PM attacks coalition as harmful; preps GG meeting
Published Wednesday, December 3, 2008 10:33PM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to ask for a parliamentary time out when he meets with Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean Thursday morning, a day after he accused his political opponents of abusing Canada's democratic traditions.
During a five-minute pre-taped address broadcast Wednesday evening, Harper said the opposition plans to oust his government and seize power would also be bad for the country's economy.
"The opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent and without your vote," he said.
Harper's expected 9:30 a.m. meeting with Jean on Thursday is the latest development in a history-making political storm which erupted earlier this week when the Liberals and NDP formed a coalition, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, to topple the government.
"At a time like this, a collation with separatists cannot help Canada," said Harper.
Harper also signaled he would be willing to work with the opposition parties in order to deliver an economic plan that will help Canada navigate perilous economic times.
"Canada's government is acting to deal with the crisis right now," he said, adding that the opposition parties should "bring forward specific proposals.
"In fact, we have already changed some of our own proposals to meet their concerns."
Later on Wednesday, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion took to the airwaves and said the Conservatives have done little to help Canadians cope with the global economic crisis.
"Stephen Harper still refuses to propose measures to stimulate the Canadian economy," said Dion. "His mini-budget last week demonstrated that his priority is partisanship and settling ideological scores.
Dion also worked to reassure Canadians that a coalition government could efficiently work for the best interests of the country.
"Coalitions are normal and current practice in many parts of the world and are able to work very successfully," he said.
"They work with simple ingredients: consensus, goodwill and cooperation. Consensus is a great Canadian value."
NDP and Bloc respond
The NDP's Jack Layton said Wednesday that while other countries have been working to stimulate their economies, the Conservatives have been wasting time with partisan politics.
"Stephen Harper simply refused to act," he said, adding the Conservatives also attacked the rights of workers and women.
"Tonight, only one party stands in the way of a government that actually works for Canadians," said Layton.
"Instead of acting on these ideas ... Mr. Harper delivered a partisan attack," he said.
The opposition began to cobble together their coalition after the Tories proposed last week to cut public funding for political parties as a part of their fall economic update.
The update also lacked a sufficient stimulus package, the opposition has said.
The coalition has already informed Jean they have a formal agreement to govern if the Conservatives are toppled on a confidence motion scheduled for Monday.
If that happened, Jean would have to decide whether to send Canadians to the polls or give the coalition the chance to win the confidence of the House of Commons.
But it is expected Harper will ask Jean to prorogue Parliament later this week, until late January, to prevent the confidence motion.
If Jean denies Harper's request for the prorogation, he would be expected to resign.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe echoed Layton's sentiments and said that Harper has also attacked Quebecers and democracy
"Stephen Harper showed a serious and worrisome lack of judgment by making putting his party's ideology before the economy," he said Wednesday.
"By acting in an incendiary way, he showed himself unable to govern," he said, adding that Harper's actions have cost him the confidence and trust of Parliament.
Ted McWhinney, a lawyer, former Liberal MP and constitutional expert, told CTV's Mike Duffy Live that Jean does not need to give Harper an answer right away and should talk with a number of advisers.
He also said Jean needs to weigh public opinion on the matter.
"Public opinion is about 50 per cent of constitutional law," McWhinney said Wednesday. "The common sense element is crucial in these things.
McWhinney said there "is a heavy burden" on the opposition to prove that they can form a stable coalition government.
He said it's important for the opposition to put an agreement down on paper, like they have already done, but said the agreement needs to be signed by the Bloc Quebecois in addition to the Liberals and NDP.
McWhinney called the current agreement as is "unsatisfactory."
The Conservatives had planned to deliver their budget on Jan. 27 -- a plan now seen as tenuous.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have launched an all-out war, following up Tuesday radio ads with scathing television ads on Wednesday.
In one of the ads a black and white image of Dion -- who would take over as prime minister under the coalition's plan -- is shown while a female voice repeats a central Conservative message that accuses Dion of a power grab.
"In the last election just a few weeks ago Canadians overwhelmingly said 'no' to Stephane Dion as prime minister. Now just a few weeks later Stephane Dion is trying to overturn the election he lost and take power through the back door."
The ad then warns that Dion has given too much power to the Bloc, which would support the coalition but remain outside of government.