Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Abuse of Prorogation - An Example Canada Should Learn From

I would be much indebted if the reader would indulge me for a moment and allow me to give an account of a parliamentary democracy, not far from our own, concerning the powers of its Prime Minister. I ask for your attention as a dutiful citizen because of the implications of this example upon our current situation and on our form of government.

In a relatively small nation state a Prime Minister is currently under fire from the opposing party. They allege that members of the governing party have taken bribes and have been involved in numerous nefarious agreements with the country's largest neighbour, agreements which involved the selling out of most of its nation’s natural resources.

And though there is substantial evidence, not to mention public acceptance, that the government did in fact accept bribes, the current governing party remains in power as the investigation into the corruption is prevented by a prorogued Parliament. Many scholars within the tiny nation point out that even after Parliament resumes in a few months time, any investigation will be significantly hampered as the governing party would then be in control of the committee continuing it. A reporter in a local newspaper likening the situation to a criminal investigating himself.

With many citizens outraged from the lack of accountability and no political recourse until some election is to be called at the Prime Minister's whim years in the future, the few media outlets are left asking how their country devolved into such an appalling parliamentary system; where the Prime Minister has no checks to his power and government corruption flourishes.

Esteemed scholars in Britain, Australia, and Canada point to the small country's recent history with prorogation for answers. For it was just years ago when a previous Prime Minister prorogued Parliament to avoid an inquiry into a scandal, much public scrutiny at the time was avoided at least temporarily by justifying the suspension of democracy by the government declaring it needed time to readjust its financial planning. In that short time dissatisfaction was abated and as a result, due to the history dependent parliamentary system, the possibility of government's proroguing to avoid accountability was made constitutionally valid.

Now protected by that relatively new custom, this prorogation has placed the country in a crisis unlike any other in its history; for the current government is all but proven to be corrupt, and the citizenry have no recourse other than submitting until some distant election is called.

This country in crisis that I make reference to above is not some distant nation thousands of kilometres away; it is not far geographically, nor temporally. It is a Canada not far in the future, if this current prorogation by Stephen Harper, by action or inaction, is allowed to stand. It is a Canada where Prime Ministers of any partisan stripe will have adopted through historic custom the power to prorogue to prevent democratic accountability. A Canada where its government can commit grievous crimes, from those in war to those in corruption, without fear of investigation and scrutiny.

Canada should learn from what it could be, before it is.

3 comments:

The Rat said...

That's a wonderful story. Too bad it's a fever-fantasy. To bring you back to reality I'll tell you some true stories, stories of a little country, too. In that country a Prime Minister used his influence to pressure a bank into extending a loan to a person in such a way that it indirectly benefited that Prime Minister. And when that PM didn't get his way he sent the police to raid and harass the banker who dared defy him. And Parliament did nothing, no committee investigated and the media barely batted an eye.

Still worse, this same PM shut down an inquiry into the murder of a foreign boy when the inquiry began to touch on the government's involvement. And no committee cared.

This same Prime Minister ruled over a corrupt party that diverted funds, intended to keep the small country intact, into a slush fund that supported the party's candidates in elections. Knowing he was caught the PM of the day prorogued parliament in order slough the scandal off to his successor. The corrupt party never declared who benefited from the corruption and only paid back 1/30th of the stolen money. And no parliamentary committee cared.

So many scandals went un-investigated during this PM's tenure that scandal become commonplace and the electorate become detached and disinterested. Media were bought of with patronage appointments, and the Governor General was selected, twice, from their ranks.

How could this be, you may ask? Why, the power of the PM to do as he wished in a majority government was to blame. He could stack committees as he saw fit and his cronies blocked all inquiry. From this we must learn that majorities are bad. We must ban them lest the corrupt party destroy what little is left of Canadian democracy.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

The Rat: I don't dare suggest you are wrong nor do I have the bravado you have in labelling my post a "fever-fantasy" but would you please explain the Gomery Inquiry to me? Because if that was indeed an investigation, your story may seem to be a slight exaggeration.

And if you could, being someone of such wit, please inform me whether the sponsorship scandal brought down the Liberals thus showing Canadians cared, that would be much appreciated.

As for the probability of my fantasy coming true my dear Rat I will refer you to any professor or expert on the parliamentary system, as I don't dare battling your gracious prose on my own.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

You're clearly hitting a nerve. Keep it up.