Now that everyone is back to work, and all the political shows are back on, the whole reaction to prorogation started yesterday, and lo, how underwhelmed I was with some of the performance. Now, as much as I will give snaps to Evan Soloman for bringing on such parliamentary experts as Errol Mendes and Nelson Wiseman, I cannot forgive that he kept parroting the line that Government House Leader Jay Hill gave him about how “Prorogation is a routine function and Chrétien prorogued four times in his time in office” without calling bullshit on it.
Do you know who did call bullshit? George Stroumboulopoulos, believe it or not. In and amidst his calling out Harper and company for their “sneaky, greasy politics,” he actually conveyed to the viewing public the fact that prorogation happens at the end of a government’s legislative agenda – not in the middle of it, when you’re accusing the opposition of stalling bills, or trying to make the Senate sound like doing their jobs is somehow a bad thing. And this is exactly what people need to hear – that the government’s excuses just don’t cut it.
Strombo also had Maclean’s Andrew Coyne on to talk about the issue, and Coyne made a very astute if unfortunate observation – that too many people are retreating into their partisan silos, rather than being outraged for the sake of parliamentary democracy being undermined. And sure, there are Facebook groups popping up with thousands of members – but when has that actually translated into mass demonstrations rather than the fiction of being engaged in the issue simply because you joined the Facebook group? After all, a poll on prorogation produced an overwhelming 49 percent of respondents who basically said “Meh.” That may change – slightly – now that people are paying attention again with the holidays over. But it also seems that the one aspect that is resonating more is the somewhat apocryphal notion that MPs are getting an extra five weeks of vacation. While I would never call it “vacation,” as most of them will be doing constituency work, this notion is what seems to be resonating with a lot more people, so perhaps we should encourage that instead.
Oh, and as for that Olympic excuse? Some people have looked into just what went on during the ’88 Olympics in Calgary and oh, look – Parliament didn’t shut down for it. Imagine that.
The CBC’s Janyce McGregor asks whether this is the first time that a government has included a partisan flyer – in this case, a list of supposed “accomplishments” in tax cuts under the banner of the Economic Action Plan™ (even though most of those cuts were not part of said plan) – with the income tax package.
Because they really needed it, a court decision in favour of the Conservatives will allow parties to spend more during elections because of a means of “double-dipping” GST rebates. Oh goody!
Big drama in Alberta, where two Tory MLAs crossed the floor and joined the upstart Wildrose Alliance party. This may actually be the first time that the death knell of the Progressive Conservative party rule in Alberta may have sounded.
And finally, the HIV travel ban is officially lifted in the US.