Saturday, March 28, 2009

Half-truths and red herrings

This is a must read in the Globe today, Professor Ned Franks theorizing about what would have happened had the Governor General said no to Harper's prorogation request: "What if she had said no?" The prediction of Mr. Harper's behaviour that would have ensued, to put pressure on the Governor General for an election, given his "inflammatory and tendentious rhetoric" up to the prorogation request itself, is quite fair. Franks writes, for example: is unlikely that Mr. Harper would have resigned, had his request been refused. Instead, he would have continued his battle by whatever means at his disposal.

He would have continued making the claims of illegitimacy and anti-democratic behaviour that had been so successful in mobilizing public opinion against the opposition coalition. Only now the Governor-General would have been identified, along with the coalition, as one of the enemies of democracy.
Franks' conclusion is that her decision has turned out to be correct, given events that have transpired since then (Liberal leadership, budget, etc.) versus the virtual hell that would have unfolded had Mr. Harper not gotten his way. Franks doesn't entertain the notion that Harper might have acted reasonably at all. Given how true Professor Franks' characterization of Mr. Harper rings in respect of that hellish scenario, it's one more powerful reminder of why he needs to be defeated in the next election.

This, by the way, marks the second time in the past year that a distinguished academic has characterized the sitting Prime Minister in such unprecedented terms. Recall that Peter Russell referred to Mr. Harper as having acted in a manner consistent with "authoritarian governments" in his Cadman suit against the Liberals, talking about how unprecedented it was for a sitting PM to sue his political opposition. Here Franks is equally devastating with his confident portrayal of Harper as basically a dangerous demagogue. It's truly remarkable.