Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contempt, Period

Tim Naumetz reported yesterday in The Hill Times, that the Conservatives plan to shut down the parliamentary investigation into the purchase of F35 fighter jets:

The government is set to shut down a Commons inquiry into Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on hidden costs and broken procurement rules in the $25-billion F-35 stealth fighter jet project after Mr. Ferguson denied Department of National Defence allegations his April report contained incorrect information.

The Conservative move came just prior to last week’s House recess, when Conservative MP Andrew Saxton (Vancouver North, B.C) moved a motion during a closed-door House Public Accounts Committee meeting to end its inquiry after only seven hours of evidence and testimony from witness hearings and before opposition MPs had a chance to cross-examine the National Defence officials after they criticized Mr. Ferguson.

The motion to shut down the inquiry was revealed by Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, who now faces parliamentary censure for disclosing what went on behind closed doors.

The Conservatives argued during the last election that being found in contempt of Parliament was merely a matter of being outvoted. Now, they argue, the problem of contempt has disappeared, because they have the votes to make it disappear. They have the votes to force striking CP Rail workers back to work. They have the votes to pass the Budget Implementation Bill, even though most of its provisions are not budgetary. And, they claim, the public outcry against their tactics will fade before the next election.

Stephen Harper is not in the habit of consulting provincial premiers about anything. But he would do well to pay attention to Jean Chretien's fate. Before the Harper regime reaches the end of its mandate, there will be lots of people in the streets -- and they won't just be the kids in Montreal.

That will be the public's response to being treated with such contempt.


The Mound of Sound said...

I hope you're right, Owen. I've been pondering the Montreal unrest in the context of a mass response to authoritarianism as well as inter-generational fracture.

In generally compliant, peaceful societies, authoritarianism - in carefully measured doses - can be highly effective. Yet it might be an addictive power that leads to increasing dosages until, eventually, a society, or meaningful segment of it, realizes the need for taking a stand. This was but one but a very major part of the Arab Spring uprisings.

I think that generational discord will be widespread in the coming decades. By the day our growth-driven civilization is running into walls that mark the boundaries of our very finite Earth and its finite resources. Our growth-based models - economic, political, social - are failing, losing their social utility. What lies beyond growth-based economics has to be apportionment.

When you can no longer create more, when you can no longer extend the table, you have to squeeze in to get everyone seated at the banquet. Dinner for eight can be made to feed twelve so long as no one leaves the table bloated.

In the generational context, the young will be looking for fairness and that will have to be accomodated through apportionment, redistribution, sharing, perhaps even rationing. And wartime experience has shown that societies are much less tolerant of inequality when confronted with the need for shared sacrifice.

Authoritarians and oligarchs won't embrace this sort of shift voluntarily which will only fuel their repressive instincts. Younger generations may well have to fight, at least initially, for what they need.

Owen Gray said...

I don't expect Charest of Harper to yield to people they consider "privileged," Mound.

They are so consumed with a doomed economic model they cannot see the hypocrisy of their position.

Years ago, E.F. Schumacher tried to convince us that there was another model which actually worked. Unfortunately, not enough people listened to him.

Anonymous said...


I think you are right it's time for the sixty percent of Canadians that did not vote for this nonsense to take to the streets peacefully old and young,together.

Nonsense defined: Harper is making the parliamentary process and duly elected parliamentarians of the opposition obsolete. It has become rule by Stephen of Stephen for the corporate and financial elite.

Joe Stiglitz an American economist and a professor at Columbia University and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences on the European crisis "Academic economists played a big role in causing the crisis. Their models were overly simplified, distorted, and left out the most important aspects." from:


Trouble is that our (Crime) Prime Minister is the same brand of academic economist who shall lead us down the same worn out path that has proven to not work. How come I can see this and Mr. Brilliant as he likes to be known (Harper) can't.

It is time to hit the streets peacefully NOW!


Owen Gray said...

The reality check came last week, Michael, when David Wilks told his constituents that backbench MP's see legislation when the public sees it -- and that he was powerless to do anything about it.

Then, having received a phone call from the throne room, he retracted his statement.