Like 99.99% of my fellow Americans United Statesians, I pay little attention to political happenings in Canada (that’s the nation state to the immediate north of the USA). I noted a few months ago that Canada was electing the Conservative party by a plurality, its leader Stephen Harper a strong supporter of Bush’s War in Iraq while the USA, who is actually fighting Bush’s War, was electing a President who was a strong(?) opponent of said war. LIke a famous Canadian singer said in the 90s, isn’t it ironic, don’t you think??
Well, Harper and his minority government is in deep shit. Harper, only months after one election, faces being booted out of power due to a certain upcoming no confidence vote in Parliament. It would seem impossible, but all of the opposition parties have gotten together (three, three of them count ’em) ranging from Quebec separatists to I don’t know, new agers?, to potentially create a majority coalition government. What did Harper do in some 60 days to cause this? Trying to shut down the opposition by cutting off their state funding was a start.
Who would head this unwieldy coalition? Looks like it would be a guy who speaks English with a very heavy accent who happens to share a name with another famous Canadian singer.
So Harper does whadda desperate conservative pol’s gotta do. He’s appealing to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain to bail his ass out. Actually, the Queen’s representative in Canada the Governor-General. See, Canada is not a republic. It’s a constitution monarchy that still actually recognizes the head of state, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (also holds the title of Queen of Canada) as its own head of state. Yep, Canada is still part of the British Empire.
The Governor-General’s job is to act fully as the Crown’s representative in Canada, including the duty to open and close Canada’s parliament. Here’s more. The Governor-General is also Commander-in-Chief of Canada’s armed forces. The right to close Parliament is the operative right. Harper has asked the Governor-General to suspend (one of his operatives calls it a “time-out”) Parliament so can’t boot him out of office. Usually, Her Majesty and representatives stay out of political affairs as much as possible and stay above the fray. Good move, look at what happened to Nepal’s monarch when he overstepped himself. One must say that this request by Harper is really, really odd.
“There is no precedent whatsoever in Canada and probably in the Commonwealth,” Constitutional scholar and Queen’s University political scientist Ned Franks said. “We are in uncharted territory.”
Oh!, and the Conservatives are running ads saying that the opposition doesn’t have a right to take over the government just because it would be the majority in Parliament.
Will the Governor-General exercise her power and do as Harper wants? Does this make her a pawn of the Conservatives? Would no doubt in my mind spur an effort for Canadian independence from the UK. Does she have to consult with Queen Elizabeth? It this call really up to Buckingham Palace? Stay tuned.
Update: The deed is done.