Here's a scary thought: Boris Johnson was inspired by Stephen Harper. Susan Delacourt is suggesting that possibility:
Johnson is putting parliamentary sittings on ice until Oct. 14, just shortly before Britain is due to pull out of the European Union in what is shaping up to be a no-deal Brexit.
Will Johnson pay a political price? If the Canadian experience a decade ago is any indication, probably not. Who knows? Perhaps Johnson was inspired by the Canadian example.
When he was prime minister, Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament twice — shutting it down once in 2008, in the midst of a Liberal-NDP effort to displace his minority government, and again in 2010, because he could. Or, as Harper put it then, to “recalibrate” his government.
There were protests — big ones, on Parliament Hill and even at Toronto’s Dundas Square. Thousands of people, in what may have been the most Canadian protest ever, braved biting cold across the country in January 2010 to stage public events against a word the demonstrators could barely fit on their placards.
The protests dwindled, but opposition parties continued to hammer away at Harper and his alleged contempt for Parliament. Less than a year and a half after those prorogation protests, the Conservative minority government fell — on a contempt of Parliament vote — and Harper was returned to power with a majority in 2011.
Perhaps Johnson expects a similar outcome. But the signs are ominous:
Donald Savoie, who has written many books on the crumbling state of our politics, has a new book out next month on the “disintegration” of democracy in Canada. Savoie says that if the public is apathetic now about parliaments grinding to a halt, it’s because people simply don’t expect much of those institutions anymore.
“Today, the government constantly plays fast and loose with Parliament, and this is true for both major political parties,” he said. “Think of the tendency to turn to omnibus legislation and think also of the tendency to make major policy announcements outside Parliament. It is highly unlikely, however, that this will be much debated during the next 60 days. Sadly, the role of Parliament no longer makes it on the hit parade with Canadians.”
The autocrats are on the march. This is no time for citizens to be apathetic.
Image: The Toronto Star