Governor General Jean has decided to prorogue (postpone) Parliament until January 26. This action was taken against the advice of at least one constitutional law expert. "This is a major constitutional precedent and that worries me more than anything else," said Errol Mendes, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa and editor-in-chief of the National Journal of Constitutional Law. "Any time that the prime minister wants to evade the confidence of the House now he can use this precedent to do so," he said. (source: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/12/04/constitution-expert.html )
As most WWII buffs know, a 'Sitzkreig' or 'sitting war' is a period during which a state of war exists without actual battle going on. Kind of what's going on now.
What's going to happen? Here's some predictions:
1. A HUGE media blitz to convince us all to be scared of the 'socialists and separatists' and put our faith in Harper. Already under way.
2. Increased pressure on non-Conservative Members of Parliament to cross the floor to the Conservative camp. Apparently already happening. If I were a Conservative backbencher, I'd be a bit p.o.'ed that Liberals, Bloc members and NDP'ers were getting offered cabinet posts while loyal backbenchers get ignored, but I'm not a Conservative backbencher.
3. Backroom moves by Liberal hopefuls (especially Ignatieff) to jockey themselves into the lead for the upcoming Liberal leadership convention. With Liberals fighting among themselves, they don't even need Conservatives.
4. Bucketsful of special offers to the Bloc to return their support to the Conservatives. Harper only dislikes 'separatists' when they vote against him.
5. Countless media reports that the coalition is breaking up. The media is overwhelmingly pro-Harper, as it has been for many years. In each of the past three election campaigns, the media confidently predicted 'majority Conservative government', 'majority Conservative government', and 'majority Conservative government'. See a theme developing?
6. Well orchestrated rallies, phone-ins, etc. by Conservative supporters claiming to reflect 'the will of average Canadians'.
and one possibility I'm rather scared to even mention:
7. Some sort of 'Reichstag fire' crisis that leads to implementation of the War Measures Act and the suspension of democracy 'for the duration'. Not terribly probable, but you never know these days.....
What to do?
1. Let our leaders know what you think (in polite Canadian fashion, of course ) Here's a list of email addresses:
NDP leader Jack Layton
Liberal leader Dion
Bloc leader Duceppe
Conservative leader (and Prime Minister) Harper;
2. Talk to people, find out what they think and want.
3. Join a political party, if you are so inclined. If none suit you, start your own
4. When the election comes, VOTE!