Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stephen Harper May be Barred From Running Again

An interesting article about the Contempt of Parliament charges. I knew it was a crime but wasn't aware of the implications. Parliamentary law bars Harper from re-election. He must step down and a new leader chosen.

On Friday March 25, 2011 the Canadian House of Commons found Prime Minister Stephen Harper guilty of contempt of Parliament. According to parliamentary law, contempt of parliament is a federal crime. Being that Harper has been found guilty of a crime Harper is barred from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011. No federal government or cabinet minister has ever been found in contempt before. The vote by the Canadian House of Commons is very much the same as an impeachment of the president of the United States of America.

In the US if a president or US lawmaker is impeached (a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity) that person is removed from office and cannot run for office again. Richard Nixon avoided a vote of impeachment by resigning as president. Harper was essentially impeached from the government of Canada for the federal crime of contempt of Parliament. As a direct result of the House of Commons vote the Harper government was dissolved. As Stephen Harper was found guilty of unlawful activities he is no longer deemed to be the Prime Minister of Canada and an election was called to chose a new leader.

This is huge. I've got a book on the rules of Parliament, I'm going to see if I can find something. Harper has been impeached. How about that?


  1. I think that is why he went to the GG and asked for dissolution, so the House would not be able to proceed against him. Maybe a committee might, but other than that I don't know if your not off the mark, it is a question the media should ask.

  2. What does Canadian law say........ never mind the US as their law cannot help us.

  3. Wonder what the actual text of the contempt motion stated. If Harper is indicted personally because of his executive position, how much further would that reach ? - to the entire executive, ie cabinet ministers ? If not found to be technically prohibitive for Harper to run again, it still surely presents a very strong case against the spirit of the law legitimacy of either Harper or any of his ministers offering for re-election.
    This is one to be followed closely !

  4. Has anyone gotten in touch with Elections Canada about this? Harper's a criminal and a demagogue whose hands must never be allowed to take control of our government again

  5. May be we should start a Facebook group linking to this.

  6. Politicians who are found to have committed an electoral crime like hiding money in a campaign or publishing false information to affect the outcome of a vote ("Attention readers of this newspaper! The polls will be opened one day late so don't bother showing up the day before") for example, can be ineligible to run for office. Being found in contempt of parliament is NOT an electoral crime so far as I can tell and the author, aside from REALLY REALLY wanting it to be, provides no other reason for us to consider the notion.

    I find it incredibly disappointing as well that the original publication on the website you link to is closed to commenting. If such incredible assertions are made, they should be open to critical commentary I think.

  7. Wikipedia does call it a 'crime' Zach. I heard that a group of lawyers were going over it. We've never had this happen in the British Parliamentary system before, so there is no precidence.

    It just seems to me that something this serious should be punishable by more than just an opportunity to run again, so you're free to commit the same 'crime'.

    He should be expelled.

  8. That wiki calls it a crime doesn't make it so but I would certainly say it is seeing as R. C. Miller was imprisoned over it at one point in time. I never said it wasn't a crime, just that it wasn't an electoral crime.

    However, it wasn't Harper that was found in contempt, it was the cabinet. Even if it turns out that Harper can be held to account for that personally, it's not an electoral crime. I don't know how you can make a crime committed in parliament equate to a crime committed on the hustings of a campaign.

  9. It does seem odd that there are no consequences to being in contempt of Parliament other than dissolving the House. Sure such an offense would carry more lasting and serious penalties...

  10. Sorry, but the Elections Act does not list contempt as grounds for barring people from running. Paras 65, 501 and 502 are the ones listing which specific offences or situations that bar someone from running in an election. That being said, morally, he should not be allowed to run.

  11. A slippery snake like Harper? C'mon. I would LOVE for him to be kicked out of the COUNTRY or put in one of his high-priced jails. But, that will not happen. It's sad, but it's true.

    For some reason, the higher up the power chain you go in this country, the LESS serious committing crimes becomes. After all, a guy sitting alone in the park smoking pot KILLS CHILDREN. Being in contempt of Parliament is just media spin by the Opposition. Destroying democratic institutions appears to be a victimless crime, even if he concedes that it's a crime.

  12. Very interesting, but I bet it will be glossed over, or isn't legit. It shouldn't have to bar him from winning, because people shouldn't be so damn stupid to overlook it and vote for a criminal liar.

    I watched Daily Show's Indecision 2004 tonight for old times sake - feels like Canada's in the same position.

  13. I have since spoken with some legal experts who state that the Opposition going from the contempt charge right to no-confidence avoided the next step in the legal process. They saved his butt.

    However, it's important to understand the seriousness. He will go down in history as the "first" to face Contempt of Parliament

  14. If you've read the Canadian constitution, you know that the position of prime minister does not even exist.

    If was created by a consensus of the MPs in power at the time.

    The Canadian government was never meant to be run by one political party but by a consensus of all elected MPs representing all Canadians.

    Instead now what we have is a figure head who has been awarded too much power and who even appoints the people who are in place to keep them in check (The supreme court judges and the Governor General)

  15. Emily, I think there is certainly an argument to be made that the government absolutely was found in contempt and that it wasn't glossed over. I wonder who you've been speaking to. The opposition motion read as follows;

    "That the House agree with the finding of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that the government is in contempt of Parliament, which is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history, and consequently, the House has lost confidence in the government."

    So clearly, the house voted that the government was in contempt of parliament and additionally, that there was a consequence to that being that the house had lost confidence in the government. I don't know how a legal expert could ignore the wording of the resolution that was voted on.

    Regardless, I don't see how this would condemn Harper to being banned from running for office again. Once again, being found in contempt of parliament is not an electoral crime. Even if the motion targeted Harper specifically, I don't see any legal process that could have been engaged that would have seen him barred from running again. Again, while being in contempt may be a crime, really really wanting it to be an electoral crime doesn't make it so.

  16. Steve Harper has no problem sentencing 14 year-olds to life in prison. As for his gang of merry corporate supporters who have fleeced hardworking Canadians for billions? They have a better chance of getting locked up in the U.S.

    "Compared to Canada, the U.S. is actually tougher on its financial industry, and isn’t afraid to put white collar criminals in jail. In fact, Canadians have to rely on the U.S. to prosecute our corporate criminals, including Nortel execut...ives and Conrad Black.

    In the past five years, there have been more than 1,200 successful convictions of white collar criminals in the States, including many Canadians. In Canada, there have only been three."

  17. Good point Jason. And Zach there seems to be a lot of conflicting opinions. Personally, I don't think he should have been allowed to run again. It doesn't seem right. I though I'd email Ned Frank. He's a consitutional expert. Maybe he'd know.

  18. I understand the myriad of opinions out there but they seem to be stemming from one very badly written article from a very biased source at

    As well, though I really do think it would be kinda nifty if it were true, I don't understand the basis for those opinions which legitimize the notion of Harper being ineligible for candidacy. So far, it seems to be that one person has asserted that certain crimes are electoral crimes but has provided no evidence of that. Sorry, but so far there's no reason in my mind to lend legitimacy to this idea. None at all and I get very frustrated when I see people spreading disinformation as is being done by the editor at

    His comment under the article clearly demonstrates that he has no idea how to interpret certain bits of the elections act and the fact that he's spreading this around is incredibly frustrating. misinformation does not serve to better inform anyone of anything.

  19. From what I understand HE wasn't in contempt, the party was and so this doesn't apply

  20. Isn't it interesting that Harper finally got taken down for such a simple thing as hiding the facts while tryig to pass a bunch of bills without fully disclosing their TRUE consequences? I mean...he's been doing that ever since he was given the position os "Emperor of Canada" by...well...himself...

    Evbery Canadian should read and spread the following link, so that they can get educated about this guy, and what the "conservative party" really stands for BEFORE THEY VOTE THES CRIMINALS IN AGAIN!!!

    They only needed ONE reason...we've got 100...and then some...we can NOT allow Harper (or Iggy) to take control of Canada ever again!

  21. repost: Essentially, this is because a finding of contempt of Parliament is completely separate and different from a contempt finding under the criminal law process.

    It is not akin to a contempt finding in the criminal process.

    Parliament has complete power over its internal proceedings. It decides its own rules and arbitrates the standards under which those rules are violated. It determines whether and when someone is in contempt of Parliament and there is no judicial review of such findings and there are no sanctions outside of Parliament. It is up for Parliament to determine what sanctions are appropriate after a finding of contempt. Of course we never got to that stage.

    There is no role for the police and no role for Elections Canada.

    The ultimate sanction is at the ballot box.
    Best of luck.
    Professor Adam Dodek
    Faculty of Law
    University of Ottawa

  22. You need to know this. I was just shocked.

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