2 min

The Economist schools Harper

The Economist weighed in yesterday and declared Stephen Harper’s decision to prorogue Parliament to be a Very Bad Thing. Which could be very significant – remember that it was The Economist that popularised the moniker of “Mr. Dithers” on Paul Martin, and he never really recovered from that. Perhaps this condemnation will rub off on Harper.

And the people are all starting to react – negatively for the government. One new poll shows that a majority of Canadians – 53 percent – disagree with the prorogation decision. Another shows that of the 52 percent of Canadians who were “clearly aware” of what prorogation meant, 69 percent of them were opposed. So far so good. Now we need to get them to start shaking off their complacency and actually let the government know they’re angry about it. And hopefully by doing more than simply just joining a Facebook group.

After all, Conservative backbenchers like Brent Rathgeber are telling their local papers gems like “Democracy and Parliament are not being sidestepped – they are only being suspended.” With a straight face too, apparently. Another Conservative, Gary Schellenberger, said he was happy the House was prorogued, so that he can take in the Olympics, which he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Seriously?

Meanwhile, the CBC’s wonktastic Kady O’Malley suggests that the rules be amended so that future prorogations can only last seven days – a perfectly reasonable suggestion that actually fits with established practice, given that most prorogations happen just days before a new session is due to start anyway (the average length about 20 days, according to the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt) – and it would make it unattractive to future Prime Ministers who want to manipulate the rules for their own gain like this one has.

I mentioned that Quebec and the Atlantic provinces wouldn’t like the plans for Harper’s piecemeal Senate reform, and that it would require a constitutional amendment, and lo and behold, I was right. Quebec and Nova Scotia in particular are not in favour, but none of the other Atlantic Provinces are eager to give up their clout. I would chalk Harper’s plans up to more hot air designed to appeal to his Alberta base if it wasn’t so damaging to Canadians’ understanding of our political system.

Yesterday was ten years since Beverly McLachlin became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Globe and Mail has a rare interview with her on the milestone.

An update on the Uganda anti-homosexuality bill is that the country’s president now is urging the authors of said bill to drop the death penalty provision – but not much else. Seriously? My question is just how much aid money is Canada giving that country, and whether we should be re-evaluating that – especially since they seem to be taking the word of American evangelicals as so-called “experts” on homosexuality.
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