We once had to wait weeks, Andrew Coyne writes, for a new Harperian abuse of power. Now it happens daily. The latest example is the government's proposed legislation on prostitution:
It was expected the government would opt for the “Nordic model,” criminalizing the purchase of sex rather than the sale, as a replacement — a contentious but tenable response to the Court’s decision. It was not expected it would, in effect, fling the ruling back in the Court’s face. Not content with leaving the impugned provisions, but for a few cosmetic changes, essentially intact, the government imposed new restrictions, for example banning prostitutes from advertising: not just in violation of the Constitution, it would seem, but in defiance of it. The bill is written as if calculated to provoke another confrontation with the Court, ideally in time for the next election.
Harperian abuse shows itself in several ways:
a contempt for civil liberties, for due process, for established convention, for consultation, for openness, replaced throughout by a culture of secrecy, control, expedience and partisan advantage.
But it is most apparent in the prime minister's appointments:
What we’ve been seeing lately is a series of puzzling, troublesome and downright incompetent appointments: the parade of senators now in various stages of trouble with the law; the ill-starred promotion of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court (his successor, Clement Gascon, was better received, but without even the pretense of parliamentary scrutiny that attended Nadon); the conversion of what had been an arm’s-length process for choosing the Bank of Canada governor into the personal pick of the Finance minister; the selection of Arthur Porter — Arthur Porter — to chair the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
Like Orwellian, Harperian is taking on a meaning all its own. It is a name that will live in infamy.