Amidst crumpled wrapping paper, Christmas pudding and stocking stuffers, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled his very own Christmas cracker on Canadians and prorogued Parliament this past week bringing an end to the 40th session.
He had already brought an abrupt end to the 39th session some 12 months ago, after only a few days of Common’s debate when he was faced with near certain defeat at the hands of the opposition.
Harper prorogued Parliament because he could, it is after all his prerogative, but he also knew that he could get away with it in the court of public opinion. Coming as it did during the Christmas break before New Year’s when most Canadians are asleep or recovering was just an added scheduling bonus.
But frankly, he could have done the deed on pretty well any day of the year and found that the vast majority of Canadians couldn’t have cared less. There was to be the expected huffing and puffing from assorted Ottawa insiders, Facebook pages in protest and petitions from the politically engaged.
However Harper knew what The Cranberries knew “Does anyone care”?
And it’s that political apathy which is the greatest single threat to our democracy.
More and more fewer and fewer Canadians vote, political rallies that once might have been staged at the Maple Leaf Gardens are now held in hotel ballrooms with most attendees standing behind the leader facing the cameras in some faux display of wild enthusiasm, and campaign work that was once the domain of tens of thousands of engaged volunteers across Canada is now contracted out to telemarketing firms and direct mail houses.
Political parties no longer campaign for the votes of all Canadians, but rather the votes of narrowly defined Canadians residing on precise streets within specific swing ridings. The rest of us can pretty well be damned, cause for most political strategists we no longer count in the political equation.
Canada may have 308 ridings, but only 50 or so have any real weight in political affairs.
And while there are many who would like to dump the entire fault for this state of affairs at Harper’s doorstep, the reality is that it started long before his election in 2006 and if Canadians really want it to end, they need to stand up and be counted – across the political spectrum.
They need to tell the backroom players that their votes will no longer be taken for granted and their patience will no longer be tested by procedural machinations and Ottawa shenanigans by any party.
Otherwise if we’re not all careful, this proroguing thing might become fashionable and the actual shock factor will be when Parliament is actually in session.
Opposition to the decision to prorogue
I would be happy to post Facebook links supporting the decision to prorogue Parliament if sent to me.
The Cranberries - Ode To My Family