Saturday, August 23, 2008

Harper, Hypocrisy, and Parliamentary Dysfunction

Well, we’re just back from the cottage where, quite honestly, it was nice to be away from what is frequently the distraction of the Internet. Nonetheless, I must say I craved a connection during the week when reading about Prime Minister Harper’s threat to violate his own government’s legislation on fixed election dates, on the pretext that Parliament is dysfunctional.

According to the legislation, which the Conservative Party championed while in opposition, the next federal election should be in October of 2009. The Harperites enthused over the concept as a means of taking away from the government the power to call an election at a politically opportune moment. Now, however, with the economy souring in Canada, and a Parliamentary committee probing deeper and deeper into the ‘in and out’ campaign spending scandal, Mr. Harper has now found it expedient to declare that Parliament is dysfunctional and assert that unless he gets assurances from the opposition parties that they will surrender their traditional role of questioning and acting as a check on the Government and not in any way impede his Fall legislative agenda (whatever that may be – given their paucity of ideas, I must admit my imagination is taxed), he will dissolve Parliament and seek a new mandate from the people.

Beyond the obvious political hypocrisy of this stance, what troubles me is the fact that he has offered no evidence of dysfunction. Indeed, as far as memory serves, every piece of legislation introduced by the Government has been passed. Equally troubling is the fact that no journalist, to my knowledge, has challenged Mr. Harper on this shamefully dishonest pretext of dysfunction, which is an indictment, in my view, of the integrity of our press. One cannot help but wonder whether the journalists who are so essential to a properly functioning democracy are afraid of losing access to the P.M. by questioning his preposterous position.

If that is the case, they are, of course, failing the people of Canada.

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