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[LINK] “Jean feared ‘dreadful crisis’ when Harper sought prorogation”

Jeff Jedras of A BCer in Toronto linked to Steven Chase’s Globe and Mail article claiming that, back in December 2008, then-Governor-General Michaëlle Jean accepted the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper–then leader of a minority government–to close down parliament so as to avoid a coalition government because she feared a constitutional crisis.

Constitutional scholar Peter Russell told OntarioNewsWatch.com this week that weighing on Ms. Jean’s mind at the time was the likelihood the Tories – had they lost office – would have poisoned confidence in the coalition government through a PR campaign framing the change as an illegitimate transfer of power.

The Conservatives, he told the Ontario-based news website, “have a huge publicity machine” at their fingertips.

“If a ‘no’ had come out of Rideau Hall and an attack launched on a Dion-Layton coalition that said we’ve had a coup d’etat in Canada,” he said, “we would have been there in the headlines of the world like Greece. [That’s] not very good for the country in any which way.”

As is already known, Ms. Jean also extracted pledges from Mr. Harper at the time: that he would bring back Parliament shortly and produce a budget to win sufficient support in the Commons.

[. . .]

Reached Monday by The Globe and Mail, Mr. Russell said he believes Ms. Jean was concerned about a Conservative backlash that could generate a crisis of confidence in Canada’s political system. “My best guess was that she was,” he said.

“I can’t say for sure,” Mr. Russell said, adding that he, however, was worried about this. He wouldn’t divulge what Ms. Jean told him during consultations.

[. . .]

The constitutional scholar said it’s hard to envision the governor-general not being worried about how Mr. Harper and the Conservative political machine would react if the PMO was handed to then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion.

“Can you imagine anyone sitting here thinking ‘If I say ‘no’ to this man we’ll just have a nice quiet time and swear in Mr. Dion and life will go on?’ ” he told The Globe and Mail.

[. . .]

Kory Teneycke, a former director of communications to Mr. Harper, was quoted in Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin’s book Harperland as saying that an appeal to Buckingham Palace was one option under consideration.

According to Harperland, Mr. Teneycke maintained, in an interview well after the event, that it would have been “just unheard of” for the governor-general to refuse a request for prorogation by a prime minister who had already survived a vote of confidence in the Commons.

When Mr. Teneycke was asked what other avenues the Prime Minister was exploring in case the decision had gone against them, he responded: “Well, among them, the Queen.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm