Tuesday, September 22, 2015

CBC Power & Politics’ Barton goofs on Trudeau statement

It really is time for the powers that be in the CBC to put some smart folks in a room and  tell them to come up with an intelligent set of facts on how our constitution works, and then to train Rosemary Barton and others in the P&P program.

Justin Trudeau made the most significant announcement of the whole 2015 campaign today, when he said that under no circumstances would be support Stephen Harper as prime minister. Here are some of his words, from the Toronto Star (my bolding):

“Mr. Harper has demonstrated over the past 10 years that he has been unable to create the jobs and growth for Canadians that they need. I have spent my entire political career fighting against Mr. Harper’s narrow and meaner vision of what Canada can be and what the government should do,” Trudeau said Tuesday when asked about post-election scenarios.
There are no circumstances in which I would support Stephen Harper to continue being prime minister of this country,” he told reporters.

His statement is very clear: the Liberal Party will vote no-confidence in the Harper government even if Harper gains more MPs than either the LPC or NDP do.

Harper has said that if either of the other two parties has more MPs than the Tories do on October 19, he will resign as prime minister. This means a trip to the Governor General to hand in his resignation. The GG will then turn to the leader of the party with most MPs (which could be Mulcair or Trudeau), to see if he could form a government with the support of the House (that is, 170 MPs).

If Harper wins more seats than either of the other two parties, he will not resign, but will try to run a minority government.

The Liberals will, according to Trudeau’s statement, then vote no-confidence in Harper in the Throne Speech. If Mulcair supports the Harper minority government in the Throne Speech, Harper stays on as PM for as long as Mulcair votes confidence in him. The Liberals will not.

That is what Trudeau’s speech today said. It is unprecedented in the middle of an election campaign for such a statement to be made, but made it was. Harper is on notice that he can either win a majority, or he will have to rely exclusively on Mulcair’s NDP to vote confidence in him and allow him to be PM of a minority government.

In August, Trudeau ruled out joining in a formal coalition with Mulcair’s NDP. But he said that he was prepared to work with other parties on specific pieces of legislation. That statement clearly addressed the situation where no party has a majority of seats.

If Trudeau gets more seats than Mulcair, he will try to form a minority government, and will work with the NDP and with the Tories to pass legislation, assuming that he gains the confidence of the House (170 MPs) in the Liberal Throne Speech. Based on current polls, Trudeau could gain 170 MPs confidence if either the Harper Conservatives or the Mulcair NDP vote confidence in him as PM.

If Mulcair wins more seats than Trudeau, and is asked by the GG to try to gain the confidence of the House, then Mulcair could survive a confidence vote with the support, based on current polls, of either the Harper Tories or of the Liberals.

If Mulcair did gain the confidence of the House, then Trudeau in August was saying that after such a vote, the Liberals would work with the NDP minority government on specific pieces of legislation. This would be a case by case treatment of such legislation.

There is no conflict between today’s statement and the August statement by Trudeau. The CBC should know that before launching a discussion in such an important program as the Power & Politics segment slap bang in the middle of a game-changing election.

Can we not expect a bit of homework to be done by a quick response team of CBC journalists, please? These matters are not just for talking heads; they are influencing tens of thousands of voters who look to the CBC and to CTV for reasoned, accurate discourse on events of the day.

With emphasis on accurate. Harper will be throwing dead cats on the table regarding our constitutional laws, so as to try to change the channel from Tory record and bloopers; accuracy on the fly is needed by the media to prevent this clouding rational discussion of our political events.

Perhaps Mansbridge should put together a special constitutional law quick response team that could involve external experts plus well-trained CBC staffers, and could be parachuted into such discussions, to ensure adequate treatment.

And accurate treatment.

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