Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Very Good Day for the Conservatives

If you're Canadian, you surely know that Stephen Harper survived and will continue to be the Prime Minister until at least January 29. This is good news because it will give cooler heads a chance to prevail.

I thought the odds that Michaelle Jean would prorogue Parliament were better than even. First, it would have been a huge constitutional precedent for a Governor General to refuse the request of the Prime Minister. Second she would have opened herself up to a torrent of personal criticism as a Liberal patronage appointee and wife of a prominent Quebec Separatist, prematurely handing power to the Liberal - Separatist coalition would have looked awful.

I never expected that the 'coalition' would start to fall apart so quickly. The Canadian Press reports:

Liberal resolve to topple the Conservative government began crumbling today almost immediately after Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a stay of execution. Within an hour of Governor General Michaelle Jean agreeing to suspend Parliament until Jan. 26, some Grit MPs were pulling back from the idea of trying to replace the Tory regime with a Liberal-NDP coalition propped up by the Bloc Quebecois.

Toronto MP Jim Karygiannis bluntly asserted that Liberals blew their chance to take down the government.“We did have that. It didn’t work. Who are we kidding here?” said Karygiannis. “I think it’s over.”

So the government survived, and if the Conservatives continue to appease a large enough segment of the opposition they will likely survive the Winter session. The stability is probably the best thing that could have happened in the short and medium term.

I hope that Stephen Harper is humbled and that the Conservatives and the willing members of the Liberal caucus focus on governing. Had I written anything yesterday, my advice to Stephen Harper would have been stack the Senate to make sure there aren't any vacancies for Dion to offer to Liberal insiders. I've changed my mind now I say hang back and just stick to the business of governing. You don't often get a second chance in Politics, Stephen Harper should use it wisely and recognise that he'll need to be conciliatory if he wants his minority government to survive.

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