Thursday, November 17, 2011

A day - and era - for Dummies

Couldn't let this one pass: "MPs hit new low in Question Period "for Dummies." The Harper government has taken us to new lows, yes. But the "for Dummies" characterization is not the stuff to galvanize the Canadian imagination. Imagine the eye rolling across the country on reading this stuff in the Taber column and sighs emitting. I plead guilty to this kind of fun on occasion too. But hey, I am not a national platform person in either the media or in parliament. Some of us have to use certain characterizations to garner attention to certain activities or events or statements being made. That MPs are doing so suggests they are feeling that need to be heard to an ever increasing degree as well. It all can get lost in the noise of the 24/7 news cycle of news, blogs, twitter, facebook, and so on.

In all, this week's events, just another symptom of life in Harper majorityland where our democratic deficit is ever increasing. Frances Russell quoted a number of scholars on the issue, yesterday:
"Canada's Parliament," according to the director of the Constitution Unit at University College, London, "is more dysfunctional than any of the other Westminster parliaments," he continues. "No prime minister in any Commonwealth country with a governor general, until Harper, has ever sought prorogation to avoid a vote of confidence. Only in Canada has a government secured the prorogation of Parliament to save itself from political defeat and only in Canada has the governor general been party to it."

University of Manitoba professor emeritus of political studies Paul Thomas says Harper has "extended and deepened" existing trends "toward more concentration of power and more techniques to protect the reputation of the prime minister and the standing of the government." He warns that "degrees matter in these things."
"Harper seems to want to have a sort of all-pervasive unification and direction of policy-making so nothing gets announced without prior knowledge and approval from the centre," Thomas continued in an interview. "There is the emergence of this new political class that occupies a kind of constitutional twilight zone. They're not accounted for in our constitutional order."
The fraying of Ottawa's civility and commitment to inclusionary democracy continues. The question, as always, what are we going to do about it. We will continue to kvetch, sure. What will be interesting in coming years is how roadblocked Ottawa will be challenged from within and without.