Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I am not quite ready to say that parliamentary democracy in Canada is a sham; but, it is getting far too close for comfort.

At worst Paul Martin's government is holding power with only a minority of support in the only legislative body that matters in this country. Exercising power in opposition to the opinion of the general will is a fairly succinct definition of undemocratic.

At best, the confidence of the government has been called into question. In fact, the confidence of the government has been in question for weeks, but the government has done everything in its power to avoid actually governing in the House and thereby stalling a true vote of confidence. Now, a majority of the Commons has endorsed a recommendation that the government resign.

It is incumbent on the government to prove immediately that they maintain the confidence of the House and the right to govern. Proceduaral stalling is no longer acceptable. Waiting for a budget vote is no longer acceptable. Assurances from the prime minister that there will be a confidence vote are no longer acceptable.

The strength of parliamentary democracy rests on adherence to its longstanding traditions. If the prime minister ignores those traditions our parliament is indeed a sham.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:35 a.m.

Read or Post a Comment

So how's May 19th?

Posted by Blogger Mader @ May 11, 2005 3:44 p.m. #

I hate that the PM is framing the 19th vote as an 'offer' to the opposition. The opposition has declared its non-confidence verbally. We've seen a vote that is at worst an ambigous motion of non-confidence.

If the government were to offer to do no governing until the 19th it would be acceptable. Until the 19th the opposition should boycott the House or vote against absolutely every government motion.

The 19th is not acceptable but the opposition is tacitly accepting the government's position by continuing to show up and pass motions.

Only by shutting down Parliament entirely will the PM and other Canadians realize the gravity of the situation.

Posted by Blogger Matthew @ May 11, 2005 7:57 p.m. #

The 19th, by any objective standard, is unacceptable. By convention after such a clear indication that the government does not have the confidence of the House, to remove any ambiguity, it is incumbent upon the government to immediately table a confidence motion of its own. That would happen too, were it not the case that the Liberals know they will lose. So what's the big deal with postponing the vote, we can trust the PM at his word to do it next week right? In my opinion it doesn't even come to that. To postpone a test of confidence now, to a date in the future at the exclusive discretion of the government is a insult to parliamentary democracy. Putting off the confidence test for any amount of time is acting more like a dictatorship, that thinks it is entitled to govern, than a democracy. 12 years is too long in government for any party, the Liberals are nakedly holding on to power, and without the confidence of the House this is a grave affront to our parliamentary system.

Posted by Blogger Hockey Jones @ May 11, 2005 8:36 p.m. #

What's quorum in the House - and could the Tories and the Bloc deny quorum by not showing up?

In the alternative, what's to stop the 'opposition' from beginning to pass its own legislation (not spending legislation, one would hope, but perhaps procedural legislation)? Presumably the only thing keeping Harper from exercising legislative power himself is a procedural bar granting the power of introducing legislation and otherwise controlling Commons business to the 'governing' party rather than the party with the majority. Maybe it's time that changed?

Posted by Blogger Mader @ May 12, 2005 8:36 a.m. #

The Constitution Act, 1867 establishes a quorum of twenty members (including the member presiding) for the House of Commons. Any member may request a count of the members to ascertain the presence of a quorum; if, however, the Speaker feels that at least twenty members are clearly in the Chamber, he or she may deny the request.

If a count does occur, and fewer than twenty members are present, the Speaker orders the bells to be rung, to summon other available members. If, after a second count, a quorum is still not present, the Speaker must adjourn the House until the next sitting day.

Posted by Anonymous Matthew's Dad @ May 12, 2005 7:59 p.m. #
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