Arrogant Conservatives Ignore Commons
Date: Thursday, February 15 2007
Harper evoking echoes of Mike Harris by trying to persuade voters who equate toughness with stewardship to re-elect his government
Feb 15, 2007 04:30 AM
OTTAWA–Something strange and troubling is happening in the national capital. A minority government behaving like a majority is creating an alternate universe where weak is strong and the will of Parliament is merely a suggestion.
Confirmation of Ottawa's new order is found in the current and bizarre confrontation over the Kyoto Protocol. Having already decided that this country's international treaty commitments aren't binding on his government, Stephen Harper is now signalling the same who-cares attitude to domestic law.
Conservatives are simply dismissing a bill that gives the administration 60 days to announce plans to reach Canada's 2012 Kyoto goals. After tossing obstacle after obstacle in the bill's 10-month path through Parliament, the Prime Minister's operatives now compare it to reversing the laws of gravity while darkly warning that the targets are now so far out of range that firing at them would mark the economy as ground zero.
Like most Big Lies, there's a little truth in those.
First Liberal and now Conservative foot-dragging has left Canada far behind nations in the environmental vanguard. It's also obvious that considerable sacrifice is now required to make up for lost time.
Those are important considerations. But they are no longer the most pressing concerns.
What's more worrying than the government's environmental sincerity is its default character. It's so cocksure, so blinded by the beauty of its convictions, that it bowls over anything in its way.
Woven through its declared willingness to ride roughshod over Parliament is the same single-minded determination that is driving its attempts to add partisanship and ideology to the appointment of judges. Both are risky steps in the wrong direction.
Administrations don't necessarily abide by the spirit, let alone the letter, of every bit of legislation, particularly when not considered as a test of confidence in the government. But diminishing elected MPs to advisers only slows overdue democratic reform even as it accelerates the already high-speed concentration of power at the political centre.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 16, 2007]