Angelo Perischilli and I share few opinions. But this morning, I find myself heartily agreeing with him. In today's Toronto Star, he writes that Ruth Ellen Brosseau can "take credit for exposing the inconsistencies that are weakening the Canadian political system and changing the attitude of the electorate toward it." Brosseau is a symptom, not a cause:
How can we criticize a 27-year-old single mother for going on holiday during the campaign without criticizing the voters who elected someone they didn’t even know existed?
But nor can we criticize the voters for acting in such an apparently irresponsible way without asking why they did it.
What happened in Berthier-Maskinongé on May 2 was not an isolated anomaly but the result of conditions that are now common in nearly every riding. The only difference is that in Berthier-Maskinongé all those anomalies piled up and produced an unexpected offspring, one conceived by the unhappy marriage of a dysfunctional political system and flawed electoral laws.
The problem is that, with an unassailable majority, Stephen Harper is not going to fix a system which has rewarded him so handsomely. He may talk "reform" -- after all that was the name of the party which thrust him into the spotlight. But, as his appointment of three failed Tory candidates to the Senate illustrates, that was then, this is now.
And, as far as that contempt of parliament motion is concerned, one need only note that Bev Oda -- who misled parliament and whose actions were at the heart of the contempt motion -- is still a minister in charge of the same ministry.
If there is one ray of hope it is this: Historically, Conservative governments -- even when they are ushered in with overwhelming majorities -- are inherently unstable. That was true of both the Diefenbaker and the Mulroney governments. They rotted from within. You can already see the signs of Conservative discontent brewing in the reaction to Harper's Senate appointments and in the looming battle over the status of Conservative riding associations. And then there is the problem of all those backbenchers who have remained loyal and who have been consistently passed over for cabinet appointments.
Mr. Harper's grasp of Canadian history seems to go back only as far as Pierre Trudeau and the National Energy Program. In the past, when he faced opposition from within, he banished the dissenters. Consider Belinda Stronach, Garth Turner, Bill Casey and the hapless Helena Geurgis. It will be interesting to see what happens when a growing number of Conservatives raise their middle fingers to the Prime Minister and then go public.