Thursday, July 17, 2014

They're Really Not Very Smart


After several rebukes from the Supreme Court, the Harperites are feeling mean. Earlier this week, Conservative MP Larry Miller complained that the "courts are making laws." Andrew Coyne writes:

People who supposedly stand for limited government get surprisingly antsy, once in office, about having their own discretion circumscribed. That they profess to do so in the name of Parliament only compounds the incoherence. Who do they think passed the Charter?

And, of course, as always for these folks, Pierre Trudeau is the villain:

Mr. Miller does not disappoint. “Pierre Trudeau,” he said, “did this willfully and deliberately, taking rights away from the majority to protect the minority.” Can you believe it? Protecting the minority. I mean, who the hell elected him?

That's what winning a majority government was all about for the Conservatives -- banishing minority opinion. And, if they are concerned about the Court stomping on Parliament's perogatives, Coyne suggests that they look in the mirror:

As defenders of Parliament, they’d be a lot more convincing had they not spent the past many years meekly surrendering one ancient Parliamentary prerogative after another, not to the courts, but to a far more voracious usurper: the executive.

 There is a solution to their problem:

There’s a simple way to remove them from the equation: stop passing laws that are so clearly and flagrantly in violation of the Constitution (see, for example, the prostitution bill). Insist, as the political scientist Emmett Macfarlane has suggested, that ministers screen bills for Charter compatibility before introducing them in the House. Better yet, have committees of Parliament do the same.

But don't count on the Harperites hitting on that solution. The truth is, they're really not very smart.


Anonymous said...

"But don't count on the Harperites hitting on that solution. The truth is, they're really not very smart."

You're right, Lorne. Compared with the intelligence of politicians in the Pearson and Trudeau years, the Harperites are imbeciles. They must be voted out of office ASAP.

But only if the corporations allow it, of course.

Owen Gray said...

I take the reference to Lorne as a compliment, Anon. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we're both retired English teachers.

Steve said...

Its no coincidence the Charter is reaching an equal level of admiration with medicare for Canadians. We realize its the only thing stopping Harper. Look at the UK and the crap that goes on in that parliament.

Its a banner day for Harper, Duffy may have to testify and the F35 may never be able to overcome its single engine flaw, despite Peter Mckay's Stirling defence. "It will never happen" Trust us.

Trust them like you would trust your high school class to run the country. The horror, the horror.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Owen. My english professors were always a favourite, and somewhat interchangeable ;)

Owen Gray said...

That's alright, Anon. We old teachers like to think that -- most of the time -- we are the source of positive memories.

Owen Gray said...

Col Kurtz in Apocalypse Now came straight out of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Steve.

Sometimes I think that's exactly what drives Harper Inc.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that I learned more about Jungian and Freudian psychiatry from English professors than I did from
Psychology professors. Another academic mystery, I suppose.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps not, Anon. The novelist and master of Massey College, Robertson Davies, was thoroughly steeped in Jungian psychology.

Anonymous said...

I had a good chuckle when I saw the other Anon. mistaking you for Lorne. I had almost made the same mistake myself previously.

I think you should take it as a compliment. Speaking for myself, I read both your blogs, and comment on them, because they are thoughtful, intelligent and reflect values we all should want our children to grow up with.

And yes, it might have something to do with both of you being retired English teachers. Too bad neither of you apparently had Young Steve as your student -- he might have turned out very differently.

But then again, unfortunately some are beyond help and he might have been one of them, eh?

Owen Gray said...

There comes a time, Anon, when children -- your own included -- go their own ways.

I'm not sure that having Stephen in either Lorne's or my classes would have made any difference.

I suspect that Tom Flanagan might say the same thing.

Scotian said...

Well what do you know, a Coyne piece I can really get behind!

Seriously, this is one of the best things I've seen him write in a loooooong time. It shows something I find lacking in far too many people both of the political classes and not, the basic understanding of what a Constitution is, what happened back in the years prior to the Charter, how the Charter got created and why, and how it got implemented and for what purpose! Wow!

As for the Harper government, well he hates the Charter, always has, and would have done away with it is he could, thankfully that is beyond the scope of his arbitrary power alone. Indeed, at this point it seems obvious that he is drafting legislation he knows will not survive Charter court scrutiny to create an election wedge issue to run on to justify re-election, possibly with the additional purpose of trying to build a movement to gut if not fully abolish the Charter down the road, at least I could see him thinking that way.

I mean really, how DARE PET do something which prevents the government from doing whatever it wanted to Canadian citizens by simple majority fiat (as it once could pre-Charter for the most part, just look at the War Measures Act from 1970)! How DARE PET do something which could not easily be undone so as to restore the power of the absolutist Parliament so the Harper CPC can do what it really wants to do despite what the citizenry might think/care about it. How DARE PET do something which gave Canadian citizens real protections form an abusive power mad government! How DARE PET!!!

Thank you PET!!!

I wonder how much I am going to hear Ivison carrying this water for the Harper CPC, I am going to use that as a measure of just how far into their tank he really is, it is clear he has CPC leanings and it does taint his commentary, my question is just by how much, and how far will he follow into madness, that I am still trying to figure out about him. For all my issues with Coyne he managed to start seeing the reality about Harper a lot sooner than a lot of other Con columnists in this nation, my problems with him come down to his inability to take responsibility for when he majorly screws up. I've never forgotten nor forgiven him for jumping on the Grewal recording bandwagon with both feet from the moment their existence was first mentioned and then suddenly going quiet several weeks later once they were shown conclusively to be complete frauds edited to show the opposite of what they actually said. Then he took the summer off, and came back in the fall as if the whole affair never happened. That was and still is a major sore spot for me where Coyne is concerned.

Still though I can give him full props on this one.

Rural said...

On the few occasions I have had a conversation with Mr Miller (my MP unfortunately) he has steadfastly denied not being a yes man for Harper whilst spouting the party line word for word. With the courts rejecting so many of the Cons proposals that ignore charter rights it is only to be expected that the attacks upon the courts and the charter has filtered down to the worshipers.....

Toby said...

I often wonder if Allan Bloom was right with his assertion that the cessation of teaching Classics in Universities would eventually lead to a dumber populace.

I also wonder about Marshall McLuhan's assertion that "the medium is the message" and transistors will change everything.

Owen Gray said...

Bloom was a disciple of Leo Strauss, Toby, and therefore I found it hard to agree with a great many things he said. But on this particular issue, I think he was right.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with being a worshiper of any kind, Rural, is that you become easy prey for false gods.

Owen Gray said...

When it comes to economics, Scotian, Coyne is a classical economist -- which is very unfortunate.

However, he has been a critic of this government for sometime. During the 2011 campaign, he announced in his column that he was voting Liberal.

e.a.f. said...

Although many are surprised, that a conservative writer like Coyne voices opposition to many things Harper and his herd do, it is not surprising. For conservatives, by their very nature are conservative. Harper and his herd are not conservatives. they are extremists. That is far different from being conservative. Harper and his herd, with in our political context, is far right, not part of the mainstream, be it their views on climate, science, the supreme court of canada, what is acceptable in Canadian society and what isn't. i.e. cutting medical benefits to children whose parents are political refugee claimants. As one commenter pointed out, harper and his herd keep bringing leg. to parliament which is not constant with the constitution. that isn't a conservative move. its the move of an extremist.

Coyne understands the Constitution and may even have a value system. harper and his herd, not so much. its all about what works for them and their agenda

Owen Gray said...

Coyne is a conservative, e.a.f., and he has been pointing out for sometime that the Harperites are not conservatives, nor are they democrats.

They simply are not who they pretend to be.

Anonymous said...

Harper has an ego, much more huge than Mount Everest. Harper is also so arrogant, he doesn't even imagine being thwarted by anyone. After all Harper did say? "I am the Law". "I make the rules" "And, by the time I get through with this country, you won't recognize it". That makes Harper, a fascist dictator.

Conrad Black was a member of Harper's Northern Foundation in 1989. I believe that is why? Harper permitted Black back into this country.

Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell is, Harper's favorite henchman. He did a lot of underhanded dirt for Harper. He was rewarded the post of, High Commissioner to the U.K.

Conrad Black was on the Bilderberg Steering Committee. Campbell, Harper, Nigel Wright and Jason Kenny are all Bilderbergers.
Oh well!!! Birds of a feather.

Owen Gray said...

It's a pretty sure bet, Anon, that after the charges the RCMP laid today against Mike Duffy, some of those birds are going to fly as far away from Harper as they can.