Sunday, December 07, 2008

Politicians and why we should pass a law against them.

Hello everyone,

This weeks suprise was the Canadian coalition, unless of course you watch whats happening in the rest of the world. I'd hate to think that Dion had a original thought. I can't belive that a month after the election we're going though this crap again, hey I'm not happy with the outcome either but lets just move on.

Read the article below this one. It has pictures :).

OTTAWA–NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion have signed an historic accord to form a coalition government to replace Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

In an extraordinary scene on Parliament Hill late this afternoon, Dion and Layton signed a formal deal to work together through to June, 2011.

And they signed an agreement with Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe that commits the separatist party to support the coalition through to June, 2010.

Liberal leader Dion would serve as prime minister.

The opposition parties are threatening to defeat the Conservatives next week.

However, their plan to assume government would require the blessing of the Governor General.

As well, the Conservatives appear quite determined to remain at the helm in Ottawa.

"We will use all legal means to resist this undemocratic seizure of power," Harper told Conservative MPs and staff gathered at an Ottawa hotel for a Christmas party.

"Such an illegimate government would be a catastrophe for our democracy, our unity and our economy," Harper said, according to his aide Dimitri Soudas.

Harper said that the NDP and Liberals have entered into an "unholy alliance" with the Bloc Quebecois - "a party that is here in Ottawa for no other reason than to destroy the country we all love."

Earlier in the day, two senior Conservative cabinet ministers emerged from a meeting with Harper within an hour of the coalition’s news conference and framed the coalition as “undemocratic.”

Jim Prentice, Harper’s de facto deputy prime minister and chairman of the government operations cabinet committee, said everyone should "take a breath and pause,” and think about what’s in the best interests of Canadians.

“This is an attempt to impose an alternative government upon Canadians, a government that was not elected barely six weeks ago, and a government – a coalition – that is supported by separatists, people who would break up our country.

“This is a serious situation that is irresponsible, and it is undemocratic.”

Prentice said the government will consider all "steps that are reasonable to protect the interests of our country and the interests of Canadians particularly in these uncertain economic times.”

“There is a need for calm, there is a need to step back, appraise the situation...and consider what is in the best interests of our country at this point in time and that clearly does not involve a government that was not placed before Canadians, propped up by separatists who do not support our country governing Canada for the next year or more.”

He refused to outline what options the government would consider reasonable in such an “unprecedented” situation.

Under the deal, the Liberal caucus would be responsible for choosing the finance minister, a key role as the country faces economic storms.

The NDP would get six positions in the 24-member cabinet as well as six parliamentary secretary positions.

Dion will serve as leader until a Liberal leadership convention in May. Liberals Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, all candidates for the party leadership, appeared together to show support for the decision.

Ignatieff told reporters that the ongoing race would not preclude any of the contenders from serving in a coalition cabinet.

Ignatieff and Dominic Leblanc said it was the prerogative of the prime minister to choose.

"The decisions on who is in cabinet are made by the prime minister of Canada, they’re not made by me, they’re not made by Dom and they’re not made by Bob," said Ignatieff.

"And that’s very clear in the accord that’s to say the authority and the prerogatives of the prime minister have not been compromised. It’s up to Mr.Dion to make the choices that he feels are right for the country."

Leblanc responded "Michael is always right!"

Layton said the coalition would move with a stimulus package that is "prompt and prudent."

That plan includes infrastructure spending, home construction, renovations and financial support for "struggling sectors" that can demonstrate a viable business plan.

He urged Harper to accept his looming defeat "gracefully" and not make moves that create "further instability and delay."

Duceppe said his party would not introduce any non-confidence motions or vote against any budgets or speeches from the throne until the agreement expires but would be free to vote as it wishes on any other legislation.

Conservatives appeared stunned by the turn of events, even as the coalition was confirmed.

Heritage Minister James Moore said in French the Opposition parties campaigned in the fall against forming a coalition, and now they were reversing themselves, but in French, he did not press the argument against the dangers of “separatists.”

"If the three Opposition parties are proud of what they’ve done today, if they are confident they are on the side of the angels, and on the side of Canadians,” said Moore, “they should ask Canadians for a mandate to impose what they decided today.”

“They should have the courage to put this before the Canadian people and none of them will.”

Asked whether the government hadn’t brought itself to the brink by refusing to reach out to the Opposition, Prentice dodged a direct answer.

Prentice answered a question about the government’s own miscalculation, saying “that is not the issue presently before us.”

He said the seeds of the coalition were sown well before the government brought in its economic statement.

"It’s amazing that a Justin Trudeau and Stéphane Dion, son of (the late federalist) Leon Dion, would be handing power over in this country to the separatists, something nobody ever dreamed of in the last election," said Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.

Though a PMO official appeared to downplay the prospect Parliament could simply be suspended through proroguing, some Tories want the breathing room.

Mississauga-Erindale MP Bob Dechert said he would counsel Harper to prorogue Parliament so that the government could provide some details of the economic stimulus it has promised for the budget.

He said, "there may be stimulus announced in the next few weeks," and he said a delay would help Canadians.

"People should know what our plan is before they hear from the three-headed Frankenstein monster of the new Liberal-Bloc party."

He and others said that the "worst thing" for Canada’s economy right now is a change in government. "And I’m pretty sure you’ll see it in the stock markets today and tomorrow."

Conservative MP Darryl Kramp, however, said his government had to face the reality in the House, and he doubted an election was an option.

"I don’t think there is an out. Personally, I think this is a done deal. . . I think we’re into a coalition."

But he was angered at the prospect of any BQ hand on power.

"This is over the top now. This is a coup d’état. It makes us look like a banana republic. The only difference here is there’s no blood, thank goodness."

Lisa Raitt, a rookie Conservative minister, was among some Conservatives who put on a brave face, saying she was honoured to have served the people of her Halton riding even if it turns out to have been a short time.

Liberal leadership candidate Rae said "there’s no turning back" from plans to toss the Conservatives from power.

Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay said the deal was done and no announcement by Harper - short of proroguing parliament, which she does not believe he will do - is going to stop the opposition parties from defeating the government next Monday.

Ignatieff told reporters that the ongoing race would not preclude any of the contenders from serving in a coalition cabinet.

Harper got a standing ovation from Conservatives as he took his place in the Commons with two notable exceptions - Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Trade Minister Stockwell Day.

Dion got a standing ovation from Liberal and NDP MPs as he kicked off question period with a question to the prime minister about stimulus for the country’s economy.

The prime minister dismissed Dion’s shot in the Commons about playing partisan games in his economic statement.

Harper shot back that the Liberal leader was "about to play one of the biggest political games" in the country’s history.

Harper appealed to the opposition to wait until seeing the budget, scheduled for Jan. 27.

"I understand he wants to be Prime Minister. . . . I wouldn’t want to be governing the economy in his position," Harper said, referring to the coalition of "socialist economic" and "separatists."

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty accused the Liberals of making a "deal with the devil" and said the NDP "don’t know the first thing" about running the economy.

Sources said the deal calls for the coalition government to deliver a federal budget immediately after taking office. The budget would include a major package of stimulus measures to shore up the troubled economy.

The game of high-stakes political intrigue has set the stage for a week in which Harper's Conservatives will fight to retain power.

Flaherty kicked off the day yesterday with a full-scale retreat from his Nov. 27 economic statement, with a promise of economic stimulus measures in an early budget on Jan. 27.

For the first time, he hinted strongly that Ottawa would bail out Canada's struggling Big Three automakers.

But the Liberals and New Democrats said the latest concessions from the Conservatives are not enough to derail the move to defeat the Tory minority and take power with a coalition cabinet. A confidence vote that could topple the government is expected on Dec. 8.

Another bitter episode was spawned when the NDP said it might pursue legal action after the Conservatives taped a private New Democrat caucus meeting Saturday and distributed the transcripts and recordings to the media yesterday.

In the meeting, NDP Leader Jack Layton tells his caucus that "moves" with respect to the Bloc Québécois "a long time ago" helped lay the groundwork for the coalition now being discussed – a statement the Conservatives say suggests the fiscal update is merely an excuse for the revolt.

Yesterday, in another reversal from the economic package, Flaherty told a telephone news conference the government would remove from legislation implementing the package a bid to temporarily ban public service strikes. On Saturday, he backed down on the plan to scrap federal subsidies for political parties.

Flaherty stressed that the government has tried to stave off an economic slowdown by using lower taxes – he brought in a six-year, $60 billion tax reduction program in 2007 – to improve business conditions. But he said there will be further stimulus to the economy, and suggested it might include help for the auto sector.

"We're going to have to deal with the automotive issue, obviously," he added. "Will we have to help a particular sector or more than one particular sector? The answer is probably yes."

The federal and Ontario governments have asked Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – thought to be collectively seeking $3 billion to $4 billion in aid – to produce recovery plans by Friday.

Flaherty's statements indicate the Tories are trying to limit damage in the wake of an economic package that has raised questions about the government's credibility and political smarts.

"The stability of the government and the economy is paramount," he said. Rather than propose to scrap the federal subsidy for political parties, the Conservatives will move to freeze the payments at the current $1.95 per vote and put the issue before the public for future debate.

Flaherty sounded unusually subdued. While his future was not discussed, questions about his role as finance minister can be expected now that the economic strategy has blown up in the government's face.

Since last week, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc have been involved in closed-door talks aimed at preparing a coalition government.

There were questions as to whether the Liberals could act cohesively to join in an attempt to oust Harper. The main issue surrounded which Liberal would head the coalition and potentially become prime minister.

In a meeting in Toronto last night, Liberal leadership contender Bob Rae tried to convince fellow contenders Michael Ignatieff and Dominic LeBlanc to show a unified front by accepting the deal with Dion as coalition leader, according to a Rae supporter. Rae argued there is no reason to change "the legitimate leadership process" that will replace Dion in May.

For the opposition, the "central issue" continues to be the Tories' lack of a package of significant new measures to address the economy, which Flaherty admits has fallen into a recession, said Liberal finance critic John McCallum.

"I still don't think anything has really changed," McCallum (Markam-Unionville) said after Flaherty's news conference.

He said there's also a growing question of credibility with the Harper government. "Here we are when they're desperate to save the government and they'll promise us the moon. But when we're promised the moon, I don't think we necessarily believe it."

Deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said the provocative economic update was a "terrible miscalculation by the Conservatives."

"We're not going to give them another chance," he said. "We're structured, we're organized, we've worked very hard for the past four days and you're going to see the fruits of that labour very shortly."

Mulcair also said the covert taping of the NDP call "shows the desperation of the Conservatives."

Pierre Poilievre, Harper's parliamentary secretary, told CTV the transcript shows there were "members of the NDP who were working with the separatists who want to destroy Canada in order to take control of the country in a perilous coalition.

"All of this was hatched long ago, well before any of the controversy over the fall economic statement. That is shocking news," he said.

The recording was made by a Conservative who was able to dial into Layton's teleconference call with New Democrat MPs.

Mulcair denied his party was engaged in discussions with the Bloc before the Nov. 27 economic statement. The situation is no different from "consultations" Harper had with the NDP and the Bloc as opposition leader against the minority Liberals in 2004, Mulcair said.

He also said the NDP is looking at its legal options, saying party discussions were "illegally intercepted."

The Tories downplayed the 2004 consultations, saying there was never any intention of a coalition.

There were several signals over the weekend that the affair has damaged Harper's leadership. Several senior Conservative government members admitted they had been hearing from supporters outraged over Harper's moves.

With files from Linda Diebel


Thai party 'can form coalition'

Thai opposition MPs
The Democrats say a new coalition could resolve the crisis

The main opposition party in Thailand says it has enough support to form a government and end the political crisis that has gripped the country.

The Democrat Party claims it has the backing of more than half of the 400 lawmakers in the lower house.

It follows protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy, against rule by allies of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Blockades of Bangkok airports were ended on Wednesday after a court ruling that deposed the prime minister.

On Saturday Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the Democrat Party, said it could form a coalition with the support of five small parties in the ruling coalition.

"Everyone here is fully convinced about the political situation of the country. Therefore we decide together to form a coalition government to solve the crisis of the country," he told a late night news conference.

The BBC's Jonathan Head, in Bangkok, says the Democrats must have persuaded some MPs to defect from the governing People Power Party (PPP), which was dissolved this week by a court over election fraud.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat was also forced to step down.

Airports open

On Friday, Thaksin's ex-wife returned to Thailand for personal reasons.

A spokesman for Pojaman Shinawatra said she was visiting her ailing mother and her return to Thailand had nothing to do with politics.

qThe whole episode has damaged the economy and has affected Thais from making a living
UK businessman in Bangkok

Her arrival prompted speculation in the Thai media that her return was linked to attempts to form a new government.

It had come as a surprise as she was found guilty of tax evasion in July and left the country the next day after filing an appeal.

Pojaman, who was married to Thaksin for 32 years before divorcing in November, flew into Bangkok's international airport from the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

The airport returned to full operation on Friday after anti-government protesters raised their week-long blockade of it and Bangkok's domestic airport.

However, an airport public relations official warned that it could be at least a month before traffic was back to normal.

The protesters, who regard the government as a proxy for Thaksin, withdrew after the PPP court ruling.

'No politics'

Pojaman's spokesman denied that she had arrived to influence the People Power Party's successor, the Puea Thai party, which is due to pick a leader on Sunday.

Pojaman Shinawatra and her ex-husband Thaksin Shinawatra  in July 2006
Pojaman and Thaksin are reported to have divorced in Hong Kong
"[She] doesn't want to be involved in politics," the spokesman said.

"Puea Thai party has a process to choose its leader. Certainly, it has nothing to do with her."

Pojaman was found guilty last July of evading tax of 546m baht ($16.3m) in a 1997 shares transfer in the family telecoms business.

In October, Thaksin was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison in his absence.

No reasons were given for the couple's separation and Thaksin's current whereabouts are unclear.

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