Monday, May 16, 2005

Various Procedural Thoughts

I made the mistake of reading Parliament's Hansard this past week and watching a few clips. I was especially interested in the non-confidence motion that was or was not a non-confidence motion. Train wrecks can be fascinating. I can see the arguments on both sides as to whether it really meant non-confidence or not. The question might be whether a motion is an expression of non-confidence just because it uses the phrase non-confidence and the man who raises it is extremely angry. When people get dragged out to vote on their summer vacation there will probably be a million more things for them to contemplate other than a procedural fiasco that kept Parliament alive for 9 more days. At some point I invented the term overpunditizationalism® because of the sheer amount of pure bullshit this event caused the MSM to generate.

Harper's tone and body language ended up being more interesting than the technicalities. He simply could not believe that the Government had the audacity to defy his glorious rage. Rage can be a good thing. One of the greatest politics documents ever written is the American Declaration of Independence. The authors were some pissed and signed it with their blood. Canadians don't have a history of political rage or revolution. Our founding documents are somewhat dispassionate to say the least. In Harper's case I don't really understand the purpose of the rage and over the top dramatics. He's beginning to look a lot like his mentor Brian Mulroney, which is to say a sociopath. There are now cameras in the House. The good news is Members do not show up staggering drunk or start fistfights. The bad news is they've all become graduates of the Mel Gibson School of acting.

Harper looked like he was about to levitate, spin his head 360, and start channeling Elmer Gantry. I thought for sure Alien baby was going to pop out of his chest or maybe even an Alsatian with part of its nose missing. (Obscure historical joke.) Although there is a precedent for a Prime Minister to tell another Honorable Member to fuck off Martin did not use it. He is a bit lacking in that respect. Martin is tragically placid, always looking like he's on the receiving end of something. At some point [allegedly] Harper complained to the Governor General that he really wanted and deserved to be obeyed. GG [allegedly] was not impressed because a) the request is out of scope at this time, and; b) Harper and his crowd have made far too many personal attacks on her and her husband. I doubt she would hit the brakes if Harper ran out from behind a parked car.

The Conservative front bench in Parliament looked like a bunch of crack addicts that have not had a fix in a while. The Liberals looked bored and over-confident. This happens when you have been in power for a long time and people refer to you as the Natural Governing Party. I thought a minority position would fix this. The Bloc looks a lot like the Liberals, disinterested but for different reasons. Duceppe wants to go to the polls while the anti-Liberal sentiment in Quebec is at its highest. They consider their personal best to be 50+ of the popular vote in Quebec. I find Duceppe and Harper an odd alliance. The attraction could be that both are regionalists and see little value in Federalism. (Or, if you prefer, Fedoralalalaism.) One wants a firewall, the other a country. Some days I'm not sure which is which. It is interesting that the Western Conservative Base (which is the Majority of the CPC) spent the last 15 or so years giving constant verbal abuse towards francophone Quebecois but now finds them politically convenient. It's the weirdest thing to watch.

I don't know who's giving Martin his strategic advice these days but it does not seem all that coherent. Does he think he is Mackenzie King: Non-confidence if necessary, but not necessarily non-confidence. Martin could have resigned on the procedural motion thus setting a precedent that Stephen Harper and his Media Whores would have a hard time arguing against, when inevitably it would be used on them. Harper would have had to assume the blame for a summer election and the budget being tossed. Maybe, Harper then still wins a minority government. The Liberals create a procedural motion about how the carpets in the foyer need cleaning, and voila, non-confidence. You could call it the Harper Precedent.

Years from now students will be forced to learn about the Harper Affair of 2005. A few of them will be interested but mostly they'll have spittle dribbling out of their mouths while they try to keep their eyes open. Revisionism will abound. Someone will recall how just before the vote, in the skies above Parliament, Cheryl Gallant flew around on a broom and spelled out the words Surrender Parliament to Jesus in big black letters. Other historians will claim there was a great people's democratic movement that took to the streets against the mafia controlled Liberal dictators and the stupid people of Ontario.

Thursday's vote on the budget will not come quickly enough for me. There's nothing like looking forward to an event that can have no good outcome. Please recommend this post

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