Thursday, February 09, 2006

Harper's Cabinet

The public is still confused over Prime Minister Stephan Harper’s cabinet appointments. The media and talk shows are saturated with condemnation of the appointments. There are now critical expressions flowing from Stephan Harper's caucus and from conservative constituency associations across the country.

The public’s cynicism regarding politicians has been deeply eroded by Stephan Harper. It was Harper and the conservatives who repeatedly argued that it was time to rid the country of a corrupt liberal government and the partisanship that was embedded in the liberal party. Stephan Harper has proven that he can be as devious and disgusting as any liberal. He is a true politician and the public is completely disillusioned. From a purely political perspective the public has every right to feel betrayed and confused.

Now look at this same issue from a parliamentary and democratic perspective. When a person is elected to parliament they become independent Members of Parliament we refer to as Parliamentarians or politicians. On Election Day Canadians elected our 39th parliament and from that parliament a new government was created. In reality, Stephan Harper was free to choose his cabinet members from any elected member of parliament. He was not constrained by political association. The elected liberal, David Emerson was a case in point. It was politically disgusting, but it was parliamentary correct. In theory, David Emerson could have remained a liberal and served in the conservative cabinet of Stephan Harper. The Prime Minister also has the freedom to choose unelected persons to serve in his cabinet. Michael Fortier is a case in point. Here again, it was politically disgusting, but parliamentary correct.

Many Canadians feel a rule should be implemented to prohibit elected Members of Parliament switching from one party to another. On a purely partisan political basis I would agree, but remember they are individual Members of Parliament and should be free to do what they feel is best for their constituency and for their country. This should include free votes on all matters before the House of Commons without the interference and intimidation that leaders of political parties place on individual Members of Parliament. If any rules are to be implemented it should be a rule to prohibit the coercion of individual Members of Parliament to vote along party lines.

As it respects the democratic perspective, the voters can exercise their right to vote and to pass judgment on the performance of all Members of Parliament seeking re-election. Implementing parliamentary rules to deal with these matters would have the effect of diminishing the right of any new Prime Minister to choose his best cabinet from those he felt could best serve the country. It would also diminish the democratic right of individual Members of Parliament to make their best decision as to how they will best serve their constituents and their country. The democratic process then provides for the voters to judge all these decisions at the next election when Members of Parliament seek re-election. This would include turncoats, traitors and those who simply were not earning their bloated salaries. Clearly, there is a distinction between the rules of parliament and the rules of democracy.

The depth of Prime Minister Harper’s dilemma may be the beginning of the end for him and the conservative party. I disagree with how Stephan Harper chose his cabinet and I know he couldn’t care less what I think, but I defend his right to make the parliamentary decisions he made in selecting his cabinet. Setting the issue of hypocrisy aside, Prime Minister Stephan Harper has ignored partisan politics and believes he has chosen the best people from parliament to serve in government. The talent Stephan Harper required for the best cabinet was apparently not available from his own conservative caucus. He may be right! If our new government under Prime Minister Stephan Harper serves our county and our individual expectations then we will soon forget Harper’s tawdry tactics in choosing his cabinet.

Time will tell and the voters will have their say soon enough.