Wednesday, April 13, 2011's more than an inconvenience

The first of the debates scheduled for #elxn41 concluded last night, and this morning the papers, blogs and twittersphere are filled with commentary, reaction, spin and pronouncements about winners and losers.

Like many, I watched the debate and did not see anything that I thought would move a sizable number of votes one way or the other. Bases were shored up, though I am not sure much more occurred.

With this in mind, I opted against using today's post to prepare my own summary and instead want to focus on one of the discussion points that struck me.

Throughout the debate when topics such as Parliament, coalitions and the contempt finding were discussed, Mr. Harper conveyed what to me was essentially a tone of irritation. It was a consistent non-acceptance of the views expressed by the majority of the House of Commons.

"I don't accept these truths" was one of the lines used by Mr. Harper in response to points raised about the contempt finding. Not, "I don't agree" or "we have different views". "I don't accept."

Democracy is more than an inconvenience. It should not be portrayed as an irritant, or something that gets in your way. Yet this is basically what Mr. Harper was saying.

Democracy takes work and demands compromise. To function properly it requires information and transparency - they are like oxygen. Within our system of government the notions of accountability and responsibility are supposed to be paramount.

These principles are not meant to be a high standard we hope our leaders attain; they should be the bare minimum we accept from the people we elect to make decisions on our behalf, to spend our money, to commit our troops, to be stewards of the public trust, and to govern us.

I did not hear that last night from Mr. Harper. I heard irritation and a sense of being inconvenienced. I heard that he wants a majority so he doesn't have to be bothered or distracted from governing how he wants to govern.

He wants to do his job - fine. But he did not accept that the debate, dialogue and compromise so sorely lacking from our political process is a fundamental part of his job.

These are not "nice to haves", and are not impediments to managing an economy or considering how to provide sustainable health care. On the contrary, they are pre-requisites to governing.

I hope that this theme is picked up tonight in the second debate and in the commentary that follows over the remainder of the campaign, though I am not sure.

In expressing his views the way he did, Mr. Harper is counting on possible election-fatigue as being a factor for voters. He is also counting on voters seeing these things as "Ottawa issues" and not mainstreet issues.

Is he right? What are you prepared to accept?


  1. Democracy - Schmocracy !!

    The same way I don't believe it from Harper I don't believe it from Ignatieff.

    They all are pro democracy until it doesn't fit on their plans.

    Perhaps I am a too cynical but I do feel it's always going to be like that, people complains about Harper but they seemed to forget Chretien (I voted for him every time 93, 97, 2000), he was a king when it come to that, the difference is social media right now, we get closer and instant access.

    I like what Andrew Coyne said, he is a purist of of Parliament and 100% for democracy, instead of attacking Harper abuses tell me what are the changes you propose, they can't because they now it is business.

    Sad but true!

  2. Thanks for your post, Claudia, and your tweets in support of the Habs!

    I understand the point you are making about politics. I wrote about this recently in a post, the notion of statesmen versus politicians, of best of politics versus the worst of government.

    I also understand that because of what we have seen and experienced, there is a real sense that things cannot change. However, if our politics results a sense of futility, then I think we are responsible for raising a had and saying something about it.

    That's what I am trying to do here, and I am delighted that you and others are reading here, engaging on twitter and sharing views.

    I agree as well that politics cannot be simply about "I am not the other candidate". We all deserve to hear and see what each party proposes. I am not sure we will...


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