Yesterday, in The Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson argued that "we're headed for an election we don't need." While Canadians don't want an election, Simpson wrote, their politicians do:
because politicians live for partisan advantage, and each party now sniffs, for different reasons, that an election will deliver such an advantage. In part, because they’ve turned on their election machines and can’t find the off switch, as witnessed by their spending millions on party ads, finding candidates and using every waking hour to attack each other.
In the end, Simpson wrote, there is no consensus in the country for change. Several months back, Mr. Simpson argued that Stephen Harper's prorogation of Parliament would be a blip on Canadian radar screens. I believe that, once again, he has underestimated Canadian voters. In this case, it's not the economy, stupid. The crescendo of Conservative contempt for Parliament -- and Canadian voters -- keeps rising. Besides proroguing Parliament, the Speaker has found the government in breech of basic parliamentary democracy three times.
John Baird argues that all of this amounts to a distraction. If he means that all of this emphasis on rules is a distraction for the Conservatives, he's right. Life would be much easier if the government didn't have to face the opposition parties. But the real issue is government hypocrisy. This is a government which was supposed to stand for transparency and accountability. This was a government which supposedly stood foursquare for the common man.
When Parliament demanded information on Afghan prisoners, Mr. Harper padlocked Parliament. When it asked for cost estimates on the government's tough on crime legislation, it refused to provide it. And, last week, when it dumped thousands of documents on the table, it admitted that estimates which had been discussed in Cabinet were being kept under wraps.
Now the Bruce Carson Affair has put the government's position on crime in a stark light. And, once again, it is all about hypocrisy. Mr. Carson went to work for the Conservatives long after he was convicted of defrauding his clients and disbarred. Allan Woods wrote in The Toronto Star that:
According to archived newspaper accounts, Carson, then 37, was criminally convicted of two counts of theft for misappropriating almost $20,000 of his clients’ funds by forging their signatures and stashing the money in his own bank account.
Carson was convicted in 1980. But after his conviction and disbarment, Carson went to work for the Conservatives:
In the meantime, Carson had taken a job as a researcher in the Library of Parliament from 1979 to 1981, then returned to school for a Master's degree in law at the University of Toronto. That helped launch his reinvention as a constitutional wonk and returned him to Parliament Hill for a distinguished career as a high-level Conservative operative.
He rose to become a senior adviser to the Prime Minister. For a man who claims to be tough on criminals, Mr. Harper clearly sees room for exceptions. Those exceptions apply to him and the members of his party.
That is why we need an election.