Harold Jansen's blog

Thoughts about the coalition and minority government

By Harold Jansen on Feb 11, 2009

Helen Forsey, the daughter of the late eminent constitutional scholar, Eugene Forsey, weighs in on what her father would have had to say about the constitutional "crisis" in December. It's a worthwhile refresher course on the principles of parliamentary government, especially in a minority government situation. You can read it here.

Crunching the fourth quarter party finance numbers from Elections Canada

By Harold Jansen on Feb 3, 2009

Yesterday, Elections Canada issued the fourth quarter financial returns for political parties in 2008. In November, party finance became headline news when the Conservatives tried to remove the annual subsidy for political parties in the economic update. Party finance  is usually not a sexy topic and has since faded from the headlines. But the release of the new numbers is exciting for those of us who study and are obsessed by the finances of Canada's political parties (I think there are three of us).

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What's conservative about the Conservative budget?

By Harold Jansen on Jan 28, 2009

Although the budget may not look very conservative, its long run impact is very consistent with the goal of a smaller, leaner federal government.  In that way, the budget is very consistent with Harper's incremental conservatism.

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Ignatieff's balancing act: support the budget, but not too much

By Harold Jansen on Jan 27, 2009

And it all comes down to this: budget day! Things in Canadian politics have been pretty slow over the last month or so. But today we see the budget that will determine not only the way the government responds to the recession we're experiencing, but also the future of the Liberal-NDP coalition. The NDP and the BQ have pretty much indicated that they oppose the budget and want the coalition to proceed. Since Michael Ignatieff has become the leader, he's been decidedly cooler about the coalition idea than his predecessor, Stephane Dion. It seems clear to me that the Liberals are going to support the budget. There's enough there that they can take credt for and support and not enough to justify bringing down the government.

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The Liberals Land on Their Feet

By Harold Jansen on Dec 11, 2008

I haven't had a lot of time to blog lately. It's grading time at university which leaves little time for other things. However, I'm procrastinating right now, so it's time to write something.

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Is the Problem Coalitions in General or THIS Coalition?

By Harold Jansen on Dec 5, 2008

Although the question of whether a coalition can take over is primarily a constitutional and parliamentary question, there's no doubt that public opinion is a factor, lurking in the background of all of these discussions. And the polls are coming in. They suggest that Canadians prefer Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to govern.

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(What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? Reconciliation and Prorogation

By Harold Jansen on Dec 4, 2008

The more I think about the prorogation decision, the less comfortable I am with it. Essentially, it can gut the central principle of Canada's system of responsible government: that the government must have the support of a majority of the members of the House of Commons. The Conservatives are pointing out that they passed the last confidence vote, which was on the Throne Speech as justification for this, but that's pretty flimsy. They lost the confidence of the House and they know it. Only messing around with the scheduling in Parliament saved them.

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Considering the Governor General's Decision to Prorogue Parliament

By Harold Jansen on Dec 4, 2008

Like many Canadians, I was glued to the television to see what the governor general would decide in response to Stephen Harper's request to prorogue Parliament. I have a lot of sympathy for the governor-general: the Prime Minister put in her a very difficult position with this request. I'd also like to give credit to the opposition leaders. Rather than attacking the governor general and needlesly politicizing her decision, they pointed the finger at Stephen Harper. That's where the blame belongs, if there is any.

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Constitutional Refresher Course: What is a Prorogation of Parliament?

By Harold Jansen on Dec 4, 2008

As I write this, Stephen Harper is currently meeting with Michaelle Jean and is reportedly requesting a prorogation of Parliament. I've been asked a lot what exactly this means and how it relates to the current situation in Ottawa. So, here's a refresher course on prorogation.

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Andrew Potter on legitimacy in this debate

By Harold Jansen on Dec 3, 2008

Andrew Potter at Macleans.ca has a really good blog posting that's worth reading. He's been posting some interesting stuff on the crisis.

Harper and Dion take to the airwaves

By Harold Jansen on Dec 3, 2008

In case you missed it, both Harper and Dion took to national television to make their cases directly to the people. Neither really had much new to say. Here are my impressions of both speeches.

Harper

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The mess in Ottawa is an opportunity for the Greens, but....

By Harold Jansen on Dec 3, 2008

I think it's safe to say that none of Canada's four political parties in Canada are looking especially good right now: the partisan bickering and yelling, the political manouevering and scheming, the constitutional brinkmanship. There are lots of Conservatives upset with Stephen Harper, many Liberals disgusted with Stephane Dion, and even more Canadians just annoyed with everyone. 

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If the governor-general agrees to dissolve Parliament, what would the election look like?

By Harold Jansen on Dec 2, 2008

Running through all the what-if scenarios that could unfold over the next few weeks has become a favorite activity for Canadian junkies. Here's one that just occurred to me. What happens in the (unlikely, according to constitutional experts) event that Michaelle Jean granted a request by Stephen Harper for a dissolution of Parliament? We'd have an election. And here's where things would get even more interesting.

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Stephen Harper is the great unifier in this country

By Harold Jansen on Dec 2, 2008

Stephen Harper has been a transformative leader in Canadian partisan politics. First he united the right. Now he's united the left. Pretty impressive.

Note to coalition: Just because you CAN replace the government doesn't mean you SHOULD replace the government

By Harold Jansen on Dec 1, 2008

Wow: events on Parliament Hill are developing quickly as Canada enters almost uncharted waters: the Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc have signed a deal on a proposed coalition. Given how coalition governments are foreign to Canadian political tradition, it's a remarkable thing to see this come about in such short order. I'm surprised to see this. I knew the opposition parties would be galvanized by the end of the vote subsidy, but I thought once the Conservatives withdrew it, they would relent. I was wrong.

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