Thursday, December 04, 2008

We have Been Here, We have Done that....

Been there, done that, still have the PC T-Shirt.Good Conservatives Run The Numbers.
(Maybe we should elect some.)


I am speaking as a former PC member who has just returned from the howling wilds of Reno, Nevada to find this sad state of affairs. It's just too sad and demeaning for words.

The Conservative Party of Canada Came Unto The People of Canada, Whining Thusly:


3,633,185 Liberal

2,515,565 NDP
1,379,991 Bloc
937,613 Green
-------------------
8,466,354 Total Non-Conservative Votes.

Versus 5,208,796
Total Conservative Votes

The numbers that this video claim to cinch a Conservative mandate add up to a very different message. 3 million MORE voters preferred a different party. The actual popular mandate is "somebody else."

But since there is no agreement on who "somebody else" would be, the leader with the greatest single block of seats supporting him is the leader. It's not a comfortable position to lead from, but the cure is simple: win more seats, or stop whining!

The last election was supposed to accomplish that, I understand. The effort seems to have fallen short of the mark, and one would do well to examine the cause, rather than whine about those about to make use of the effect.

Indeed, Steven Harper is trying to stave off a vote of confidence he would almost certainly lose, and has gone so far as to suspend Parliament in order to buy himself some time to come up with a plan.

This is all explained nicely by Marcus Cyganiak.

The suspension comes during a time of political outrage in Canada. Less than two months ago on October 14, 2008, Stephen Harper was re-elected Prime Minister with a minority government that gained more seats in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party had received 37.63% of the elected seats in Parliament, while Stephane Dion of the Federal Liberal Party had accounted 26.24% elected seats, with Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party following up with 18.20%.

Though Dion is resigning from the Liberals in May 2009, he wanted to take one final attempt in a backdoor-like fashion to become Prime Minister of Canada, even if Canadians did not decisively elect him.

So earlier this week it was announced by both Stephane Dion and Jack Layton that a new coalition government was being formed between the Liberals and NDP, which would account a total of 44.44% elected seats under a unified party. That figure would be enough to overthrow Stephen Harper as Prime Minister with his 37.63% elected seats.

Dion, the leader of the new coalition, would ultimately become the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada come Monday, December 8, 2008, the official day where the confidence vote was to take place. It should also be noted that the Bloc Quebecois are also supporting the coalition with their 9.97% elected seats, ultimately making the coalition a majority government.

On Wednesday, during the Prime Minister’s televised address to the nation, Stephen Harper stated that he was going to do everything in his power within the legal helms of the constitution to ensure that the Conservative minority government that was elected by Canadians remains in power.

The Parliamentary suspension was an imperative key motion for Prime Minister Harper because after the forming of the coalition, it was projected that Harper was going to lose the confidence vote.

The confidence vote will still occur; however, not until the suspension is lifted in January. Prime Minister Harper has until then to diligently move forward with presenting a federal budget plan and an economic stimulus package to potentially sway votes of confidence for the Conservatives in January.
It saddens me that such a sharp mind could come to such a dull and predictable conclusion.

We know Prime Minister Harper is passionate with a plan on keeping our economy strong. However, if he has distractions of a coalition government trying to overthrow him, then that would no doubt take him off task of the all-more important work he would have been attending to.

This is where I do not see eye to eye with our Parliamentary system here in Canada. Such a system allows a coalition government to sprout and take a run at overthrowing the Prime Minister with a minority government.
But then, this was actually the first time he voted, and probably like most Canadians, he's got a better idea of how things don't work down there than how they don't work up here.

It is my hope that Stephen Harper remains in power as the Prime Minister of Canada. I voted for the Conservative Party on October 14, 2008 – which as a 19-year old, was my first time voting.
At his age, I was still arguing that Nixon should have burnt the tapes, so I kinda feel all warm and fuzzy. It took me a while to come to the more basic conclusion that having things to hide, that needing to resort to tricks and stratagems - as this most certainly is - is evidence of the level of failure that should disqualify you for leadership; irrespective of party or ideology.

One gains office based on what one may do - one keeps it based on what one has done. And that dynamic is particularly obvious within the Parliamentary Democracies.

Now, here's a single question Canadian Civics Quiz for you:

How many Canadians voted for Steven Harper in the last election?

A: 5,208,796
B: Zero


The Correct Answer: Zero. Zip. Nada. None!

This is CANADA. We do not have a President. We have no democratically elected executive at all.

If you voted, you voted for a preferred Member of Parliament. That MP probably belongs to a political party. But that's not a legal requirement, so far as I know.

Generally, MP's remain aligned with a particular party - but crossing the floor is not unheard of, and sometimes political parties evaporate like water on Mars. You may or may not have heard of the Social Credit Party, or indeed, the Progressive Conservative Party. The usual kiss of death for a Canadian party is when they start believing that their party is more than a tenuous marriage of convenience between peers.

The only loyalty a Member of Parliament properly has is to their constituents.

Members of Parliament vote, act, breathe and believe this fact of life; that all Canadian politics are local.

Successful, ethical parliamentarians place person above party, and work their assets off for any constituent that asks for help, regardless of the stripes on their ties. The party that gets in the way of that duty - well read your newspaper. This is what happens. This is what is SUPPOSED to happen.

So back to our civics quiz. Who elects the Prime Minister? Well, nobody, really. Members of Parliament vote for their party leaders, and the leader of the party able to form a government is stuck with being Prime Minister. I mean, they are privileged to serve at the pleasure of the Queen.

According to the the very standards and traditions of Parliamentary Democracy that Conservatives treasure (save, of course, at times such as this, when American-Style democracy would be far more convenient), the numbers are clearly in favor of a coalition government, should anyone be able to put one together. That being the trick, of course.

In the normal order of affairs, Parliamentary democracy is not unlike trying to drop three hundred odd cats into a sack in the fond hope that the end result will be a cute puppy.

In fact, Parliament is not really about making laws or policy - it's much more a functional representation of the Canadian consensus. The person who is stuck with - I mean, privileged to serve as Prime Minister is as much potential scapegoat as leader of The Free World's Nicest Democracy.

They are the ones tasked with interpreting that consensus; it's a remarkable leader indeed that can stand up to Canada and impose their own vision. They have to make themselves an inspiration OF that consensus; they must be a Trudeau or a Brian Mulroney to pull off that sort of stunt.

Steven Harper reminds me strongly of neither. And had any other leader reminded anyone of either in a positive sense - well, Steven Harper would perhaps be a Minority Leader.

The Conservatives may claim a greater mandate than any other single party. Certainly Steven Harper is still the Conservative Leader, but looking at the numbers, it seems rather like being damned with faint praise. If a vote of confidence is in the wind, a leadership review cannot be far behind.

One might more reasonably look at the election numbers as being relatively large support for all the parties - which could be argued as a mandate for centrist, coalition governance and the product of the various regional identities that make Canada the beaver-laden land of promise that we adore.

There's certainly no mandate for Conservatives to govern as if they DID have a mandate, and it's
certainly not a time for an ad that can be summed up as "we won, you lost, neener neener neener!" Not because it's so very American, and not because it's wrong, not even because it's so very childish, but because it ain't true! Not in a parliamentary system.

If you annoy all the other parties enough, they can join together against you and they can indeed command a mandate. That's not "anti-democratic," that's exactly how the system is designed to work.

Ordinarily it's a technical truth and a practical impossibility for parties with large differneces to make any lasting common cause, but while no opposition leader could inspire a coalition based upon their own policies, visions and merits, Steven Harper may well be reason enough. Because Steven Harper's "vision for Canadians" is a cheap Chinese knockoff of George Bush's vision for Americans.

Go look at www.conservative.ca/ again. Good Lord, it's embarrassing!

Steven Harper's vision for Canadians seems to be to turn us all into Kansans. Or at least, it seems presumptive of that degree of smug ignorance of our own best social and economic issues. At a difficult and complex time in history, a time that may well force Canada into the very first rank of world powers whether we like it or not, we need to be offered more than what looks suspiciously like an Air Farce Graphic.

If Conservative policies create conditions wherein two or three party leaders feel they must set their own leadership ambitions aside for a time - Harper is toast. And he certainly seems fixated upon creating those conditions.

When I click through to the Conservative party page - I see a vision for Canada that has been obviously shaped by an out of work Republican political consultant. Now, when you hire a consultant - you really ought to think on why they ARE out of work.

Yes, that's the leadership Canada needs; Bush Style Conservatism. Ask Kim Campbell how well that sort of advice worked out for her. Come to think of it, ask John McCain. And he FIRED better people than this!

Well, the same sort of advice gets you ads like the ones you see above and websites like this.

Were I inclined to create a parody site aimed at mocking the Conservative party - it would not appear greatly different. Indeed, not very different at all.

Considering the public relations climate and the sea-change down south, it doesn't seem to speak toward a realistic appreciation of political reality on the part of Conservative party leaders.

Do the math. Understand the facts the numbers tell you. Stop whining and do something about it.

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