Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stephen Harper Goes To Court for Breaking Law on Elections

When the story first broke about the In and Out scandal, an ethics committee was established to investigate the matter. However, when they began to get too close to perhaps learning the truth (including forged receipts and fraudulent documentation), Harper shut down the committee, and called an 'illegal' election, billing taxpayers another 300 million dollars, seemingly to avoid possible (alleged) criminal charges. Many of those involved still sit in caucus and several are cabinet ministers.

Dr. Joan Russow discusses this in PEJ (Peace, Earth and Justice) news. Writing from Europe, she found the entire thing absurd, and couldn't believe that he was able to get away with not only simply ignoring the alleged fraud charges, but also calling an election to cover up a possible crime.

The young man in the video above also brings up an important point. While the opposition parties believed that they would not be facing an election until 2009, the Conservatives were busy getting their candidates in place and readying themselves for the next bold move of a man who believes that the law only pertains to the other guys.

In fact, our own local Conservative 'also ran' Brian Abrams, had already hired a company to make cold calls for him in Kingston, an amount that he didn't have to include in his financial statement, which may have put him over the legal limit.

Now an organization, called 'Democracy Watch' is taking Harper to court for breaking his own election law. Machinations leading up to this election clearly show that this was part of a much bigger initiative on behalf of the Conservatives.

Democracy Watch challenges Stephen Harper in court over election call
By David Akin,
Canwest News Service
September 8, 2009

OTTAWA — Advocacy group Democracy Watch will try Tuesday to convince a judge to rule that Prime Minister Stephen Harper broke his own fixed election date law and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights when he called an election last fall.

In early September, 2008, Harper asked Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to dissolve Parliament, claiming that the opposition parties weren’t prepared to support his legislative agenda. Jean agreed, and Canadians went to the polls on Oct. 14.

But Canada’s fixed election date law — one of the first pieces of legislation the Harper government introduced upon winning power in 2006 — said a vote should not have been held until Oct. 19, 2009 unless the government fell on a confidence vote in the House of Commons. No such confidence vote was held last fall.

The Conservatives introduced the fixed election date law in order, they argued in 2006, to prevent prime ministers from calling snap elections to win partisan advantage. They pointed, for example, to former prime minister Jean Chretien’s decision in 2007 (SB. 2000) to call an election less than three years into his second majority government before Stockwell Day could consolidate his young leadership of the Canadian Alliance.

Day was easily bested by Chretien who won his third successive majority.

That election set in motion a series of events that led to Day’s ouster, setting the stage for Harper to succeed him. Harper would go on to unite the right and win the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada, losing an election in 2004 to Paul Martin but then winning on his second try in 2006.

Last fall, Harper’s political opponents accused him of trying to do just what Chretien had done: engineer a federal election in order to take advantage of a weak opponent in Stephane Dion and the Liberals.

But, even though the Liberals suffered one of their worst showings ever at the polls, Harper failed to win a majority though he did win a stronger minority government.

That minority government is now in peril, with the Liberals threatening to introduce a motion of non-confidence at their earliest opportunity. Neither the NDP nor the Bloc Quebecois have given their unqualified support to the government which means Canadians could be going to the polls within weeks.

MPs return to the House of Commons on Sept. 14.

In the meantime, Democracy Watch hopes to prevent future prime ministers from doing what Harper did last year.

Overwhelming evidence shows that the intent and effect of the fixed election date measures prohibits the prime minister from calling an election before his governing party has lost a confidence vote in the House of Commons,” said Democracy Watch co-ordinator Duff Conacher earlier this year.

“The clear intent of the fixed election date measures is to make elections fair for all political parties and citizens wanting to participate in the election by letting everyone know well in advance when it will happen.”

Democracy Watch says it is an advocate for increased government and corporate accountability and transparency . It receives its funding through donations from individuals and from citizen groups.

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