Saturday, January 30, 2010

On resistance

Aaron Wherry points out the advice which newly-appointed Con Senator Bob Runciman gave to the party when it faced a vote of non-confidence in the House of Commons. But it's worth fleshing out just what Runciman's stance means:
As last week's parliamentary shenanigans unfolded, Runciman got in touch with his Conservative colleagues on Parliament Hill to give them the benefit of his experience.

"I immediately sent my friends at the federal level my encouragement to prorogue the House, because one of the mistakes we made was not resisting," he said.
So what was it that Runciman thought the Ontario Cons should have resisted? Remember that in the 1985 Ontario election, the Libs actually won more of the popular vote than the Cons, and were only four seats behind in their final count. And added to that almost complete parity between the two largest caucuses, the NDP had pledged its support to the Libs based on a written agreement.

At that point, the Cons would have had no excuses based on alleged collaboration with separatists, and no argument that they could claim a larger caucus than the next two largest parties (or even a substantially larger caucus than the proposed government). Instead, the only reason to "resist" would have been based on a belief that a party is fully entitled to cling to power even when it holds neither a popular mandate nor the confidence of the legislature by any reasonable measure.

In effect, then, Runciman seems to recognize that every excuse offered up by the Harper Cons in 2008 was a sham, representing nothing than a means of clinging to power for its own sake. And by rewarding that mindset, with an appointment to the Senate, Harper has effectively signalled his own agreement - while at the same time setting up one source of resistance as he nears a Senate majority which will presumably be ready to throw a tantrum on command.

So Runciman's appointment should offer one more indication that Harper will have to be removed from 24 Sussex Drive kicking and screaming - no matter how clearly he lacks the confidence of the House, or even how soundly he gets defeated in a future election. And those of us looking forward to a less despotic government in Ottawa will need to factor that future resistance into our efforts.

(Edit: fixed wording.)

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