For Stephen Harper the times were pretty good a little while ago.
The economy seemed to be picking up, the Olympics were coming to Canada and Dalton McGuinty was ticking the liberal faithful off in Ontario with his talk of the dreaded Harmonized Sales Tax.
Ahh yes, everything looked good in Tory Town.
But boy, did Harper ever choke on that big fat chance for national support!
The bomb-shell allegations of a cover-up of the torturing of Afghan detainees by Richard Colvin really put the Conservatives in a hole. The way they tried to solve the problem by disgracefully trying to discredit Colvin dug them a very very deep hole, at least in my books. Canadians don't just shrug off human rights violations, even ones that aren't fully proven.
Harper, though, had a chance to regain some points with the Canadian voters, especially the green ones, at the climate summit in Copenhagen. He was mostly forgiven for accepting to go only when Obama was going, like the kid who quietly follows the cool kid around the playground to get some attention. As long as he was there he could establish Canada as a serious player in trying to make our world cleaner right? Wrong! He didn't factor much in the talks and instead of a global deal getting done, negotiations fell through.
And now the final straw that broke the voters' backs: proroguing parliment. This decisions, it seems, may turn the hole Harper has dug for himself, into his grave.
Now proroguing, shutting down parliament, is a Prime Minister's right and it is standard for it to be done every year or every other year. That much is true, and it has been a tradition throughout our political history. It's also part of our democracy.
However, proroguing in the past was usually done as a procedural type thing. More as something expected to give everyone a clean slate after a bit of time. You see when proroguing shuts down a session it wipes clean all bills going through parliament. This means every bill has to start from square one when a new session begins, even if it was about to be passed right before.
Harper though has found a new way to use proroguing though. He is using it as a tool to get out of tough questions from the opposition. He says it's to plan their next budget and decide their next move on the economy, but I look at it like this: The government is a business and, as one of my relatives put it, any good and successful business should be able to plan and operate at the same time. I mean imagine if Apple said "Sorry everyone, we arent producing any more Mac books or ipods or recieving any complaints right now cause we're working on our budget." I think we would have some people switching over to MP3s and that nerdy PC guy on the Apple commercial would get a little more sympathy.
Harper is pretty much doing this to escape the fall out from the Afghan detainee scandal. He says that Canadians don't really care about Afghanistan right now cause of the economy, but I find that a little insulting for one. I'm pretty sure Canadians, as my dad puts it, can chew their gum and walk at the same time. That is to say we can care about the economy AND Afghanistan at the same time. Although maybe Harper can't.
Harper really does have it pretty good though. I mean who else can say that they can stop their job just so they won't be fired for a while. That's power right there.
But it's power that's been corrupted and misused, and Canadians are not standing for it, as they shouldn't. Many are writing letters and emails to their MPs and to Harper himself and all I can say is that if Harper can't walk and chew simoultaneously I sure hope he can prorogue and listen at the same time. Although that may be asking too much eh?