All you need to know to understand Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s latest plan to prorogue Parliament is that from the neoconservative perspective, democracy is convenient window dressing, but not a very meaningful phenomenon.
At the moment it becomes inconvenient – when, for example, your opponents might vote non-confidence in your government (December 2008) or inconveniently investigate government attitudes toward Afghan prisoners (December 2009) – you simply yank the curtains shut and end the show.
If they still won’t co-operate? Well, I suppose you could suspend the Constitution, as neocons (or neo-liberals, as neocons are called in countries where soccer is called football) have done in several places with varying degrees of violence.
In other words, by announcing he plans to prorogue Parliament until “after the Olympics” (a convenient, if meaningless, excuse), Prime Minister Harper is saying the exercise of democracy has become inconvenient again. That this always seems to happen in Canada in December may just be one of those things, like the stock market perpetually crashing in October.
Don’t doubt for a minute that Alberta’s neocon government wouldn’t do the same thing in similar circumstances if we didn’t keep returning them to power with majorities so massive that resistance, if not futile, is at least meaningless.
And with the help of the mainstream media, alas, you can count on significant numbers of Albertans now reaching the conclusion that closing down Parliament is “democratic,” while allowing it to fulfill its democratic mandate is somehow not. (And by the way, where are those conservative voices in the mainstream media who used to complain so vociferously about our Parliamentary democracy being an “elected dictatorship” under prime ministers like Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien? Now that we really are dealing with an elected dictatorship, has the cat got their tongue!)
After all, when the prime minister conspired with the governor general last December to thwart the will of Parliament, thousands of Albertans concluded that this was a grand expression of democracy, while the short-lived coalition, which truly expressed the democratic will of our democratically elected Parliament, was the opposite.
If anything, this bizarre phenomenon is evidence of a need to again teach democratic theory in Alberta high schools…
Regardless of this aside, what the prime minister has proposed today is obviously an affront to democracy – though hardly a shocking one, as opposition spokespeople allege, given this prime minister’s history and predilections.
If nothing else, the stall will give Mr. Harper an opportunity to appoint more “unelected senators” to that undemocratic upper house he purports to so despise.