Letter to CPAC about Coalition - March 29th, 2011

On Friday, March 25th, 2011, history was made in the Canadian House of Commons when Members of Parliament voted 156-145 in favor of a Liberal motion citing Stephen Harper's minority Conservatives for contempt of Parliament and expressing non-confidence in the government. The contempt charge marks a first for a national government anywhere in the Commonwealth.

The election date has been set for May 2nd, 2011 and political campaigning is underway for all parties. In the early days of the campaign, much has been talked about in terms of coalition. As usual with politics, there is much spinning and positioning, along with mis-direction and mis-representation in the worst case. I became tired with the mis-information on "coalition" and was very pleased to finally see a replay of the 2004 press conference aired by CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel. However, to my dismay, their own employees as well as guests on CPAC continue to talk in ignorance or mis-direction about who said what about coalition. I wrote the following to CPAC with the hope that it brings some sanity to the topic.

Begin Letter

I want to thank CPAC for the replay of the 2004 press conference involving Stephen Harper, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. That has allowed me to place into context the many things talked about in recent days over "coalition" in the 2011 election campaign.

In 2004, it was publicly stated in that press conference that they are not seeking a coalition. Mr. Harper, Mr. Layton and Mr. Duceppe clearly stated that. The purpose was about defining and refining Parliamentary processes and procedures, particularly with respect to what constitutes a non-confidence motion. Mr. Harper specifically stated their desire to limit what can be defined as a non-confidence motion - with the intention that Paul Martin can be prevented from inducing a non-confidence vote leading to dissolution of Parliament and resulting in an election.

  • As publicly stated in that 2004 press conference, the intention was to prevent Mr. Martin from going to the polls and that the Conservative, NDP and Bloc parties would vote on an issue-by-issue basis in order to make Parliament work for the Canadian people.
  • In contrast, if the 2011 election returns a minority government scenario led by the Conservatives with fewer than 155 seats, then the possibility exists for a coalition by the Liberal, NDP and Bloc parties to usurp the Conservative party (bringing down the government elected by the people) so that the coalition can govern the country.

Please make it a suggestion, or better yet a requirement, for all CPAC employees to view that 2004 press conference so that future discussions on "coalition" can accurately reflect the Canadian Parliamentary definition of coalition and the context of Stephen Harper's remarks in the 2011 election campaign. And if CPAC is up to the challenge, make your guests do the same so that they can speak accurately on the matter. I believe this will go a long ways to clarification and will be a great service to the viewers of CPAC.

I think it would also be helpful to the CPAC viewers to see that replay again on TV as well as on the CPAC website.

David S.Y. Wong

End Letter

Here are clips from that 2004 press conference to give a summary of what was publicly stated. The full version will be good to let people see the complete context.

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