Friday, January 15, 2010

In Case You Haven't Noticed Opposition to Harper Does Exist

As many in the media are finally waking up to just how dangerous Harper really is, they are still falling back on the tired 'we have no opposition'. The Reformers have spent millions of dollars, much of it ours, trying to convince Canadians that the other side is weak and ineffective.

But it's up to us to remind Canadians that you can't rely on much that the Reformers say. They have an agenda. Poison Parliament then assume complete control. They're getting close but the media has got to start giving Canadians reason to believe that there is better out there, or we're going to believe there is a better media out there. Just not any in the mainstream.

The Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament is at 190,764 members, and blogger Driving the Porcelain Bus, has great links to articles about Harper's journey to assume supreme rule.

Richard Gwyn's column in the Star this morning is very good, and should be an eye opener to our CORPORATE media. Unless they're all hoping to get one of those five senate spots.

Actually, Parliament does matter
By Richard Gwyn Columnist
January 15, 2009

At last, the cavalry is coming, if not at a gallop then at a quite decent trot.

These last couple of weeks have been deeply depressing for anyone interested in Canadian politics.

The initial source of depression was Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement he was going to prorogue Parliament. Since this would be the second time in just a year, he will have established a precedent for him to shut it down whenever he wants, for as long as he wants.

This time, he came as close to having no reason to close Parliament as it's possible to get. He wanted, he said, peace and quiet to "recalibrate" his government's policies.

That's bunkum. Governments are always altering policies to meet changing circumstances. To top this, Harper was rude enough not to go around to Rideau Hall to ask the Governor General's approval.

Her approval was, in fact, a formality because there's now no alliance of opposition parties that could constitute an alternative government. But his resort to a phone call was crass and arrogant.

To those interested in our political system, what really mattered was what then happened: nothing happened; no one out there seemed to care.

As well, many media commentators pronounced it a non-issue. Some argued that closing down Parliament was an issue, but only in the sense that it was a good thing to have done.

"Parliament: who needs it?" was the headline on a long essay in Maclean's by Andrew Coyne. "So Parliament will be dark the next two months. Can anyone say they will miss it? Will we even notice?" Coyne wrote. The notion that "Parliament matters" Coyne dismissed as a "pretense." Rather, it was time for "adults (to) grow out of their illusions."

Oops. Voters do indeed seem to have burst out of their illusions, but not at all in the way the media in general assumed.

According to the latest survey, by Strategic Counsel, the standing in the polls of Harper's Conservatives has dropped suddenly by a whopping 10 percentage points, from 41 per cent to 31 per cent.

The single event of political consequence since the firm's last poll in October has been Harper's prorogation of Parliament, on a whim and by diktat.

So the pundits were wrong. The newspapers, almost all of which squeezed into a single, throwaway paragraph a carefully worded protest by 175 political scientists about the demolition of democracy, were wrong equally.

If the media ought to be embarrassed, Harper ought to be worried.

Until a couple of weeks ago, the ebb and flow of politics made it seem highly likely he would win a majority as soon as he could get himself defeated in Parliament. (What his recalibration is really about was figuring out how to goad the opposition parties into precipitating an election by all voting against him.)

Suddenly, a lot of voters have lost confidence, not necessarily in Harper himself, but in him as a potential majority prime minister.

What Harper has done, though, is to revive the underlying fear that he has a secret agenda he's waiting to unfold as soon as he's gained majority power. It turns out that this secret agenda isn't about slashing and burning worthy government programs, but rather, to make it possible for Harper to do whatever he may want to do because no opposition to him exists.

What's really happened as a result of the public at last expressing itself is that Harper, neatly and adroitly, has just prorogued himself.

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