Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kenney Admits It

The HarperCon$ don't like Parliament.

"As a minister, I often get more done when the House is not in session," he said as thousands of Canadians were preparing to mount protests across the country against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to suspend Parliament until March 3.

"That's not to say Parliament is unimportant," Kenney told reporters after making an immigration announcement. "But from a ministerial point of view, I think any minister in any government will tell you that's probably generally the case."

Coming as I do from Alberta, I've heard this same kind of idiotic nonsense spewed from our provincial politicians for a long time. Under Ralph Klein, a process of steadily eroding the amount of time that the Alberta Legislature sits began, and an increasing sense of 'right to govern' took root among Alberta's conservatives. This same attitude has been at the top of the ReformaTories since day one - although this is one of the rare times where so senior a member of Harper's apparatus has come out and admitted that he finds parliamentary accountability to be problematic for the way that they want to govern.

The price paid in Alberta over the Klein years has been horrifying. Of all of Canada's provinces, we have consistently the lowest voter turnouts - the last provincial election some 20% of eligible voters decided over 80% of the seats in the legislature. This is an exception dangerous path to see emerging on the federal scene - and one that only benefits Harper - whose narrow form of partisan politics plays primarily on venality, ignorance and apathy.

Frankly, as a voter, I don't give a damn if it is "easier" for a minister to do their job when Parliament isn't sitting. Parliament exists to keep that same minister accountable to the public and on the public record.

For the first time in about two years, I see Jack Layton is finally starting to do his job:

Layton, who is advocating new parliamentary rules to curb the prime minister's power to suspend sittings, said on Friday: "Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are playing old politics – where partisan games matter more than the work of elected representatives.

"Canadians want and deserve better: a new politics that says there is a better way forward, an end to secrecy and arrogance and the beginning of openness and accountability,
" Layton added.

Not that I trust Mr. Layton that far, but I trust him considerably more than the thin-skinned autocrats that Stephen Harper has surrounded himself with who seem bound and determined to do everything in their power to render Parliament meaningless.

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