Public Indecency

It’s official.
Canada will go to the polls May 2nd to elect their 41st Parliament, marking the third time in five years they have voted on Canada’s leadership. And, already politicians and pundits have begun spinning up the rhetoric to state their case and, more importantly, to paint their opposition as an avoidable evil.

Part of that rhetoric revolvews around whether there should even be an election at all, whether Canadians want an election, and whether we can afford one. It’s a refrain heard every time the Harper government has fallen, so we should all be accustomed to it by now. Regardless, the question shouldn’t be whether we can afford an election or whether we want one, it should be why we shouldn’t.
And, that’s precisely what the outgoing government doesn’t want us to consider.

We all knew this was coming.
You couldn’t possibly miss the warning signs that an election was looming. In fact, it would have been a greater shock if the government had not fallen. And, the government knew it as well; Harper, as Canada’s classiest Prime Minister, had weeks ago started airing his sleazy attack ads trashing the Liberals in general and Michael Ignatieff in specific, a sure sign that he was looking to soften the opposition and the minds of Canadians in the lead up to a vote.

The fact is, an election was all but inevitable, and it’s completely the fault of Stephen Harper’s government. For the first time in history, the Canadian government was found in contempt of parliament for their refusal to disclose details about funding of their fighter jet purchase and the disposition and details of their crime bill. Contempt of parliament is a big deal, not simply because it’s the first time in Canadian history that a government is found in contempt, but because the very nature of the accusation is a declaration that the government’s conduct is in opposition to the will and purpose of democracy and the people. Contempt of parliament is a massive and critical indictment of misconduct, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The Conservative government, of course, takes it lightly, and so do their supporters, but they’re missing a bigger point of principle. Harper’s people immediately declared that the contempt of parliament decision was something concocted, that they had been railroaded. They feel they have been amply forthcoming, despite having to have the Speaker of the House reprimand them for not providing necessary information about their crime bll, forcing them to do just that. And, their supporters will say “Yeah, well, the Liberals have been just as bad before,” which completely fails to reach the point.

Yes, all governments lie, cheat, hide and steal to some degree. I think it might be in the DNA of politicians. I would be more shocked to hear of a truly honest and forthcoming politician, which is why the idea alone of Obama in the US has so many people on edge. I am sure that we can find numerous cases of the Liberals or the NDP pulling dishonest stunts in the course of their work in parliament.

But, none have ever been found in contempt of parliament because their dishonesty and secrecy became so great that it actually impeded the process of democracy and functioning of parliament. Not one. This is the first time in history. And, even that isn’t the important part to this, as important as it is. The most important part of this is that a government elected in 2006 on a platform of honesty, transparency and accountability, a government formed from an argument on the very notion of opening the books and being honest and transforming all those negative concepts of politics into perceptions of trust and openness has failed, massively, to live up to those standards.

You can say that the Liberals are dishonest and have been just as dishonest in the past, and there’s probably good material for a debate there, but not once have they stood before the Canadian people and accepted the mantle of government for successfully promising to be the paragons of honesty and accountability, only to urinate in a mighty acrid stream all over those very principles and the people who voted them in.

that’s why we should want an election. We have every reason in the world to want to cast our votes right now. An election is an opportunity for the Canadian people to give their opinion, to participate in casting the verdict, and there is no greater reason for us to need to offer our judgment than a declaration that a government formed on the promise of transparency and honesty has been so secretive and dishonest that for the first time since Confederation a declaration of contempt has been issued.

And, as for not being able to afford an election right now? Come on… Seriously? I find the argument over whether the Canadian economy can support an election to be one of the most impressive acts of misdirection a party can open with.

An election costs in the realm of $300-million. So, the popular logic would have it, we take $300-million and throw it into the fire and watch it burn while the economy suffers in the greater cloud of global economic turmoil we’ve wallowed for a few years. Righteous indignation should surely follow for those Liberal, NDP and Bloc bastards who shovelled the bills into the flames.

Where do you think those $300-million really go? Well, there are hotel bills, transportation, food, salaries for elections workers, advertising revenues, stationary and electronics purchases, printing of signs and flyers, and more salaries for support workers. All of this spent in Canada. So, in effect, this election will result in close to $300-million worth of revenue being generated for Canadian businesses and Canadian jobs. Can we afford that in our current economic predicament? I’d say we sure as Hell can.

Canadians may not have asked for an election, but in getting an election they are getting exactly what they deserve. I’m quite sure that the outcome will be the same as the last, but that’s hardly the part that matters. In a country ruled by democracy, any insult to that democracy by the governing body should be met with public judgment, and that’s precisely what this election will enable. Stephen Harper has shat upon his lofty principles of honesty and accountability from the first moment he became Prime Minister, becoming one of the most secretive leaders in our history, mirroring the exploits of George Bush south of our border. This latest example was simply too great to let pass. Hopefully people will remember his promises on May 2nd and hold him accountable. Liars lie, but if you promote yourself as an honest prophet, you should expect to be held to a higher standard.

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