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 Post subject: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Can Bush could do something like this?

Canada halts parliament amid row

Mr Harper said the opposition pact was a threat to Canada's democracy and economy

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a bid to suspend parliament, blocking an opposition attempt to topple his minority government.

The governor general agreed to Mr Harper's request, unprecedented in the country, after talks.

If the request had been rejected, he would have had to step down or face a confidence vote he was sure to lose.

Opposition parties had called the vote for Monday, accusing the government of failing to shore up the economy.
(Continued w/video)

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:17 am 
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I heard about this last night. Unreal. Seems like Canada has some pretty huge structural problems with its government on 2 fronts:

1) Parliament can vote the pres out of office on a whim without the fuss and muss of an impeachment procedure. This seems anti-democratic to me. The guy was voted in by the people and it should take a long, transparent process for him to be tossed out before his term is over.

2) He can just shut down Parliament to avoid this.

Seems like a screwy system to me. For God's sake, can't anyone but the US get this whole democracy thing right?

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:18 pm 
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AngryOldMan wrote:
I heard about this last night. Unreal. Seems like Canada has some pretty huge structural problems with its government on 2 fronts:

1) Parliament can vote the pres out of office on a whim without the fuss and muss of an impeachment procedure. This seems anti-democratic to me. The guy was voted in by the people and it should take a long, transparent process for him to be tossed out before his term is over.


Canada doesn't have a president, it has a prime minister. You don't vote for a prime minister in a Westminster system, you vote for your local MP.

Quote:
2) He can just shut down Parliament to avoid this.


That /is/ screwy. The prime minister has no actual power, the parliament has all the power. PM is merely first among equals. So I do wonder wtf this is about. I would have to read more on the Canadian constituion.

Quote:
Seems like a screwy system to me. For God's sake, can't anyone but the US get this whole democracy thing right?


Not at all, you just assume every democracy is a presidential one, and they aren't.

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:59 pm 
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Well at least in ours, we can't just toss the guy out on a whim. We have an open, transparent process that takes time and gives both sides the opportunity to cool down a bit and really think about what they are doing. Not one vote of no confidence.

Talk about destabilizing your government. Its practically a coupe without all the fuss and muss of a revolution. How is that good for anyone? Other than the guy who gets to take his place and the party he represents?

If I were a Canadian voter I'd be incensed by this whole thing. If I ever sobered up enough to think about it that is.

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:26 pm 
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You're equating the prime minister to the president again, the PM is not the government. In fact the PM has no formal constitutional power at all.

Gordon Brown never actually stood for election as prime minister in the UK. Tony Blair did, and Brown became party boss when Blair stepped down.

Thats because Brown doesn't go to the electorate as PM, he goes to the electorate as the Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy.

On the other hand Blair (and Thatcher) never lost an election as prime minister, Parliament did away with both of them.

the PM continues in his job at the sufferance of Parliament, if Parliaments mind changes then out goes the PM. Public pressure on Parliament has a very real effect - a PM effectively is always sitting on top of a potential volcano. This is very different from the US way of doing things.

So I actually consider this to be much more responsive to public opinion, and prefer it to the US system provided the country isnt' too big, so this is good. On the other hand a hung parliament is quite unstable, which is what is going on in Canada. Hung parliaments are very, very rare in the UK, but it looks like in Canada the situation is a bit different as they got more political parties represented.

What surprises me - now I've read some stuff about this specific incident - is that the Canadian governor general agreed to prorogue the Canadian parliament. It sounds very much like the Aussie constitutional crisis in the 70s, if so, the culprit is likely due to the governor-general making the wrong decisions. What should be happening is, the majority in the parliament should be automatically invited by the governor-general to form a new government.

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:58 pm 
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EUBanana wrote:
You're equating the prime minister to the president again, the PM is not the government. In fact the PM has no formal constitutional power at all.


Then WTH is the point of throwing him out?

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:25 pm 
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AngryOldMan wrote:
EUBanana wrote:
You're equating the prime minister to the president again, the PM is not the government. In fact the PM has no formal constitutional power at all.


Then WTH is the point of throwing him out?


Caveat emptor, I know zip about Canada but I do know about the UK, and Canada's government is like ours, right? so. ;)

No formal power.

All power is exercised by Parliament, right? A party leader controls the whips and party discipline and therefore makes all the MPs in his party vote for his party policies. Usually due to the two party system one party has a majority in the parliament, and therefore what that party says, goes. The party leaders become the de facto executive, because parliament will almost always assent to their policies.

The prime minister is usually the party boss of the biggest party in parliament.

I quite like this system in general because if the prime minister wants to do something his party opposes strongly then his MPs will rebel, defy the whip, and it won't pass. In general a PM won't push his party unless he feels very strongly about something because party unity is essential if anything is to get done - actual rebellions are quite rare but the threat of one tempers policy.

So - "prime minister" is not like a president,and has no formal powers, but due to the party system and control of a majority in Parliament effectively runs the show.

However, Canada apparently currently has a hung parliament, ie the biggest party in parliament is not big enough to overrule all the other parties, which is unusual. And all those opposition parties have formed a coalition, so now their coalition is the biggest party in parliament, and they want to throw out the prime minister and put in their man via a vote of no confidence. However by proroguing parliament like this they can't actually vote, because its no longer sitting, so even though no new laws can be passed the executive power remains with Harper or whatever his name is because parliament hasn't had a chance to reshuffle all the various offices of state which were assigned to hs minions... Hence the outrage.

Not being familiar with the political situation in Canada I have no idea why the governor-general went along with this. If parliament isnt sitting no new laws can be passed and the various holders of the offices of state can't be changed. Presumably this situation can only be allowed to go on for a short time though. Australia's constitutional crisis involved a hung parliament incapable of passing the yearly budget, no budget -> no money, so it looked for a while like the government would collapse. As the role of governor-general in these ex-colonies seems to be rather undefined, this thing seems to happen every so often. I would expect, if the same situation happened here, that the Queen would just call another election if there was some sort of parliamentary impasse.

The tale of the Aussie crisis actually makes for very interesting reading if you got any interest in civics and constitutional issues. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Austr ... nal_crisis

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 Post subject: Re: Canada halts parliament amid row
PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 3:02 pm 
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The governor general agreed to Mr Harper's request, unprecedented in the country, after talks.



Unprecedented because it is a very rare occurence. It is most likely that she agreed because the Conservative government was just recently (October)elected and had not even introduced any legislation that would validate the downfall of the government. Normally a non-confidence vote comes after a government introduces a budget, or other important legislation. It seems that the opposition parties have been planning this "takeover" since the results of our national vote in October.

The governor general weighed the options and decided that the suspension of parliament until late January, when the Conservatives would present their budget. If the government falls then, either there will be another election or the coalition will takeover.

I think the last option would be the worst since neither of the coalition parties garnered broad based support across the country, one of them is a separatist Quebec party, and their leader is a loser that can barely speak English, let alone lead his own Party (Dion). I still am keeping my fingers crossed that the coalition will dissolve by in-fighting before late January.


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