Friday, September 04, 2009

It's Stephen Harper who brings Canada unnecessary elections

A must read op-ed, "Harper might get his '09 election," on the knots the Prime Minister has tied us all up in as a result of his forcing of an election last fall. It's really quite clarifying. As Professor Errol Mendes emphasizes quite effectively, it is the Prime Minister who brought us an election that Canadians didn't want or need last fall. And he reached to do so, claiming parliament was dysfunctional, creating his own excuse when his party was in fact the instigator of much of that dysfunction. He gave us an election in breach of his own fixed election date law which required that an election be held this fall, October 2009. So the person who has been playing games with Canadian elections is the Prime Minister. No one else.

It's almost as if events since then that have transpired are like fruits of the poisoned chalice. Following the unnecessary 2008 election came the Prime Minister's partisan fall economic update. Following that, even more controversial legal and constitutional crisis. This concerned the request by the prime minister to seek prorogation of Parliament to avoid the result of a non-confidence vote. Again, an ugly precedent was established which was heightened by the divisions in the country created by Harper demonizing the opposition coalition.

The prime minister now condemns the Liberals' decision to vote against the Conservatives in a future non-confidence vote. Harper asserts that Canadians are not eager to have an election and are not interested in political games.(emphasis added)
As Mendes notes, now would actually be the right time to have that election, not last fall. With major issues in front of us that have crystallized over the past year in particular, in the wake of the economic crisis, now would be the right time to choose which party will make decisions about health care, climate change, the nation's finances, etc. And we've gained significant knowledge in the past year about the "measure of the leaders" and parties we're choosing from. Last fall was the wrong time. Mr. Harper imposed that on us, interrupting the legal requirement of his own law and really, when you size up events over the past years, a natural order of events that would make this fall the best time for an election.

Even yesterday, Harper was quoted in response to questions on an election as saying, "This is not a game." Really? That's news to we who have been watching him play games with our democracy.