Power corrupts

The fact that the final chapter of Harper’s Conservative government was prompted by a motion of contempt of Parliament should be no surprise.

During his first few days as prime minister, Stephen Harper set the mould for his government’s inevitable demise by allowing David Emerson, a newly elected Liberal MP, to cross the floor without holding a byelection and immediately appointing Michael Fortier to the Senate.

Harper also buried the prospect for meaningful democratic reform by insisting Conservative MPs vote party line on successive pieces of legislation, leaving hundreds of thousands of former Reformers reeling as if they had been sucker-punched.

Voters preparing for an election are demanding openness, transparency and democracy, and as politicians arrogantly and defiantly have been living in denial of that process, the level of cynicism and mistrust is on the increase.

As the Prime Minister’s Office has become the centre of power, trust in the leaders has become the real issue, a factor that will produce some interesting results on May 2.

In keeping with his contempt for the democratic process, Harper has performed a succession of assaults on our democratic institutions:

Members of Parliament have consistently been denied access to information vital to them to be able to perform their duties.

Parliament has been prorogued, not once, but twice because Harper, like some errant juvenile kid, could not have his way.

Using orders-in-council has demonstrated yet another blatant abuse of power.

His fanatical control on the party’s activities has included rigged nominations.

Fixed election days are no more than an abstract term, and voters are feeling betrayed.

Without as much as an attempt at an apology, let alone expressions of regret, or any form of admission regarding their unprecedented trespass on our Parliament, Harper and his MPs arbitrarily assume they have the legal and moral right to propose to form the next government.

Such actions only speak to Harper’s deep-rooted contempt for the people and our public institutions.

As we consider Harper’s unprecedented consolidation of power and preoccupation with total control we should keep in mind that people with absolute power are capable of absolutely anything.

Andy Thomsen