Editorial - Canada has become a land of wishful thinking in the past few days.
We wish our political leaders in Ottawa would stop the stupidity that has distracted them from the urgent business of confronting the global economic crisis.
We wish Prime Minister Stephen Harper had not made the strategic blunder that opened the door to these shenanigans.
We wish the members of the newly formed coalition would put aside their personal ambitions, recognize that the Harper government has made serious concessions and agree to support the valuable initiatives contained in the economic update introduced last week.
That does not appear to be in the cards. Blinded by the prospect of power, the New Democrats and Liberals have formed an unholy alliance with the Bloc Quebecois, a party whose stated goal is to break up Canada. Is there not a single patriotic Canadian left in the Liberal and NDP caucus?
In Ottawa, political bloodlust has trumped the public interest. The battle lines are drawn, and this Parliament does not look like it can continue.
The opposition parties have tossed out fundamental elements of their platforms, along with their principles, in their mad rush to take what was denied them by Canadian voters.
The minority Conservative government is no longer able to govern, hobbled by a serious blow to its credibility and a dysfunctional Parliament.
The task now is to determine how best to minimize the damage our political leaders are inflicting on the country.
Harper has made it clear he is not leaving without using every legal means to hang on to the job he was elected to do less than two months ago. The coalition appears intent on sending him packing at the first opportunity.
That opportunity is scheduled for Monday, but Harper may delay that encounter by proroguing Parliament before then.
That might be useful if it would allow a cooling-off period, but that, too, is wishful thinking. Each side is bound to ratchet up the rhetoric.
The bitter public relations battle that has already begun is essentially an election campaign without a vote at the end.
That is simply not good enough.
Governor-General Michaelle Jean cannot permit a government to be formed by a coalition reliant on a party that has no interest in Canada except to destroy it.
She cannot permit Harper to close down Parliament until January because at that time we will likely be faced with the same options -- coalition or election -- and we don't have the luxury of time.
The interests of Canadians are not being served in this time of crisis by putting the government into limbo for another six to eight weeks. In these uncertain economic times, Canadians need to know who is governing the country.
If the Conservatives and the opposition parties cannot by the end of the weekend agree on how to move forward together, he should go to the Governor-General and concede that Parliament is unworkable.
Then, he must ask her to call an election immediately.
Another election wouldn't have been anyone's first choice.
It will be expensive. It will mean that urgent economic issues, such as the relief for pensioners contained in the economic update, are not quickly addressed.
Democracy, however, demands it. Four parties are now claiming the right to govern, directly or indirectly. Only the citizens can decide who should have that right.
Canadians may not want another election, but neither should they have foisted on them a coalition government beholden to the separatist Bloc Quebecois and led by Liberal party leader Stephane Dion, who was soundly defeated in the last election. In fact, 74 per cent of Canadians did not vote for the Liberal party and Dion was the least popular leader.
The concessions that would inevitably be paid to the Bloc for its support will not go down well in the rest of the country, particularly in Western Canada. A coalition government does not bode well for national unity.
An immediate election is the best choice of a bad lot. This Parliament has failed. The parties must fix it within days, or we must urgently get on with putting a new one in place.
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Last week, we asked you whether Ottawa should repeal Section 13 of the Human Rights Act prohibiting hate speech. An overwhelming majority of respondents -- 88.15 per cent -- said the feds should, while only 11.85 per cent disagreed.