Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Sad Ghosts of Hispaniola, Part Two: The Haunting of Eros

Tory philosopher George Grant knew that there was only one way for the human heart to lift itself into the heights of Platonic Eros—that pure, disinterested, universal love. Grant insisted that, in order to start that long and often painful journey, we must always begin selfishly—by loving our own. Our own. That has always sounded so vicious to me, so cold. And I’ve always been slightly ashamed, on behalf of my species, of the undeniable truth of it.

The force of Grant’s certainty has bound my thoughts and dragged them into some of the foggier moor lands of the human experience lately. As I read the tragic accounts of the Haitian catastrophe, I wonder which kind of death touches us more painfully: incalculably massive losses suffered far away by strangers, or the single loss of someone close and dear?

The question asked, we feel the answer even before knowing it—an answer as horrifying as it is inexorable. We may even defer the dark admission by gently touching it from a distance with a question. Think of someone you love, someone whose breath and being have poured themselves into your blood, someone at the thought of whom you feel the air thinning and sweetening. How many Haitians would need to die before you felt their loss as heavily as you would feel the loss of that one person? A hundred? A thousand? Thousands of thousands? More than those, and then countless more. Let millions of strangers die—let their bloated bodies be piled in front of your very eyes—and, while your loved one lives, you shall feel no loss that you cannot negotiate, manage and eventually (perhaps immediately) forget.

Love is what attaches us to others and gives them significance, but love magnifies what it touches so absolutely that it makes us indifferent to those who languish outside its arbitrary jurisdiction. There is a cruel, capricious mystery in this. It isn’t fair; it isn’t right; it isn’t reasonable; it just happens. And no mortality statistic can ever be sufficiently cataclysmic to grieve us so long as that person whose smile we cannot live without is safe. Only by imaginatively placing that person in the midst of the tragedy can we turn it into something real. Only when we imagine that indispensable person staggering—bleeding, starving and weeping—through the streets of Port-au-Prince and feel the vertiginous sickness that comes of watching helplessly as a loved one suffers—only then is the weight of Haiti’s calamity made heavy for us. Only then are we with the Haitians, and only then do we feel with them (and savour the literal meaning of “compassion”).

To value human life as a whole, we must love strangers. To love strangers, we must seed our small, selfish loves with what we most keenly fear: we must put those we love most passionately at hypothetical risk and feel the sting of their imminent loss. The value of life cannot be comprehended in the abstract, as an inanimate concept. It requires a living incarnation, and that incarnation must be loved and must be vulnerable: that is the way in which “love is the law” of all healthy communities.

They who are unable or unwilling to place what they most cherish on the pyre (on the pyre of the spirit, at least) do not truly dwell within the communities to which they pretend to belong. They can barely claim to be human at all.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Sad Ghosts of Hispaniola

To be fed, clothed, and bandaged by the same hands that flog you to your soul-reaving labours: that's what it is to be a slave.

Haiti's new ghosts, wafting out of freshly-dug mass graves, are joining hands with the ghosts who have haunted that tragic nation since the fall of Louverture--the self-manumitted spirits of those who fell while fighting to be free. They were not slaves: their struggle unshackled their souls before their deaths unshackled their bonded bodies. By proudly refusing the lash, they forsook also their masters' meat.

I can see those lordly, magnificent old ghosts sadly drawing into their phantom fold the freshly perished thousands and weeping over the slave-like lot to which their blighted lives had been consigned, despite the brilliant triumph of Louverture's legions. For the newly dead were slaves.

They were slaves when they watched helplessly as American grandees deposed and cast into exile the prime minister they had so arrogantly presumed to choose; they were slaves when--shortly after setting forth upon their bright new Aristide-free dispensation--they were reduced to eating dirt under the watchful eyes of  heroic Western "nation-builders". They've been slaves throughout the tear-drenched chronicle of catastrophically cynical American interventionism that the last ten decades have scrawled in blood upon Haiti's petrified soul. And it is as slaves that they now accept our "aid" whilst lying, starving and raving, amid reeking hills of rotting corpses. They are slaves, and they are expected to bow to their masters in gratitude for the gift of their cold porridge.

Much of Haiti's porridge is ours. Much of Haiti's flogging has been ours. To any man or woman who believes that the former fact extenuates the shame of the latter, I could not without deep anxiety entrust the care of a dog.

Friday, 15 January 2010

In Memoriam: P.K. Page

In Grade Ten, I once had an essay due on a Wednesday afternoon. I waited until the Wednesday morning, until around three a.m., before starting it--before even thinking about it. Those who know me will understand.

The assignment required us to analyse a poem of our choice. I had selected "The Stenographers" by P.K. Page from our anthology immediately upon having the essay assigned, merely because I liked the sound of the poet's name. Thus it was that I sentenced my over-caffeinated, over-stimulated fifteen-year-old brain to hobble through the endless hallucinatory wastes of the darkest-before-the-dawn--all aglow with the harsh halo of incipient psychosis--whilst grappling with verses like, "In their eyes I have seen/ the pin men of madness in marathon trim/ race round the track of the stadium pupil".

Nights like that write themselves on your soul. In the best tradition of Catholic masochism, I actually enjoyed the experience: there was something unhealthily thrilling about grinding my helpless teenaged exhaustion against the vitriol and spitting rage of Page's poem--which, for sheer Electra-like murderousness, manages to out-Plath Sylvia Plath by more than a decade.

P.K. Page passed away yesterday. She was ninety-three years old. May I be granted the privilege of, at least once, electrifying someone's darkness as brilliantly as she did mine.

By the Way:

Just a reminder that I'm still keeping the Queen's end up (so to speak) over at Catelli's and that you're all invited to go over there and throw some peanuts from the galleries.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Constitutional Pedantry Justified*

* Now with "What He Said" and "Support Our Troops" updates!

Anyone who wondered how badly we need to restore dignity, authority and competence to the office of Governor General and beg of it to take ultimate executive authority away from the giggling psych-ward outpatients who now pretend to national leadership needs to understand that our current prime minister thinks democracy is dangerous. No, really.

Just when you were starting to bow under the apparently persuasive weight of the endlessly reiterated insistence that Stephen Harper has changed—that he is not the state-hating, anarcho-libertarian, free-market fundamentalist he used to be—the man himself proclaims that, since the "games" (he means "debates") that go on in Parliament are so frightening to international finance, the House is better off kept empty.

Disappointingly, Harper failed to pursue his train of thought to its logical conclusion and announce the indefinite suspension of Parliament and the immediate proscription of all political parties (except his own) in order to ensure that Canada remains attractive to the sharks that ply the world's capital markets. Perhaps he’s just waiting for his blue sweater to come back from the dry cleaner’s, as he would wish, of course, to sport his “harmless eunuch” look when promulgating that particular edict.

What He Said:

I just came across this week-old editorial by noted constitutional scholar Errol Mendes (of my dear old University of Ottawa) and thought I would share it with you. It’s so close to the spirit of my last post that it might have served as its contextual preface. I was quite surprised to read Mendes explicitly argue that Harper’s prorogation was undeniably unconstitutional (as in illegal).

"Support Our Troops":

On a lighter (though, also, darker) note, I thought I would pass along a clip of Noam Chomsky deploying his rarely used stand-up skills. Here, he talks about what asinine, bumper-sticker-ready slogans like “Support Our Troops” are designed to accomplish on behalf of élite objectives.

Given that the latest Parliamentary suspension might go down in history as the “Support-Our-Troops” Interlude (as it barred the evil Opposition from doing the Taliban’s work in their subversive House committees) and given that Chomsky’s guild syndicalism is the closest thing to Romantic-Jacobean Toryism of which modern Americans appear capable, I believe the clip to be more than glancingly apropos.

Noam Chomsky, ladies and gentlemen. Well into his eighties, and still really, really angry. Now that’s my kind of guy.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

And Now, Some Constitutional Pedantry...

The action is really over at Catelli's, where I am set to be engaged in a genteel constitutional mud-wrestling match with the author of MaderBlog over the question of how best to reform the way our executive head of state discharges his or her duties. I shall, of course, get my ass kicked.

I thought I should post my own contribution to this debate here as well, for those of you who wish to respond to the substance of my perspective without reference to the fray soon to be kicked up over at Catelli's.

So pour yourselves some of the last of your soon-to-be-expired eggnog, and read all about what this despairing Tory hopes for and knows will never come to pass.


Canadians may legitimately ask themselves whether their nation any longer has a head of state. The titular and ceremonial incarnations of what is, theoretically, the supreme Canadian law-giver have receded so far into practical desuetude as to be, arguably, totally dispensable. Meanwhile, politically conscious Canadians have for decades denounced arrogant, unresponsive governments pursuing agendas utterly unrelated to issues that actually matter to their lives. Many of those who don’t complain simply opt not to vote at all, as Canada’s voter-turnout percentages continue to drop ever closer to American levels.

It is tempting to see a causative relationship between widespread voter apathy and a sovereign reduced to impotence. Government leaders are always primarily party leaders and are thus necessarily committed to the pursuit of whatever policy priorities the endorsement of which secured them, first, the party leadership and, later, election to the federal premiership through the support of relatively small percentages of the popular vote. The federal executive must necessarily be, then, a “partial” creature in two senses of the word—firstly, as the subset of a particular party pledged to a definite set of ideological perspectives; secondly, as the de facto delegates bound to the explicitly expressed wishes of a usually quite small percentage of the nation’s electors.

Given the need to fit through those bottlenecks, the prime minister cannot help but govern in such as a way as to routinely alienate large masses of the population and cannot help but be tempted to twist Parliamentary norms “undemocratically”—that is, according to the priorities of the few to whom he owes his position of party leadership (committed party members) and of national leadership (the small number of electors who voted for his party). It is this set of political necessities--driven by the inalterable partialities inherent in our electoral system--that motivates most of the kinds of Parliamentary abuses that have turned politics into a locus of such profound popular disgust.

To be sure, this partiality is both legitimate in and necessary for the working of a party-based democracy. In order to maintain the integrity of the system within which the parties contend, however, the system must have as its fundamental centre of gravity an agent both internal and external to it—something as inside as it is outside—that ensures the perpetuation of a constitutional totality that is invulnerable to the political manipulation of self-interested partisans.

What we’ve described is, essentially, the constitutional function of the office of the Governor General: it is the keeper of Canada’s constitutional totality. The Governor General’s awesome powers are always deployed, of course, on behalf of the reigning monarch. It is the monarch who is literally the keeper of the totality; the Governor General’s keepership is synecdochal. Our Constitution Act puts it unequivocally: “the executive government of and over Canada is declared to continue and be vested in the Queen”. Thus, the sovereign is declared to be both inside and outside the system—both the principle by which government actually operates and the legitimating principle of government as such. By virtue of embodying those principles, the Crown (usually through its synecdochal representative) enjoys wide powers designed to prevent that partisan distortion of Parliamentary procedure to which we’ve already alluded. The import of the Crown’s Royal Prerogative (or reserve powers) is ably explained by the great scholar Eugene Forsey:

…in Canada, the head of state can, in exceptional circumstances, protect Parliament and the people against a Prime Minister and Ministers who may forget that “minister” means “servant,” and may try to make themselves masters. For example, the head of state could refuse to let a Cabinet dissolve a newly elected House of Commons before it could even meet, or could refuse to let Ministers bludgeon the people into submission by a continuous series of general elections. The American head of state cannot restrain the American head of government, because they are the same person.
Over the last century, the reserve powers have melted like ice castles in May and have recently become stagnant swamps from which Canada’s parliamentary life is forced to draw its water. No longer do Governors General feel able to discharge their constitutional obligations in order to halt clear parliamentary abuses such as Tupper’s or King’s. Now, we watch the Harpers of the nation flout constitutional convention whenever politically convenient (though Harper is hardly the worst offender of the last twenty years) and learn of the Royal Prerogative being covertly abused by Ministers of the Crown in ways later found by competent authorities to have been, not just unethical, but objectively illegal.

To the extent that the Canadian prime minister has appropriated or can depend on the senescence of many of the Governor General’s powers, our constitutional totality has been grossly deformed: we now have a virtually unchecked executive, or at least one that can safely ignore the most fundamental species of check our constitution provides. Supremely confident that no Governor General shall or can ever refuse their ministerial advice, no matter how constitutionally offensive, government parties have tailored our national totality to fit their own partisan needs. They’ve crammed the whole into the particular, something abhorrent to nature and fatal to democracy.

Faced with this dilemma, many Canadians (perhaps most) understandably pine for an elected head of state, someone with both the democratic legitimacy and concomitant power to stand before prime ministers and frustrate their pursuit of constitutionally illegitimate aims. There is an easier and more effective solution, however. We merely need to initiate such changes in our governmental culture and practice that shall allow our Governors General to actually do their jobs. We need to re-establish and restore the office—not change it.

What’s urgently required is a curious institutional hybrid: we need Governors General who feel constrained by the established conventions of our constitution but who also feel fully able to impose those norms on prime ministers who wish to flout them. The Governor General needs to be a harnessed horse, pulling the carriage of state: to move, the state requires its Governors General to move—they must use the power vested within them. This power shall always require the harness, though, if it is to perform its office. We need heads of state able and willing to act independently, even against the advice of their governments, and in ways conformable to a strict (I shall not say “literal”) interpretation of constitutional conventions. The reform we require is one that gives back to the office of the Governor General the right to use its harnessed power; if we jettison the harness or the horse, we cannot move at all—hence our current Parliamentary inertia.

Of all possible reforms to the nature of Canada’s head-of-stateship, the above are the most immediately feasible and the most comfortably conformable to the way our constitution actually operates. Most pressingly, we need to restore the Governor General’s constitutional independence--that is, his or her willingness to assess ministerial advice on its own merits, according to the silent yet authoritative testimony of our constitutional heritage, whilst withstanding the bullying blandishments of executive partisans who never blush when bludgeoning Crown servants with the allegedly unanswerable moral force of their election. This requires that candidates to the office be two things. It requires, first, that they be explicitly non-partisan--which implies, further, that they be appointees.

Clearly, we can neither expect nor ask our Governors General—vice-regal, yet all too human, after all—to arbitrate vexed Parliamentary questions dispassionately, objectively and with regard to nothing but the relevant norms if they have deep and abiding commitments to particular political parties and to the ideologies they espouse. The exceptional candidates may so arbitrate—not the mass of them. If nothing else, the appearance of objectivity (like that of justice) is as important as the reality. Think on the matter deeply, for a minute. It is the Governor General who (nominally) appoints the Canadian prime minister. This act might seem utterly pro forma given the nature of our current Parliamentary and electoral systems, but it might soon become a delicate operation indeed—especially if Canada ever adopts some form of proportional representation, multiplying and diversifying the violence of Parliamentary contention. Appointing as prime minister the party leader with the greatest number of seats is a convention, not a law. Sometime in the relatively near future, a House may find itself so composed as to allow any number of parties a just claim to determine the prime ministership (e.g. a party may argue that the popular vote is more important than the number of seats, or vice versa). Inter-party negotiations might prove unproductive or degenerate into sordid intriguing. In such a case, we would need an unpartisan and independent head of state to make ultimate decisions based on the letter and spirit of the constitution rather than on his or her (even the appearance of his or her) partisan affiliation. Obviously, rulings on the legitimacy and effect of no-confidence and censure votes also require the appearance of non-partisanship. Thus, we require heads of state with no record of membership in or public advocacy for any of our political parties; ideally, we would restrict incumbency to constitutional scholars, with whom Canada is abundantly blessed.

Moreover, the requirement that Governors General be non-partisan implies that they must also be appointed. Opening up the office to election would have many consequences, the most significant and easily predictable of which would be that the office would drop into the gift of our established federal parties. Elections are extremely expensive, and running national campaigns requires a relatively sophisticated network of fundraising, advertising, and logistical technologies. Very few independent candidates (and none who lack the “star power” carried by celebrities or major sports figures) would be able to compete. Inexorably, the Governor Generalship would become merely yet another high office (in this case, one of the highest) monopolized by the party machines now so loathed by the Canadian public. The institutional “legitimacy” many believe elections would confer upon the office would be snuffed out by the moral illegitimacy of the competitors.

The task before us is to ensure the scholarly, non-partisan credentials of candidates to the office: this is key to its restoration. We could proceed any number of ways, but the crucial thing is to develop a set of selection criteria—as skill-set, if you will—and enshrine it by statute, binding prime ministers in the choice they deliver to the Queen for her (pro forma) approval. As mentioned, one criterion should be a biography free of overt partisanship. Another should be demonstrable scholarly knowledge of Canadian constitutional law—its history and practice. We may require others; the two mentioned are indispensable. Naturally, the House cannot bind the Crown to accept candidates satisfying those criteria: the Crown cannot be bound by statute. Fortunately, however, the prime minister can be so bound: the monarch appoints the Governor General based on the prime minister’s recommendation; the House has every right to set statutory restrictions on the kinds of recommendations prime ministers can offer.

Then, once the House formulates the statute codifying the selection criteria, it can empanel a House committee of selection tasked with finding and nominating candidates (perhaps five) who fit the criteria, from whom the prime minister shall choose one (thus leaving him some discretionary scope) and recommend his or her appointment to the Queen. Something like the process described could be used each time a new Governor General is required. It could begin its work immediately, in fact, without causing very much turbulence at all to the current system.

Those constitutional reforms are best which bring the letter of the document being reformed closer to the spirit in which it was written. The best reforms among the best are those which bring constitutional practices closer to the letter and spirit from which they sprung. The reforms proposed above are moderate--as befits the personality of the constitution they perfect—but cannot but have a moderating effect on the irresponsible executive of whose excesses Canadians have grown desperately weary. They are free, at least, of a basic and fatal paradox that would attend any attempt to make the Governor Generalship open to the franchise. If it be true that the legitimacy of elected Governors General would rest solely in the fact of their election, then those we elect would have more legitimacy than the Queen (or King)—the actual head of state they represent. This would have the grotesquely amusing but disorienting effect of totally de-legitimising the sovereign under whom they serve and upon whose person rests the very constitutional framework they are duty-bound to maintain. Thus, the act of turning the Governor Generalship into an elected office would necessarily imply the ethical (and, I think, require the actual) disestablishment of the Canadian monarchy. This is not an impossible task, of course, but it would have to happen through the démarche of a series of dizzyingly Byzantine constitutional mechanisms. This is something I think even republican Canadians, in their heart of hearts, would sell their very souls to avoid.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

And Now, Some Solipsism...

On this day forty-one years ago, at exactly 6:18 p.m., in the now quasi-defunct Catherine Booth Hospital of Montréal's Notre-Dame-De-Grâce neighbourhood, the author was born. Neither the world, nor the author, would ever be the same.

I suppose I shall need to devote a good portion of my birthday to the task set for me by fellow blogger Catelli, who shall soon be moderating the debate of the century, or of the week, at least (alright, fine: of the day). I've been cajoled into defending the outrageously undemocratic methods by which our heads of state are selected and execute their "functions". I invite readers to submit to me any argumentative strategies that might occur to them in this regard immediately, for, by God, I freely admit I'm fresh out.

Stepping yet another unwilling foot closer to the lonely columbarium that awaits me puts me in mind of endings, again--and compels me to rectify an earlier post, again. The final scene of No Country for Old Men was a poignant surprise for me, as I'm sure it was for many of its viewers--especially those deeply versed in the wry, ironic detachment that defines the Coen brothers' oeuvre and those (like me) who've never been much impressed by Tommy Lee Jones' performances. Here, the Coens drop their hip archness and allow Jones to deliver a heartbreaking soliloquy taken virtually word-for-word from the ending of Cormac McCarthy's novel.

Jones plays the sheriff of a small Texas town that has just begun a descent into unprecedented drug-related violence. The movie chronicles his pursuit of a case that plunges him into America's modern heart of darkness, forcing him to witness both the bloody commission and the ugly aftermath of countless brutal murders. Ultimately, he must abandon the case unsolved, sadly admitting that small-town lawmen like him have become outgunned and outclassed: they know only how to proceed according to the rules in a land that no longer acknowledges or respects them.

In the final scene, the sullen, defeated Jones tells his wife about a dream he just had about his dead father, who also had served the county as a sheriff back in the old, peaceful days. This brief but rich sequence explores Jones' deep need to get back in touch with the safety, warmth and stability represented by his father (and, of course, his symbolic cognates--the Father, Law, Order), as well as the current futility of that need-- for Jones, naturally, must wake up to the chaos of his waking present. Peace lies only where his father has found it; this is the painful truth Jones has learned, after having waded through the ruins of his wrecked world.

As someone whose entire childhood emotional investment lay in a dead but much beloved father, I totally relate to Jones' longing dream. I suppose, too, I relate to his despair over a lost order--a mythical order to be sure, but all the more compellingly beautiful for that. I relate most strongly to Jones' apparent feeling that the mere telling of the dream brings order, just for a few minutes, to the very chaos from which the dream briefly helped him escape.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

And Now, The Bigger Picture...

As much as I despair over our current constitutional quandaries, I must never forget how small we all are. The sheer fact of our human minuteness is frightening to us, but it's also beautiful to behold from above.

John Lennon wrote this song when he was at his very lowest, his smallest. That such gorgeousness can flow out of such pain is a particularly important truth for me right now.


Monday, 4 January 2010

Springtime For Harper...

...with apologies to Mel Brooks.

The title is not meant to suggest an analogy between Stephen Harper's decision to once again crawl away from Opposition scrutiny and any feature of Adolph Hitler's regime. Building such an analogy would be, of course, outrageous. For one thing, Hitler managed to suspend democracy and rule by decree whilst still expecting members of the Reichstag to come to work every day, whereas Harper has emptied the House and shall, alone, be governing the country the way a Victorian schoolmaster would run his Latin classes--by Order-in-Council--until the eve of spring, in early March.

No, the title uses its absurd Americanism merely to invoke the commingling of tragic history and vulgar farce--the new Canadian cultural standard and that which shall be the most salient feature of Stephen Harper's legacy. The title also incidentally reminds us of what season we'll be sliding into by the time our Members of Parliament waltz back into the House with their glowing Fort Lauderdale tans. If analogies be wanted, apt ones could be made between Harper and any number of democratically elected "populist" tin-pot emperors who've ruled, smilingly and to great popular acclaim, through non-violent and nominally legal distortions of constitutional norms.

Harper's latest procedural belch is arguably unique, in that its announced pretexts are as offensive as, if not more offensive than, its real but unstated objective--something one would hardly guess from most media commentary: apparently, suspending the business of the House until one has stacked the Senate with enough of one's neutered poodles to capture neutered-poodle majorities on committees is so much more defensible than shutting down inquires into Afghan detainee abuse. Frankly, I fail to see the ethical canyon between the urge to suppress committees and the urge to manipulate them into partisan shams that exist merely to thrust one's legislative agenda through a gauntlet of gutless rubber stamps.

As things now stand, however, I just hope that Harper's next series of Senate appointees maintains the exacting standard of integrity and intellect that the prime minister has so far demanded throughout his provision to the Upper Chamber of some of the best legal minds and civic consciences with which our nation has been gifted--from media hacks who've perfected the perversion of their professions, through small-time jobbers and lobbyists who've never been too busy currying favour with federal power brokers to do their fair share of lady-killing, to superannuated jocks whose insights into House bills are deep and sharp once they've had them read aloud, slowly. Perhaps the new year shall see Harper finally reach the logical, Caligulan conclusion of his current Senatorial trajectory and appoint a horse (as he's running out of asses).

I've been amused to see a few astute commentators vent their rage at this latest fiasco through an historical analogy I used last year (and which I had thought was mine alone, before coming across this post a few days after posting my own). I've been amused, I say, rather than just interested, because of how casually they invert the true polarity of the situation: they see Harper as Charles I, a throne-borne despot dismissing a turbulent Parliament against the wishes of the people. This indulgent perspective reminds us of the difference between serving the people and flattering them--for it does the people no service to deny that the most civically degrading acts of despotism are always done in their name, and often with their full consent.

In fact, Harper calculated his actions, both last year and last week, upon an assumed and apparently real base of significant public support (or apathy, which is becoming the same thing). Harper made his cowardly requests to the Governor General as a legitimate vehicle of the public mood, especially on the Prairies--where Albertan prime ministers can always expect to have the “democratic” integrity of their personal fiat defended against the tyrannical pressures of duly elected Members of Parliament.

It was the “people” who shuttered Parliament. Only that unelected, undemocratic remnant of aristocratic privilege--the office of the Governor-General--had the power and the duty to interpose the claims of constitutional integrity between the axe of Harper's Nixonian arrogance and the exposed neck of our nation's chamber of legislative deliberation. It was not the people but the ostensibly sovereign framework of their political life, the Crown--the ghost of Charles I, in effect (or of Lord Byng)--that was trodden underfoot, as it is daily by a system that will no longer tolerate having the "undemocratic" agents of our constitution protect that constitution from "democrats" pledged to nothing beyond the satisfaction of their own partisan appetites. It is during crises like the last two prorogations when we see most startlingly revealed the Tory truth that the people require an ultimate, inviolable and sovereign principle of order be kept suspended high above themselves and beyond the trammelling exploitation of their tribunes if their rights and interests are to be preserved from total usurpation.

Ours is not an age of Stewart absolutism. In our age, the people do not cry for freedom from the Crown; it is the Crown that cries for freedom--freedom from a popular "democratic" prejudice that will not allow it to block the desires of prime ministers, no matter how disordered they may be, or perform any executive gesture not redolent of slavish obligation to the self-interested whims of the Treasury Bench. Raised as we are to think ourselves administered by such alien principles as the "separation of powers", very few Canadians understand that the Crown is often the only effective check upon a prime minister (especially one who presides over a majority) and have thus acquiescently allowed it to disappear as a living component of our constitutional system.

The Crown has been abducted. It is perpetually held in a cold, dark place by avid prime ministerial charlatans who, oozing concern for our welfare, force us to pay exorbitant ransom in national dignity, integrity and self-esteem for what they’ve taken. And we always pay, without ever receiving what we've paid for. Our Harpers believe that most of us do not very dearly miss what they’ve stolen. I fear they're right.


Well, well, well. At least some of the world's parliamentarians will be working this month, and the next. Looks like our Afghan "democratisation" is working after all.

Perhaps we should ask the PPCLI, JTF2, and the Van Doos to help re-build their own nation whenever they finish duct-taping Karzai's little narco-state.


Catelli juxtaposes me to the venerable Paul Wells. Profundity ensues.


The Liberals perform their first tactically brilliant and ethically admirable gesture since...well...ever.