...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.