I may be a bit late in adding this blog as it is being sidelined by Haiti’s latest crisis. Yet this crisis is one our elected representatives should debate and speak about in their chamber. The government should announce their response in parliament and the opposition should be requesting more aid in parliament. Our system of government is not meant to be press releases, news conferences and publicity stunts. Government business should be told through parliament, debated on in parliament and voted on in parliament.
What if this crisis was in Vancouver? We have no parliament to deal with such a crisis. We would have limited response capacity to provide aid and resources. No parliament means a domestic disaster is made worse than it should be. If an Earthquake, hurricane, or any other disaster hits while parliament is prorogued Canada will have no means of holding the government’s response to account. It would be a second disaster like the United States’ response to hurricane Katrina. The House of Commons is the only legitimate forum for national debate and national legislation without it in session Canadians are vulnerable. If the government’s funds run out before the next session begins we will have chaos. Our executive is not supposed to spend money without our representatives consent.
The reason the executive must ask permission to spend our money dates back to prorogation under Charles the First of England. He spent money without consent, without permission, and without accountability. For generations before England’s civil war parliament was summoned ordered to levy taxes and dismissed with contempt. Is that Prime Minister Harper’s goal? Is our most important Democratic institution to be a rubber stamp?
France also had a parliament summoned rarely when the King felt accommodating and dismissed when the wished to ask about the nation’s affairs. We see this here in Canada as well now. Parliament I fear must be confined to the brutal crime bills and social engineering on Harper’s agenda and not ask the questions Canadians need answered. Many difficult questions were not eve asked and now none will be asked of this government until the five ringed circus is over. I wonder when we get the bread?
Parliament has rights in our system and we must preserve them as extensions of our own rights. Parliament has been the political coal mine’s canary, all lower houses are. The more irrelevant the people’s representatives are the more ignored the people are. The Senate or the Privy Council do not, even if elected directly, represent the people. As long as our parliament is weakened, sidelined, abused and corrupted by all parties we are an undemocratic people. Canadians are increasingly becoming docile to the abuses of procedure and power happening not only in Ottawa but in every one of our legislatures.
Remember many democracies have failed because the lower house has been weakened over time. The present government, I hope, is not gearing up for absolutism and tyranny but their actions over the last few years certainly make a future tyrant’s job easier. The party that gained so much support with Reform and the changes it promoted is now the party creating the conditions of negative reforms. Reforms that look very much like those of England and France before they consumed themselves by war and tyranny. We are descendants of those European nations that shed blood for the political system we now take for granted and ignore at our peril. Will Canada have a rump parliament only ended by soldiers? Not likely but we must make the choice now before we slide to far towards the abuse of power the facilitated the Rump Parliament and its atrocities.
I would call on all Loyal Canadian Members of Parliament to assemble and consent to prorogation. A symbolic gesture of what comes after the Throne Speech, when our MPs stand up for their rights, our rights and Canada’s most important institution. After the Throne Speech our MPs must vote new legislation requiring a majority of MPS consent before prorogation is allowed. One simple reform that would start to bring a more responsive democratic chamber.
To the Conservative caucus I would ask you to go with another Westminster Tradition that came across to us. The dumping of a leader no longer holding the confidence of the house and citizenry of Canada. You will never get your majority with Stephen Harper or his agenda. Neo-conservatism is something most Canadians will not accept. Take a Liberal’s advice, listen, re-evaluate your policy and accept obedience to your masters the citizens of Canada. The more you justify this abuse of procedure the more you appear out of touch with reality. Why hasn’t there been a leadership review since Harper came in?
Perhaps this is the way our democracy must go. Until we lose it we will never appreciate it or understand it. Our teachers don’t go into detail nor our media remind us often enough on our system of governance. Perhaps Emperor Harper the First is who we need to rise out of our complacent, apathetic prison. Communism, Fascism, Theocracy aren’t the enemies of democracy but complacency and apathy are. They help the others come to power and entrench themselves where our liberties once were. If having a God King can wake us up and get us out of the Tim’s or Walmart long enough to recreate our democracy for the next century.