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Coup d'?tat - December 3, 2008 - davidwarrenonline.com
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SEE THE STARS IN YOUR BRAINS-MAKE THEM WORK!
December 3, 2008
What on earth is happening in Canada? I was away from this space unavoidably for a couple of weeks. While anything might happen elsewhere in the world, Canadian political arrangements seemed settled away. I return to find a Thai-style coup d'?tat in progress.
Seven weeks ago we had an election. I carefully noted the result: an increased minority for the Harper government, chiefly at the expense of the Liberals, who scored an historic low in the polls. My readers will know that I do not like Stephen Harper -- consider him both a cynical manipulator and a wimp -- yet given the alternatives, I couldn't help voting for him. In this I was, for at least one brief shining moment, d'accord with my fellow Canadians.
Consider: the Conservatives took only 38 per cent of the vote, but in a field of four-plus parties. The Liberals have bagged so many elections with the same rough proportion. The Tories thus won decisively by the rules of the game -- finishing first by a wide margin -- but they also won a fair consensus. For it is reasonable to assume that a significant proportion of those voting for other parties could live with them as second-best. Look at the riding results: they won the most firsts, but they also did extremely well on second-place finishes. And they emerged as the only party with truly national representation.
The "King-Byng affair" of 1926 does not offer a constitutional precedent, though it does cast light on our impending constitutional crisis. In that earlier one, the Conservatives under Arthur Meighen had won a clear electoral plurality, but the losing Liberal prime minister, W.L.M. King, refused to stand down, expecting support from the Progressive Party. When that evaporated over a corruption scandal, King asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, but Lord Byng of Vimy -- whose impartiality was beyond question -- refused. The Conservatives had, after all, won a plurality in the election: Meighen should now be called to form a government. But this new Meighen government soon lost a confidence vote (by a margin of one: and the deciding member had voted mistakenly in confusion). At Meighen's
request, Byng now allowed another election.
The real scandal was that subsequent election. King ran less against Meighen than against Byng, making the most dishonourable and hypocritical accusations of "British interference" in Canadian affairs -- when in the previous round King himself had demanded Byng consult the British government, and Byng had refused. Byng had gone to lengths to resolve the crisis entirely within Canada, and according to Canadian precedents (e.g. he could not dissolve Parliament when a motion of censure against the government was still before it). King's tactic worked, however: and the Liberals were returned with a majority on a tide of shamefully cheap and dishonest nationalist rhetoric.
Our impending constitutional crisis is 1926 in reverse. The opposition parties propose to depose the government, without an election, a few weeks after they lost one. And the Governor General in this case will be Micha?lle Jean -- a Liberal patronage appointment.
In other words, we are watching a coup d'?tat, in which the Liberal party, decisively rejected by Canadians at the polls, returns to power by a constitutional enormity, with the help of the leftist NDP who were also decisively rejected, and leftist Quebec separatists.
I leave to the news pages the whole idea of a government led by St?phane Dion, and supported by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, while the Liberal leadership race continues. It is too surreal, too ludicrous for the editorial page. It is an event that could happen only in reality: no stable person could contemplate such a thing.
Compare Thailand: where the Bangkok rioters lost the last election, lost the one before, and will lose the next one if it is allowed to occur. So they close the airports. They demand a new government, and to have the sitting one dispatched by -- whatever means. In the name of "democracy" they must overthrow democracy: for the elections keep turning out not to their taste. The rest of the country does not see things the way "urbane" Bangkok sees things, and the rest of the country is a lot bigger. Indeed: the sight of Bangkok inhabited by people who are off their little hinges does not win over the rest of the country to the Bangkok point-of-view.
We will see how our Canadian coup plays out. For the Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloquistes, "democracy" means their own right to public subsidies, and some mysterious otherworldly command for panicked "stimulus" spending -- by which the little people bail out the big people in hard economic times. We, the little people, are powerless against these self-serving clowns: for the unelected Micha?lle Jean can alone install them in power.
For an archive of David Warren's newspaper columns, see:
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