Governor General Michaelle Jean: An Unlimited Disaster

Posted on Sunday, December 07 at 09:51 by Robin Mathews

Governor General Michaelle Jean: An Unlimited Disaster

The decision by Michaelle Jean on Thursday, December 4, 2008, to permit Stephen Harper to prorogue parliament in the face of a looming confidence vote is a gigantic disaster – a demonstration of her incompetence at least. It may be a demonstration of serious culpability.  It provides the Harper wolves opportunity to tear more flesh from Canada’s already torn and wounded democracy. 

Bob Rae is probably correct that Harper now heads an illegitimate government.  I believe that as Harper seizes or wins more power he will continue his (already active) move towards a police state and the full destruction of Canadian democracy.

The issue was simple.  Harper – by his own hand and devices – had brought the whole House of Commons (apart from his own loyalists) to a declared and unanimous state of non-confidence in his government.  He put off the first confidence vote he scheduled for a week while he worked out the strategy of using the Governor General to defeat the will of parliament. There was not a single reasonable cause to grant prorogation.  Not one.

The Globe and Mail – pretending majestic objectivity but, at base, a Harper supporter – knows that, I am sure.  Attempting to put a fine face on Madam Jean’s betrayal, the Globe editorialists slipped (Dec 5 08 A16) and found themselves saying that “she cannot prop him up indefinitely….” (recognizing, in the slip, that she is doing precisely that rather than acting as she must to fulfill her role.  I suggest that if the Globe writers really believed she had fulfilled her role, they would not have seen her as “propping” him up but doing, fairly, what the constitution requires).

At the beginning of the printed outline of her role, on the Governor General website, she is declared, primarily, as “ the guarantor of responsible government”.  In ordinary parlance responsible government means ‘government responsible to the people’.  That is not wrong, but it isn’t precise.  The exact meaning of the phrase is that “the government” which is (a) the party in power and (b) especially the cabinet, is “responsible” to ALL the members of the House of Commons.  That means to the government’s own members and to all other members of the House.

If “the government” loses the confidence of the House – some of their own members may be among the members of the House who lose confidence – the government must resign.  To ”lose the confidence” of the House is demonstrated easily and simply.  The government is unable to get a majority of votes on a confidence motion.  As simple as that. 

And that was the condition of affairs when Stephen Harper went to Rideau Hall in a cavalcade of five cars and (reports suggest) “experts” from his own Privy Council Office on Thursday morning.  The Governor General’s reply should have been “go back and face the music, and an Opposition united in a coalition, agreeing to a long period of stability as government”.  Period.

Those who say Michaelle Jean “had to” grant prorogation are wrong.  The Governor General has the right – and the obligation – to take all present matters into account when judging a request (or the ‘advice’ of the prime minister) and so cannot be bound by precedent. Harper’s request, anyhow, is without precedent.  Never before has a prime minister - facing a vote scheduled by his own government in the earliest days of a sitting - asked the Governor General to close down parliament – for his personal convenience.

Yet that is what happened. Brazenly posturing, Stephen Harper demanded an illicit prorogation – and, I suggest, knew, beforehand, what the outcome would be.

Confirmation (though not needed) that she has the powers I point to here is provided in the same Globe and Mail by Michael Valpy. “Constitutional conventions and precedents don’t tie the hands of governors-general and the application of what’s known as their reserve powers….” (A6)  Their reserve powers (their discretion to make a judgement) in fact, cannot be defined or limited since every case is different in which a governor general must act as “the guarantor of responsible government”. That is the key phrase.

To act as guarantor of responsible government, Madam Jean had to send Stephen Harper back to the House of Commons with no prorogation.  She had to say “the House is in session.  You have a motion of confidence before you in that House.  If I grant you the right to close down parliament, I will not he acting as the guarantor of responsible government. Sorry. Then we will see what happens.  If the “coalition” defeats you and can form a stable government, I will have to allow it to take power.” Instead, she put Stephen Harper’s wishes ahead of responsible government. Why?

You might say she crumbled in the face of a bully – if you are generous.  If you are not generous, you might suspect that serious and deeply disturbing things are happening in the country which caused her to do otherwise. 

Having just published a serious and deeply disturbing book about the present government, it’s blatant corruption, and the increasingly lawless RCMP, Paul Palango added a further comment this week in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight. The book, Palango writes, “conclusively shows … we have lost control of our own country”. (Dispersing The Fog: Inside The Secret World Of Ottawa And The RCMP).

I take that to mean that major forces shaping policy in Canada and handing away control are both external and internal, and when internal they are loyal to and serving forces that are foreign and would be offensive to Canadians if they knew about them.

How could Michaelle Jean have anything to do with that? How could she be connected in any way?  And how could her action to serve the interests of Stephen Harper relate?

Perhaps the answers to all three questions are flat negatives: she could not be connected in any way and her action does not serve the interests of Stephen Harper, nor relate.

Madam Jean is – as the Globe and Mail editors tell us – “ a Quebec journalist with a background in the arts and a husband with ties to the dreaded separatists.”  But she is, of course, more than that.  She was born in Haiti, came to Canada, became Governor General, and visited her homeland in that role – visiting it as if all is normal there and as if she was/is unaware of its almost unbelievable recent history. That history has been rigorously kept out of newspapers like the Globe and Mail and most of the media.  But it has been carefully traced in less mainstream books and articles and has had three or four issues of Press for Conversion, the publication of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, devoted completely to that shocking history and Canada’s role in it. (541 McLeod St., Ottawa, Ont. K1R 5R2)

The story is simple, and simply horrific.  Only part of it is that Bertrand Aristide ran legitimately for president of Haiti in 2000, and won with 92% of the vote.  The U.S. didn’t like the outcome of the vote because Aristide was a progressive and a real reformer.  And so every method was used to destroy him and his government by outside forces, principally the U.S., Canada, France, and the U.N.  Loans were cut, money was pumped into the opposition forces, etc. etc. By 2004 the opposing countries acted openly, kidnapped Aristide (Canadian military assisting), and flew him as far away as they could – to the Central African Republic where they thought he would be incommunicado.  But he managed to make contact with the outside and report his removal as a kidnap.

Haiti’s history has been long and bloody. Since the middle 1990s it has been especially bloody. It is presently known as one of the poorest, most oppressed, most unhappy countries in the world. Paul Martin, as prime minister, visited Haiti and declared it free; the RCMP has assisted in the building of Haitian police forces; Canada’s CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) has played a big role in supporting forces opposed to Bertrand Aristide and supporting illegitimate governments that have followed his. In its actions in Haiti Canada has denied every value Canadians believe are theirs in order to support an international act of piracy, terrorism, and destruction of democracy. Paul Martin appointed Michaelle Jean to the post of Governor General.  The Harper government continues the Canadian “policy” towards Haiti. 

In a sparkling visit to her homeland of Haiti, a visit by Canada’s Governor General, Michaelle Jean spoke no evil, heard no evil, and saw no evil.  Her visit was reported by the major Canadian press and media as a brilliant and touching return.

I say that she cannot be connected to Haiti as she is connected, and could not go back to Haiti innocent of its history in the last fifteen years. I say, moreover, I believe that fact legitimately opens the question of her “independence” and “objectivity” in her meeting with Stephen Harper.  It opens the question of whether she is, in fact, part of an attempted coup d’etat, helping to further the destruction of Canadian democracy.

Am I wrong in asking those questions? You figger.  Think of Haiti.  Think of Canada in Haiti, assisting the destruction of a democratic society.  Think of Governor General Michaelle Jean’s innocent visit to a free and democratic country, her land of birth, Haiti.  Think of her making not a single comment about the terror, oppression, and destruction of democracy in that country.  Think….




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