A retrospective

May 26, 2006Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he plans to introduce a bill to set fixed dates for federal elections, as part of a wider movement towards democratic reform. “Fixed election dates stop leaders from trying to manipulate the calendar,” Harper told reporters in Victoria, B.C. on Friday. “They level the playing field for all parties.”

May 30, 2006The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform today introduced in the House of Commons a bill providing for fixed election dates every four years … “Fixed election dates will improve the fairness of Canada’s electoral system by eliminating the ability of governing parties to manipulate the timing of elections for partisan advantage,” stated Minister Nicholson.

May 2, 2007The Senate has passed a bill that will require federal elections to be held every four years. The proposed legislation, Bill C-16, which is scheduled to receive royal assent on Thursday, would mean Oct. 19, 2009, is the date of the next general election.

May 18, 2007A secret guidebook that details how to unleash chaos while chairing parliamentary committees has been given to select Tory MPs. Running some 200 pages including background material, the document — given only to Conservative chairmen — tells them how to favour government agendas, select party-friendly witnesses, coach favourable testimony, set in motion debate-obstructing delays and, if necessary, storm out of meetings to grind parliamentary business to a halt.

Oct. 3, 2007. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper challenged the three opposition parties on Wednesday to either give the minority Conservative government a broad mandate for its policies or force a general election.

July 31, 2008Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday dared the Liberal opposition to defeat his government and precipitate an election in which the Grits’ proposed carbon tax would be the defining issue.

Aug. 15, 2008. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday he will not govern over a “dysfunctional” Parliament and warned for the first time he could take matters into his own hands and force the country into a fall election. Mr. Harper’s made his threat as he and other government officials grew increasingly testy over four days of rare summer hearings into the Conservative Party’s “in-and-out” advertising scheme in the 2006 election campaign.

Sept. 7, 2008. Canadians will go to the polls Tuesday, Oct. 14, the day after Thanksgiving, to vote for a new federal government.

Dec. 2, 2008Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion of betraying Canadian voters with the proposed Liberal-NDP coalition to replace the Conservative minority government, saying Dion is “turning his back” on the results of the recent federal election … “Mr. Speaker, if the leader of the Opposition thinks he has support for this, he should have the confidence to take this to the people of Canada, who will reject it.” … Talk of a coalition government was triggered when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered his controversial fiscal update last Thursday.

June 17, 2009Under the pact, Harper agreed to give the Liberals an opposition day motion within eight days of the start of the fall session of Parliament — a key opportunity to trigger an election. But the prime minister warned a fall election that he said “nobody wants” would bring “pretty dangerous results” for the country which is already struggling with a recession.

July 5, 2009Prime Minister Stephen Harper dared opposition parties on Saturday–namely Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff–to topple the Conservative minority government, arguing it will trigger an election Canadians don’t want and leave voters with a stark choice at the ballot box. “Let the opposition parties threaten to get together to defeat us and replace us,” Harper told about 800 Conservative supporters during a barbecue at Heritage Park. “Canadians have been clear that they do not want another election.”

July 5, 2009When Liberal Senator Dennis Dawson introduced a private-member’s bill this spring, it was instantly denounced by the governing Conservatives as an “unCanadian” and anti-democratic assault on free speech. So he was taken aback to discover a few weeks later that a Conservative MP had volunteered to sponsor his bill once it makes its way to the House of Commons. Dawson’s bill is one of 28 private-members’ bills proposed by Liberal or independent senators that Tory MPs hastened to sponsor last month – a novel procedural tactic that Liberals suspect is designed to stop the bills dead in their tracks, despite government denials.

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