04 December 2008
Canadians: To the Airports?
Of all places, Canada is now embroiled in a constitutional crisis. A beleaguered conservative prime minister, facing an imminent no-confidence vote, appealed to the nation's governor-general, a representative of the country's head of state -- Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain -- and secured permission to prorogue Parliament until January 26, 2009. He justified the action by his need to formulate an economic plan without partisan interference and his aversion to a parliamentary coalition against him that included the Bloc Quebecois, which he characterizes as a separatist movement and therefore an irresponsible partner in any government. No Canadian prime minister has ever evaded a no-confidence vote by shutting down Parliament before. It's unclear to me whether this means that Mr. Harper can rule by decree for the next few weeks, but it ought to be a scandal to anyone who believes in representative government. Harper has declared himself irreplaceable, at least temporarily, and in defiance of a presumptive parliamentary majority that represents a majority of the Canadian people. So what are the Canadians going to do about it? This guy seems like a more self-evident threat to democracy than the poor slob that just got sacked in Thailand. For that matter, how many Canadians ever thought that, during the 21st century, a representative of Great Britain has pre-empted Canadian self-government? If a bunch of Thais who don't really believe in democracy can work up some people power to get their point across, even if it proved to be superfluous, what are Canadians capable of? I'll be interested in finding out.