Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Power Over Principles

The other day, Harper was referred to as a "strongman" in a Flanagan article, detailing life under this guy's rule. An noteworthy characterization, particularly for the leader of a Parliamentary democracy. Then again, when we see the control this person exerts, when we realize his favourite historical leader was Joseph Stalin, when we see how he doesn't give a whip about core tenets of democracy, the secrecy, the lack of accountability, power before principle, it fills out the term in an uncomfortable way.

Harper has already make a mockery of his former reputation with his Senate appointments. Supporters are twisting themselves in philosophical knots to rationalize the "King of patronage", but the facts are clear. However, Harper doesn't seem content with merely contradicting everything his supposed "movement" used to stand for, he takes it a step further, giving democracy the end around, just daring a complacent populus to care for a second:
But Mr. Harper clearly isn’t prepared to wait for an election to make use of Mr. Smith’s talents. By appointing him to the Senate now, he becomes available, along with Mr. Fantino, for a major cabinet shuffle that Mr. Harper plans for early January.

Smith is set to announce a run as an MP, in a riding that he's not likely to win (this isn't Vaughan, he faces an incumbent), but is put into play because of his stature. That stature may only be enhanced when Harper announces Smith as part of a cabinet shuffle. Once again, Harper will sidestep democratic choice and put an unelected person into the inner sanctum of our elected system. Not that we need confirmation at this point, but my goodness, the chasm between Reform ideals and this government is now biblical in proportions.

In addition, it appears Smith might have a role in getting an arena for Quebec City. It's all about power now, Harper will do, and has done, anything that enhances his political fortune. When you think how this crowd used to rail against the Liberals pre-occupation with self interest, it really is astounding where we sit today- something which probably won't come into true focus until history passes a sober, detached judgement.

So, we have another unelected Senator, who could also be swept into our federal cabinet, partially to help with a political payoff in the form of an arena, to bolster electoral fortunes in Quebec. Yes, you read that right old Reformers, keep your defibrillators close, you really do make dirty Liberals looked principled by comparison. Imagine that.


Tof KW said...

What's the worst insult you give a Conservative?

Call them a dirty Liberal.

Hurts even more when it's true.

Jesse said...

There's nothing prima facie wrong with appointing someone to the senate so their stature will increase and they'll win an election; that's something that's allowed for, and isn't unheard of historically, in our system.

We may all prefer governments treat it as somewhere for the best Canadians to come together, the direction Chretien moved at the end, but it's not necessarily wrong.

So, I would personally stay focused; the problem is that the PM clearly said he'd never do this, and now he is, for all the reasons he always decried. It's the broken promise, without explanation, that makes him a liar, and it's trampling all over it without even trying to hew close to it that makes him a cad.

jad said...

Once again, Harper will sidestep democratic choice and put an unelected person into the inner sanctum of our elected system

Can you spell F-O-N-S-E-C-A ????

Or L-A-M-O-U-R-E-U-X ????

Or how about I-G-N-A-T-I-E-F-F ????

Steve V said...

Can you spell beyond "lame"?

Tof KW said...

Oh poor, clueless jad ...that's the best you can do? You're down to using a 5-year old's 'but Jamie hit me first' excuses?

The Liberals never said they would do anything different with the senate, that was Harper and the Reformatory's thing. And they've proven over and over again that those high-falutin' promises were all just bullshit.

The CPofC is a party with no principles other than to maintain power ...in other words you're dirty Liberals.

Jerry Prager said...

and for the record, Jad, Ignatieff was elected by the people of his riding. Then acclaimed by the Liberal party's elected caucus.

jmburton said...

I don't know if I agree that Harper puts power before principle. Harper has a clear agenda - one based on some fairly clear rock-ribbed paleo-conservative principles. He wants to implement that agenda. He knows he can't implement his agenda without power.

Therefore, he is prepared to put aside agenda items until they are truly doable. Is that lack of principle, or is it a very clear understanding of the mechanics of implementing that agenda which is based on those principles.

In the NDP there were consistent arguments between the Saskatchewan and Manitoba parties (the ones that actually gained and kept power for long enough to create lasting change) and the rest of Canada.

The Saskatchewan NDP was consistently attacked by others in the national party structure for lacking principles and convictions (which may in fact NOW be true [c.f. current direction and leadership]).

Even St. Tommy Douglas was attacked for being not principled enough, yet both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a far better record of achieving lasting social change than the more pure sections of the party and other provinces that have only had sporadic NDP governments.

I make the same argument with regard to Barack Obama - what he lacks in purity he has addressed in deliverables - and has incremented social change one (or more) achievable ratchet(s).

(to avoid a bunch of arguing on the topic, for a good list of Obama accomplishments look at Andrew Sullivan's post "Meep Meep")

Steve V said...

I take your point, but that's like saying the ends justify the means. People can dimish all they want, but the facts hand show a record diametrically opposed to what the old Reform movement stood for. A complete and utter betrayal.

Peter L said...

Wow, if you change "Harper" for "Chretien" it would be equally valid...

Steve V said...

Exactly Peter!!! ;)

jmburton said...

@Steve V:

I grant your counterpoint.

I just think that Harper is biding his time before unleashing his real agenda - which, if he were to get a majority, would make the old reform platform seem tame. Harper belongs right beside Cheney in terms of agenda and modus operandi.

Harper does seem to relish, at a very personal level, being in power and having power. No argument from me that there is a good deal of personal with that principle for Harper.

Steve V said...

I agree with you, a majority would see a more ideological underpinning.

Appreciate the intelligent commentary, thanks.

Steve V said...

And, so much for the constitution:

Under Section 39 of the Constitution Act, a senator is not capable of being elected or sitting or voting as a member of the House of Commons.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/12/21/que-larry-smith-senate.html#ixzz18nAJLfnQ"

Unknown said...

"Power over principles, eh? -


Liberals whine pathetically about the Tories appointing Senators, but yet are responsible for killing any attempt at Senate reform like an elected Senate or term limits.

Liberal hypocrisy again. Wow.....such a shocker.

Tof KW said...

Glenn, you want meaningful Senate reform? I know I do. Well then the Reformatories should stop with these bullshit publicity stunts and begin First Ministers conferences immediately. Because the only way to get an elected Senate is to re-open the constitution.

Mulroney had the conviction and the guts to do what he thought was right and attempt constitutional changes on his watch, and that did include Senate changes (few remember that now). Does Harper? No, thought not.

Gayle said...

Glenn certainly points out a dilemma for Harper. It was easy for him to introduce his token bits and pieces of senate reform in the senate, where he knew they would never be passed. Now that he has a majority in the senate they should pass without a problem.

So who wants to bet he no longer tries to introduce that legislation in the Senate, but in the House instead.