Yesterday, Dan Gardiner repeated Lord Acton's famous maxim: Power corrupts. But power does more than that, he wrote. It encourages stupidity. The Harper government's omnibus budget bill is a case study in stupidity:
Even among Conservatives, the unprecedentedly sweeping nature of C-38 produced some modest rumblings of discontent.
The government could have responded by making a show of listening to the opposition and Conservative backbenchers, picking a few innocuous amendments, and passing them. Doing that would have cost the government essentially nothing. But it may have softened the complaints a little. And, at a minimum, it would have taken away the inevitable opposition attack line of “They wouldn’t change so much as a comma! They’re treating Parliament like a rubber stamp!”
But they didn’t do that. Instead, they methodically and relentlessly voted down every single one of hundreds of proposed amendments, no matter how modest or reasonable they may be — making themselves look immodest and unreasonable and seeming to confirm that they do, indeed, expect Parliament to rubber stamp legislation.
Strictly from the perspective of the government’s self-interest, this was astonishingly dumb.
The budget bill was a ham-fisted attempt to hide the government's stupidity. But forget, for the moment, what this government does. Consider what it says. The Minister of Immigration calls an Alberta deputy minister "a complete and utter asshole." The Minister of Environment says that Canadian environmentalists are spreading "misinformation and mischaracterization." He also claims those same environmentalists are laundering foreign money. The Minister of Public Safety says that if you don't side with the government, you side with the child pornographers. And the Prime Minister says that the world needs more austerity.
There's another famous maxim -- this one from Mark Twain:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.