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Posted by on Feb 5, 2010 in Archives, Blog |

Letter to the Editor

While I follow our national politics, I do consider myself to be apolitical. Yet every once in a while current events spur me to compose a letter to the editor of our local paper. While not directly related to health matters or my profession, I feel this entry fits under the umbrella of a maintaining healthy perspective. Let me know what you think.

Dear Sir,
I beg to differ with Mr. Keddy’s glib assessment of proroguing parliament as ‘ no big deal’. Funny how times change. As I recall, he used to make a big deal of it when he sat on the opposite side of the House. As the official opposition, the Conservatives took the government to task for proroguing, claiming that any party which prorogues is clearly ‘running away’ and ‘losing its moral authority to rule’ , to quote Mr. Harper. Mr. Keddy campaigned never to prorogue parliament, citing the terrible example set by the Liberals. He now uses the very same example to defend his partys decision to prorogue. The transition from the condemnation of ‘not on our watch’ to the questionable logic of ‘they did it, so we can too’ is fascinating .
Closing parliament raises questions: Who does this serve?
More importantly, what has this Conservative ‘recalibration’ accomplished so far?
Firstly, progress on the 36 legislative acts before parliament is not only halted, it has been erased. All of the work and debate to move those acts forward has been wasted as they have to be reintroduced, starting at square one. Could Mr. Keddy remind me how are we to benefit from this? Especially as some of these acts were touted by the Conservatives as being ever so urgent.
How is suspending the work and due diligence of each and every parliamentary committee that contribute to the oversight of parliament, well over 30 of them, how is this a good thing?
How is it that a party which campaigned for a reformed elected senate has done nothing to promote this cause. In fact the exact opposite occurred.( Mr. Harper’s very first act as Prime minister was to appoint his campaign co-chair as a senator in the staid old self serving way.) The latest appointments to the senate were made in a similar manner that the conservatives once roundly condemned.
Mr Keddy, What happened to the accountability touted by your party? You promised to reform how appointments to parliamentary boards and committees are made. Instead of a transparent process based on merit, we have the dubious benefit of over 1500 Conservative appointments made over the years that have been made not on merit but on ideology. The current debacle in the Right and Democracy committee is just one sad example of this trend.

Your party had a campaign promise to strengthen the Access to Information Act and increase public disclosure. Instead, once elected, 10 exemptions and two exclusions were added to the Access to Information law. The result? It is more difficult than ever to get a response on sensitive issues, let alone in a timely manner, as files are routinely screened and held up in the Privy Council Office This has increased government ability to cover-up wrongdoing, shield itself from embarrassment and control the flow of information to Canadians.
Even worse, Mr. Harper is proposing to forever bar from public disclosure all records relating to investigations of wrongdoing within the government. So that if a spending scandal similar to that of our provincial MLAs ever happened on a national level with our MPs, we would never know about it. Remind me again, Mr. Keddy, how increased secrecy in government serves me?
As a result of these and other questionable decisions, The 2008 Global Integrity Report ranked Canada 13th overall in the Government Accountability category (worse than countries such as Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, Malawi, Philippines, Peru, Pakistan and Colombia), and 15th overall in the Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law category (worse than countries such as Jordan, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Romania, Latvia, Argentina, India, Vanuatu, Kenya and Ukraine).
Suspending the essential democratic process of the houses of parliament is indeed a big deal. It is huge. Silencing the one forum where you and your cohorts can be held accountable does not speak well for what you stand for. The allure of proroguing parliament in a time bereft of threat or crises would seem like a good tactical move for a minority government. Why not silence the majority opposition and ‘calibrate’ the levers of government in an unsupervised obnubilate fashion. Strategically, and ethically, this has been enormous mistake, recognized as such here at home and internationally. In the end, weakening our democratic process serves no-one.


Don Himmelman