Why does there have to be an election if the government falls?

43 posts / 0 new
Last post
Adam T
Why does there have to be an election if the government falls?

 

Adam T

Maybe I need a constitutional lawyer, of maybe it's just politics, but I thought the first job of the speaker, in the aftermath of a succesful non confidence motion, is to ask Parliament if anybody else can form a government.

If seems to me if Mr. Harper and the Bloc can form a majority coalition to defeat the Liberals, they can also form a governing coalition. It would be narrown, but as one Nova Scotia Premier said upon his narrow reelection some years ago "a majority is a majority is a majority", or in this case, a majority coalition is a majority coalition...

Mr Harper should welcome this opportunity rather than risking the unknown in an election. He should have an agenda filled with government reform measures ready that would make his party more popular.

He would likely get the support of Chuck Cadman, David Kilgour and possibly even several wayward Liberals like Pat O'Brien. If he left Liberal Peter Miliken in as speaker, he would easily command a majority coalition of at least a half dozen seats.

So, if Mr. Harper has an agenda ready, he doesn't need an election to implement it and if he doesn't have an agenda, he has no business pushing an election on the country.

Wilf Day

To answer the question: there doesn't, necessarily. The most recent precedent in Canada was Ontario in 1985.

The government did not change right away after the May 2 election, because Bob Rae did not give David Peterson a blank cheque. Indeed the NDP negotiated with both parties. On May 17 the new Conservative cabinet was sworn in. By May 28 negotiations had progressed to the point of a detailed four-page accord with the Liberals titled An Agenda For Reform.

Still, the PC government continued as a minority government for 10 sitting days until on June 18, 1985 the legislature voted non-confidence. On June 4 the Conservative government opened the House with the usual Speech from the Throne. By the time David Peterson and Bob Rae spoke in the House June 7 [url=http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/33_parl/session1/L003.htm]the Accord was about to be implemented.[/url]

[url=http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/33_parl/session1/L011.htm]On June 18 Bob Nixon described the process:[/url]

quote:

They discussed the matter with both parties, the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, and as a member of the negotiating team on behalf of the Liberals I found the negotiations important, effective and, to some degree, a historic landmark in democratic and parliamentary procedures. We spent 15 hours in these negotiations. They were productive and, I am glad to say, amicable.

On June 26 Peterson was sworn in.

The process had its critics. [url=http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/33_parl/session1/L013.htm]As Mike Breaugh said on July 4, 1985:[/url]

quote:

Somehow a weird notion seems to be creeping into the process that members of a Legislature, duly elected, cannot go about organizing themselves to form a government. It seems to me we have done this with great regularity in the past little while, for a decade or so, by entering into agreements, verbal and otherwise, with those who want to form a government as to what legislation would proceed, when it would proceed, how we would change the rules of the House and a great many things.

All those agreements were struck. I did not hear anyone yelling that in some wonderful way it was not proper for members to sort out the business. Given the results of the last election, I do not know how this Legislature would proceed without some form of agreement.

There are those who seem somewhat taken aback that this time somebody had the audacity actually to write down an agreement and to suggest the agreement ought to be more concrete and specific than previous agreements had been. I was here in 1975 and 1977 when agreements were made on a daily basis with the then government formed around the Progressive Conservative Party.

I did not hear a Tory in the place cry, "Foul." I heard them say: "That is the way minority governments work. We want stability for the minority government." I heard them say in the period from 1977 to 1981 that a minority government could last for four years with those agreements.

If that party came to agreements with opposition parties to make the government survive for a four-year period, I would have thought there surely would have been no difficulty with an agreement for a two-year period. There seems to be a lot of disappointment, which is natural, that they were not the ones who managed to come to some agreement.

As one who was negotiating for my party, I want to put on the record again that if there was some great principle, some great religious conviction, some great parliamentary tradition, some great democratic process at work that stopped the Conservative Party of Ontario from coming to an agreement this time, it sure as hell was not operative in the negotiations themselves.

If great principles evolved, they evolved in the corridors and in front of the television lights. They were not present at the bargaining table. At the bargaining table all parties entered into agreements and discussions in exactly the same way. When we met with those who represented the Tories in Ontario during those negotiations, I have to say that we had to keep apace.

The offers came hot and heavy. There was no mention of Standard and Poor's and fiscal responsibility and no worry about the deficit. We had to write like mad to keep up with the offers. They had offers on the table we had not heard about before. They were not just dumb socialist ideas; they were real dumb socialist ideas that were flowing out.


[url=http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/33_parl/session3/L005.htm]On May 5, 1987, Bob Rae gave an interesting review of the Accord, including reading part of it into the record.[/url]

MonkeyIslanderP...

Harper would need the help of the independants just like Martin does.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The BQ's support presently is only to bring down the government. No way the BQ would support the Conservatives as the governing party.

eldeno

Harper wants the Liberals to fall because they are corrupt not because they have a different agenda or budget. If the Conservatives work with the Liberals they will re-establish their credibility.

He can't formally work with the separatists because the're sepratists.

I'm not sure how the math works out with an Conservative-NDP coalition, but the only thing they have in common is the general goal of democratic reform (but not the exact reforms themselves). However, I think I remember Jack Layton during the last election saying that he would support a government for a written agreement on Proportional Representation, which the Cons have said they would 'review', and yes I realize that is lip-service.

It would be good if parliamentary reform passed.

[ 14 May 2005: Message edited by: eldeno ]

NN

Hey Adam, you're right, there dosn't have to be an election if the gov't falls. The Prime Minister can resign and the governor general (regardless of the PMs advice) can either go to the leader most likely to have most seats in the house or dissolve pparliament and call an election.

I think Harpers concern is that the prospects of forming a stable coalition (or any at all) is slim. The Bloc have said that they wouldn't form any coalition government with anyone. The NDP don't have enough seats to make a difference by themselves, and there is alot of bad blood between the Libs and Cons (I don't think they can be trusted to work in good faith, they'd set up Harper to take him down if Martin resigned with no election). If he has an ambitious agenda, he's not going to want to govern on an issue by issue basis sort of forming adhoc coalitions depending on the circumstance.

I'm with eldeno on the reform aspect. One big diappointment was the lack of permanent reform measures brought in to ensure greater accountability of the gov't by the house of commons. I got hopeful last year when the three opposition leaders announced their intention to push reform, but, to my understanding, the current reforms deal only with house procedure and standing orders which can be changed at whim by a new government with a majority. It would have been good to have the three leaders make clear that they wanted lasting democratic reform and would be prepared too form a dedicated coalition for the issue if the Liberals refused to play ball. It wouldn't have been easy for sure as I got the impression the media would probably backed the Liberals, but most people would gave been appreciative.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Originally posted by eldeno:
Harper wants the Liberals to fall because they are corrupt not because they have a different agenda or budget. If the Conservatives work with the Liberals they will re-establish their credibility.

Do you really believe that? Harper wants to bring down the Liberals and wants an election because he knows right now is his best chance to win an election. Harper wants power. Fortunately, Canadians don't want Harper.

Adam T

There is no way Harper can win a majority in the next election. I suppose it is theoretically possible, but it is practically impossible.

Assuming the Conservatives don't win any seats in Quebec (they might win 1 or 2), he would need 155 out of the remaining 233 seats.

So, if the Bloc aren't going to form a government with anybody, and Harper can't win a majority, what is the point of bringing down the government?

Wilf Day

The most recent precedent in Canada was Ontario in 1985.

As Mike Breaugh said on July 4, 1985:

quote:

As one who was negotiating for my party, I want to put on the record again that if there was some great principle, some great religious conviction, some great parliamentary tradition, some great democratic process at work that stopped the Conservative Party of Ontario from coming to an agreement this time, it sure as hell was not operative in the negotiations themselves.

If great principles evolved, they evolved in the corridors and in front of the television lights. They were not present at the bargaining table. At the bargaining table all parties entered into agreements and discussions in exactly the same way. When we met with those who represented the Tories in Ontario during those negotiations, I have to say that we had to keep apace.

The offers came hot and heavy. There was no mention of Standard and Poor's and fiscal responsibility and no worry about the deficit. We had to write like mad to keep up with the offers. They had offers on the table we had not heard about before. They were not just dumb socialist ideas; they were real dumb socialist ideas that were flowing out.


And that was after the right wing candidate had won the Ontario PC leadership.

What might Harper do, if pushed?

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

The theory is the monarch is limited in her right to chose her number 1 guy,Prime Minister, particularly if the last #1 guy loses the confidence of the common folk represented in the House of Commons and an election was needed..
Typically after such an election the smart monarch picks someone who has the majority of MPs supporting him or her for PM. The easiest way to do that is to pick the leader of the party with the majority of seats as PM. No one having a majority of seats, you can often get away with picking the leader of the party with a plurality of seats.

Harper, being the current PM and the leader of the party with the plurality of seats, has good claim to continue as PM until demonstrated he does not have the confidence of the majority of MPs. Fpr example if there was a budget vote of vote of non confidence we would look to an eletcion or a replacement.

There also could be the 1985 Ontario Accord scenario Wilf describes well. Presumbaly if the Majority of MPs in the House, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc, independent whatever publicly supported one candidate Jack, Stephane, Rona Anbrosee) he or she could be PM, The other alternative would be a third general election in 3 years. the last called after Harper claimed he needed a mandate to govern. Constitutionally there could be a good case to replace Harper by another person without going though an election.

.

[ 04 November 2008: Message edited by: peterjcassidy ]

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Why are we still talking about this?

Notionally, the GG could call on any person (doesn't even need to be an MP or Senator) to form a government.

However, if she would need to have some confidence that her PM designate would have a snowball's chance of actually winning a confidence motion.

There is no way at all that anyone besides the Conservatives could possibly win a confidence motion in the present circumstances, and anyone wh says otherwise is either drunk, stoned, delusional or simply not paying attention.

jrootham

It's unlikely, but the Cons could certainly lose a confidence vote on the Throne Speech. There is a game of chicken happening and nobody has blinked yet.

The circumstances would then change. The Cons can lose a confidence vote without triggering an election (which no party wants), but Dion (the presumed Prime Minister) could not. That cranks up the pressure on the Libs, NDP, and Bloc.

The current expectation is that the Liberals will blink, especially since leadership hopefuls will not want Dion to spend any time as Prime Minister.

It's not a bet the smart money would take straight up, but the odds are much shorter than Malcolm claims.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

And keep in mind the unusual situation we are in, with three minority governments and 3 general elections in about 3 years, the lat one called specifically to seek a mandate, and having arguaby, won a very weak mandate. If Harper loses a confidence vote at any time in the next 3 months, there is a good argument to be made not to hold an election,but rather to look for a replacement. With respect to Malcolm the most likely replacement is one is needed would come from the House of Commons, starting with the leader of the Official Opposition been given first chance. If Jack and Gilles stuck a deal with Dion they could make him PM. Unlikely but I would say constitutionally possible.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

quote:


Originally posted by peterjcassidy:
[b] With respect to Malcolm the most likely replacement is one is needed would come from the House of Commons, starting with the leader of the Official Opposition been given first chance. If Jack and Gilles stuck a deal with Dion they could make him PM. Unlikely but I would say constitutionally possible.[/b]

Yes, it is constitutionally possible. It is also constitutionally possible that the GG will call on me to form a government.

Frankly, I think the odds of those two things are about equal.

For the GG to call on ANYONE else to form a government, she would need to be convinced that there is a reasonable chance of success. Barring a signed agreement among three opposition leaders who merrily loathe each other, and whose supporters merrily loathe each other, the GG would acceded to the PM's advice to dissolve Parliament.

The chances of Dion, Layton and Duceppe being able to come to a signed agreement is slightly less that two-thirds of four-fifths of fuck all - about the same as Michaelle Jean phoning me out of the blue to designate me as Prime Minister.

Tommy_Paine

And of course, we all remember the "King Bing" crisis.

Gir Draxon

quote:


Originally posted by peterjcassidy:
[b]And keep in mind the unusual situation we are in, with three minority governments and 3 general elections in about 3 years, the lat one called specifically to seek a mandate, and having arguaby, won a very weak mandate. If Harper loses a confidence vote at any time in the next 3 months, there is a good argument to be made not to hold an election,but rather to look for a replacement. With respect to Malcolm the most likely replacement is one is needed would come from the House of Commons, starting with the leader of the Official Opposition been given first chance. If Jack and Gilles stuck a deal with Dion they could make him PM. Unlikely but I would say constitutionally possible.[/b]

With the seat count as it is, I think it's more likely that Harper will find 10 disgruntled Liberal and/or Bloc backbenchers willing to be to the Conservatives as Joe Lieberman is to the Democrats - they'd vote with the Conservatives on most major issues, oppose them on some things that aren't matters of confidence, not endorse Stephen Harper for prime minister in the next election, and might even be invited to caucus meetings despite their lack of loyalty to the governing party.

Bookish Agrarian

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]And of course, we all remember the "King Bing" crisis.[/b]

Remember. Heck I have even visited the commerative statue of Meighan in St Mary's

jrootham

Malcolm, you are being very close minded about this.

The parties may well loath each other, but I think they fear an election more, or more accurately, they fear being blamed for an election more.

For the next 6 months to a year (the King-Byng window) a loss of confidence for Harper will at least have the GG asking Dion if he thinks he can hold the confidence of the house.

There will be HUGE pressure on all 3 parties to make that hold up.

The open question is what happens in the game of chicken over the throne speech.

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by jrootham:
[b]The open question is what happens in the game of chicken over the throne speech.[/b]

[url=http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hCE7fGAmkW3PaKu2wKYn2qwCxd... says his MPs no longer have the stomach for abstaining from, or not showing up for, confidence votes.[/url]

quote:

"It's certainly the sense that the caucus gave to me today," Dion said Thursday as he emerged from a meeting of Liberal MPs and senators.

"It's very clear that we will be an Official Opposition, that we will be very constructive, that we'll look at each vote on its merit, and if we don't think there is a merit, well we'll vote as a team, altogether."

The Liberals are warning Stephen Harper that they will no longer give him a free legislative pass - as they did in the last session of Parliament - to avoid another federal election.

However, since the Conservatives won a stronger minority in the Oct. 14 election, it would take only a handful of opposition no-shows to ensure the government survives.

Opposition MPs say they will oppose proposed Conservative legislation that would see criminals treated more harshly.

The measures include life sentences for youths as young as 14 who are convicted of murder, and fewer conditional sentences that allow criminals to serve their time at home.

Dion says the Liberals will vote against any legislation they disagree with, even if the Tories deem the proposals confidence matters.

Rejection of such legislation could potentially force an election at a time when the Liberals are in the process of replacing Dion as party leader.

The Conservatives have suggested their crime legislation will be brought before the Commons quickly, and they've warned they won't back down.


remind remind's picture

Very interesting wilf, and I believe that the oppositions parties would more than jump at the chance to form a government together.

For some of the reasons that jrootham mentioned, as well for the Liberals this would mean that the leader they choose, gets to be PM, before another election occurs. Thus they could benefit from the optics.

The NDP and Bloc could wring out several new policies and have them enshrined and actioned before an election, to go to the electorate with at an election time.

Moreover, from Dions bold words I feel that he may have perhaps already spoken with Layton and Duceppe.

ghoris

quote:


Originally posted by remind:
Very interesting wilf, and I believe that the oppositions parties would more than jump at the chance to form a government together.

I don't. It would be political suicide in the ROC for the Liberals or NDP to get in bed with the Bloc, and they have to know that.

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by ghoris:
[b]I don't. It would be political suicide in the ROC for the Liberals or NDP to get in bed with the Bloc, and they have to know that.[/b]

Why would it be political suicide, and why would they have to get in bed with them, whatever that actually means?

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Government falling... it brings to mind those infomercials with their line "I've fallen and I can't get up".

DrConway

'No more free ride', Dion tells Harper! Ho ho ho, excuse me while I die from rolling about laughing my ass off. [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]

Honestly, does Stephane Dion think he has any credibility left when the NDP has relentlessly brought up the way he and his gang of idiots basically milquetoasted their way through Opposition since 2006?

melovesproles

The crime legislation is going to be interesting, if the opposition is smart they will call Harper's bluff. Obviously the Bloc will, and the Liberals and the NDP are making some of the right noises. If the Cons lose a confidence motion at this point then they should move to the opposition benches.

jrootham

quote:


Originally posted by DrConway:
[b]'No more free ride', Dion tells Harper! Ho ho ho, excuse me while I die from rolling about laughing my ass off. [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]

Honestly, does Stephane Dion think he has any credibility left when the NDP has relentlessly brought up the way he and his gang of idiots basically milquetoasted their way through Opposition since 2006?[/b]


That's why he has to follow through. Once you have blown your credibility the only way to get it back is to change your behaviour.

aka Mycroft

quote:


Originally posted by Adam T:
[b]Maybe I need a constitutional lawyer, of maybe it's just politics, but I thought the first job of the speaker, in the aftermath of a succesful non confidence motion, is to ask Parliament if anybody else can form a government.[/b]

Not the Speaker but the GG and the GG is not required by convention to ask someone else to form the government but has that option if the defeat occurs very early in the new parliamentary term. I think that would be more likely if, when defeating the government, the opposition leaders explicitly say that the opposition is prepared to support a government formed by party x.

aka Mycroft

Frankly, despite public statements to the contrary, the last think most Liberal MPs want to do right now is have the GG ask Dion to form a government. If the leadership convention ends up being called for May I'll bet you anything that if the Liberals vote against the government on the Throne Speech, budget or any other confidence matter a dozen or so Liberals will quietly miss the vote thus allowing the Tories to outnumber the combined opposition. The only way this scenario could possibly work is if the Liberals move up the leadership convention to January or February and that's just not possible logistically - particularly if they want a 10,000 delegate affair. If they ditched the convention process entirely and had some sort of highly abbreviated campaign with a mail-in ballot or agreed to allow the federal executive to choose the leader then it might be feasible but I doubt any of the prospective candidates would agree to that.

Figuring out a way for Dion to become PM is a nice theoretical exercise but there's no way Ignatieff or Rae supporters in the Liberal caucus are going to permit it to actually happen.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: aka Mycroft ]

janfromthebruce

I agree with that surmise, unless there is a liberal backroom deal that Dion agrees to step out of that PM role as soon as the newly anointed leader is chosen at the liberal convention. In ways that would save him face and the liberal party face as the only (in most recent times) liberal leader who did not become PM.

melovesproles

quote:


If the leadership convention ends up being called for May I'll bet you anything that if the Liberals vote against the government on the Throne Speech, budget or any other confidence matter a dozen or so Liberals will quietly miss the vote thus allowing the Tories to outnumber the combined opposition. The only way this scenario could possibly work is if the Liberals move up the leadership convention to January or February and that's just not possible logistically - particularly if they want a 10,000 delegate affair. If they ditched the convention process entirely and had some sort of highly abbreviated campaign with a mail-in ballot or agreed to allow the federal executive to choose the leader then it might be feasible but I doubt any of the prospective candidates would agree to that.

Figuring out a way for Dion to become PM is a nice theoretical exercise but there's no way Ignatieff or Rae supporters in the Liberal caucus are going to permit it to actually happen.


I'm not saying you are wrong but I think there is a certain amount of consciousness amongst Liberals that the abstaining strategy was partly responsible for their dismal performance in the election, so for leadership contenders to rig a vote by having their supporters abstain could backfire when it comes to winning over delegates at the convention.

jrootham

Iggy and Rae certainly don't want it to happen, but they can't get caught publicly making it not happen.

"Excuse me, M. Dion, I don't want to be a cabinet minister in your government because I think I should be the Prime Minister. Even if it means that the Liberal party won't take power when it otherwise could."

That's not a statement that a Liberal really wants to make in public.

The whole thing is running on a knife edge which is why it's interesting to watch.

Dion may have to promise to be an interim Prime Minister in order to make it happen, which would be weird and excruciating for Dion. The question then is whether or not Iggy and Rae trust him, OTOH, even if he is Prime Minister he probably doesn't have enough support to go into an election.

Popcorn in any event.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

Keep in mind the scenarios (unlikely though they may be) of Jack applying for and getting to be PM if Stephen Harper loses an early non confidence vote. The Liberals and Bloc could theoretically agree to let Jack be PM for a short period of time, say enough to bring in a budget, or pass some particular legislation, and then force an election or the "deal" could be an election within one year.We could theoretically be in a European style of minority coalition governments.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

quote:


Originally posted by jrootham:
[b]Malcolm, you are being very close minded about this.[/b]

Because it is an entirely fanciful outcome.

First, all it takes is 17 opposition MPs to go to the bathroom for the government to stand - nowhere near as embarrassing for the Liberals (or the Bloc) as the shenanigans in the last house. That`s 17 to the bathroom or 8 to vote with the government. (143+2=145 v a combined opposition of 163-1=162 - presuming Mr. Speaker Milliken is returned to that office.)

Second, while a qquick defeat would give the GG the OPTION of asking for another person to form a government, it would still be at her discretion. Doubtless her prime advisor (the PM) would say that he doesn't see how anyone else could possibly win confidence. So will anyone else on her staff. Unless she sees a reasonable chance of success, she will not offer the opportunity to Dion or to Layton oor to Duceppe or to me or even to you.

Third, if she did offer the opportunity to Dion the net result is liable to make both him and her look foolish. Dion would be as big a fool to take it as Jean would be to offer it. An unsuccessful attempt by someone else to win confidence will make that person (likely Dion) look weak, and will make the GG look like a petty, interfering partisan.

Finally, any deal would require all three opposition parties to sign on. Any two and you might convince me it's possible. All three? Ain't gonna happen.

jrootham

You are correct that it is unlikely to happen deliberately. The question is what follows if it happens accidentally. I'm pretty sure that avoiding an immediate election will be high on all three parties objectives.

ghoris

quote:


Originally posted by remind:
[b]

Why would it be political suicide, and why would they have to get in bed with them, whatever that actually means?[/b]


I may have misunderstood your post, but I read it as suggesting that the Liberals, NDP and Bloc would agree to some sort of formal coalition or similar arrangement if the Harper government fell on a vote of non-confidence. This is realistically the only way the opposition parties could form a government - all three would have to unite. Even if you had a formal Liberal-NDP coalition, that's only 115 seats, so they would need a formal arrangement with the Bloc that the Bloc would vote confidence and supply, if not an outright Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition, before the GG would ask them to form a government.

A coalition or similar arrangement of this sort with the Bloc would be political suicide for the NDP and Liberals in the ROC, and they know it, so it's a non-starter. I know it's fashionable around here to pretend like the Bloc is just a Quebec version of the NDP but a government that included the Bloc would be anathema to the vast majority of voters in the political mainstream in the ROC.

melovesproles

quote:


I may have misunderstood your post, but I read it as suggesting that the Liberals, NDP and Bloc would agree to some sort of formal coalition or similar arrangement if the Harper government fell on a vote of non-confidence. This is realistically the only way the opposition parties could form a government - all three would have to unite. Even if you had a formal Liberal-NDP coalition, that's only 115 seats, so they would need a formal arrangement with the Bloc that the Bloc would vote confidence and supply, if not an outright Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition, before the GG would ask them to form a government.

Why would it be necessary to have a written agreement from the Bloc that they would vote confidence? Our minority governments have never had any such assurances-what matters is support in the House, not backroom written agreements. All the Bloc would have to say was what they always say-that they would vote in the best interests of Quebec, deciding on each piece of legislation as it comes. So obviously they would find it easier to work with a government that didn't make passing draconian crime legislation a confidence issue.

I think you have a very low opinion of Canadians if you think they would have a problem with other parties cooperating with the Bloc in such an event. It certainly didn't hurt the Conservatives in the ROC when their budget passed with only support from the Bloc.

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by melovesproles:
[b]Why would it be necessary to have a written agreement from the Bloc that they would vote confidence?[/b]

This is not going to happen this year because the Liberals, despite having helped stop Harper get a majority, have convinced themselves that they lost, to justify dumping Dion. They have no will to replace Harper right now, although they may pretend otherwise. If a non-confidence vote passed after the throne speech debate, they would demand a recount.

However, in general: it would be necessary to have some understanding that the Bloc would support the new minority government on its own throne speech debate, or the new government would be a farce. In fact, if the new government was defeated on its first confidence vote too, the GG should probably ask Harper if he wants to try again.

But if you don't want to be hung out to dry by the Bloc publicly saying the throne speech was not good enough, and demanding some concession to Quebec as its price for letting the government survive the week, and then threatening to keep playing the same game -- or if the Bloc doesn't want their bluff to be called by the new government, having survived the first confidence vote, then taking a hard line with the Bloc and saying "go ahead, defeat us if you dare, we'll gladly ask the voters to release us from this blackmail and give us a majority" -- both the minority government and the Bloc need a confidence and supply agreement with at least a two-year term. Exactly as both the Liberals and the NDP realized in Ontario in 1985.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

If it happened "accidentally," then Michaelle Jean and every single advisor at Rideau Hall would be incompetent.

Now, it IS possible that the Harper gov't will not be able to win confidence. What is not possible (barring a clear agreement among all three opposition parties) is an invitation for anyone else to form a government.

An election is the inevitable fallout of an early defeat of the Harper government, as surely as night follows day.

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by Malcolm:
[b]An election is the inevitable fallout of an early defeat of the Harper government, as surely as night follows day.[/b]

Unless someone "forgets" they were paired, or something, and invites the government to move a motion of confidence which then passes. The precedents indicate that the proper constitutional course of action is for the government to introduce its own confidence motion within a few days, as with the 1968 defeat of the Pearson government's supply motion. In that instance the prime minister argued that several members were unable to return in time for the vote called at short notice. He then adjourned the House and reconvened with an explicit vote of confidence with all members present who could attend; he won that vote and carried on governing.

quote:

Originally posted by Malcolm:
[b]Now, it IS possible that the Harper gov't will not be able to win confidence. What is not possible (barring a clear agreement among all three opposition parties) is an invitation for anyone else to form a government.[/b]

If the defeat is on the first confidence vote in the new House, I disagree. In that case the GG has no discretion: she asks the leader of the opposition if he wishes to try to obtain the confidence of the House.

The discretion arises if the government survives for a while, and then loses the confidence of the House -- perhaps because a member has crossed the floor. If that happens within six months or so of the election, the GG [b]may[/b] refuse to dissolve the House -- but in that case I agree, she would look for a clear agreement among all three opposition parties before refusing dissolution.

quote:

Originally posted by Malcolm:
[b]If it happened "accidentally," then Michaelle Jean and every single advisor at Rideau Hall would be incompetent.[/b]

How so? If the government is defeated accidentally, Michaelle Jean would have had nothing to do with that.

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

Britsh Precedent on a minority government being replaced and the death of the Liberal Party
--------------------------------------------------
With the country facing growing unemployment in the wake of free-trade imports driving down prices and profits, Baldwin decided to call an early general election in December 1923 to seek a mandate to introduce protectionist tariffs and thus drive down unemployment. Although this succeeded in reuniting his divided party, the election outcome was inconclusive: the Conservatives won 258 Members of Parliament, labor 191 and the Liberals 159. While the Conservatives retained a plurality in the House of Commons, they had been clearly defeated on the central election issue of tariffs. Baldwin remained Prime Minister until the opening session of the new Parliament in January 1924, at which time the government was defeated in a motion of confidence vote. He resigned immediately.

Return to office

For the next ten months, an unstable minority Labor government under Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald held office, but it too fell and another general election was held in October 1924. This election brought a landslide majority of 223 for the Conservative party, primarily at the expense of the now terminally declining Liberals. .

ghoris

Interesting. There they had a situation of three parties of (relatively) equal strength. As you point out, things of course were very much in flux in the British system in the 1920s and 1930s - eventually MacDonald ended up as the head of a nominally 'National' government (really a Conservative government in all but name) and was booted from Labour as a result.

It seems to me that the difference between Britain 1924 and Canada 2008 is that Baldwin had run on a particular issue and had clearly lost on that issue, losing 86 seats and being reduced from a substantial majority to a slim minority, whereas Harper's support actually increased (albeit slightly) in this election.

I still think that in the present case the only way to avoid an election if Harper fell on a confidence vote would be if the three opposition parties cobbled themselves together into some sort of coalition or alliance. The Liberals have half as many seats as the Tories and the NDP has half as many again as the Liberals. I think most people would agree that no arrangement would be workable and likely to satisfy the GG it could win a confidence vote without formal support from the Bloc, which is a political non-starter both for the Liberals and NDP and, I suspect, for the Bloc as well.

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by ghoris:
[b]It seems to me that the difference between Britain 1924 and Canada 2008 is that Baldwin had run on a particular issue and had clearly lost on that issue, losing 86 seats and being reduced from a substantial majority to a slim minority, whereas Harper's support actually increased (albeit slightly) in this election.[/b]

None of which would help him if he is defeated on the first confidence vote in the new House. By every precedent he must then resign (unless he can quickly win a second confidence vote, on the 1968 Pearson precedent.)

quote:

Originally posted by ghoris:
[b]I still think that in the present case the only way to avoid an election if Harper fell on a confidence vote would be if the three opposition parties cobbled themselves together into some sort of coalition or alliance. The Liberals have half as many seats as the Tories and the NDP has half as many again as the Liberals. I think most people would agree that no arrangement would be workable and likely to satisfy the GG it could win a confidence vote without formal support from the Bloc, which is a political non-starter both for the Liberals and NDP and, I suspect, for the Bloc as well.[/b]

In practice, you are correct.

Not because Dion would have to satisfy the GG before being allowed to try to win the confidence of the House (assuming Harper has been defeated on the first confidence vote), but because, without such an alliance, the Dion minority government would also fall quickly or be too shaky to have credibility. Therefore the Liberals would decline to even try to form a government without such an alliance.

Although they might play some interesting games: can you imagine the Liberals defeating Harper on the first vote, then keeping the country in suspense for 24 or 48 hours while they pretend to negotiate with Jack Layton, and then blame Jack Layton for partisanship, give up the attempt, and move a reluctant motion of confidence in Harper's government, saying the NDP left them no alternative?

No, the Liberals would never trust Dion to play that game well, would they?