Sunday, February 14, 2010

When Prorogation Ends

For the NDP and Liberals, this is not an ideal time for an election. Jack Layton is laid up with treatments for his recently-diagnosed cancer. The Liberals (according to James Travers) are "a policy conference, an election platform and at least six months away from campaign readiness."

For Harper, an election might not look so bad. It's increasingly looking like Harper's advantage in the polls last fall was a blip brought on by Ignatieff's goof of saying he wanted an election less one year after the previous one. These current polls may be as good as Harper is going to get: Ignatieff will only get stronger over the next few months. Plus, Harper could be in big trouble once those Afghan detainee papers come out: as is frequently the case, the cover-up (and blatant lies) may be more harmful than the base issue. Some politicians would hold off on an election when a rival is getting cancer treatments, but we all know that Harper is not that kind of guy. His only concern will be to pin the blame of an election on the opposition.

Given this situation, what can we do to take a stand against Canada's rogue PM and his precedent-setting dismissal of our democracy?

We could try again to get him to release the Afghan detainee documents (perhaps with a point of privilege), and if he refused we could hold him in contempt of parliament. But that would make it hard to avoid an election - and worse, avoid having it look like we caused it.

Travers suggests that Parliament could force Harper to seek parliamentary approval to shutter the House again during March and April breaks. But doesn't that highlight the wrong issue? Harper should not be unilaterally cancelling parliamentary breaks, but his more serious transgression was shutting down parliament through prorogation.

I think the solution is to push the Afghan detainee torture papers, but stop short of holding Harper in contempt. Compromise on how they're released, if necessary, but get them into play.

Secondly, we cannot let this egregious prorogation slide. Ignatieff and Layton could propose a joint motion aimed at restoring the supremacy of parliament by restricting a PM's use of prorogation.

The trick is to hit Harper hard without letting him make an election out of it.



Northern PoV said...

ya but when the budget hits the fan all bets are off

there will be one or more poison pills that the opposition will choke on, but that the Cons figure they can spin well on the hustings...

my guess:
Harper will re-introduce the cutoff of party funding - styled as an austerity measure.

then campaign against the "coalition" that defeats him

Kirbycairo said...

I say hold him in contempt because it should be nearly impossible for him to win an election under such a cloud.

Yappa said...

There's going to be a rally on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, March 3. For details, see this new Facebook page: Rally for Democracy March 3.

Wednesday's a tough day to go out of town. Waterloo Airport has direct flights on Bearskin and it's possible to go in the morning and come back in the evening, but it's nearly $300.