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Third Time's the Charm?

Oh Stephen, Stephen, Stephen. Your undying love for democracy never ceases to amaze me. Today CBC News broke the story that Stephen Harper once again intends to prorogue Parliament for the third time since he's gained power. Essentially screaming to the world that he had enough of his self-prescribed and self-proclaimed medicine of accountability in all things government.

It's amazing how much a man can be changed by the allure of power unchecked.

If only we had someone with a desire and proclaimed love for accountability in government. Someone who would have the courage to utter something like this powerful quote:

We believe in accountability and know that power should never be exercised without it. Those are the values of our party. They do not appeal to the chattering classes or the empire builders. They are the values of the ordinary citizens who have joined us and built this party: workers, farmers, business people, public servants and students.

- Stephen Harper, October 1st, 2002.


Or at least, that quote would be powerful if it wasn't now so representative of hypocrisy

Today the very same man who uttered such words is telling Canadians that their elected MPs should no longer be able to serve them, because, well, he feels like it. It is hard to believe someone who would utter such words could then later embody such a contradiction, such a textbook example of that which he professed against exactly: power being exercised without accountability.

Prorogation is not representative of a healthy democracy

It speaks great lengths to the danger this power poses towards modern democracy in Canada when it is still possible today that two men, one apparently representative of a very old lady located on a different continent, and the other representative not of the general public but of his party's brass who put him into the position of leader of their party in the first place, can sit alone in a room for a few hours over a cup of tea and decide to shut down the entire Canadian parliament whenever it tickles their fancy. Left unchecked, this power has the potential to be catastrophic to Canadian democracy. And this now being the third time it is being utilized by the same man, the damage is starting to take it's toll.

Let's recap the times Harper's used this power, now drawing upon it for the third time:

  1. December of 2008: Harper prorogues parliament to avoid losing his position in power to a "undemocratic" coalition of parties (Because representing more voters is always highly undemocratic.) In fact, it was so undemocratic that it represented over 60% of Canadian voters-- and could only be narrowly avoided by his subverting of democracy. Funny, that.

  2. December of 2009: Harper prorogues parliament to avoid further questioning from the Opposition parties about what the Conservatives knew, and when they knew it, about torture in Afghanistan. Always a valid reason to shut down parliament, I mean it's not like it was harming anybody.

  3. And now, August of 2013: Harper is "seeking" (it is of very little doubt his self-appointed "representative" of Her Majesty will deny him any favour) to prorogue because he is more than flustered about having to face questions about all of the scandals in the Senate as of late.

And the best part is, it's a scandal he could've washed his hands of entirely-- if he actually stuck to his own words. You see, this is the same man, the very same man, who promised us he would never appoint a senator in the first place.

I will not name appointed people to the Senate. Anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people they represent.

- Stephen Harper, 2004.


He has since appointed 51 of them. He has no one to blame now for this situation but himself.

And he knows it.

That's why he is looking to shut down parliament, again, for the third time since his assent to his prime ministerial role.

"strong, stable, national majority government".

Stephen Harper campaigned most recently on that tagline, promising all Canadians it would be core to his government. But proroguing parliament, for a third time?

That is not good leadership. That is not calm, nor is it stable.

That is chaotic and a subversion of democracy to avoid accountability.

And the fact that doing so is absolutely legal is embarrassing to those who wish to consider Canada a democratic nation.

This is why it is clear that we need a limitation placed upon proroguing parliament. In 2010 Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff called for such a limitation.

(prorogation should) reflect the will of the majority in the House of the people that their work has been completed and they want to reset and prepare for the future, it shouldn't happen whenever the prime minister feels like it.

- Jack Layton, January 20th, 2010.


They were right to make such a call then. And applied today their call for limitation is even more correct. The powers of prorogation, to limit every single voter's representation at a whim, is not acceptable in a democratic society-- it is more than not acceptable, it is not congruent with democracy.

The act of prorogation is dictatorial in nature

When one man can decide whether your representation has a say, whether your MP has the power to speak on your behalf, that is not democratic. It is dictatorial.

And therefore it is an act that must be heavily restricted beyond the mere courting of an appointed figurehead that is supposedly representing yet another figurehead. Yet today, that is all it takes.

It is hard to believe that a man who once was so eloquent a defender of accountability, is now attempting for his third time to subvert it. Because, and "let me be crystal clear": silencing criticism and running away from your problems is not stability, Mr. Harper.

It's a lack of credibility.