James Travers at The Star:
Systematically, and without explanation, the Prime Minister is testing every limit on his power. Along with successfully shuttering Parliament for the second time, he’s neutering committees charged with the primary democratic responsibilities of safeguarding the treasury and forcing the government to explain its actions. He’s challenging independent rulings against how Conservatives funded their 2006 election and how this government treats Canadians in trouble abroad.
Politics is an uncompromising blood sport played to win within loose rules. By learning Liberal dirty tricks, adapting to changing circumstances and reinterpreting every regulation in his favour, Harper is proving to be a shrewd and accomplished contestant.
Far less clear is what he accepts as legitimate constraint, the line in the democratic sand not to be crossed. [more]
NJN Network provides us with a list of bills that hit the skids when Stephen prorogued.
From Heroes in Rehab:
The idea is that it is fundamental to our notions of responsible government in a parliamentary democracy that the government of the day must “meet the House”; though majority governments may (by virtue of the number of elected members of the party sitting in the House) possess the ability to ram through legislation and seemingly act at will, even they must answer questions about the government’s actions and agenda in the House, questions asked by the Opposition. This requirement that the government of the day must meet the House is supposed to (through the mechanisms of moral suasion and public debate) keep it honest. Of course, this Harper government does not even have the luxury of a majority, or the democratic mandate that would go along with it. Minority governments are supposed to be more, not less, responsive to the concerns of the elected members of the House. [and more]
From Bow. James Bow.:
Here, now, we have a prime minister who seeks to suspend the work of parliament — not, as it could have been argued last year, to establish a seven week cooling period before facing the prospect of changing a government in the middle of an economic crisis, but to thwart the work of various committees asking questions in the name of accountability. This is a prime minister who has defied the principle of parliamentary supremacy, ignoring a direct order by vote of parliament to turn over uncensored documents to a parliamentary committee for investigation, in order to save his own political skin. Whatever high ideals the move to suspend parliament last year might have had, they’re not present here. The move is nakedly political, and shames our democracy. [James has the goods]
Susan Delacourt at The Star:
… none of us know what Michaelle Jean told Harper during that longer-than-expected chat in December 2008. Who knows? Maybe she said that the Prime Minister should try to make Parliament work, unless the Olympics were on, and then all bets were off.In the end, of course, it’s not Michaelle Jean who has to approve this move. It’s Canadians — including you folks out there reading this — who have to decide whether Harper has a legitimate reason to suspend the work of Parliament. Personally, I haven’t heard one good reason yet. [not much more]
But really, I think it’s going to be difficult to keep this issue alive. There’s so little to talk about. Stephen Harper’s actions are cynical and wrong for fairly obvious reasons and there seems to be fairly general agreement on that. Now on to the Olympics?
I hope not. If Harper’s prorogue move wakes Canadians up and presages the end of this government I’ll be glad he did it. That is all. For now. For the next few days I’ll be reading Arundhati Roy’s Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. A few words from Roy:
… what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? [a lot more]
BIG FAT UPPIDTY DATE:
How could I forget James Laxer?
A year ago, the Prime Minister was prepared to mislead his fellow citizens about the essence of our system of government—the requirement that the ministers of the crown must enjoy the backing of the majority of the members of the House of Commons—to retain power. To stay at the helm, he was quite happy to delude Canadians into believing that the PM is directly elected and that the members of parliament from Quebec aren’t quite equal to the others.
When the history of this era is written years from now, the story is likely to be that of a not very talented gang with values distant from those of the Canadian mainstream, holding onto office longer than they should have because the opposition couldn’t figure out how to unite to deal with them. Some will bear more responsibility for this sorry state of affairs than others. [Read the rest – that’s an order!]