Jean Chretien

Liberal Party

Pierre Trudeau

Canadian Alliance

Calling Election Was Unconstitutional

Date: OCT19-00
Source: National Post
Keywords: coverups, despotism
Posted: OCT24-00
Jean Chretien Index

He haunts us still. Unfortunately
Mark Steyn
Question: What do the following have in common?

a) The impending election

b) The injunction by our Supreme Court judges that they are not to be addressed as "Lord" and "Lady"

c) The attempted renaming of Mount Logan

d) The National Post from Friday September 30th to Wednesday October 4th

Answer: They are all manifestations of the rictus grip in which Pierre Trudeau still holds this country. To take them in order:

a) The impending election is not only "unnecessary" but also a constitutional affront. The Parliament of 1997 was elected for five years and just because poor old Jean Chrétien is the premature ejaculator of Canadian politics and sadly incapable of going the distance is no reason for the Governor-General to keep passing out writs of dissolution like Viagra prescriptions. Mr Chrétien's two feeble three-year terms are the shortest majority governments in Canadian history with the exception of Laurier's last ministry, which he cut short for the "Reciprocity" election of 1911. (Incidentally, if you're one of those Trudeaunecromaniacs who believe that the great man is the "Father Of Our Country" or that "he gave us our country" or that "we are all his children," you may find allusions to anything more than 30 years old disorienting and confusing. "1911" in our calendar would, of course, be year 57 PET, or Pre-Era of Trudeau.)

If you question the Prime Minister's right to call an election for his own convenience, Mr. Chrétien flips you the finger and says, "Just watch me." Under the Liberals' one-party Monopoly, the object is to pass Go and collect $200 as often as possible. But there's nothing in constitutional convention that says the rest of us have to go along. A prime minister has no right to a dissolution before the fifth year of a Parliament unless there is a pressing new issue of public policy (as in 1911), or there is no alternative government. That's why Lord Byng refused Mackenzie King in 1926. The circumstances are far more clear-cut this time: Not only does the Prime Minister have no right to an election, but the country has the right not to have his flaccid three-year electoral cycles enshrined as precedent. The Governor-General would do the state a great service if she told Jean to take a hike. If ever there were a time to say, "I'm Adrienne Clarkson and you're not," this is it.

But, alas, I seem to be the only one who holds out any hope that her viceregal eminence will resist Mr. Chrétien. In his later years, Pierre Trudeau would occasionally tell friends in Montreal that the monarchy was a lot of nonsense and that he would have got rid of it if he could. He was, to put it mildly, dissembling. He was no believer in republican government, unless it was the "people's republics" of his late chums Erich Honecker and Nicolae Ceausescu. He was an ambitious man of autocratic bent and an attenuated, nervous monarchy suited him well, as it did Mussolini. So he weakened the institution, undermined its legitimacy -- and then lodged it permanently in place in what I see we now call the "Trudeau Constitution" of 1982, thereby ensuring that the only monarch in Canada would be the prime minister. Just to make the point, he began the tradition of installing third-rate non-entities in Rideau Hall. Whatever one thinks of those English toffs or the first generation of native viceroys -- Vincent Massey and Georges Vanier -- they would have seen the Prime Minister's crappy little scheme to gerrymander the electoral cycle for what it was, and they would have had the stature to resist it. Madame Clarkson should politely reject the notion that Canadian democracy, like Mount Logan, is just another one of the Prime Minister's baubles to dispose of as he wishes. She should tell Mr. Chrétien that he has no basis on which to make his request, unless, of course, the elderly gentleman is feeling tuckered out, in which case she naturally understands and could he ask if there's anyone else in the building who'd like to have a go -- Mr. Martin, say? Go on, Your Excellency, do it. A grateful nation would be eternally in your debt.


Some of us are not yet ready to accept the national myth. Some of us think the four and a half centuries before 1968 are also relevant to modern Canada. And, if Jean Chrétien wants to run an election on the Trudeau legacy, I for one think we should call his bluff. But, if on November 28th da liddle guy is presiding over his one-party state for another three years, we at the National Post will have played our shameful part.


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