A take on Harper’s game: You Win Some, You Lose Some

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s response to the two rulings of breached parliamentary privilege by the Conservative government was unexpected, unsettling, and infuriating.

My initial reaction of outrage was quickly followed by a sense of guilt: Why are we not demanding more of our government?

Stephen Harper’s response to the rulings against his government by Peter Milliken, House of Commons Speaker, is a clear reflection of the ideological nature of this government. No longer discretely hidden nor veiled by the Stephen Harper government, this ideological battle is taking place in the face of Canadian citizens.

“The speaker rules. You win some, you lose some. And if you lose, you comply,” Stephen Harper told journalists. What are the implications of Harper’s response? These words not only undermine the gravity of the ruling, but reduces these political missteps to little more than spectacle. It depoliticizes Harper’s government, positioning it above the reach of further critical analysis. And it reduces Milliken’s ruling to the point of meritlessness and their compliance as little more than an attempt to appease the overlord of the Parliamentary board game their role requires them to play.

But the more interesting question is this: Why are more Canadian citizens not outraged by this breach of privilege?

I feel that Canadians need to demand the Conservative Government to uphold a higher political, social, and ethical standard. I feel that the Conservative Government’s policies and procedures needs to be unveiled to its true essence, past the answers during the question period, past the political interviews and official statements. We cannot expect governments to hold themselves accountable. We cannot point our fingers and deny our own responsibility. We should we demand a truly transparent government. It is our responsibility to start demanding it.

As Alexis de Toqueville is thought to have said, “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Canadians need to be held accountable for sticking their collective heads in the sand. A silent citizenry in the face of these undemocratic procedures is both its accomplice and victim. We need to start demanding clearer and more straightforward answers from those who have the power to shape and affect our everyday lives.

Image courtesy of Chris Wattie of REUTERS via the National Post.

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