Harper’s Senate: Power Over Principle

The other day, Harper was referred to as a "strongman" in a Flanagan article, detailing life under this guy’s rule. A noteworthy characterization, particularly for the leader of a Parliamentary democracy. Then again, when we see the control this person exerts, when we realize his favourite historical leader was Joseph Stalin, when we see how he doesn’t give a whip about core tenets of democracy, the secrecy, the lack of accountability, power before principle, it fills out the term in an uncomfortable way.

Harper has already made a mockery of his former reputation with his Senate appointments. Supporters are twisting themselves in philosophical knots to rationalize the "King of patronage", but the facts are clear. However, Harper doesn’t seem content with merely contradicting everything his supposed "movement" used to stand for, he takes it a step further, giving democracy the end around, just daring a complacent populus to care for a second:

But Mr. Harper clearly isn’t prepared to wait for an election to make use of Mr. Smith’s talents. By appointing him to the Senate now, he becomes available, along with Mr. Fantino, for a major cabinet shuffle that Mr. Harper plans for early January.

Smith is set to announce a run as an MP, in a riding that he’s not likely to win (this isn’t Vaughan, he faces an incumbent), but is put into play because of his stature. That stature may only be enhanced when Harper announces Smith as part of a cabinet shuffle. Once again, Harper will sidestep democratic choice and put an unelected person into the inner sanctum of our elected system. Not that we need confirmation at this point, but my goodness, the chasm between Reform ideals and this government is now biblical in proportions.

In addition, it appears Smith might have a role in getting an arena for Quebec City. It’s all about power now, Harper will do, and has done, anything that enhances his political fortune. When you think how this crowd used to rail against the Liberals pre-occupation with self interest, it really is astounding where we sit today- something which probably won’t come into true focus until history passes a sober, detached judgement.

So, we have another unelected Senator, who could also be swept into our federal cabinet, partially to help with a political payoff in the form of an arena, to bolster electoral fortunes in Quebec. Yes, you read that right old Reformers, keep your defibrillators close, you really do make dirty Liberals looked principled by comparison. Imagine that.

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val

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