Parliament will not resume on January 25. It will resume in March. On March 3rd, we’ll have a speech from the throne. On March 4, we’ll have the joy of a budget presentation. There is a lot of conjecture as to why Parliament will be prorogued for two months, from the trite (MPs want to go to the Olympics) to the strategic (Mr. Harper wants to send some more Tories to the senate) to the abhorrent (the Conservative Party wants the whole Afghan detainee scandal to go away). No matter the reason, it is cynical and distasteful.
If it is all about the Olympics – whether the desire to attend or the desire to avoid a tough session of Question Period during the Olympics – the Conservatives are children playing in an adult world. Suspending a democratic legislature for the sake of international spectacle is not what a mature nation does, not when there are important issues to deal with.
If they are doing this to stack the senate, well, then they are who we thought they were: Politicians, of the same ilk as any other cynical politician, be it Jean Chretien, Belinda Stronach or Brian Mulroney. In such a case, they deserve not only our scorn and ridicule, but also a little – just a little – of our pity.
But I’m not an idiot. These issues may play into the political calculations (rarely would a government act without considering a variety of implications), but there is little doubt that they are trying to make the populace forget that this government is an accomplice to torture. The Conservative Party has attempted to thwart investigations into the question of the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan for months. More and more evidence is appearing implicating various members of our government of, at the very least, unacceptable ignorance of torture. As this story has grown and evolved, the government has acted all the more guilty, all the more complicit. Where we once might have accepted a mea culpa, we must now only accept a scalp. Sadly, not since Brian Mulroney was burned in electoral effigy, via the repulsion of Kim Campbell, has the Canadian electorate taken serious their duty to repudiate a governing party so greatly steeped in political transgression. It is my worry that when responsible government returns in March and, later, when our current government is forced to stand before voters, the voters will shrug.
Writing at what is, generally, a fairly conservative web site, I fully expect vitriolic responses from Conservatives. Once, reading about Levi Strauss, I witnessed him described as a conservative, in that what he wanted to conserve is liberal democracy. It is those conservatives to whom I write.
(As always, you should be reading Scott H. Payne for insight on these matters.)