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PM crisis: press and bloggers sing a different tune

Text by Julien PEYRON

Latest update : 2008-12-04

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is already in deep trouble just two weeks after he formed a new government. But while much of the press calls for calm, many "citizen journalists" are calling for Harper's head.

Oh, Canada

It did not take long for Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, to arouse discontent within the House of Commons, the lower house of the Canadian parliament. At the head of a minority government since Oct. 14, Harper’s first major reform project, known as the “economic update,” managed to unite all three opposition parties against him.

The centrist Liberal Party, the leftist New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois have decided to put aside their differences – the Bloc seeks independence for Québec province, the other two parties are opposed – and have decided to join forces to bring down the government.  

Gilles Duceppe, head of the Bloc Québécois in the lower house, explained on his blog why he decided to join up with his former political rivals: “In moments of economic crisis […] it is necessary to show openness and to agree to make compromises.”

Duceppe insists that this alliance, despite uniting the Bloc with parties opposed to independence for the francophone province, was joined “in the name of Québec.” A caricature of Serge Chapleau which appeared in the newspaper La Presse used humour to illustrate this unexpected union between Duceppe and the leader of the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion.  


The ‘Lame Duck’ versus the ‘Putschist’


As for the Anglophones, even Toronto’s main daily, The Globe and Mail, has denounced the anti-Harper coalition: “The unwieldy three-way alliance of the opposition parties, led by the lame duck Mr. Dion, is clearly not promising as a prospective government.”

The editorial advised that one way out for the prime minister was to prorogue the current session of parliament. This would give his government a chance to marshal political opinion against the coalition, which in time – and hindered by its own contradictions – is likely to self-destruct.  

An article in the French-language Québécois paper Le Devoir has accused the prime minister of being “the head of a party of pyromaniacs.” The Montreal-based daily recalls that Mr. Harper had adopted a conciliatory stance toward the independence-seeking Québécois, but says from now on, “those efforts will be submerged by a rising tide of spite that will give the millions of Québécois good reason to be thankful that they have not handed him a majority mandate on a silver platter.”  

Among the Québécois population, some do indeed seem ready to follow Duceppe with his strategic alliance. That is the case with 7 du Québec, a group of francophone bloggers, who warn of a “tentative putsch against Stephen Harper.” The group notes that Quebec’s inhabitants are hardly enthusiastic over the idea of the Liberal Party’s Dion becoming prime minister, but say they would have to learn to live with it.

But Harper is also counting on support coming from the Web. Blogger Stephen Taylor, a former supporter of the Conservative Party, imagines how reworked, retro movie posters might illustrate a victory for the alliance of the three and asks, “If this were a movie, which movie would it be?”

One of his suggestions? 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'.
 

Date created : 2008-12-04

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