December 5, 2008

Harper & the Coalition

{I wrote this to my neice in response to a couple of letters cheerleading the coalition from her current residence in Brussels}:


You'll have heard by now I imagine that Stephen Harper's dodged the bullet for the time being with a prorogation of the House. If you want to catch up with debate on this subject over here, check out and The Globe and Mail website for Ed Broadbent's comments (and Rick Salutin's in the Globe as well). And definitely check out Rick Mercer's latest Rant on All our national news sources are worth googling on this subject. I've been reading the three Toronto dailies just to keep up with who's saying what.

The National Post, curiously enough, has little to say in defence of Harper--loads to say against the (potential) Coalition on the other hand. Lorne Gunter seems to tacitly approve Harper's attempt to bankrupt the Opposition parties, but even his comment seems mainly aimed at the (potential) Coalition, who he accuses of avoiding confrontation on matters of principle throughout the previous Harper government, only to finally stand up on their haunches and protest when their funding was endangered. considering how much Harper got away with by bluff and bluster in the last parliament, Gunter has a point, but the more cogent point is that voter representative funding was intended to replace large donations to political parties by private interests, and somewhat has. (I'm not up on the ins and outs, but I seriously doubt either private interests or political parties have entirely divested themselves of loopholes.) The key point is that it was a democratizing influence, and the secondary point is that the recent election has drained every party's coffers. the party in power gains a huge advantage over parties stripped of this entitlement: Mercer's not being the least bit alarmist when he says the only tendency of a move like that is toward a one party state. I wouldn't want the NDP or the Green party in power under those terms, because no party whatever its principles can be counted on to act well without strict democratic oversight. Giving that kind of power to Harper and that group of thieves he has in cabinet--Flaherty had higher ambitions obviously than merely fleecing the treasuries of Ontario and its chief city--now he can do the country and the capital--fuggedaboutit, giving them that kind of power would not be materially different from committing suicide. Harper's shown himself capable of doing quite enough harm without diverting an inch from his principles.

Harper's something of an anomaly in Canadian political life--apart from Mulroney he's the only Conservative Prime Minister I can think of who wouldn't be considered left of centre in the U.S. John A. MacDonald might been conservative in comparison with Laurier, but he was more radical than Lincoln--and a politician as wily as MacDonald in the U.S. mihgt have brought slavery to an end without a war. We should return to our traditions I think before we forget what they were.

All for now,
love, Uncle Martin

No comments: