Saturday, January 17, 2015

Election Law? What Election Law?

There has been lots of speculation recently about whether Stephen Harper will break his own fixed date election law -- for the second time. It's remarkable, Andrew Coyne writes, that a man who insisted on the law should have such little regard for it. What is even more remarkable is that Canadians -- in general -- also have little respect for the law:

Not only does he not feel bound by it, but neither do the rest of us seem inclined to insist that he should. We have all somehow come to accept that it is perfectly normal, even acceptable, for the government — the government! — to disobey the law if it feels like it, as if the laws that are binding upon the rest of us were not binding upon the governments that pass them. This is surely an astonishing state of affairs, in a democracy, a measure not only of the corrupting effects of power but of how the rest of us have been corrupted along with it.

It is, indeed, an astonishing state of affairs. But it's worth remembering that, for Stephen Harper, "contempt of Parliament" was merely a matter of being out voted. And, given the fact that he won the election that contempt triggered, Canadians seem to believe that contempt comes down to votes.

Coyne correctly observes that:

We should not have to wonder whether the laws Parliament passes are of any worth or meaning, or whether the government we elect will seek refuge in fine print and Clintonian wordplay to wriggle out of them. We should not have to worry that our government is trying to con us. We are entitled to some expectation of good faith, and if we have lost even that then the implications are a lot worse than an untimely election call.

We are in deep trouble.


Lorne said...

Coyne's observations are yet another pungent reminder that Harper's most formidable allies are disengaged, apathetic and passive citizens, Owen.

Rural said...

When those who we elect to govern show so little respect for the rules and conventions of parliamentary democracy, or for that matter for those whom they purport to represent, then we are indeed in deep trouble Owen. That so few of us seem to be concerned about this disregard for the very basic core of our democracy, including with a few notable exceptions the MSM and the opposition, is as Coyne writes “an astonishing state of affairs”

I begin to despair that we will ever find our way back to a point where the good of the country and its citizens comes before the greed for power and corporate profits.

Owen Gray said...

It really is a discouraging state of affairs, Rural. But we do have a chance to do something about it -- if we stop thinking of ourselves as consumers and start thinking of ourselves as citizens.

Owen Gray said...

As Cassius said, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars//But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

I seem to be quoting Twain and Shakespeare this morning, Lorne.

mogs moglio said...

If we disobeyed the law we end up incarcerated that is precisely where Harper and his entire wretched PMO and con clowns belong. Perhaps his new prisons will house them.

I vote yes on this put them all behind bars for awhile. A little bit longer as the great Jackson Brown once sung...

Owen Gray said...

I hate to be cynical, Mogs. But they'll probably wind up on corporate boards.

lungta said...

i'm sure harper just sees himself as a pre millennial agent of gods' apocalypse installed to his position by god
any opposition is instantly demonized
those outside the inner circle of belief are inconsequential as they are lost
the environment and most canadians will be lost in gods final battle....why worry about them?
breaking an election law is right up there with jay-walking to him
he will want to go to heaven long after he is pm ....gods' laws vrs. mans' laws ....and all that

mogs moglio said...

Yes I know like Mr. NAFTA Mulroney he sits on numerous corporate boards for that Canadian sellout corporate welfare so-called free trade agreement. Sure that just means corporations can dodge taxes easier.

Owen Gray said...

As Linda McQuaig wrote the other day, Mogs, Canadian corporations are not noted for their White Knight status.

Owen Gray said...

Being a member of the elect has its privileges, lungta.

ron wilton said...

harper makes the rules and to his way of 'thinking' he doesn't break them.
The harper bill amending the Canada Elections Act states ever so clearly and ever so cleverly that "Each general must be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force bing held on Monday, October 19, 2009."
Clear enough and widely reported in the media.

However, the next paragraph in the amendment, largely ignored in the media, states that "Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General's discretion."
To quote harper, "the rules are what I say they are."
Jean and Johnston (sad to say Johnston is a distant relative of mine) have proven that their 'discretion' is to obey harper.

Owen Gray said...

It's all about -- it's always been all about -- rigging the system in his favour, Ron.

mogs moglio said...

Owen I leave you with this:;_ylt=AwrTcXGh8LpUfjoAG1GJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTIzdWc2aHUyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZANmYjZlNzQ0YzIxYTFmM2E4YWQ0N2JhMjZmNDU2ZDJkZgRncG9zAzM2BGl0A2Jpbmc-?.origin=&*-pgwW1lgzf0Um*sk5nKcCdfQ%2FWhatgoodfortuneHitler_.gif%3Fwidth%3D335%26height%3D115&

Owen Gray said...

Sorry, Mogs. Too much information. I can't seem to bring it up.

John B. said...

By continuing to raise it, his friends in the press have been conditioning the public to accept whatever Harper might want to do on this question. I recall that when the possibility of Harper calling an election for a date other than the one that has been fixed was suggested to Mulcair several months ago, he responded by stating that it was out of the question and beyond consideration that Harper would dare to make such a calculation.

This is where the question should have ended. But interviewers and opinion editorialists have persisted in raising it with such frequency that one might now question whether they are doing so either in a display their normal reflexive sycophancy or at the direct behest of Harper’s office. Recall that Mansbridge made sure to bring it up in his annual slow-pitch exercise with Harper. He tossed the question and then just sat there with that dumb nodding look on his face awaiting whatever response Harper would offer. And he didn’t have a follow-up. It was like watching Amanda Lang nod through her year-end interview of Joe Oliver.

Once again, the primary concern of media personalities who cover national politics seems to be, as many commenters have recently suggested, an evaluation of the efficacy of Harper’s potential political manoeuvres and manipulations. When the question of ignoring outright or finding some excuse to ignore the fixed election date was raised in a recent panel discussion on CBC’s Power & Politics, the panelists concerned themselves only with the question of whether Harper’s party would be harmed electorally. The panel’s conclusion was that the negative effects wouldn’t last more than a few days. And that’s apparently the only thing that matters.

Owen Gray said...

Our media -- with only a couple of exceptions -- long ago chose to give Harper a Get Out of Jail Free card, John.

They have failed the nation miserably.

mogs moglio said...

So sorry Owen I use Mozilla Firefox so if you are using a different host it might not go through. Here was what my link was to and I can't simplify the routing it is a quote from an infamous dictator leader something like we have now:

"What good fortune for governments that the people do not think." Adolf Hitler

True then true today Harper does most everything in secrecy and gets away with murdering The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Come on Canadians wake up and start thinking we have already under Harper slipped into a Fascist Mussolini style dictatorship. Hitler by the way worshiped Mussolini. Enough said? No Herr Harper also invades foreign countries he refused to sign the anti Nazi resolution at the UN. What next his gestapo the CSIS RCMP CRA are already at war with ordinary Canadians for not agreeing with the Herr. Something is not right here for a so-called democracy Steve has made fools out of all of us because "Oh Canada we did not stand on guard for thee..."