Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

Free Speech and the Privatization of Public Space

Donald Smith was protesting a sign at Glenmore Landing in Calgary's southwest Sunday that bans political demonstrations.
Donald Smith was protesting a sign at Glenmore Landing in Calgary’s southwest Sunday that bans political demonstrations. [CBC]
The privately owned parking lot near the prime minister’s constituency office asserts that protesting is prohibited. On the surface, this looks like the prime minister is impeding the constitutional rights of expression and peaceful assembly.

I’m sure he finds this all quite convenient, but a large hidden issue in this is the privatization of public space.

Can I prohibit protest in a space I own? Possibly.

Can I lament at the amount of space deemed to be public [parking lot, shopping mall] that is really privately owned? Yes.

We need to remember to assert the legitimacy of the public usefulness of space. We need to challenge the amount of space being privatized. This is a difficult task. Any suggestions?

“Political or public protesting or demonstrating, soliciting, use of loud speakers or other similar devices, pamphleteering, loitering [and] skateboarding is strictly prohibited,” states the signs, which were installed by the owners of Glenmore Landing.

via Signs banning protests by Harper’s Calgary office questioned – Calgary – CBC News.

A Compendium of My Prime Minister Layton Posts

I’ve enjoyed writing four pieces about the Prime Minster Layton concept in the last 2.5 years.

Originally, it was a wishful thinking hyper long-shot in a prorogation crisis at a time when the Liberals had no firm leader.

Then in June 2010 it was a curiosity when polling indicated a Jack Layton-led coalition with the Liberals would defeat the Conservatives 43-37.

Then it was an analysis last week after the first few days of the NDP surge, spurred by gains in Quebec, but still too early to truly see how Layton could overtake the Liberals to be the leading force in a coalition or voting arrangement with the Liberals and the Bloc.

Finally, it was a review of a week of NDP surge polling moving through the advanced voting days. It was still unclear that the NDP would get more seats than the Liberals.

Here are these previous pieces:

  1. November 28, 2008: Prime Minister Layton and Proportional Representation
  2. June 2, 2010: Prime Minister Layton, Redux
  3. April 21, 2011: Prime Minister Layton
  4. April 23, 2011: The Democratic Rebirth of Canada

And where are we today, four days before the general election? The NDP is closer to the leading Conservatives that they are to the third place Liberals. Jack Layton has pulled ahead of Stephen Harper in composite leadership polling, not just in the trust category. There are worries that vote splitting between the NDP and the Bloc in Quebec and the NDP and the Liberals in the ROC [Rest of Canada] will allow the Conservatives to steal a majority.

Personally, I think with the continued softness of some of the NDP support [vote parkers], and with the abundance of strategic voting discussion and websites designed to prevent a Harper majority, I suspect enough NDP supporters will slide back to the Liberals and the Bloc in critical seats to ensure vote splitting doesn’t lead to a Harper majority.

The only question is which party comes in second place: the NDP or Liberals. If the NDP does, it will be Jack Layton leading a delegation to Rideau Hall soon after May 2, or after the House of Commons fires Harper for a second time in two months, to form a coalition or government with explicit voting support. Then it will be Prime Minister Layton.

I’ve sat in that seat in the House. It has a great view–not as good as the speaker’s chair, but hey, it has its perks. And through all this, Ignatieff will lose his caucus support as leader of a humiliated “natural governing party.” Then we will see Goodale, Rae, Kennedy and some others go after the leadership position. And we’ll see a similar surgical removal of Steve Harper as Conservative leader and likely Gilles Duceppe as Bloc leader.

If the Liberals win more seats than the NDP, we’ll see Prime Minister Ignatieff, despite how many sharpened knives are hidden in the desks of Liberal MPs. In that case, we’d still see Harper and Duceppe leaving their positions, and possibly Layton depending on his attitude and health.

In the end, living in Twitter and musing over every national poll released every day is living in an echo chamber of pseudo-scientific attempts to predict the behaviour of the electorate. Last night, Chretien played a card. The attack ads from the Liberals and Conservatives against the NDP will have some traction to mobilize their base. The impending election day will also affect some voter intentions.

May 2 is unpredictable. And while no national poll will be correct in predicting popular vote support or seat distribution, they’re all competing to be the closest since profound notoriety comes with winning the closest to the bulls eye.

What we also know is that BC seat results will definitely determine which of three aging white men will become prime minister.

But as the final days of the campaign settle upon us, we see the final power plays. The Globe and Mail embraces deluded lunacy in its explanation of its endorsement of Stephen Harper with phrases like the Conservatives being the “only truly national party” despite it being the Alberta reform party, and how “he has not been the scary character portrayed by the opposition; with some exceptions, his government has been moderate and pragmatic.” That’s just bats.

This absurd endorsement should mobilize voters to be strategic in their voting. While the idealist in me thinks no one should ever vote strategically, the pragmatist in me recognizes that with a patently unjust electoral system like first-past-the-post, strategic voting is morally legitimate and can be deemed quite useful. Luckily, I live in Vancouver Kingsway where the strategic vote is also the principled vote: I already voted for the NDP’s Don Davies on Monday.

But we also see Crawford Killian’s interesting inclusion of some poll analysis of the Prime Minister Layton meme/concept/possibility in the context of what the governor-general ought to do if the Conservatives “win” another minority, according to the people of Canada:

  • 43% say the leader of the opposition should be invited to form a government [after all, the House already fired Harper last month]
  • 19%, a relatively dwarfish percentage, think Harper should have another chance [which would be pointless since he said he’ll submit the same budget as in March and he’ll be fired again by the House]
  • 38% undecided [after all, this is a complicated thing with very little constitutional convention to lean on and 2.5 years of Harper’s disinformation campaign about legal/valid/credible forms of non-majority governments in parliamentary systems]

Then Killiian quotes EKOS on the Prime Minister Layton concept:

If anyone had trotted this scenario out as a likely outcome at the outset of this campaign, they would have been dismissed as a lunatic. Yet this unimaginable outcome is arguably the most likely outcome of the current political landscape.

I think if not the most likely outcome Monday night, it is the second most likely outcome. Either  way, I would welcome being dismissed as a lunatic for having written about this 2.5 years ago.

In the end, democracy wins and Canadians will get even more used to more effective and participatory political debate and dialogue in the country. Unless Harper eeks out a majority. Unlikely.

So. Make sure you vote on Monday. Something is afoot. Your vote will be part of it.

I’m voting for the least offensive candidate to try and avoid the most offensive government. I wish.

All right everyone, we’ve got an election.  Let’s get our democracy on?

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll roll out of bed on May 2 (though I’ll likely sleep in), trudge over to the local school or church basement, wait in line behind everyone, argue with the poll clerk that I actually live where I claim to live (Ontario doesn’t issue identification cards with addresses that aren’t drivers’ licenses, so I’ll have to try to prove my identity with a credit card bill, passport, and a smile), I’ll be handed a little piece of paper with names on it and directed to a folded piece of cardboard with a tiny pencil behind it and I’ll have the chance to vote.

In all likelihood, while I’ll have a limited number of choices as to who I can gift with my little pencil-scratched ‘x’, I’ll likely end up voting for the least offensive candidate in order to try and avoid the most offensive government.  It’s the Canadian way!

I suppose my biggest difference here, as compared to my colleague Jasmin, is that I’ll likely be arsed enough to get out of bed and trudge over to the ‘democracy’-fulfillment station.  That being said, I agree with the vast majority of what he writes when he says that the election is “a spectacle provided for the masses, a circus.”

So… if I agree with the vast majority of what he writes, why would I be arsed enough to get up on May 2 and actually vote?  Who knows.  Maybe I’m hopelessly optimistic.  Maybe I’m deluded.  But I’ll probably be voting.

I just won’t be overly happy with what I’m doing.  But I’ll still likely be doing it.

Why? Because I really don’t want Stephen Harper to get a majority government, because I’m genuinely concerned about the havoc he could wreak with an unchecked hold on power.  Because a Harper majority government could crack down on our already circumscribed ‘freedoms’ and ‘rights’ even more than they already have.  And because this would severely challenge everyone’s ability to organize and create a better world.

Sure, Harper is a boogeyman (full of boogers, I might add) and Ignatieff is the leader of the party that did most of what Harper is currently doing, but they did it with a red tinge instead of the blues.  Layton, who looks like Lenin but certainly doesn’t act like him, can promise the world (but not socialism) because he certainly won’t be prime minister, and Gilles Duceppe (maintenant et toujours mon politicien préféré!) can act as both a comic relief and actually cutting critique of the whole charade at the same time.

But this doesn’t change the fact that the election will have very real outcomes that impact each and every one of us, whether we like the system or not.  Admittedly, these outcomes will happen no matter who is in charge, but with any luck, they may not be as bad with Harper out of power and someone else – by default, Ignatieff, I suppose – in.  Though I’m relatively confident that’s just wishful thinking.  But I’m reluctant to simply not vote even though I know the system is broken and won’t get better any time soon.

So why is Jasmin not voting? He says:

There are three very simple reasons why I will not be voting, and they are as follows:
1. Our electoral system is broken, as such, my vote is meaningless.
2. The parties running are inept and/or disingenuous.
3. Continued electoral turnout on the part of voters is making matters worse, rather than better.

Right, right, and mostly right.  So why vote?  Because, in the system that we’re currently cursed with, that is, representative parliamentary democracy, the election is effectively the only time that we officially get to participate in democracy in the formal Canadian system.  And while the system is broken, mostly because the parties are inept and disingenuous, it’s what we’re stuck with for now.

For now.

We can be – and we should be – working towards a better system.  Towards a better democracy.  Quite obviously, as we saw in British Columbia during the single-transferable-vote referendum, and in Ontario during their referendum on electoral reform, the system that we currently have is structured in such a way as to prevent this kind of change.  The parties themselves oppose voting reform that would try to fix the worst problems of the electoral system.  The parties themselves are broken, reduced from articulating demands and engaging people in governance to cultivating and grouping together acolytes who thoughtlessly repeat party lines and foam at the mouth at the sight of someone wearing another team’s colours.  And while I’ll tentatively agree that turning out to vote does legitimize the system that we’re cursed with, I worry that if all of us who actually care about progressive ideas stayed home and didn’t vote that we’d get the worst possible outcome.  But sure, like the Marxists say, maybe we just need to progress through even more bitter times before we get to that whole revolution bit…

Okay. We’re not going to be getting a better system through simple voting and electoral and parliamentary charades.  But we’re absolutely not going to be getting there if we ignore the only fleeting moments of democracy that most of the people around us know, whether or not they like, approve of, or participate in them.

Most people reading this website will acknowledge that elections aren’t the only instances of actually existing democracy and politics in the world.  A lot of people here are actively involved in their unions, in community groups, in student associations, in trying to make the world a better place.  All of that is politics.  All of that is democracy. of the opinion that democracy ought to be how we collectively discuss and decide how we’ll live together and work towards the future.

But this isn’t how everyone else sees these things.  A lot of people out there see politics as starting on March 25th and stopping on May 2nd.  Democracy is the process of scratching that little ‘x’ next to the least offensive candidate.  This is their lived experience.  And I question how much we’re contributing to the betterment of things when we dismiss this.

How many times have we gone to a protest rally and had handfuls of people on the sidewalks wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing?  Wondering why we don’t join a party and change things from the inside?  Sure, it’s pointless to actually do that – but maybe we can seize the opportunity of a general election as momentum towards building the communities of change that we want to see.  People may not be more engaged in politics at the moment, but they’re at least aware that something is happening.

Might not we make Jamsin’s three-pointed argument about protest politics in Canadian democracy? They very rarely make any changes for the better, though they certainly try their most.  Often, under state-sponsored and often precipitated conditions of ‘violence’ they legitimate state repression.  They’re often insular.  And continued efforts to block a street and smash a window sometimes – though certainly not always – seem to alienate more and more of the population from people who protest for very good and very important reasons.

I’ll take Jasmin’s point about needing to build communities of change.  That is what we need to be doing.  We cannot and should not be focusing  on reactionary politics.  We need to be creating the world that we wish to see.  But how do we do this?  Just as I think that politics is something that encompasses all aspects of collectively self-determining how we live together and go forward, I think that activism can encompass the full range of what we might think is political – from elections to anything.

Voting and actually effective political organizing and activism are not exclusive activities.  We can do both.  And perhaps we should.  I can understand the logic behind boycotting elections because they’re relatively pointless, they mere change the colour of the people who rule us, and so on – but I don’t think that it’s hypocritical of me to desire substantive and progressive change in the political realities of where I live and to vote.

So, on May 2nd, I’ll trudge over to the church basement, credit card bill and passport in hand, smile on face, and I’ll go behind that little bit of folded cardboard and I’ll take that little pencil and I’ll scratch and ‘x’ on the ballot paper.

I’ll vote for the least offensive candidate in my riding, in the hopes of avoiding the most offensive government.

And I’ll continue working with my friends, my colleagues, and my comrades in activism, towards social change, towards political progress.

Because voting will only take 15 minutes of my day.  And even though I live in a ‘safe’ riding, there are people out there who don’t.  And if enough of us scratch that little ‘x’, then maybe we won’t have to spend months getting back to where we are now in terms of ‘rights’ and so forth. Or spend months defending the next right that Harper wants to take away from us – even though Iggy may well do the same thing.  Regardless, fifteen minutes to vote isn’t much, and if it gives me more time to work for change, maybe it’s better.  And if you’re particularly inclined, you can always spoil or reject your ballot, using the system to make a statement.

And then we can all go out and keep building communities for change.  Sure, we’ve all got a raging election on.  But it’s not our only political moment, nor is it a monolithic instance of democracy.  And it’s not mutually exclusive with other forms of activism.

Another, better, fairer, more just world is needed. And we need to work for it, with it, with each other, in as many ways as we can.

The Federal Election as a Block Party?

Fresh off my thrilling love for flexing the democracy muscle yesterday, I stumbled across a couple bits of internet wit that support my cause.

So, my plan is to OVER enjoy this election. Let’s have block parties. Go crazy. Make it our royal wedding. Just to make a point.

via Twitter / @Tabatha Southey

Tabatha Southey, a national treasure for insight, gets it. She gets democracy. She gets society. She embodies that Canadian kind of sense of je ne sais quoi humour. She knows crap when she sees it and she calls it crap. Then she makes you want to invite her to your Antigonish kitchen party because you just know that no one would ever leave.

She also reminds me of a 21st century version of Babe Bennet. It’s not unprincipled sass or snark, but wit.

Southey’s tweet above and Bennet’s rant about gender equality in politics reflect a key nexus in what will happen for the next 7 weeks or so: a new kind of democratic participation in Canada.

We already have 2011 as a year with domestic, continental and global democracy movements. Despite some evidence of rising political apathy in Canada in recent elections, we have recently seen a successful anti-HST initiative pass in BC and anti-prorogation movements throughout the country.

We have an opportunity over the next 7 weeks to make a bold statement that democracy matters, right in the face of Stephen Harper coming within a few House procedural motions of becoming the first prime minister in Canadian history to be found in contempt of parliament. Instead, he’ll suffer a non-confidence vote on Friday to crash parliament, unless he dissolves it himself today. Out of spite, of course.

And this is Southey’s point: that we own democracy and the elected stewards of it had better remember that “public servant” means we are the boss. And the majority of MPs in the House are less than 2 days away from firing this prime minister.

I want this to be an election campaign that would make the people on the streets in Cairo, Benghazi and Madison wake up in the morning and nod with the knowledge that we are no longer taking our democracy for granted.

And we need to listen to Babe Bennet as well. Let this be the federal election campaign with the highest ever number of female candidates and generally, non-white male candidates. The face of Canada is changing. Let’s make sure our political representation reflects that.

The “Harper Government,” Soft Fascism, Coalitions and ProRep

We mock and joke about Harper changing the “Government of Canada” to the “Harper Government”, and that’s fine, but we need to remember he’s not kidding and he needs to be stopped.

Heather Mallick hit the right balance of ridicule and warning in her piece yesterday:

Harper has always been a spiteful man, a yeller at work who was forced to tone it down in public.

But he cannot help himself. The terrorizing of officials and the rewriting of language are revealing the malevolence that lies beneath Harper’s hair. It is ungood, to use Orwell’s Newspeak. It is crimethink.

via Mallick: Harper re-brands the government out of spite – thestar.com.

I remember way back when Harper was first elected. He wouldn’t speak to the press. He buttoned up his ministers and their civil servants. He centralized and micro-managed words and power. He was the “Harper Government.”

He even changed the name of the government from the “Government of Canada” to “Canada’s New Government” and declared that the servants of his new government use his newspeak. Except when a GSC scientist emeritus named Dr. Andrew Okulitch called the phrase an “idiotic buzzword” he was informed that doing so was his de facto resignation from the emeritus program.

These aren’t acts of rhetoric in the fascist vein, but they do stray into soft fascist territory because they disrespect and negate the icons of democracy for personal, partisan gain.

But if you think Harper is a champion of democracy and not just a champion of his base, read up on some more extensive research into how much he has undermined democracy in Canada here: Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy.

Then last summer he killed the long-form census after helping kill Copenhagen and public respect for other sciency and truthiness things like the evidence supported by thousands of scientists around the world on climate change.

Then he helped kill Cancun.

I’ve been hearing about the federal NDP and Liberals possibly talking about non-competition pacts to ensure no Harper majority. I’ve been thinking for many years about proportional representation.

We’re already somewhat past the tyranny of 19th century majority parliaments, having had minority federal governments for almost 7 years now without the earth stopping spinning.

All I know is that Harper has governed like he had a majority, enacting his ideology with a gun to everyone’s head by threatening an election through confidence motions on all sorts of things, thereby triggering a [perhaps] reluctant Liberal coalition.

I’m tired of the Conservative-Liberal coalition. And with almost 7 years of minority governments, it’s time reasonable Canadians started seriously investigating something more effective than the obviously useless first-past-the-post electoral system.

Tomorrow? Some of why electoral reform should be obvious now.

Harper: War Yes! Veterans No!

From the building rhetoric of Canadian troops staying in Afghanistan [but leaving Kandahar, according to the specific words of our commitment to “leave”], to news that Harper will not bother to attend Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies because he’s away at a G20 meeting, it is clear that while Harper loves war, he has little respect for the people who fight in his wars, as the government undermines the financial stability of our veterans:

All Canadians owe a great debt to our veterans, one that cannot truly be fully repaid. We can, however, ensure veterans who have been injured or disabled while defending this country have a financially secure future when they return to civilian life.

via Letter from Paul Moist: reinstate full pensions for injured veterans < Health and safety, Pensions | CUPE.

I am ashamed to be part of a country whose leader chooses to delegate attendance at Remembrance Day ceremonies because the global neoliberal agenda needs tweaking. Clearly, though, I am not surprised at his priorities. They are unacceptable on so many levels.

“Enlightened Sovereignty” Nonsense Killed Harper’s UNSC Seat

Harper's demeaning speech to the UN General Assembly, who largely left before having to listen to his abuse.

The harbinger of Stephen Harper’s failure yesterday to fulfill his neo-conservative and neoliberal destiny at the UN Security Council came on September 23, 2010 when he delivered a cynical speech to a nearly empty UN General Assembly hall.

Harper himself is the reason Canada has a black eye in the world. At the General Assembly he kept talking about “enlightened sovereignty” which symbolized his anti-social perspective on how the world works:

Nations that do not consider the effects of their economic choices on others, may not only hurt their trading partners, but themselves as well. Those who succumb to the lure of protectionism, soon find that trading partners denied a market also lack the means to be a customer.

To recognize that is to understand the need for enlightened sovereignty, the idea that what’s good for others may well be the best way to pursue one’s own interests.

In business, it is called win-win.

And it is good for business.

In international affairs, it is good for development and for justice.

It didn’t matter that most of the representatives of the UN’s 192 member states left the hall long before Harper spoke last month. Everyone knew his words would be irrelevant. Harper has shown himself to the world as cynical, demeaning, intolerant and uncooperative, just like his speech to the empty hall.

In this small excerpt above, Harper uses the chamber as a bully pulpit to push the neoliberal agenda by framing it as enlightened sovereignty. Free trade and abrogating domestic economic integrity is enlightened. Thus, nationalism is unenlightened and backward.

Neoliberals like Harper are sometimes so deluded that they forget that the vast majority of the 192 UN members are quite poor and not in love with their World Bank and IMF neoliberal overlords.

This excerpt contains a bald threat as well: open your borders or we will punish you with the special kind of economic warfare that only the developed world can visit upon you.

Then, in a fine Orwellian twist, he argued that countries need to realize that what is good for others is best for them. “Others,” of course, are global corporations and their comprador nations who push their agenda in political circles like the UN.

Most governments of the world are largely concerned with keeping their populations from dying. What’s good for the global businesses whose annual revenue dwarf that of most nations is simply the wrong message to present to the world.

But the world did its homework.

They didn’t need to rush back into the General Assembly hall after filling the hall to hear Obama several speakers earlier to hear what kind of exquisite vision Harper would bestow on the backward world. They already knew that Harper thinks the rest of the world is unenlightened because they won’t easily open their doors to corporate rape and pillaging.

They also knew what the Council of Canadians faxed to the missions of every member state of the UN: Harper’s abysmal record on water, the climate and indigenous rights.

So yesterday we lost the election for a spare seat on the grandly undemocratic Security Council. In fact, we withdrew before we could lose, to save face.

But Harper knew he was going to lose the vote, or else why would he schedule a fiscal update to occur yesterday just after the voting. Message control means shifting the story on the domestic front quickly.

But at the top, I wrote about neo-conservativism and neoliberalism in Harper’s agenda. His neoliberal agenda is to open everyone’s borders to rich countries and rich corporations to have their way.

And while many use neo-conservatism as a synonym, I define it differently. I see neoliberalism as forced economic deregulation. I see neo-conservatism as more of a political tool of hard political empire building, informed by whatever extremist, empire-loving agenda a group may possess.

Harper’s social conservatism is well-known throughout the world:

  1. He supports prosecuting child soldiers, Israeli piracy in open seas and oppression of Palestinians.
  2. He opposes women’s reproductive freedom.
  3. He deports foreigners and assaults our refugee commitments.
  4. He is a climate change denier and a tarsands cheerleader.
  5. He is no friend to indigenous freedom or self-determination.
  6. He criminalizes domestic political dissent.
  7. He spins Tamil migrants as terrorists and incarcerates children.

He is, in effect, a dangerous man who cannot be let loose on the international stage.

John Ivison’s excellent analytical piece in the National Post last night captured much of this dynamic, calling Harper attached to principle over populism. But that’s too narrow and binary a view.

Sure, Harper is principled, but he isn’t principled just because he doesn’t want to pander to populist elements to get elected to the Security Council. There is something in the middle: the arrogance of neo-conservatism.

The opposite of being principled isn’t being popular. In the case of the UN General Assembly, where, I repeat, most of the member nations are mostly concerned about the survival of their population, what would be a compelling, and popular, view would be one that most of the world share. This is not the imperialism of social conservatism.

So who got “our” seat? Germany got one despite our existence, but we lost to Portugal. Who is Portugal? This can best be summed up by the best Twitter commentary of the day by Paul Wells of Mclean’s:

True fact: Portugal is run by socialists. They have a coalition of socialists, socialists and Portuguese socialist socialists.

It seems the majority world knows that a nation can be principled and popular enough to deserve a seat on the UN Security Council.

Stephen Harper’s enlightened sovereignty nonsense was the final failure in his deluded campaign for a seat.

And Canada is better for it, black eye and all.

I Think GG Jean Supports Electoral Reform

I think the soon to be former GG Michaëlle Jean supports electoral reform.

I can’t prove it, but I think there is room in some of her outgoing remarks that indicate her deep understanding of the malaise in Canadian democracy.

But the Governor General has remained tight-lipped about that cold Dec. 4, 2008 morning at Rideau Hall, which some have suggested was a power move by Jean to show her interests were different than that of the PMO.

“In those hours, all of a sudden, people were frozen, time was frozen and everyone was wondering, ‘Hey, what might happen here? And why are they taking so long?’” Jean recalled. “History will decide . . . but I believe that, collectively, we participated together in something that will take us a step forward, maybe, in the necessity of understanding our institutional realities . . . and our political system.”

via Outgoing GG sought to ‘send message’ before proroguing Parliament.

What does it mean to understand our institutional realities? I think it means that we’ve had 6 years of minority governments [4 years as of that sleet day at Rideau] and a handcuffed Westminster parliamentary system that may have succeeded best in a 19th century reality of two motherhood political parties.

Today? The two motherhood big tent parties are not adequately representative of Canada. We have the Bloc, we have the Greens and NDP. We also have the Conservative party being the current manifestation of the Reform/Alliance party with its marginalized ideology.

Our electoral system, our political system, all the assumptions upon which our political institutions rest are variables now.

I like it this way.

We have actual debate and dialogue in the House. We have opposition parties uniting on an issue, right or wrong, to save the long gun registry. We have the same group of outnumbering MPs starting the process of endorsing the long-form census. [There is a joke about the word “long” here, but someone funnier than me will have to make it.]

We are seeing de facto electoral reform because we have been spared for over half a decade the tyranny of a majority government. In time, Canadians will expect more engagement from politicians since majority whipped votes no longer guarantee anything.

When the GG sat around pondering for two hours, making the prime minister waste his time worrying about being WLM King, we were all wondering if she’d pull a Bing and shock the system.

It turns out that with almost two years of history to reflect upon, a bit of melodrama stalling let us know that the GG is not a rubber stamp and that there was reason to pause and reflect. Personally, I was hoping that she was going to deny proroguing parliament and Harper had to actually convince her, over that long time, to do it.

It also turns out that the stalling was all she needed to do to play her hand. It sanctioned the uncertainty in our current political institutions. It thereby empowered all the rest of us to explore new expectations of our public servants.

And we’ve seen that in recent months.

And we’re not alone as the UK, USA and Australia are caught in electoral parity that cripples traditional power arrangements.

Everything is on the table now, and while GG Jean may never speak another word about her era and that sleet day in 2008, she has said enough already to make us all wonder the legacy of her two hour metaphorical walk in the snow.

Those two hours may end up being an historical trigger for great electoral reform to manifest.

I certainly hope so.