In what other democracy is it permissible for the government of the day to hide from the legislature for months at a time? To ignore explicit parliamentary votes demanding the production of documents? To stonewall independent inquiries? Perhaps the rules allow it elsewhere, but is it the practice? Does convention not still forbid it? Is it not viewed in other countries as dictatorial behaviour, and therefore, you know … not done? [more]
[Stephen Harper’s] contempt for democratic process is never far below the surface. And now, once again, Parliament–Canada’s supreme elected body–is about to be flicked away like a mosquito.
We’re watching political accountability and responsible government melt away before our unbelieving eyes. As one commentator noted not long ago, “The Prime Minister is now in such command that he can get away with pretty much anything. And he is lauded for his conquests.”
But even Harper’s fiercest supporters might want to take a sober second look about now, and put Canada before their party for once. At this point there should be no partisans–only outraged Canadians, of all political hues, who want their country back. [more]
Citing “national party security” and national pride, PM Stephen (“I’ll be back”) Harper is seeking emergency measures from Canada’s Governor-General to protect and enhance his power, his perks and his reputation. It’s Prorogue 2: 2010 Edition.
With the winter Olympics around the corner and all eyes on Canada, Harper is conducting a pre-emptive war against transparency and accountability (two of the early promises that helped squeak him into power in 2006) to minimize the potential embarrassment of those pesky little issues. Like living conditions in 1st Nations communities. Like Afghan prisoner treatment. Like carbon emissions. Like silencing whistle-blowers. [more]
From Murray Dobbin’s Blog:
The second prorogation of Parliament in a year demonstrates an absolute contempt for democracy. It is, even to the compliant and conservative media pundits, a transparent effort to cool off the Afghan torture issue which threatened to regain momentum, lost when Parliament recessed for Christmas. The arrogance of the government was further demonstrated in its half-hearted effort to even come up with an excuse – saying that a new Parliament is needed now that the economic crisis has moved to the recovery stage.
Perhaps the even greater contempt for Parliament lies in the fact that some 35 pieces of legislation – the true work of the House of Commons – has simply been wiped from the map. Even Harper’s favourite bills, those getting tough on crime, go down the drain in this crass assault on democracy. Nothing is more important than staying in power and by taking the Afghan scandal off the table Harper can introduce a March budget so draconian that the opposition will have to vote against it. Harper will get the election no one wants and for which he will not be blamed. [more]
I’ll update this post.
Here’s an UPDATE:
It is becoming patently obvious Harper now presides over a minority government that can all-too-readily be characterized as a not-so-benign dictatorship. Harper successfully exploits the first-past-the-post electoral system — which he and Flanagan denounced as immature — and the ideological and political divisions within the opposition parties, to impose his unflinching will on his cabinet, caucus, and what he characterizes as an utterly dysfunctional House of Commons, one made so by the government itself. With his appointment of yet more Conservatives to the Senate, Harper will exercise full and unfettered power over Parliament, a power which he will readily use to cow the judicial branch of government with his so-called tough-on-crime legislation. [more from Michael Biehels]
Susan Riley at The Ottawa Citizen:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to shut down Parliament for his own partisan convenience — no more nasty questions about Afghan detainees, no more challenges from a “Liberal-dominated Senate” — is shocking, but hardly surprising.
It is an expression of this prime minister’s contempt not just for Parliament, but for government.
So much for those urgent Tory crime measures that will die on the order paper; so much for an adult debate on the deficit, or pension reform, or Afghanistan after 2011. The assumption is that we will be so wrapped up in the Olympics we won’t notice the long silence from Ottawa. We will, in fact, welcome it.
If Harper is right, we deserve the government we aren’t getting. This is a richly-blessed country with a well-educated, relatively prosperous population and a degraded political culture. And until its citizens move from apathy and cynicism to outrage and involvement, nothing will change. [read the rest]
James Travers at The Star:
the timing could hardly be worse for a dark Parliament.While Canadians struggle with recession’s aftershocks, Harper risks being seen as more interested in maximizing a sporting spectacle Conservatives are doing everything possible to make their own.
Less likely to be noticed but no less important, the Prime Minister is piling on fresh evidence that accountability is a fiction, an election promise easily made and forgotten.
Whatever else it achieves, suspending Parliament first and foremost blinkers oversight. Having tried and failed to blame abuse reports on a bureaucrat just doing his job, Harper is now trying to push it under the carpet for two critical months and perhaps much longer. [choke on it]