Harper could very well escape after his near death experience. He managed to cheat the parliamentary system by using prorogation as a means of escaping a vote that would have shown that he did not have the support of parliament. Even though this must have been evident to the governor general she granted Harper's request to prorogue. However she would have been in even more trouble no doubt if she had refused!
The Liberals are beginning to show that they are competent at only one thing: sitting on their hands. The press is spreading rumours about coalition cracks already. No doubt Harper will throw a few scraps to the Liberal saps, just enough to convert them to supporting the government budget and allow Harper to escape relatively unscathed. Dion can do nothing but sin it seems. The press seems to love to diss him acting as if a faulty digital camera shows how incompetent Dion is!
Shaken Liberals plan next moves TheStar.com - Canada - Shaken Liberals plan next moves
RENÉ JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR
Thousands of pro-coalition supporters protest on Parliament Hill after the Governor General agreed to suspend government until late January. (Dec. 4, 2008)
December 05, 2008 Les WhittingtonRichard J. Brennanottawa bureau
OTTAWA–Worried about Stéphane Dion's leadership and skeptical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new-found spirit of co-operation, the Liberals sought yesterday to chart their next moves in the wake of the suspension of Parliament.
The future of the Liberal-New Democrat coalition that nearly toppled the Conservative minority appeared up in the air after Governor General Michaëlle Jean agreed with Harper's request to prorogue Parliament and send MPs home until Jan. 26.
Liberals were reeling from Dion's inept performance in his televised response to Harper on Wednesday night, and nervous about the storm of anti-coalition reaction the Conservatives were able to whip up in only a few days.
But, despite some dissent, the party insisted the majority of the 77-member caucus is standing solidly behind the coalition with the NDP that, tapping the support of the Bloc Québécois, had been until yesterday poised to defeat the Harper government and take power.
Liberals were angry that Harper escaped being dumped from power in a Commons confidence vote this coming Monday by appealing to Jean for suspension of Parliament.
"We must realize the enormity of what happened today. For the first time in the history of Canada, the prime minister of Canada is running away from the Parliament," Dion said.
Others said it is a dangerous precedent for democracy.
But, if there was disappointment, the party also recognized the threat raised by the coalition had pinned the Prime Minister against the ropes and forced him to promise a more conciliatory approach to handling his minority government.
After meeting with Jean, Harper told the media he wants the opposition parties to come forward with proposals to stimulate the economy, and to co-operate with the government to craft a budget acceptable to the House of Commons.
Liberals were wary, however, saying they had absolutely no reason to believe Harper's pledge to work closely with their party and the NDP on the budget.
"I am always open to discuss, but what Harper has done this week is so unacceptable," Dion said, referring to the Prime Minister's repeated accusation that the Liberals and NDP had endangered Canadian unity by entering into an alliance with the sovereignist Bloc.
"This is so ugly that before the Liberal caucus is even able consider anything that would come from this man, he has a lot of work to do," Dion told reporters.
Yesterday's closed-door caucus meeting was reportedly marked by fiery complaints about Dion's poorly produced, amateurish taped message to Canadians that was aired after Harper addressed the country on Wednesday.
Dion, who is stepping down as leader in May, professed embarrassment at the poor quality of the video that made it to air. "I am the most angry of everyone," he said.
He said it is an "unfortunate message" if some people take from that video that he is ill-prepared to run the country.
The grainy video was taped by one of Dion's closest aides, Mick Gzowski, son of late CBC icon Peter Gzowski, The Canadian Press reports. Insiders say it was recorded with a digital camera and an auto-focus button on the camera was broken, stuck in the locked position. As a result, the focus was on a bookcase behind Dion, rather than on the Liberal leader himself, leaving his face slightly fuzzy.
Outside caucus, there was general insistence that Dion's capability as party chief is not an issue. "We have a leader; his name is Stéphane Dion," said Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP Michael Ignatieff, a candidate to replace Dion in the leadership race. Toronto Centre MP Bob Rae and New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc are the other candidates.
Privately, some Liberals said they were worried, though they said there is little that can be done now, since Dion is leaving.
Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt), who has often criticized Dion, didn't conceal his doubts.
"I don't think Mr. Dion can lead us into an election. I don't think Mr. Dion can win an election," he told reporters. Because of Dion's lack of communications skills, "the coalition, the way we are going right now, won't survive," he added.
Liberals said they will hold a caucus meeting on Wednesday, with the first order of business being to draw up recommended proposals to submit to Harper for possible inclusion in the Jan. 27 budget.
This stance leaves open the possibility that, if the Tories prove to be serious about working co-operatively on an acceptable budget package to boost the economy, the Liberal-NDP coalition might drop its commitment to defeat the Harper government over the budget.
"Canadians sent us here to work together ... if we can work (with the other parties), we'll see what happens," said Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill).
But Ignatieff said the Liberals need to keep the coalition with the NDP intact to ensure Harper knows his government faces defeat unless it produces an acceptable budget package with major economic stimulus measures.
- With files from Bruce Campion-Smith