No 168 Posted by fw, April 30, 2011
“Because I really fear – this may sound extreme – that if the Harper Conservatives were to win a majority in the House of Commons, it would be an indication that parliamentary crime pays. You can just be contemptuous of Parliament and write it off as just them against us, just nothing more than partisan bickering.” Prof. Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto.
Watch Professor Peter Russell’s profound appeal to his fellow Canadians: “We’re the fourth oldest democracy in the world. I treasure it. . . . [don’t put it] in the hands of people who don’t treasure it, and don’t respect it. . . . try to prevent it from a majority killing it.” A transcript of Russell’s message follows.
I’m Peter Russell. I’ve taught political science at the University of Toronto for a good many years and having [been a] so-called constitutional expert — above all in the rules of parliamentary democracy, which are mostly unwritten conventions, but they’re very important principles — and I’ve never been more worried in my entire lifetime of democratic citizenship in Canada about the possible outcome of an election.
Because I really fear – this may sound extreme – that if the Harper Conservatives were to win a majority in the House of Commons, it would be an indication that parliamentary crime pays. You can just be contemptuous of Parliament and write it off as just them against us, just nothing more than partisan bickering.
Then the speaker, who’s chosen by all parliamentarians, has found the prime minister and his government in contempt of Parliament on the most fundamental point of being unwilling to tell parliamentarians how much things cost. That was the very first real cause in the birth of parliamentary democracy — was the insistence that the king, who was spending the people’s money, tell the people what it was being spent on and how much things cost.
And when the speaker finds you in contempt and you just shove that off, and the people of Canada possibly reward you with a majority in Parliament, I really tremble. I’m just full of fear. I love the country.
We’re the fourth oldest parliamentary democracy in the world. I treasure it. But I would be afraid that our government would be in the hands of people who don’t treasure it, don’t respect it, and support it by, well not a majority of Canadians, but maybe by 40% of Canadians, more than enough to form a majority in the House.
So, it’s a scary election for Peter Russell and an important one for Canadians. Whether we really treasure the parliamentary democracy we’ve enjoyed for decades, for over a century and a half, or whether it’s just a process thing, a bunch of stuff constitutional experts worry about.
I hope all Canadians really worry and think about it and try to prevent it from a majority killing it.
Now, in sharp contrast to Russell’s passionate concern for our democracy, watch as Stephen Harper tramples on our parliamentary heritage and the feelings of all caring Canadians by his stone-faced remark: “That [contempt of Parliament] is not what the Canadian public care about.”
On Monday, deny Harper his majority. Show him that a majority of Canadians do care, that we do share Peter Russell’s love of this country, and we will not allow the Harper bullies to “kill” our parliamentary democracy.