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All hail Emperor Dalton
The year past, much like the years before it, has been marked by frequent lamentations that democracy is at peril in Canada, that the federal government in particular is increasingly remote, unresponsive, and in certain areas even reaching towards the imperious.
Those whose calling it is to savage the Harper government agree almost to a phrase that its failings and the Prime Minister’s are “contempt” for democracy, a highhanded “American-style” of governance, and a brutal unresponsiveness to critics or citizens.
There is more than a little truth to elements of these charges. But as is the case with matters Harper, those who oppose him do so with an intensity in excess of its object. Much Harper criticism has long since gone Pavlonian — say his name and the barking begins.
The Harper government has been called, in turn, vindictive, stubborn, deliberately secretive and withdrawn, utterly unwilling to co-operate with the opposition. These are valid criticisms. But I see in them a great echo of a former government, which never really took the same heat. Mr. Harper follows — not with total fidelity, but close enough — the Jean Chrétien style of government.
But on the bigger, dramatic charge that his government is “undemocratic,” that it actively seeks to diminish democracy, to shut its critics down and muzzle the electorate, and that it harbours that old fascist instinct — those charges are hyped overkill, a vast overreach.
If we are to look for an unresponsive government in Canada, one which really has taken off the reins of democratic accountability, that has — at times — mocked or ignored the citizens’ most basic rights, one which has erased the line between what is good for the party and what is good for the people, let me nominate the soon to be history Liberal administration of the now departing Dalton McGuinty.
It’s quite wonderful Mr. McGuinty arranged the public affairs of Ontario so purely in harmony with the affairs of the Ontario Liberal Party. After his last election, denied a majority, unable to win in a byelection, he promptly shut down the legislature.
For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/12/28/rex-murphy-the-award-for-the-worst-politician-of-the-year-goes-to/