Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harper Hangs In

The Press is spinning this as a bid to keep power. Imagine the nerve! After being elected an everything too.
What no one seems to be mentioning is that a large part of why the losers of the last Federal Election have ganged up is because the Conservatives were going to cut all public funding (about 28 million tax dollars) to political parties.

Harper hangs on as PM, shuts Parliament

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won a stay of political execution - at least until January.
Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to suspend Parliament on Thursday, delaying a non-confidence vote scheduled for Monday that would have brought down his beleaguered minority Conservative government.

The House of Commons has gone dark until Jan. 26, when Harper will return and present a federal budget the next day - followed by a confidence vote.

"Today's decision will give us an opportunity - I'm talking about all the parties - to focus on the economy and work together," the prime minister said outside the front door of Rideau Hall.

The decision also sets up the prospect of a fierce battle with the opposition coalition for public support over the coming weeks.

Jean agreed to Harper's unprecedented request after a face-to-face meeting at the vice-regal residence that lasted more than two hours.

Rather than parliamentary tradition, Harper pointed to public opinion polls as the source of government's ongoing legitimacy in the face of a stated absence of confidence in the House of Commons.

"This government was recently elected with a stronger mandate and, according to the polls that I've seen, the people of Canada believe that we should be able to work to fulfil our mandate," he said.

The decision pulls the teetering minority Conservative government back from the brink, at least for the moment.

"We must realize the enormity of what has happened here today," said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, standing in the foyer of the Commons.

"For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the Parliament of Canada."

All opposition leaders insisted they still intend to bring down the government. Dion said only a "monumental change" by Harper would have any hope of altering that.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the coalition will not be abandoning its accord over the next seven weeks while the Commons sits in silence.

"I do not see that changing," Layton said.

"I cannot have confidence in a prime minister who would throw the locks on the door of this place, knowing that he's about to lose a vote in the House of Commons. That's denying about as fundamental a right as one has in a democracy."

The Bloc's Gilles Duceppe had a similar reaction. "We don't believe him and we don't have confidence in him."

But buying time may well work in the prime minister's favour, with cracks in the unwieldy alternative governing alliance are already evident.

At least two Liberal MPs suggested it's time to step back and reconsider the coalition.
Dion said Harper is putting partisan politics ahead of the best interests of Canadians, and accused him of "paying lip service to co-operation and consensus."

After the Oct. 14 election, Harper spoke of the need for all parties to work together for the common good.

But he then precipitated the crisis with the provocative economic update Nov. 27 that contained no stimulus package, killed public financing for federal political parties, and banned public sector unions from striking for two years.

The opposition coalition had asked Jean to refuse to prorogue, arguing that Harper no longer enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons.

A petition signed by 161 MPs went to the Governor General on Thursday morning stating that "a majority of Members of Parliament . . . believe that a viable alternative government can be formed."

The Conservatives hold just 143 of the 308 seats in the Commons.

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