So everyone’s up in arms about our Prime Minister proroguing government three times in two years. Folks’re saying it’s anti-democratic (it isn’t; it’s a function of parliamentary democracy). They’re saying it’s fascist (it’s not. There’s nothing radical about Stephen Harper, and although he does try *very* hard to be authoritarian (it’s kind of cute, sometimes) and to try to capitulate to corporate whims, I don’t think Harper’s reign is *quite* ‘fascist’. It certainly is dictatorial, though). They’re saying the Canadian people are tired of Harper’s shenanigans (very true, i suspect, if only for the opportunity to say ‘shenanigans’).
But there’s something you’re forgetting in all this.
Michaëlle Jean, our Governor General, she has a larger role to play in this than does Harper. He could go to her asking her to prorogue government twice a day if he wanted, and (this is the important bit, so listen up) she could say ‘no’. In fact, that’s what I think Canadians ought to have done more of. They ought to have spent more of their energy asking her to turn Steve down.
“No, Steve, I don’t think so,” she might have said.
“But…but…” he would have whined.
“Stephen, you prorogued government LAST year, and while it’s not uncommon for Canadian Prime Ministers to prorogue or suspend government once a year or so, don’t you think you’re being a bit silly?”
“Stephen, really,” she might say, sitting on the edge of her desk while he fidgets in the chair in front. “What’s this about?”
“What do you mean?! Nothing!”
“You don’t have to lie to me, Stephen,” she might say in a low voice.
“No! Really!…” Stephen Harper might start biting his nails and getting squirrelly.
“Is it Michael? Is Michael bullying you?”
Harper might pointedly stare at the floor and mumble, “No.”
“Is Jack teasing you again, Stephen?” She might ask quietly.
Stephen may sniff a little and kick the heel of one shiny shoe with the toe of the other. In a petulant, little voice, he might mutter something about the economy.
“Look,” Michaëlle Jean would say, crossing her arms, “I know government isn’t easy. Especially when all the other MPs are trying to tell you what to do. Peer pressure, Stephen, causes broken hearts. Being popular is very important at this stage of your life, and I understand the pressures you’re facing. I have teenage girls myself…”
At this point, Harper might raise his eyebrows and say, “Pardon me?”
Michaëlle Jean would wave her hand at him, and rise from the corner of the desk. “You know what I mean. The bottom line is that I’m not going to prorogue this parliament every time you have an attack of self-loathing or doubt. My office isn’t here simply for you to come in and ask for a suspension every time you feel like you want a holiday. That’s not the way this system is supposed to work.”
“But me no buts, Stephen. Get back to class. Er. Parliament. And maybe join the yearbook committee or the environmental club or something. ANYTHING.”
So you see, it seems to me that people are really giving Stephen Harper WAAAAAY too much credit (rather like saying the Joker is single-handedly responsible for all of Batman’s cool), and they’re not criticising Michaëlle Jean enough.
I think Canadians ought to ask our Governor-General whether she might *ever* be prepared to stand up to the PM. Michael Ignatieff’s court is proposing a bill that would limit the ability of the PM to prorogue government, which is stupid. I’m sorry, Michael, but it really is.
If your kids are misbehaving every night at bedtime, you don’t just automatically put a rule in place that says “no acting up at bedtime”. You have to figure out *why* (probably all those cookies at dinner).