Prime Minister claims proroguement necessary for economic work
Speaking to reporters about the recent proroguement of Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the increasingly-controversial move on the basis of the need to prepare his economic agenda.
Harper accused the opposition parties of being obstructive in Parliament, and distracting his government from the important work ahead of it -- something that Harper doesn't expect to change when Parliament resumes.
"The games begin when Parliament returns," Harper said. "The government can take our time now to do the important work to prepare the economic agenda ahead."
"That said, as soon as Parliament comes back ... the first thing that happens is a vote of confidence and there'll be votes of confidence and election speculation for every single week after that for the rest of the year," Harper continued. "That's the kind of instability markets are actually worried about."
Many of the Canadians who are following the story legitimately believe Harper, that numerous factors -- including the diplomatic opportunity offered by the presence of numerous foreign dignitaries in Vancouver during the Olympics, and his need to prepare his new economic agenda -- have made the proroguation of Parliament necessary. Others are supporting his proroguation out of sheer partisan fervour.
For Harper, the problem is that many Canadians don't seem to believe him. A recent poll indicated that, of the 67% of Canadians who are following the proroguation story, 58% opposed the move.
Included in this were a significant portion of Conservative supporters.
Among those Conservative Party supporters, one will find an unexpected figure -- none other than Tom Flanagan.
“The governments talking points don’t have much credibility," Flanagan said. "Everybody knows that Parliament was prorogued in order to shut down the Afghan inquiry, and the trouble is that the government doesn’t want to explain why that was necessary. I personally think it was a highly defensible action but instead of having an adult defense of it the government comes up with these childish talking points.“
The thing about the controversy is that, considering all of the facts surrounding the issue, few Canadians could be blamed for believing the worst about Harper's proroguement.
In the Afghan torture allegations the Conservative Party has handled what is actually a low-value scandal -- the revelation that failures in the chain of command may have obscured the torture of Afghan detainees from the government -- very poorly.
Considering the way in which Harper has handled the issue -- a better response would have been to call a complete inquiry into the entire timeline of Canada's operations in Afghanistan, including the period prior to 2006 -- and present the full reality of the matter: that the pre-2006 Liberal government was actually responsible for the state of affairs in the first place.
Instead, Harper and the Conservatives flailed clumsily, and executed what was very likely a long-planned proroguation of Parliament when opposition pressure just happened to be most intense.
No one could blame so many Canadians for believing that Harper prorogued Parliament to escape the pressure.
Among the Canadians who oppose the proroguement on a principled of basis are those who oppose it on partisan grounds. Murray Dobbin seems to firmly understand that stage two of Harper's economic plan is at the centre of the proroguement (and considers it unthinkable that the government would ever want to reduce government spending).
Stephen Harper needs a better explanation for his actions. For every reason that a Canadian may hear Harper's explanation and believe it, there are just as many reasons to not believe him.
Right now, the opposition is telling a better story.