Scant weeks ago, at the Winnipeg Conservative convention, the Conservative rank and file were heavily into personality cult politics: at the front of the hall, all the pictures were of Harper, Harper, Harper, except one of some schoolgirls wearing "I've got a crush on Harper" T-shirts. He was Da Man, he was the King, he was the Boss, he was the Dear Leader all rolled into one, and he was at the giddy top of his game.
Tonight we saw a man in full flight, a man cut down to size, nervously smirking at the beginning of a wisely short statement that contained nothing new--and quite a few falsehoods.
The CBC commentators were kind. They used the phrase "not true" now and then--but perhaps Harper himself should sign up for Peter Russell's civics class, because he is either ignorant or consciously lying to the Canadian people.
Let's be specific:
- In Canada, he said, the government "has always been chosen by the people." FALSE. To begin with, under our electoral system, we do not vote for governments. We vote for MPs. The Governor-General asks MPs to form governments. The Prime Minister isn't even mentioned in the Constitution.
Secondly, Harper seems to have forgotten the King/Byng affair. After a confidence vote in 1926, which King lost, Arthur Meighen was asked by Governor-General Lord Byng to form a government, which he did, losing a confidence vote himself a few days later. Oddly, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon made the same mistake yesterday.
- "The Opposition," said Harper, "wants to overturn the results of [the] election." FALSE. The results stay exactly the same: the MPs who were elected remain MPs. As noted, Canadian electors do not elect governments.
- The proposed coalition is entering into an alliance with separatists, Harper claimed. FALSE. The Bloc Québécois is not a formal part of the coalition. It has pledged to support the coalition on confidence motions, but not on the routine business of the House.
- The "Opposition (parties have) no democratic right" to proceed with their plans, Harper said. FALSE. On the contrary, under our Constitution, they have every democratic right to vote non-confidence in the Conservative government and to make their case to the Governor-General that they could form a government themselves.
Harper had the gall to conclude by pledging "to protect our democracy...to protect Canada."
Did you really mean that, Prime Minister? Then do the right thing. Face the music on Monday, and resign.