Today, I'm a proud Canadian.
It's been a little while since I've said that, especially when it comes to the collective conscience of the electorate.
The masses took to the street all over the country to protest the Conservatives' prorogation of parliament. For those of you not from Canada , parliament has been shut down until after the Vancouver Olympics. Why? In large part because of the questions surrounding the mistreatment of Afghan detainees (which I've written about here and here). It is most likely an effort for the Conservatives to save face and to avoid answering embarrassing question while the whole world is watching Canada.
Considering our dismal turnouts for many of our most recent federal election, I am truly surprised at the number of Canadians that took to the streets. Expatriates living in London and New York did the same.
The prorogation of parliament is seen by many as an assault on the democracy that shapes this country. This is the second time in as many years that Mr Harper and his Conservatives have shut down parliament, the first time was in 2008 when they closed it down to put together a budget that would keep them in power and avoid an election.
When prorogation occurs both the senate and the house of commons are dismissed so any bill that was tabled to be voted or become law gets axed and will need to be introduced again at the new session of parliament. This prorogation cost us 36 bills and the Globe and Mail provides us with a comprehensive list. Among the bills that died were:
Protects foreign nationals from exploitation through human trafficking
Requires Internet service providers to report tips about child pornography
Eliminates faint-hope clause that allows those with life sentences to apply for parole after 15 years
Strengthens the National Sex Offender Registry and the National DNA Data Bank
Prorogation should not be a tool to remain in power, it shouldn't be a "timeout" to rally your troops and certainly shouldn't be used to avoid dealing with issues that could potentially set off an election. Canadians will not forget how Mr Harper has manipulated the system to avoid elections and avoid hard hitting questions concerning the mistreatment of Afghan detainees. I hope that the election results will show this next time around.
Well Mr Harper... you can brush off the Opposition parties, but you can't brush of the thousands of Canadian voters, many of them Conservative voters, who took to the streets yesterday in an effort to make you hear their voices. Remember that you are a Public Servant and that is a wonderful title of trust and prestige that is bestowed upon by the people; as such you have obligations and responsibilities to public you are paid to serve. Those obligations do not include shutting down Government because you feel like it. Think about it.