Either decision would have set a horrible precedent, but this one is likely the lesser of two evils as far as the traditional role of the Governor General is concerned. And while this prorogation represents an unacceptable delay in dealing with the urgent issues facing the country while significantly increasing the possibility that the coalition will falter, my take on the mood of the public is that the shock of bringing down the government on Monday, however right that would have been, would have invoked fury and possibly violence among hard-core partisans.
No good answers, but the GG was placed an impossible situation for which I blame Harper, not Jean. And again, I don't know what is going to happen now. Other than we're going to be spending the next eight weeks listening to a very expensive propaganda campaign.
As for Harper's address last night and his comments today, all I can say is that five simple words could have gone a long, long way towards defusing this situation and reassuring Canadians.
No, no, sorry... that would be too much to ask for. Silly me. I mean these five words:
I WAS WRONG. I'M SORRY.
Mind you, that would actually require an acknowledgement of error. A modicum of humility. A soupçon of contrition. Kind of like what Conservative MP Michael Chong from my neighbouring riding of Wellington-Halton Hills expressed yesterday:
Chong said the government made a mistake by putting some elements that were "unpalatable" to the opposition parties in the fiscal update, but now that it's been changed all parties need to work together.
"We misread the situation and we've retracted those aspects of our update." Chong said.
"I think clearly the Conservatives . . . have been humbled by the turn of events in the last week.
"I think we as Conservatives need to understand we do not have a majority, and we therefore need to seek the support of opposition parties."
There. Was that so hard?
(From everything I've seen, Michael Chong is a good and decent man who represents the kind of traditional Canadian Conservative I wish we had more of, and I wrote him a nice note yesterday telling him so. Although I also took him to task over his mischaracterization of the role of the Bloc in the coalition accord.)
For now, this is what I would like to see in the coming weeks:
1) I stand by my recommendation that Dion resign and appoint a neutral interim party and coalition leader like Scott Brison. As much as I like Dion, he is becoming more and more of a public relations liability which Harper will only continue to exploit in the coming weeks. The issue of his leadership is an unnecessary distraction that needs to be removed.
2) Both the NDP and the Liberals need to call Harper's bluff by actively and visibly pushing their specific demands over what they want to see in the budget, regardless of their voting intent when Parliament resumes. If they do not, Harper will again exploit that.
3) Separatists in Quebec need to STOP TALKING SHIT!
I'm sure I'll think of more later.