A year after closing down Parliament because of a potential non-confidence vote, Canada’s leader has shut the doors of the House of Commons… again.
Harper says that MPs need time to work on their newest budget, hoping to play off of recession rhetoric and economic fears. The underlying reasons, sadly, are a bit more self-serving.
Harper’s Conservatives have come under fire after Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin released statements regarding Canadian soldiers turning over Afghan detainees to local authorities, ignoring the potential for those detainees to be tortured.
In testimony given to MPs, Colvin said, “Our detainee practices (were) un-Canadian, counterproductive and probably illegal.”
Up until the prorogation, Opposition MPs and Senators were hard at work fleshing out the details of the possible cover-up.
Similarly, Harper is taking the prorogation as a chance to line up five new Senate appointments. Previously, Harper criticized the Senate for being too partisan and not mandated by the people, since their ranks are appointed. In January of 2006 Harper said, “I don’t plan to appoint senators; that’s not my intention.”
He has since appointed 28 new Senators.
Mr. Harper plans to sway Senate control to the Conservative side. In an email response regarding the prorogation, Conservative MP Phil McColeman said the party would be able to “take important bills that have been blocked by the Liberal Senate and get those bills passed.”
The PM’s hypocrisy is crystal clear. Call an institution un-democratic until you can take advantage of it. It seems that’s the political game Harper is most adept at playing.
His political trickery and doublespeak haven’t gone unnoticed. A Facebook group of concerned citizens called “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament,” has grown steadily over the past weeks. The group now has more than 200,000 members, with an active network of discussion boards.
The main group also established 38 locally-oriented subgroups. These groups are part of an effort to launch anti-prorogation rallies across Canada on Saturday, January 23. The closest rallies are being held in Waterloo and Hamilton.
Regular Canadians aren’t the only ones upset at the PM’s actions. One hundred and seventy-five academics from universities across Canada condemned Harper’s abuse of power, saying: “The Prime Minister’s actions risk setting a precedent that weakens an important condition of democratic government – the ability of the people, acting through their elected representatives, to hold the government accountable for its actions.”
It is obvious Harper’s interests are not with the Canadian people. His actions show that he cares nothing for the democratic ideals of Canadian Parliament. Instead, it is his own interests that drive his agenda. With abysmal unemployment rates and unanswered questions about the torture of Afghan detainees, now is not the time to play partisan politics, Mr. Harper.
Now get back to work, or step aside to let a real leader move this country forward.