3 min

A reflection on The Madness

We’ve all had a few months to cool down after what some media types have referred to as “The Madness,” being the constitutional crisis we found ourselves embroiled in at the end of November last.

A new book, Parliamentary Democracy in Crisis, is just hitting the shelves on the crisis now – a collection of essays from some of the top political minds in this country. (And yes, it’s on my Indigo wish list, and I’ll no doubt be picking it up in the next week or two. Because I am that much of a Parliament geek). One of those essays was adapted for the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still live on the site.

The essay, by C.E.S. (Ned) Franks, one of the top political experts in this country, argues that Her Excellency the Governor General actually did the right thing in allowing prorogation, because had she not, the rhetoric that Harper would have stirred up may have caused irreversible damage to national unity, pitting one part of the country against the other as Québec and the West found themselves on opposite sides of a debate that was predicated on a whole lot of false assumptions and just plain mistruths about the nature of our political system.

But last week, I had a conversation with Dr. Heather MacIvor from the University of Windsor for an article that comes out in Capital Xtra on Wednesday, and while this part doesn’t appear in the article itself, she told me that she thought that Her Excellency made precisely the wrong choice – that by caving in and allowing Harper to prorogue Parliament for the sole purpose of saving his skin and not allowing the House to vote non-confidence, she has proved that there is no longer any power keeping the Prime Minister in check – and I think that might be the scarier, and more lasting, damage in this whole sordid affair. But definitely read the essay, and maybe even the book itself, and think long and hard about The Madness. Sure, a coalition might have been progressive and good for queers and women, but what would have been the bigger picture effect? I look forward to reading what other great minds in this country have to say on the subject.

Meanwhile, amidst the whole Harper/Mulroney feud inside the Conservative caucus, Harper came out Wednesday to accuse Michael Ignatieff of not having a moral compass because of his comments defending Mulroney. Err, Harper has a moral compass to speak of? The way he used to bang on about respecting the will of the House in a minority situation, and yet he flouts that same will of the House now that he’s Prime Minister? The way that he came in to power banging on about accountability, and yet his time in office has been marked by all manner of accountability reversals? Or how about the way he’s flouting the rule of law in this country? That’s a moral compass? Okay then.

If you’re looking for a little more insight into the whole imbroglio, Kady O’Malley offers some analysis – heavy on debunking – here.

And finally, pity poor Alberta, whose denizens are “grieving” their lost prosperity. Seriously, though guys – it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who pissed away their good fortune, didn’t plan, didn’t manage money at all, and went around town with the entitled sense that apparently the gods had granted them, the righteous, with this bounty. (And they also seriously believe it was all because of their “entrepreneurial spirit” and not a simple accident of geography). And suddenly it’s all gone, and I feel a bit of schadenfreude for the province of my birth. I saw this one coming a mile away, but apparently I was also a bit of a Cassandra. (Of course, I don’t have any room to talk – it’s not like Ontario is doing all that well either).