For anti-Conservative critics, there are enough reasons why Stephen Harper’s government should be sent packing.
What’s remarkable is that some Conservatives may not raise a big howl if the government falls and Gov. Gen. Michaí«lle Jean allows the opposition to govern as a coalition.
Take Tung Chan, a former banker and one-term Vancouver councillor. In these uncertain economic times, the long-time Conservative supporter noted, the country needs political stability. For him, a coalition government that can offer that and perk up the economy may not be such a bad idea.
“If that coalition, in the Governor General’s judgment”¦would produce a stable government for a relatively good period of time, two, three years”¦then I would say I would support her judgment,” Chan told the Georgia Straight.
Unless the Conservatives shut down Parliament, federal Liberals will table a nonconfidence motion on Monday (December 8). According to Chan, Jean should consult widely regarding her response.
The Governor General could either call another general election or allow the federal Liberals and the NDP to form a government with the support of the Bloc Québécois. Writing in the National Post, Roger Gibbins, president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, stated that Jean has a third choice: reject Harper’s resignation of government and send him back to Parliament to work with the opposition parties.
As far as climate scientist Phil Austin is concerned, the Harper government’s downfall would give the country a chance to adopt policies that would help curb global warming.
Austin, an associate professor in UBC’s atmospheric-sciences program, was one of 120 scientists who signed an open letter before the October 14 federal election urging Canadians to vote strategically for the environment. In that letter, the scientists slammed the Conservative government for having blocked international efforts to deal with global warming.
In a phone interview, Austin referenced the current economic troubles to suggest that a government that recognizes the threat of climate change is in order.
“We’ve got exactly the same situation in the environment in that we’ve got a market failure: the essentially free market is not correctly pricing the risk of climate change,” Austin told the Straight. “We’re living in a kind of environmental bubble that is much more dangerous than a financial bubble because you can grow your way out of a recession. But once you begin to actually make dramatic changes in the environment, it’s going to be extremely difficult to turn this around.”
For Dr. Thomas Kerr, a director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, a new government would mean a progressive approach to public-health issues, particularly those related to injection-drug use.
Kerr is one of the principal investigators of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised-injection facility, which a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled should remain open. The Conservative government is appealing this decision.
“All three other major political parties support Insite,” Kerr told the Straight. “They have not taken an ideological approach. They’ve looked at the research, and they support this initiative because they’re aware that the science shows it works.”
On November 27, the Conservative government presented its economic and fiscal statement in the House of Commons. Among the measures it contains is the elimination of a mechanism that allows women to fight for pay equity before the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
For Shelagh Day of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, this move is another assault by the Harper government on the hard-won rights of women. “Their whole record so far is very anti-women,” Day told the Straight.
Day recalled that the Harper government eliminated the federal court challenges program that provided funding for test cases involving equality rights. She also said that Conservatives watered down the mandate of Status of Women Canada, reduced its funding, and closed down the agency’s regional offices.
“I’m hoping that it works and we get a coalition government out of this,” Day said about the showdown.
Conservative Delta–Richmond East MP John Cummins maintained that the supporting role being played by the separatist Bloc is sufficient reason for the Governor General to reject a Liberal-NDP coalition government.
“She [Jean] has to be convinced that the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc represent a legitimate majority in Parliament and will act in the best interest of Canada,” Cummins told the Straight. “And I think that’s probably, in my view, where the wheels fall off the cart. I think it’s contradictory to suggest that the Bloc would be acting in the best interest of Canada.”
The prospect of seeing the NDP in a governing coalition thrills party supporters like Rey Umlas, a Vancouver-based Filipino-Canadian political organizer. “I believe another election is a total waste of valuable tax dollars and time,” Umlas told the Straight. “I support a coalition government that will provide a strong economic stewardship and a better future for all. Why don’t we give it a shot?”