Politics of Canada
3 min

Shrugging off accountability

So, one of the items coming out of the G8 meeting last week was that Harper is going to “encourage” Parliament to vote to extend the Libya mission. It's a bit of a wink and nod to his majority; it’s not like he’s going to lose the vote. And he plans to see that the mission won’t be open-ended. So far, so good, right?

But here’s the thing. While it may sound all great and democratic to have a vote on such missions in the Commons – and the NDP has been bellowing about it – these kinds of votes may not actually be a good thing. In fact, they may really be a Very Bad thing. But how could that be? Isn’t democracy a good thing? This is one of those areas where people – and the NDP in particular – have once again muddied democracy with facile populism by taking away the government’s accountability for the mission. That’s right – accountability. If things go wrong, Harper can just shrug and say, “Parliament voted on it. Don’t look at me.” Just like he did when the whole Christiane Ouimet thing went pear-shaped. Every day in question period, either Harper or Stockwell Day shrugged and said, “Parliament voted to approve her. Don’t look at me.”

And yet, that’s exactly what Harper proposes to do, and Jack Layton is jumping up and down to endorse it. Perhaps we should remind them that this is, in fact, a Very Bad thing, and perhaps they should reconsider their enthusiasm for the option because Harper is all too happy to wash his hands of accountability. (I’d recommend reading this paper from Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé.)

Speaking of Harper’s foreign policy, it seems he ensured that the G8’s declaration on the Middle East peace process didn’t include references to Israel’s 1967 borders. According to one Jewish news source, this is because the Israeli prime minister spoke to Harper before the meeting to ensure that their position was represented. The PMO, however, denies this – of course they would. But Israel didn't even have to try to get Harper onside because he was there already. Think about The Armageddon Factor and the evangelical core of Harper’s government. They all feel that they need to have this unwavering support for Israel if they want the End Times to come about. No, seriously. Anytime that Canada’s policy on Israel comes up, this is something we need to keep in mind.

Post G8, Harper has been in Greece. He visited the site of a WWII Nazi massacre and gave the government his stamp of approval for their austerity plan, which is kind of ironic considering that Harper hasn’t exactly run a program of fiscal austerity with his own government.

Here’s an interesting look at Jack Layton’s political past. When the Quebec wing of the NDP met over the weekend, Layton reaffirmed his party’s support for ensuring that Quebec maintain its 24 percent share of seats in the House of Commons when new seats are added to keep up with growth. He also reaffirmed support for things such as provincial language laws.

The former clerk of the Privy Council, Alex Himelfarb, looks at how all of our “tough on crime” policies will do nothing to prevent crime and will turn us into a meaner country.

The Canadian Press has another superb story about the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded when the government decided to start using the term “Harper Government” in official communications.

Here’s a look at the half-met goals of the 2004 health accords.

And today in WikiLeaks, American diplomats in Canada considered Bob Rae to be “forceful” and Michael Ignatieff to be “meek.” They went on to give their own particular reads of internal Liberal politics, which were a bit interesting and, I would dare say, fanciful in parts.
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