Monday, April 27, 2009

Stephen Harper and the rule of law

If you're looking for a must read today, Chantal Hebert's column in Le Devoir won't disappoint: "Stephen Harper and the rule of law" (translated version). One of her strongest indictments to date of Harper, setting out many of the instances, past and present, where he's demonstrated little patience for the law's constraints, preferring to argue the primacy of the "people" or democracy instead and at perhaps an unprecedented and inappropriate level compared to past governments. This is an issue that goes to the heart of the challenge which Mr. Harper embodies to our democracy (my view, not Hebert specifically, but she might agree).

Hebert offers, attributed to "government leaders," that Harper was prepared to defy the Governor General and challenge her legitimacy if she hadn't permitted prorogation in December. Mind boggling. And in the end part, throws in the suggestion that members of his own government are troubled by his contempt for the rule of law and how far he's pushed things. To which it must be said, maybe these insiders might want to speak out now on the Khadr matter if they are indeed so mightily troubled.

Hebert has previously written about Ned Franks' views on Harper's rhetoric during the prorogation and this column has continued the theme. If you want to read more from other constitutional experts dissecting these recent historic events, this book is excellent: Parliamentary Democracy in Crisis. Hebert reads like she's been influenced somewhat by the thinking in it.

And speaking of contempt for the rule of law and other assorted affronts, there's news that one of the PM's best friends has received a patronage appointment to a board that doles out millions of research infrastructure funds. The appointee John Weissenberger is a climate change skeptic/denier, according to Liberal MP Marc Garneau. Another sign that Mr. Harper knows his time is about up?