Thursday, July 09, 2015

About That October Election

Everybody in the media seems quite convinced that there is going to be an election scheduled for October 19, 2015.

Don't be so sure about that.  Harper has more than a few cards that he can choose to play.

The basis for this October date is the "Fixed Election Dates" act that Harper pushed through parliament in 2006.  Let's be abundantly clear - this act does not oblige the Prime Minister to request the dissolution of parliament in time for this date.  It essentially orders Elections Canada to set up for polling on that date, but there is nothing whatsoever which constrains the Prime Minister or the Governor General's powers with respect to dissolving parliament.

What are the other options that Harper can play out?

1.  Let the current Parliament run through until the mandate dissolves automatically in Spring 2016.

The last election was in Spring of 2011, and therefore the 5 year limit in the Constitution comes into play.  This is an almost unavoidable wall for Harper, as the Constitution doesn't make the dissolution a discretionary power of the Governor General at this level.

2.  Prorogue Parliament Until Dissolution

If Harper decides to let the current mandate run out in 2016, he may decide to prorogue parliament rather than give the opposition a place to readily beat the government over the head with.  Rather than bother with that possibility, he's quite likely to prorogue parliament and then continue to spend taxpayer dollars on his ongoing propaganda campaign.  (He can do all that using "Order In Council" to keep things going)

3.  Drag Canada Into A Shooting War

Harper has been trying to drag Canada into one of several conflicts.  Right now there are two hotspots he's playing this card in - Iraq/Syria/ISIS and Ukraine.  Harper has been pulling out all the stops to make ISIS as terrifying as possible, with the latest volley coming from an obscure Senate committee report.

Other than his ongoing desire to play "War PM", why would Harper be doing this?  Simple - there's a little clause lurking in the Constitution which allows for the current parliament to be extended if there is an "apprehension of war".  Harper has to convince 2/3 of the house to go along with this little charade.  A year ago, I would have said "fat chance" to that going anywhere.  But that was a year ago, before the Liberals voted for Bill C-51.  Today, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Liberals (or a reasonable percentage of them) vote for this motion, out of fear of being called "soft on terror" or something of a sort.

In short, there is very little reason for Harper to call an election for October.  He has plenty of options, and unless he thinks that he can win, he doesn't have to dissolve parliament in time for October 19.  No doubt he is hoping that his rivals will spend enough of their war chests over the summer on the assumption of an October election.


Anonymous said...

I've been talking about and expecting possibility #1 for years now. I fully expected that SH would either call slightly early due to high polling (though I thought it unlikely as he probably got the message from the Peterson experience) or let the clock run out until May 2, 2016 (that date is nailed in my head). I fully expected the latter as I expected and hoped that people would be sick of him and his proto-fascist ways by now. It did not quite work the way I thought, but close enough.

Possibility 2 never occurred to me. It was the consistent MO here in BC for a while so it probably should have.

Number 3? Well, I keep telling myself that nobody could be f'ed up enough to get into a way to hold power and then I look at the world and shudder.

MgS said...

#3 is an extreme measure, to be sure.

That said, Harper has spent the last decade trying to style himself as "El Presidente". For him to ask for (or declare) an extension of the current parliament would provoke a constitutional crisis that would make the King-Bing affair look like small potatoes. A crisis of that nature would give Harper the excuse he's been looking for to shred the Charter of Rights and any other parts of our legal system which he considers an "unnecessary obstacle" to his agenda.

Since he has shown himself to be quite willing to abuse the levers of power to get his way, I don't see any reason to say "nah - it'll never happen".