By Henry McRandall
While Canadians are not scheduled to elect another federal government until late 2015, the very real possibility exists that the criminally corrupt majority Conservative government of hardnosed right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper could collapse in the coming days, weeks or months.
The last time a majority Canadian federal government collapsed was 50 years ago when another (Progressive) Conservative prime minster, John G. Diefenbaker, squandered a massive majority in Canada’s elected lower house of Parliament, the so-called House of Commons, and saw his party crushed in a forced election in April, 1963.
Historians have not been kind to Diefenbaker, largely dismissing him as a flaky, do-nothing crank. And, indeed, Dief the Chief lived out his remaining political years in ignominy and disgrace. Yet, for all his and his government’s failings, it was his initial courageous stand on a crucial moral issue that led to his destruction and downfall. Diefenbaker had dared to defy Canada’s political masters in Washington by championing the cause of keeping Canada free of nuclear missiles. In response to his courageous early posturing, Diefenbaker was skewered by then United States president John F. Kennedy and by Canada’s mainstream media. The pro-nuclear cacophony was so deafening that few – even within the (Progressive) Conservative party, caucus or even cabinet – dared to rally behind the beleaguered prime minister. Diefenbaker was also light years ahead of his time when he aggressively promoted the idea of massively developing Canada’s Arctic north.
Ironically, Diefenbaker’s defeat as prime minister came at the hands of Liberal leader Lester B. Pearson who insisted Canada should honour its NATO “obligations” and allow nuclear missiles to be planted on Canadian soil. This was the same Lester B. Pearson who, as a diplomat and civil servant, had pioneered the cause of United Nations peacekeeping and been rewarded for those noble efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize just six years earlier.
Another irony is that while his (Progressive) Conservative predecessor of 50 years ago was turfed out of office largely as a consequence of having briefly stood tall on a matter of principle, the potentially-imminent disintegration of Stephen Harper’s majority Conservative government would, on the contrary, be the consequence of Harper’s – and his Conservative government’s – total lack of ethics or principles. Continue reading “Is Canada’s Conservative govt crashing?”
By Henry McRandall