Adrienne Clarkson weighs in on 2008 prorogation crisis
When then–governor general Michaëlle Jean allowed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament in 2008, there was a great deal of concern expressed about the long-term significance of her decision. The Liberals and the NDP were prepared to form a coalition government, but Jean’s decision stymied their efforts.
It turns out that her predecessor, former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, also has some opinions on this topic, which she has never publicly shared. But in an interview with the Straight while promoting her new book, Room for All of Us: Surprising Stories of Loss and Transformation, Clarkson revealed that she thought about the prorogation crisis “very carefully”.
Clarkson said that she has made up her mind what the parameters were for a governor general, and what could be done. “I wrote it all down and put it in my papers for the National Archives,” she commented. “They can be opened in 30 years, so there is a lot of material there for a PhD thesis.”
She didn’t give away any secrets to the Straight about what she thought of Jean’s handling of the crisis.
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Oct 27, 2011 at 9:33am
That was a pivotal event in Canadian political history and would love to have been listening in. Here's what I remember:
1) Harper's wife had already been cultivating a cosy relationship with Jean and she accompanied her husband the day he spent an hour begging for his political life.
2) Constitutional experts were mostly in agreement that Jean didn't need to rubber stamp the PM's request because he was clearly obstructing democracy by avoiding a non confidence vote.
3) My gut feeling was that Harper threatened Jean with his plans for turning Canada into a republic and turfing the Queen and all her traditions/representatives. He probably did that very delicately but would not have been above tossing out a scenario that would have made Jean fear for her reputation.
Either way it was the Canadian equivalent of Bush stealing the 2000 election.