Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's time for Harper to move aside

Orillia Packet and Times

December 3, 2008

Letter to the editor:

It would appear that Canada will soon have the centre-left, progressive government that the overwhelming majority of Canadians, 62 per cent to be exact, voted for in the recent election. Despite the protests and laments of the Conservatives, who earned only 38 per cent of the vote, this change in government is indeed democratic, constitutional and fair. It is also in the best interests of Canadians.

This is happening due to the abject failure of Stephen Harper and his government to develop an acceptable plan for our faltering economy. Instead of providing economic leadership, the Harper government took advantage of the economic crisis to advance partisan and ideological interests. The good of Canadians had nothing to do with their plans, when now, more than ever, we need a government focused on what's best for the country.

Most economists have been calling for an economic stimulus, yet the fall economic statement contained $4.3 billion in cuts. This is frighteningly reminiscent of the myopic government austerity that escalated the 1929 recession into a prolonged depression.

Furthermore, the Conservatives are misleading Canadians. Their claim that Canada remains in a surplus position is simply not credible and, even while claiming they prepared for the economic crisis, they say that nobody could have seen it coming. Canada needs economic action, clarity and certainty.

Harper says the coalition is a power grab, yet he believes he is entitled to continue to govern, no matter how poorly, even if he has lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The Conservatives were elected with a minority of seats and an even smaller share of popular support. Now they have lost the moral authority to govern and, fortunately for Canadians, they can be replaced with a legitimate new government without going through another election only eight weeks after the last one.

It is perfectly normal in our system of parliamentary democracy for the Governor General to call upon the Opposition to form a new government, without holding another election, when it can be demonstrated that the new government would be stable and supported by the majority of members of the House of Commons. Harper knows this. That's why he wrote to the Governor General in 2004 to ask her to consider the same kind of arrangement when it was in his favour.

Now it is time to move on and start fresh with this coalition government. Harper must stop equating his party's interests with the interests of Canada. He knows he no longer has the confidence of the House of Commons and can no longer govern. He should be magnanimous and step aside, but I fear that his partisan impulses will, once again, get in the way of doing what is right for Canadians.

Gerry Hawes