Thursday, January 21, 2010

On empty benches

It most certainly hasn't gone unnoticed that an appointment to Stephen Harper's cabinet seems to be for life regardless of how poorly any individual performs. But it's worth noting that however much many current cabinet occupants have done to prove their unworthiness, at least some of Harper's backbenchers seem to be doing their utmost to show that Harper indeed has nobody better-informed or more competent at his disposal.

Just ask, say, MP Blaine Calkins to try to defend Harper's prorogation:
"What has to happen, the only way to change that is to prorogue parliament and start with a new session of parliament."
Sadly, no. Though the next time any Con actually answers questions about the very rules they're pointing to will be the first, so we can hardly blame Calkins personally.
"It will allow the Prime Minister and the house leader to negotiate a new format of the committees, which is good news."
See above. And of course, the same negotiation could take place if Parliament was prorogued for a couple of days in March, rather than over two months.
"(Prorogation) is not uncommon. Jean Chretien prorogued parliament before every election."
Indeed - at the end of the work of a particular Parliament, which is what prorogation is intended to address. Whereas Harper's choice to shut down Parliament is being paired with bleatings about how nobody wants an election, and the same Parliament should go back to work just as soon as Harper finds it convenient.
"If information serves me correctly, I think Pierre Trudeau prorogued parliament right before the opposition leader got up to speak."
If anybody can figure out what Calkins is talking about and how it relates to the current incarnation of prorogation, I'm all ears. But a couple of quick Google searches around the terms "Trudeau", "prorogation" and "opposition leader"/"leader of the opposition" lead right back to Calkins - which combined with the dishonesty of the rest of his statement leaves plenty of reason for suspicion that his "information" is somewhat less than impeccable (if not outright intended to start a zombie lie).

And all this in the span of two short paragraphs in a local paper.

So rest easy, Gordon O'Connor, Lisa Raitt, and the rest of the Cons' dimmer lights in cabinet. You may have embarrassed yourselves on the national stage - but as long as Harper's alternatives are the likes of Calkins, you'll never need to worry about losing your post to a stronger choice within the Cons.

Update: In comments, Dave is right to note that the process before an election would be considered dissolution rather than prorogation. My mistake in managing to give Calkins more credence than he deserved.

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