Mr. Harper can continue to govern as long as he can find at least one other Party to support him. Just one. If his government falls, it will be because Mr. Harper himself cannot find any other Party to support his rigid, narrow minded, and high-handed approach, or his too-small vision of Canada.

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