Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Drivel Watch: Spector on parliament

Contrary to Canadian practice since 1925, prime minister Gordon Brown did not immediately resign after it became clear that the Conservatives had won the election.
Well, no, that's not the case. Weeks after the Ontario election of 1985, Premier Frank Miller met the house and resigned only after losing a confidence motion in the Ontario legislature. So the relevant Canadian practice is as recent as 1985 -- and runs directly contrary to what Norman Spector is pretending here.

In any case, the British Conservatives had not won the election. They had won some seats; it remained up to the Commons to determine who should form a government.

One is never sure with Norman Spector's commentary. Is he just retailing Conservative talking points, or is he genuinely that ignorant? If we are to take this column seriously, Mr Spector must actually believe that governments are not accountable to Parliament and that Parliament has no right to make and unmake governments -- unless the party with the largest number of seats remains in cabinet. Britain, he says, "flirted with illegitimacy" when there was a possibility that Labour and the Liberal-Democrats might form a government

Illegitimate, he means, because the Conservatives had the largest single bloc of seats. But the hapless Frank Miller had the largest bloc of seats in 1985 Ontario, and that did not make the rather successful Peterson government, holding securely to power with support from the third-party NDP, less than legitimate when it supplanted his inept and unpopular administration.

But perhaps we should not bother with close reading of parliamentary government according to Spector. I suspects he would be -- will be -- arguing precisely the contrary when that serves his party's shortterm interests.
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