So I don’t know if the non-Canadians have been paying attention, but this latest bit of Stephen Harper’s fuckery should probably merit it. Remember this story the next time you complain about your country’s politicians, because there simply isn’t a more pathetic political class in any first-world country than Canada’s.
See, the thing is that right now, the Tories are undergoing a bit of a scandal. Well, they’re always in a bit of a scandal – that’s Canadian politics for you – but right now there’s the Afghan detainee scandal, wherein it increasingly appears that the Conservative government did not merely turn a blind eye to what happened when Afghan detainees were transferred to Afghan custody – where those detainees were almost certainly tortured – but in fact deliberately tried to cover up the fact that they were taking a blind eye (seeing as how that would be illegal). There’s been numerous calls for a independent public inquiry to investigate the matter.1 The Tories have been very clear that this will not happen on their watch.
However, the Tories have come up with a clever tactic to hopefully make this all go away: Stephen Harper has prorogued Parliament. Or, in less arcane English, he’s shut it down until the budget is due in March, over two months from now. This is the second time in a year Harper has prorogued Parliament in order to buy time and make a difficult political situation go away; the first time was to avoid a coalition government from removing him from the seat of power, which was, to say the least, ethically questionable.
But there isn’t anything questionable about this time: Harper and the Tories are simply trying to buy time so that people will get distracted from the scandal, hopefully by the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And there’s no question that there’s no other reason for them to do this: Harper’s excuse is that the federal government needs to “recalibrate” its response to the economic downturn, which is just an insult to Canada’s collective intelligence. Harper proroguing Parliament stalled progress on his own crime bills – which are terrible, terrible bills, don’t get me wrong, but that he’s done it illustrates just how desperate he is for this to go away.
If Canada’s political leadership had any balls worth mentioning, Harper would be a walking dead man politically. But they don’t, so he might get out of this intact. Which is a shame, because a goddamn three-year-old could pin him to the wall if he felt like it. This is pathetic, a new low in Harper’s only very slender respect for the political traditions of this country: he and his government simply don’t give a damn about the politics of compromise. All those years of jerking off to the Bush Administration’s antics taught Harper the wrong lesson: namely, that government only works when you’re willing to play by the unwritten rules.
It’s not an incorrect lesson, because it’s true. But in order to use it, you have to be amoral in the worst kind of way. And look who we’ve got as Prime Minister.
- Unsurprisingly, Bob Rae has had to basically lead the Liberals on this issue. This is partially because Michael Ignatieff’s track record on torture makes him look like a staggering hypocrite when he tries to talk about the issue, and partially because Michael Ignatieff is a useless limpdick. [↩]