Within the week we will know which way Canadian governance is headed. Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have lost the confidence of Parliament. There are three possibile ways out of the mess:
1. Mr. Harper asks the Governor-General, Madame Michaelle Jean, to dissolve Parliament and order an election. Madame Jean may not favour this since Canadians went to the polls only six weeks ago. The electorate would be very cranky about an election campaign spanning the Christmas holiday season (remember that an election needs to be held within 36 days of being called).
2. Mr. Harper asks Madame Jean, to dissolve Parliament and order an election. Madame Jean refuses and, instead, asks the leader of the second party, Mr. Dion of the Liberals, whether he can attain the confidence of Parliament. Mr. Dion will answer that he can lead a coalition government with the New Democratic Party as his partner and with the promise of the Bloc Quebecois that the BQ will not vote against the government in confidence matters for at least eighteen months.
Comment: This would be very distasteful. Mr. Dion, six weeks ago, led the Liberal party to its greatest defeat in Canadian history. He has already given notice of resignation as leader of the party. If one wants to behold a lame duck, let him turn his view to Stephane Dion. Allowing the socialist NDP into the government, with 6 out of 24 cabinet seats, would be an unmitigated disaster for Canada during the present perilous economic times. Further, the government could only function propped up the Bloc Quebecois, a party dedicated to the secession of Quebec. The BQ will only be mollified by a non-ending stream of billions of dollars flowing from the rest of Canada into Quebecois coffers. Mr. Dion, as Prime Minister, would also have the discretionary power to appoint liberal and socialist people to fill the many present vacancies in the Senate, thus assuring continued liberal domination of the upper house. The positive side to this second scenario playing out is that an incompetent government and its several players would satisfy no one and would likely be thrown out of office in the next federal election and into the political wilderness for a generation. Victory at this time would prove to be a poisoned chalice at election time, The Conservative party could steam to a majority victory. A Liberal-NDP government propped up by the BQ is a frightening prospect during the present hard economic times, but it just might be a nice Christmas present for Mr. Harper and the Conservatives. Dion and Layton would be the ones to blame for the economic ruin over which they would undoubtedly preside.
3. Third possible scenario: Mr. Harper asks Madame Jean to prorogue (end this session of) Parliament. Mr. Harper then tell all the MPs to go home for Christmas, have a nice time with their families, and call Parliament back to a completely new session with a throne speech and a budget. Hopefully everyone will have cooled down a bit and Parliament can get to work for the good of the country.
This is a responsible request considering that Canadians went to the polls only six weeks ago. Mr. Harper may bear much of the responsibility for the house getting heated up to the present high temperature, but it is not all his fault. It appears that the NDP and the BQ were colluding weeks ago already to undermine the government. Prorogation is like pushing the reset button on your computer after it crashes.
Parliament has crashed. Mr. Harper: Ask Madame Jean to push the reset button!