> ! < on Fri, 5 Dec 2008 04:22:42 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> O .. Canada // Facebook 24 hours summary; new arrestings, apologizes...

On the 'what the hell is up with Canada' thread ..

> As things have transpired, the head of
> state opted to allow for a constitutional Christmas break so that
> politicians can cool down a bit. No one has been arrested and I am
> certain that the Governor General did not make her decision because of
> Facebook.
> Andres

I've read this as a peculiar moment of the infamous 'state of exception' in
CDN parliamentary democracy. The appointed head of state, the Governor
General, by allowing a minority gov't to stand without a parliament, has
done so based upon precedent (McKenzie King) that seeks to reinforce the
stability of the State above democratic pressures to challenge minority
legitimacy. The democratic states saves itself by destroying its own
legitimacy. But the democratic state was never challenged; rather a
right-wing minority gov't was challenged by the first coalition in CDN
history to reach across party lines among the opposition, including the
separatist Bloc Quebecois.

This new precedent means that any time a PM faces a vote of (non)confidence
s/he can go to the Governor General and request a suspension of the House

This would seem to overturn the basic principle of Parliamentary democracy
-- that a ruling (minority) party requires the support of the House to
govern. Otherwise the gov't falls.

This new precendent has also meant that Canada has lost the opportunity to
govern by coalition, as is the case in many European parliamentary
democracies. This is unfortunate as it could have led the way to a much more
successful implementation of gov't overall. Instead the Governor General
reaffirmed the 'pyramid' hierarchy of the State: no coalitions, no
challenges of minority rule, no vote of confidence. Now we have pure
authoritarian control over gov't by a minority party.

Structurally we have a state of exception. We also have the kind of
wrangling over parliamentary procedure that wracked Germany in the 1930s.
The machinations to take control of the state when in minority gov't have
faced democracies before. Canada's Governor General has chosen a path
fraught with danger throughout history.

For those not tuning in (Canada? Huh?), the increasingly right-wing
Conservative minority gov't delivered a budget speech that:

(1) revoked the right to strike until 2011

(2) revoked public funding for parties based upon votes received (thereby
impoverishing if not bankrupting parties that due to their politics receive
little or no corporate support, the leftist NDP, unelected though strong
Greens, etc)

(3) revoked the rights of women to bring forward lawsuits on pay equality
before the courts

(4) did little in the way of presenting an economic stimulus package (Canada
is heading to the dumps like everyone else); rather, gov't assets were to be
sold in order to generate cash in the appearance of a balanced budget

While point (4) has attained the most media attention, points (1)-(3) are
far more important, and point (3) is the most forgotten by both politicians
and media. I guess institutionalizing sexism isn't that hot a topic. You'd
think that female Conservative MPs would have thought twice about this, but
then... frankly in Canada we are facing a cult of the image with
Conservative PM Stephen Harper.


yrs from a Canada now under minority dictatorship // <!>

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