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Governor General Feared Tory ‘PR Machine’ as Conservatives Lie to Canadians

Governor General Feared Tory ‘PR Machine’ as Conservatives Lie to Canadians

In 2008, Stephen Harper went one step too far in his minority government and the opposition parties decided it was time to take him down. While the Liberals and New Democrats discussed a possible governing coalition, the Conservatives attacked with everything they had. When Canadians started protesting for both sides and the talks got more heated, Harper went to the Governor General and asked her to prorogue (temporarily shut down) Parliament.

All of this happened just weeks after the October election.

What exactly happened that morning between Stephen Harper and Governor General MichaŽlle Jean is a privileged matter between the two of them, with no record of what was said. In the end, after two hours of discussion with Harper and various advisers, Jean granted the prorogation, and Parliament would come back to a new session, a new Speech from the Throne and a new budget on January 26, 2009.

Traditionally, the Governor General doesn’t say no to the Prime Minister, but there was precedent Ė in 1926, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King asked the GG to dissolve Parliament, but Lord Byng saw an option to have Arthur Meighen and the Conservatives form a government and avoid an election.

In 2008, Jean could see a similar situation, a government failing to retain the confidence of the House, and an opposition ready and willing to work together to form a government.

Now it seems, according to one of the advisers to Jean at the time, she also took into consideration the damage that the Conservative Party could do to Canadian democracy if she did not do what Harper asked.

Since being elected in their first minority in 2006, the Harper Tories have been in attack mode constantly. At the time of the prorogation request, the Conservative Party was already trying to convince Canadians that the coalition would be illegitimate Ė actually lying to Canadians about the way the parliamentary system works.

Stephen Harper and his PR machine told Canadians that they had elected a Conservative government and that the other parties forming government would reverse the results of that election. Canada does not elect a government. We do not elect a Prime Minister. We elect Members of Parliament who form a parliament and the party with the most MPs forms government. The parties elect their own leaders, and the leader of the party forming government becomes Prime Minister.

The government has to hold the confidence of the house, and the Harper Conservatives didn’t. The coalition had guaranteed to the Governor General that they would maintain confidence for a certain length of time.

Worse than the lies the Conservatives spread, was the fact that many Canadians Ė voting Canadians Ė believed it, and still do.

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43 comments

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11:52PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

Amy Boughner omits one crucial facet of this story: the highly adverse public reaction to this perceived coup. There was a lot of commentary on "the Coalition of the Damned" and "the Three-Headed Monster." Most Canadians frankly saw this as a power grab (originating with NDP leader Jack Layton), and for us it was a tense week. We were thankful Ms. Jean granted Stephen Harper's request to prorogue.

PAUL B. says, "I hope to the all heck that you Canadians have solid standing Constitutionally and in case law to strongly limit the influence of money in campaigns and politics." Indeed we do, Paul: donations can only come from individual supporters of their respective parties, and those donations are capped at $1,100. Harper's Conservatives enjoy the most generous support from their party base.

The NDP pulled an illegal end run around that cap by selling "sponsorships" at their convention. Big unions like CUPE, PSAC and the Communications, Energy & Paperwork Union of Canada poured out $344,000 in donations which the Dippers gladly accepted.

SHIRLEY H. says current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is "speaking up for all of us." No, he's damn well not. He does not represent anyone who wants Canada's energy sector to flower. Or its finances to get back on track. Mulcair's another group-think atavist, a throw-back with far too much dour attitude and essentially no answers. I'll take Harper instead, thank you.

7:49PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Thanks

7:03PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

There are just too many people here who deserve stars for their comments, insight and historical knowledge. It is refreshing to see. I hope more Canadians will finally pull their heads out of their butts and check out what's going on but apathy and misinformation seem to be pandemic, not just in Canada. First, get rid of the Governor General. Second get rid of the current electoral system. Third, get rid of Harper. Fourth get rid of Sun news and its BS spin on politics and society. Fifth, how about some REAL leaders. God, I miss you Jack!!! Sixth, tell the big US government to mind their own business. We're not Afghanistan but a free and supposedly democratic nation. We don't need or want your form of faux democracy. Ours sucks enough without any outside influence.
The big monied right wing is destroying our economy except for the upper tier of society, our environmental incentives, international reputation and just about everything else Canada used to stand for. We will soon be as big a laughing stock as the US with our political stupidity.

5:02PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

@Shan D., I was living in Edmonton during the last provincial election...couldn't vote though because i was two weeks short of the residency requirements...anyway, I have to say what I saw and followed made me feel somewhat hopeful for Alberta being the bastion of right wing conservatism. First of all there was the Wildrose party, and extreme far right organization that thought it was running in a dead heat with the Progressive conservative and figured they were going to take the election. The poor suckers got a measly 16% of the vote... And in the neighbourhood I lived in I saw a healthy splash of orange crush by the signs on the lawns...the NDP picked up two extra seats this time time around.. Maybe it's not much, but it was enough to make me feel that there is hope for Alberta after all as being something other than a red-neck province that some people claim it is. We can hope hope, and I suppose I'm still quite an idealist at heart...

Actually, I the folks I met in Edmonton turned out to be refreshingly progressive... But then again, I suppose that's just one part of a province with a total population of approx. 3 million. Oh heck Toronto (GTA) alone is more populated than that. However, I thought I would share this...and thanks to my experience in Edmonton, I do have a soft spot for that lovely little city and wouldn't mind returning again....

5:02PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

@Shan D., I was living in Edmonton during the last provincial election...couldn't vote though because i was two weeks short of the residency requirements...anyway, I have to say what I saw and followed made me feel somewhat hopeful for Alberta being the bastion of right wing conservatism. First of all there was the Wildrose party, and extreme far right organization that thought it was running in a dead heat with the Progressive conservative and figured they were going to take the election. The poor suckers got a measly 16% of the vote... And in the neighbourhood I lived in I saw a healthy splash of orange crush by the signs on the lawns...the NDP picked up two extra seats this time time around.. Maybe it's not much, but it was enough to make me feel that there is hope for Alberta after all as being something other than a red-neck province that some people claim it is. We can hope hope, and I suppose I'm still quite an idealist at heart...

Actually, I the folks I met in Edmonton turned out to be refreshingly progressive... But then again, I suppose that's just one part of a province with a total population of approx. 3 million. Oh heck Toronto (GTA) alone is more populated than that. However, I thought I would share this...and thanks to my experience in Edmonton, I do have a soft spot for that lovely little city and wouldn't mind returning again....

3:23PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

One of the biggest lies that the Conservatives of today tell, be it in Canada or the US, is when they actually describe themselves as conservative. These are not the true conservatives of years ago that used to practice fiscal restraint and bipartisanship. The current fascists who wrap themselves in this term are lying through their teeth.

2:53PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Canada does not have an East / West split.
Canada has a North / South split.
Most of Canada interconnects along the 49th parallel
Once you leave B.C, the Alberta split runs North/ South, all the way to Texas.
From Saskatchewan on, the Provinces re-enter Canada and unite along the 49th parallel.

I believe that the Alberta mentality [due to its Texas oil allegiance] is far more dangerous to Canada's unity than Quebec ever was.

2:46PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

One of the Conservative Party's most effective ploys has been to use its Bush Republican P.R. firm to push the idea of Canada's East versus Canada's West, as though the West is a united Conservative block lovelocked by imagined oil$$$$$.
In B.C., we pay the highest price in Canada for gasoline, and our Conservative provincial government [despite another name change to Liberal] is on the ropes and too afraid of the Tory machine to declare a position on the Enbridge Oil Pipeline proposal. It simultaneously refuses to stand up for B.C.'s environment, or pull out of its deal to allow Harper's Feds to do the environmental assessments. Since then, Harper has gutted Canada's Federal Environment protection Legislation as part of his omnibus bill.
3 provinces make up the "West". The B.C electorate is becoming furious provincially and federally at Harper and his program to sell us out and destroy thousands of years of our balanced ecosystem in return for a few jobs and endless problems and damage.
I Thank God Mulcair is speaking up for all of us.

1:30PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

I think it's a lot of b.s. If it's true that Michaelle Jean capitulated to Harper because she wanted to save Canada from a worst crisis. Seeing that a Governor General's refusal of a government request is so rare, and that what Harper was asking for was so unreasonable I think it was a good opportunity to discredit Harper.

Instead she does a typically Canadian thing. She plays it safe by not wanting to make a fuss. She shies away from rocking the boat. I think it's time for Canadians to grow up and elect their own Head of State instead of having the illusion of a monarch's representative who is really obligated to the party that gave him or her the job.

1:23PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Paul B, corporations are not persons under Canadian law. At present the law states that a corporation may not contribute more than $5,000 to any party's campaign. There are ways to circumvent this as individuals within the corporation can contribute as individuals in infinite amounts.

To make up for the loss in revenue, parties were entitled to a certain amount of revenue from taxes. The Harper government cut that out from the two opposition parties though. Now the last place Liberals can't raise money from corporations nor can they get money from government to run a campaign. The richest party (at the moment the Conservatives) benefits from this. Free speech does not reach the almost fetish-like worship here as it does in the U.S. where it seems to be the only rights restriction that is guaranteed to get people up in arms and where any amount of misinformation, outright lies and verbal abuse is considered legitimate speech.

Albert H., Canada is in a strange and different position than the U.S. It is almost totally dominated by U.S. media. Almost everything we got on TV, the movies and in magazines is U.S. information. So many Canadians tend to think that we have similar governments and lots of other similarities. For instance, Americans address a judge as "your honor", in Canada legally it's suppose to be "your worship", but Canadians watch so many TV programs in which they hear "your honor" they always you to say that in court, so the courts quietly changed i

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