Harper government held in contempt of Parliament

James McLeod
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Provincial players already preparing for election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper votes against a Liberal contempt of Parliament motion in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Friday. — Photo by The Canadian Press

The election campaign may not have officially started until today, but in Newfoundland and Labrador, all things political were already kicking into high gear Friday.

For the first time in Canadian history, the federal government was found in contempt of Parliament, after the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois united in a non-confidence motion against the Harper Conservatives.

Some time today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will go to the Governor General to formally trigger the start of an election campaign. Harper called the election “reckless” and said Canadians do not want to go to the polls.

But Liberal MP Siobhan Coady said this is evidence that the Harper government is undemocratic.

“This is the first time in history that a government has been found in contempt,” she said. “What I think you saw today was opposition parties, on behalf of their constituents, rising in the House and saying we don’t trust this government.”

As Coady was in Ottawa voting against the government, things were moving pretty fast back home.

Former journalist Ryan Cleary announced he will seek the NDP nomination to run against Coady in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.

Cleary was narrowly defeated by Coady in the last federal election. With Fisheries Ambassador and former provincial cabinet minister Loyola Sullivan rumoured to be running for the Conservatives, the riding is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the province.

In St. John’s East, Conservative candidate Jerry Byrne said he’s ready, even though he doesn’t want an election.

“In another couple years, when the time is right, we’ll have our economy completely turned around and we’ll be in a much better position fiscally to handle an election,” he said.

At the same time, Byrne said “The minute that the writ is dropped, I’m ready to knock on doors.”

NDP MP Jack Harris — who will be on the ballot against Byrne — said that locally he’s not concerned about the Conservative challenge, because he’s confident in his record representing the people of the riding.

Nationally, however, Harris said the election will likely be a about Harper and his government.

“From my perspective, we’re campaigning against Mr. Harper and his policies, his style of government and the kind of Canada he wants to create,” he said. “It will be a referendum on Mr. Harper’s style of government, his leadership and his policies.”

The Green Party also has a candidate in St. John’s East, and he weighed in on Parliament’s contempt vote Friday as well.

Robert Miller pointed out that part of the Greens’ platform includes mandatory ethics and management training for all MPs.

Politicians weren’t the only ones chomping at the election bit Friday.

Jo Mark Zurel, chair of the St. John’s Board of Trade said as soon as the campaign starts, the board will be inserting itself into it.

“We  want to know where the candidates stand,” Zurel said.

The board will be asking the parties what their positions are on everything from custodial management of the fishery and the province’s role as an Arctic gateway, to fiscal responsibility and the potential for an East-West energy grid.

The board will also invite all three national party leaders to speak to members at luncheon events.

The campaign will likely begin in earnest on Monday, but none of the parties have announced a full slate of candidates for the province.

A spokesperson for the Conservative party said Byrne is the only candidate they have formally nominated.


Organizations: NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives The Green Party Board of Trade Zurel said.The board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Canada Arctic

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Recent comments

  • Linda Medweiash
    January 23, 2013 - 12:37

    Jack Layton and I use to chat, he called me. I told him a lot about the conservatives selling out on us all. I would run for PM for no salary, but would require an aid to push my wheelchair around!

  • rick
    December 18, 2012 - 16:30

    I can't believe Mr Harper was at a meeting in Canada. He is usually doing a photo opp from other parts of the world and announcing some agreement he has signed because Canadians want it.Each new agreement I never hear of until its on the news.In my opinion all these changes are attacking the Canadian work wages and conditions. Make it easier for companies to leave Canada for cheaper wages and unacceptable conditions unless their workers will take less.If we keep going this path eventually Canada will be only two classes, the low and the high end(Harper's group) group.With that will be problems to keep up house payments and family requirements.Many jobs have been lost and we hear little of the new jobs and wage comparisons. I have worked in the industrial world for much of my life and find it alarming when I hear much of the media's statements on what needs to happen or has happened on the projects.Many lies and prefabricated stories but often statements of knowledge to those who have not been on the projects.Lets get together and learn how to love one another, right now

  • Darren
    April 15, 2011 - 18:22

    Understand that it was not the other political parties that found the Conservatives in contempt of parliament. It was the *Speaker of the House* who found them in contempt. The vote of no-confidence by the parties happened shortly thereafter. This is not a case of "we don't like your budget", it is a serious (criminal) offense wherein the Conservatives were found to have deliberately misled Parliament.

    • Bill
      May 04, 2011 - 16:31

      So where is the Governor-General....Is he too asleep at the switch..!! He should be tossing Harper out of office..!! The system here is at a crossroads and if nothing is done the Parliament will be worthless..!

  • Dev
    April 07, 2011 - 23:30

    Well everyone else appears to have a hidden agenda. Isn't that what politics is about? And Harper is not the first prime minister to give tax breaks, so what is the big deal? "Contempt Of Parliament is another way of saying, we really didn't want the budget, even though Canadians like it." I tend to agree. Harper said that this election was reckless not because he wanted to avoid it, but because he knows canadians hate going out to the polls, especially this often!

    • Rob
      April 14, 2011 - 00:41

      I'm not sure you have an idea of what contempt of parliament means. Look it up and take it seriously.

  • Murray B from Edmonton
    March 28, 2011 - 19:19

    Let me get this straight. A committee composed primarily of opposition members has found the Government in contempt of Parliament for not giving accurate figures on the cost of the F-35 fighters? Jehosophat, that committee had to know that it was the contractor that had been giving inaccurate figures and this problem has become so large that the U.S. government may yet cancel the program. It seems that the opposition parties are showing extreme contempt for Canadian voters. Nevertheless, they must have a plan, otherwise they would not have forced an election. It is time to pay attention to who is counting the vote and how they are counting them. As Laurie Hawn said after the “irregularities” in Edmonton Centre back in 2006, “Frankly, I think the Iraqi and Afghani practice of dipping your finger in an ink-well (to identify people who have voted) would be pretty simple." Canadians deserve no less than honest elections.

  • Maggie
    March 27, 2011 - 23:48

    I don't think Canadians understand that our FREEDOM has been given away to our neighbor. Harper is going to or has already sign the Border act, giving the U.S Full access to our personal information..... Isn't that giving away our FREEDOM??????? Another big deal is our Sand oil, how can they give away our oil, $25 a barrel… do you think that is giving our resources away????? So we can pay $1.25 a liter for gas

  • R Storms
    March 27, 2011 - 14:57

    Question: what was it or what did our current government do that they were found in comtemp of? All the articals I have read, nothing mentions what the government was in contemp of, only that a motion was put forward and passed. I was out of the country and just returned. Thank you.

    • Marc Wyton
      March 28, 2011 - 15:59

      He refused to reveal the cost of significant aspects of the budget to the opposition. They included the cost of purchasing new fighter jets, corporate tax cuts. See the link below. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/957379--committee-finds-harper-government-in-contempt

  • Donna
    March 27, 2011 - 11:41

    I read, Harper delivers his plan of, Global Governance for Canada. Everyone present, was shocked by the words that came out of Harper's mouth. What he said is treason. Harper said, Global Governance, has been worked since 1945. Canadians want our country to stay sovereign. Canada belongs to the people, not to Harper. He has no right to, put his hands on Canada, and give our country away. Our Canadian Constitution is ignored. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken away from us. Democracy and Freedom, have been obliterated. On the House of Commons RV channel. I saw a motion pass to give, banks, mines, large corporations, gas and oil company's, billions of our tax dollars. They get huge tax reductions. Harper just gave big business another tax reduction, this reduction comes off Canadians paychecks. Why is Harper thieving from the citizens, to give to big businesses? I don't like, Harper's evil agenda for Canada. This country, is not safe with Harper.

    • Dave
      March 28, 2011 - 01:00

      Donna you should learn the proper use of a comma before trying to discuss politics.

    • Common Sense
      April 03, 2011 - 11:27

      Maybe you should pay more attention to her words rather than her syntax and come up with an intelligent response Dave.

  • Frank Blackwood
    March 26, 2011 - 08:59

    Contempt Of Parliament is another way of saying, we really didn't want the budget, even though Canadians like it. The politicians are trying to control, fighting amongst themselves, not taking into consideration what Canadians want. They are all tarred with the same brush when it comes to seeking power over the needs of people. The law of common sense says."Canadians are not stupid and see a Majority for Prime Minister Harper. This will result in a leadership convention for the Liberal Party which the young Canadians will have a greater voice. It may just be mere speculation on my part, but we will be entering into a new era of politics similar to that of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the "flower power" of 2012 with MP Justin Trudeau as Canada's next Liberal leader and Prime Minister of Canada in 2015.

    • mary
      March 27, 2011 - 19:21

      A majority for the CRAP - not likely. Some Canadians may have liked the budget, many did not. Many, even most, saw it for what it was. A few crumbs thrown out for the peons. I am so glad there is an election on the go.

    • Mrs. Dorothy Casey, Nova Scotia
      March 28, 2011 - 20:45

      Having been fortunate to live in Ottawa during the Trudeau reign, I look forward to his son, Justin, taking the Liberal Party over. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, having someone in the Prime Minister's Chair like Justing Trudeau, who really believes in the importance of ALL Provinces & ALL Canadians, & who does not depend on his salary as Canada's PM, at the helm of our Great Nation! It was, after all, Justin's Father, Pierre, who causes the rest of the World to recognize Canada & Canadians for what it & we really are--a Large, Strong, Compassionate Country & People at the ready to support any & all claims on It & Us for support, both in times of War & Natural Disaster, as a People and a Country. I am Proud to be a Canadian, but I feel that Mr. Harper has made a mockery of his position as Prime Minister, & has used his position to further his own agenda & bottom line. I have been a very strong supporter of the NDP Party, with the exception of the time frame of Pierre Elliott Trudeau's terms as our Prime Minister. I will support Mr. Layton in the upcoming election, & hopefully, so will the majority of Canadian Citizens. I encourage ALL Canadian Citizens to GET OUT & VOTE, as it is your PRIVILEGE, not your RIGHT, as a Citizen of a Free Canada to do so.

    • Darren
      April 15, 2011 - 18:30

      Frank, are you a Conservative troll? Do you think the other parties found the Conservatives in contempt? If you do, then you should know that it was the Speaker of the House who found the Conservatives in contempt, not the other parties. The parties voted no-confidence as a result of that. The Conservatives were found to be deliberately misleading Parliament by intentionally hiding information.

  • Eric Bo
    March 26, 2011 - 08:07

    Duceppe of the bloc lolllll http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXCXnZy6BW4

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 26, 2011 - 07:17

    Don't forget --- Fabian Manning has been effectively campaigning ON THE TAXPAYERS DIME since his appointment to the Senate. Just one example of Harperite ethics ---- no qualms whatsoever, by either Harper or Manning about using a Senate appointment and tax dollars for partisan political purposes.