The Harper government continues to push the envelope in the House of Commons, seeing just how much it can get away with as it rends and tears the Parliamentary conventions upon which our responsible government is built. But this time it went too far even for Speaker Andrew Scheer, hardly known for bold rulings against his governing party. As it turns out, even a lapdog can bite.
Government House leader Peter Van Loan was, to give him his due, amazingly and pitilessly honest about the government’s opposition to Parliamentary democracy. Why, he demanded to know, should there be so many votes on Opposition amendments to the government’s vast omnibus bills? We have the majority, he said, so the results of all these time-wasting votes are “pre-ordained.” Just have one big vote on all the amendments, he demanded. Get the thing over with.
We all knew the Cons thought like that, but who imagined they would be so bold as to say these things out loud?
To the effective dictatorship now running Canada, the Opposition is incapable of a single good idea, or even of coming up with a beneficial editorial change. Government bills, even if unread, are handed down from heaven, and no changes can be permitted. Did Moses submit his tablets to anything so vulgar as a vote? Hell, no.
Some time ago I Tweeted something to the effect that the logical extension of Harper’s shenanigans would be to introduce one omnibus bill per session, pass it under the guillotine of time allocation, and then send everyone home. But Scheer, incredibly, found himself objecting to such notions:
Van Loan said the Speaker should have bundled all the opposition deletion motions together in the interests of speed and efficiency.
“This line of reasoning, taken to its logical end, might lead to conclusions that trespass on important, foundational principles of our institutions — regardless of its composition,” Scheer responded.
Scheer’s ruling stressed that holding governments to account is an indispensable privilege of elected MPs, and reminded Van Loan that Canada has a “parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy nor a so-called administrative democracy.”
Good grief. The lad’s testicles have finally descended. Not that it really matters.