Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harper shuts down Parliament to avoid non-confidence vote

A lot of people say Canadian politics is boring. The events of the past week certainly give the lie to that belief, though. Our current political crisis is attracting substantial attention from the international media; interestingly, they're a lot more upfront about the situation than our own news outlets:

Canadian Parliament Closed in Bid to Keep Prime Minister in Power (New York Times)

Canada's PM clings on to power as parliament suspended (The Guardian)

Canadian PM suspends Parliament to avoid defeat (People's Daily)

It's pretty obvious to foreign journalists what Harper's real motives are. Of course, the domestic press wants to seem impartial (except the Sun Media papers; Winnipeg's example had the screaming headline "NO! NO! NO!" the other day).

The Economist has a nice piece on this. It's a reasonably fair summary; if I have any quibble it's that their treatment of the Bloc is a bit one-dimensional (yes, they are sovereigntists, but there's more to them than that).

Meanwhile, Sean in Ottawa, with a bit of help from josh, has this to say on babble:

Stephen Harper wants to shut down Parliament just because he does not agree with it.

Some say this is unprecedented.

In fact, Harper is following parliamentary tradition. Consider the following precedents:

1629: King Charles I in England
1799: Napoleon in France
1913: Victoriano Huerta in Mexico
1933: Adolf Hitler in Germany
1936: Fransisco Franco in Spain
1939: Benito Mussolini in Italy
1973: Augusto Pinochet in Chile
1975: Indira Gandhi in India
1999: Perez Musharaff in Pakistan
2008: Stephen Harper in Canada.
Maybe Harper should consider what happened to many of those leaders. In a similar vein is this video, courtesy of The Harper Dictatorship:

My suspicion is that over the holidays the Cons will temper the budget a bit, and the Liberals will get nervous and chicken out come the resumption of Parliament in January. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing; the budget will be less harsh than it would otherwise be, and the Cons will thus be in power just long enough to be blamed for the hard economic times that we're in for.

Canada isn't the only country facing a parliamentary crisis, though:
Politicians in Australia’s most populous state could be breath-tested for alcohol before voting on laws after a series of late-night incidents that have embarrassed the centre-left government.

New South Wales state lawmaker Andrew Fraser resigned from his conservative opposition frontbench role after shoving a female colleague at the Christmas party celebrations.

“Breath test this mob,” said a front page headline in Sydney’s mass-selling Daily Telegraph newspaper. State police minister Matt Brown was dumped from his portfolio in September after allegedly “dirty” dancing in his underwear over the chest of a female colleague after a drunken post-budget office party.

Conservative opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell said he would support alcohol breath tests for drunkenness for lawmakers before they entered parliament, while Green MPs John Kaye and Lee Rhiannon also backed the plan, along with the parliament’s speaker.
From the Times of India.

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