Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Economist takes note of Harper's high handedness

The Economist's article on Harper's prorogation of Parliament mentions two interesting ideas that, while they have been cursorily addressed, are deserving of more consideration than have been given them by the media and the public here.

We have concentrated much on the disdain for Parliament that this chronic prorogation represents. However, Harper's case is not just one of disdain for Parliament, it is a desire to make "Parliament accountable to him rather than the other way around." This idea has been grasped, but it is emphasized further when stated this way. It really reveals the sheer incongruity between Harper's actions and democratic principles.

What's more, and this is the second thing the Economist picks up on, Stephen Harper's announcement itself confirmed a disdain for our democratic constitution. He announced, through his spokesman, that Parliament had been prorogued, prior to an announcement from the Governor General. He has effectively taken over her role of approving prorogation. If there were any doubts, this is confirmed by the irreverent manner in which Harper petitioned the Governor General: a phone call. Instead of acknowledging prorogation as within her powers, not his, Harper heavy handedly took control of this.

We see then that Stephen Harper has taken two things unto himself which were never meant for a Prime Minister: Parliament is now accountable to him, and he has taken the power of prorogation from the rightful wielder of that power. He is continuing not only his tradition of avoiding scrutiny and democratic accountability. He is also ensuring through this prorogation that his power continues to grow inexorably.
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