Friday, January 08, 2010

Prorogue Parliament - Let's not come to work

For readers outside Canada:
Recently Prime Minister Stephen Harper undertook what was once an obscure piece of Canadian parliamentary procedure and 'prorogued' Parliament. This is in effect a mechanism that allows the Prime Minister to shut down our democratically elected Parliament for some specified period. The intent of the mechanism is to allow the standing government to continue to function in times of great confusion. Harper first did this last fall, largely to avoid being forced into an election after a short term. Before this the measure was last employed almost two full generations ago (the late 1920!), to give you some idea how extraordinary this is. Before fall 2009, virtually no one in Canada had ever heard the word 'prorogue'.

Harper and his Conservative Government have just employed this measure AGAIN, disbanding our Parliament until some time in March. The reasons seem little more than the Conservatives desire to avoid questions about their conduct over recent months.

This is the text of a letter I sent to my local Member of Parliament. I sent copies to the Conservative Party of Canada, and directly to the Prime Ministers Office.

I know that your focus has been primarily on issues related to agriculture, topics of central interest to many residing in Grey and Bruce. However, as has been indicated to me a number of times over recent years, in Canada we now should expect our members of Parliament to implement a * Party * platform, not necessarily the wishes of their constituents. So it is as a member of the Conservative Party that I frame my comments.

To quote a film "You were hired to do a job - and it was only a temporary job at that".
How on earth does your Party (more specifically your leader Stephen Harper) justify taking several months 'off' - just because you find it 'convenient'?
I am deeply offended by this whole action by the Conservatives, on a number of levels.

On a simply practical level:
I am quite certain, although members of Parliament are not WORKING, they are still intending on getting PAID.
I am a self employed artisan. I thus do on enjoy ANY of the social support network available to regular wage earners.

Now, when I don't work, there is no income, and I can not put food on my table. It offends me that the Conservatives have effectively decided just not to show up for work, yet still intend to take their full pay cheques.
Perhaps, because Steven Harper has prorogued Government, any member not part of the Conservative Party is being functionally 'laid off' (or perhaps better described as 'locked out')? Are they then collecting UI - like any other Canadian worker would be forced to? What kind of waiting period is being enforced? I remember when I experienced a regular 12 week seasonal layout when working at a major Ontario museum. I always faced major opposition from officers that same Federal department. Every year, I was harassed about continuing that job, just because of this annual lay off (despite making roughly three times the minimum wage of the time while working 9 months of the year).
I am personally required to collect GST on all *my* labours on behalf of the Federal Government. Curiously, although Members of Parliament are not working, I'm quite certain * I * will still be expected to collect and remit that GST - on their behalf.

On your own web site it states:

" Canada’s commitment to democracy is the source of our success as a country. But our faith in our democracy has been shaken by the political scandal of recent years and recent governments. "

Suppose there was a coup - and no one noticed?
In effect, Steven Harper has dissolved our democracy in Canada, for his own convenience. Not once, but now twice, on a yearly basis. Can't face the heat? In Harpers House, you simply kick everyone else out of the kitchen, then lock the doors.

I have been a voter since the late 1970's. In those days, you voted for the person, fully expecting them to represent the wishes of the population who elected them to office. 'Vote the Party, not the person' has become the status quo in the decades since. I have flat out been told by elected members in the past : 'Don't like it? Wait four years and vote our Party out.'
Now it seems Canadians can not even expect our elected 'representatives' to bother showing up for Parliament if it does not suit them. A democracy? It appears less and less all the time.

I, for one, will remember all this come the next election.
"We won't get fooled again"

(some useful links)

Contact your Member of Parliament

Prime Ministers Office - Stephen Harper

Conservative Party of Canada
(note: you have to use their on line form to contact them)

My good friend Steve Muhlburger had advised me to keep to a focused topic when I first started this blog, several years ago. Generally, Steve was quite right, as my general readers come here for topics related to iron, blacksmithing and the Viking Age. Every once and a while, however, something 'just pisses me off'.
PS - I did NOT vote for those guys!

Back to your regularly expected programing...

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