Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not responsible for the suspension of Parliament. Canadians are.
To be fair, several tens of thousands of people are genuinely upset enough to write or to protest Harper’s strategy. However, the other 31.6 million, or so, either don’t understand what’s afoot, or couldn’t give a damn.
Harper knows this.
The Conservative party has plenty of money and pollsters at its disposal. The party had a good bead on the potential outrage long before making the decision.
As with all politics, it involved the lesser of evils.
Harper’s minority Conservative government and Defence Minister Peter MacKay were sorely threatened by the Afghan detainee affair. In light of this, suspending the elected Parliament would cause relatively little grief while allowing the detainee issue to cool off.
That’s what this suspension of democracy is about – dodging responsibility for lies and heinous behaviour and avoiding the release of documents relating to the detainee torture affair.
A little more than a year ago, Harper found himself in another pickle. Having screwed up the budget in the face of a worldwide financial crisis, he was trying to avoid being supplanted by Stephane Dion’s Liberal/NDP coalition.
Back then, proroguing Parliament for such blatant political gain was a big deal and involved more drama.
You might remember the round-the-clock media coverage, the limos pulling up to the Governor General’s residence, Harper and Michaelle Jean’s overlong chat followed by his walk down the red carpet to address the nation from behind a podium.
Today, it’s far easier. Harper simply phoned the Queen’s proxy.
That, of course, is the danger when power is abused like this. The first time causes a kerfuffle. The second time is far easier. The third will be barely noticed at all.
After all, it is only politics.
However, Canadians elect politicians to represent their interests in Parliament. And there are issues to deal with.
The government is putting full-body scanners in the nation’s airports. That might be worthy of debate.
The world economy is fragile and the loonie is soaring against the greenback. The evolving situation may require government intervention, but the politicians are on an imposed hiatus.
And our soldiers are fighting and dying on foreign soil. That fact is especially poignant given Harper’s power play.
In Afghanistan, friends and family are putting their lives on the line to ensure the people of that nation have a representative government. In fact, the news of Harper’s suspension of Parliament came on December 30, just as four Canadian soldiers and a journalist died over there.
Afghan President Harmad Karzai won a second mandate through a fraudulent election, but even he can’t suspend his government to avoid a growing political crisis, which involves cabinet appointees.
Karzai’s government continues to sit, to do its job. Here, Harper dismissed ours with a simple phone call.
Which country has representative government and which has one-man rule? Tough to say.
Harper has tested the waters and knows Canadians won’t care. This is a murky procedural matter with a long history and people are well fed and entertained. The nation is complacent.
Harper is safe.
But there’s a saying: People elect the government they deserve.
There are about 31 million of us who would do well to start asking what sort of government that is.