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Why I am NOT being hypocritical about this proroguing business…

I thought I would post a short note about why I keep going on about this whole proroguing shitstorm. I have received some comments, both here and on Facebook (from the Resident Love Goddess no less!) that I’m getting my knickers all in a twist about something that is constitutional and that the Grits had no compunctions about when they were in power.

  1. I am essentially a non-partisan political creature. But I AM a bit of a lefty and am most assuredly anti Harper and anti ReformCon. I will – because of my nature – bitch a bit louder about them than the other parties.
  2. if I had had a soapbox like a blog back when the Grits were the Government, I would have yelled at them equally as ferociously for proroguing Parliament for no real reason other than to avoid the world. Although it is a legal practice, it is an abuse of power like no other. How can we expect wanna-be democracies like Afghanistan (OK – I’m stretching it) to take us seriously if our own PM shuts down the doors of democracy whenever he needs to hide from something?
  3. We can and should strive to do better. Past poor actions are no excuse for repeating them.  Just because it was done before does not make it right to do it again. Lawrence Martin puts it well in his article today in the G&M:

“Another line of defence (for those who don’t think that prorogation is such a big deal) is that Mr. Harper isn’t the only proroguer. Liberal PM Jean Chrétien did it too, although none of his closings could match the desperation of Mr. Harper’s prorogation of December, 2008. So what’s the big deal? This is a common Conservative defence refrain. As in, the Liberal record on global warming was terrible too. So what’s the big deal? As in, the Liberals sent disproportionate amounts of stimulus monies to their own ridings too. So what’s the big deal?

One big deal is that we’re supposed to be making progress, moving down the field, not staying on the 30-yard line.

Another is that we have a Prime Minister who thinks he can get away with anything, but who may well find out otherwise.”

And based on the latest polling numbers, maybe Canadians are starting to call him out on this.


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  1. @XUP
    “I don’t know why you have to be non-partisan anyway. You’re not a journalist.”

    Journalists haven’t been non-partisan in this country in decades. To be fair, they’re not Fox-News-bad here, but they’re certainly partisan.

  2. XUP says:

    I don’t know why you have to be non-partisan anyway. You’re not a journalist. This is a blog. Your blog. You don’t have to be fair or give equal time to all sides of a question. You are free to vent your opinion in any direction you wish. And then our commenters can pipe up and call you all sorts of names and/or give their opinions and we have a lively discussion. I DO find it interesting that all the lefties who are outraged about the proroguing thing somehow believe that this is going to signal Harper’s downfall. I suspect it will do just the opposite. If he calls an election at the end of this, I believe he will finally win that majority he’s been after. I think people are seriously over-estimating the average person’s outrage. The average voter actually doesn’t care much about anything that doesn’t affect him/her directly.

  3. trashee says:

    @Evolving Squid
    Oh crap. I give up. I’m gonna to switch to talking about plants. Maybe cacti and succulents. Those should be safe..

  4. After the trailing and, which got cut off….

    “One big deal is that we’re supposed to be making progress, moving down the field, not staying on the 30-yard line.”

    No, we are NOT supposed to be making progress. The kind of progress he’s talkign about would be changing the rules of parliament. I think it’s fair to say that right now, most people of all political stripes would rather the members of parliament concentrate on important issues affecting the country, not “moving down the field.”

  5. Historically, mass media in Canada have been lopsidedly hard on the Conservatives and slack on the Liberals. It’s the way of things here.

  6. My beef is not just that the Liberals have done it, they’ve done it MORE than the Conservatives have. If the issue is that proroguing is “undemocratic” then all of them should be taken to task, not picking on the current guy for using a legal procedure that his predecessors have used wantonly through history. You don’t have to dig very deep to see that the Liberals have prorogued parliament on numerous occasions to prep for elections (I gave examples on a previous post of exactly that).

    In fact, and i’ll say it again, it is no different in any way than trying to steal the Prime Minister’s office with a trumped-up coalition. That’s undemocratic in the extreme, but it may well be perfectly legal. Anyone who says proroguing is undemocratic is highly hypocritical if they don’t also condemn ad-hoc coalitions trying to take over the government. If the excuse “well it’s constitutional” works to people’s satisfaction for stealing government, it’s got to be perfectly fine for pausing government. To say otherwise is hypocritical.

    What’s happening right now, on this blog, and indeed in the mainstream media is a manifestly unfair attack on the the Conservatives for doing something that is NORMAL in Canadian politics. A much more interesting story would be “Why is the Liberal leadership not interested in what’s happening in parliament?” That’s a more interesting story because, frankly, until the Liberal leadership gets its shit together, we’re all going to be marching to the Harper beat.

    It’s worth noting that I spoke against the previous proroguing as a wrongful use of process: and

  7. rww says:

    There is nothing wrong with proroguing and nothing wrong with short sessions. They used to be quite common. Long sessions only came about because governments could not manage their legislative program to get bills passed in an organized way.

    What is wrong are long periods without a functioning Parliament. I remember when new sessions would routinely start in September after the summer recess. Parliament would not prorogue until September and a new session would start within days. That way Parliament would be able to be recalled from it’s summer recess if the public interest warranted it.

    Proroguing to start a new session is perfectly proper. Proroguing to shut down Parliament is not.

    1. trashee says:


  8. trashee says:

    I beg to differ:

    Sure, compared to what i have said against the ReformCons, I have been very light on the Grits and the Dippers… but the Grits were in power for only a short time while I stated blogging… and I was still getting my feet wet.

    Nonpartisan – from wikipedia (yeah, I know):

    “In political science, nonpartisan denotes an election, event or organization in which the participants do not declare or do not formally have a political party affiliation.

    Not partisan; free from party affiliation, bias, or designation.

    Some nonpartisan organizations are truly such; others are nominally nonpartisan but in fact are generally identifiable with a political party.”

    If “bias” in this sense denotes a bias against a party – then I am wrong to say I am nonpartisan. But to mean that I am biased “in favour” of a party, then calling myself nonpartisan is fair.

    In any case, judge me when have the Grit (or the Dippers!!) in power… I can say quite truthfully that I won’t pull in my claws – unless I am dead wrong about how either of them will perform as the governing party.

  9. Ken says:

    Trashy, you’re a smart guy. I can tell that by the way you write. But you must realize that this paragraph:

    “I am essentially a non-partisan political creature. But I AM a bit of a lefty and am most assuredly anti Harper and anti ReformCon. I will – because of my nature – bitch a bit louder about them than the other parties.”

    is completely at odds with what you write. In all the posts you’ve written, I don’t remember seeing anything in there taking the Liberals (or the NDP for that matter) to task for anything they’ve done. Saying you’re non-partisan and then saying in the same breath you’re anti-Harper et al is unconvincing.

    What has happened in the past in this country is just as important as what’s happened in the present. If we close our eyes to the past and ignore it and say “Well, hey, things should be better now”, then we’ll continue to get the politicians and live in the system we deserve.

    Squid’s got it right that perhaps our issue is not with the politicians themselves: it’s the system that’s broken.

    And until we hold ALL of our politicians accountable [for the record, I’ve never said I was for or against proroguing – I just think it is truly hypocritical for Liberal supporters to say it’s unfair when their own party as done it] for what they do, political games like this will continue to be played.

    If we have an election this year, I almost hope the Liberals win. They will not live up to some higher ideal; they’ll play the same old games that have been played.

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