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Losing the moral responsibility to govern.

That title is a version of what Harper said about a Liberal government a few years back. I’m sure some of my readers can pull up the exact quote. It was Harper’s justification for bringing down the Paul Martin Liberal government; a government that was embroiled in ethical problems so bad, he could not justify supporting them any longer.

And what of his government now the past couple of years? The “in and out” scheme just found by the Federal Court of Appeal justifying Elections Canada charges it was not electorally honest or legal. Related to this, two Conservative Senators and two other Conservative Party officials charged with violating election laws.  Cabinet Ministers Bev Oda misleading Parliament over inserting additions to documents after the fact and trying to blame it on her bureaucratic assistants. Jason Kenny doing partisan activities from his government ministry and also trying to blame a staffer for it. Harper’s prorogation of Parliament – twice – to avoid accountability and defeat. Harper and his PMO insisting that everything internally be rebranded from “The Government of Canada” to “The Harper Government”.

The result? This Conservative government as written by Lawrence Martin in the Globe has already surpassed any prior government in ethical breaches:

During the Chrétien government years, I reported extensively on malfeasance by the Liberals. To do the math on the Harper government is to conclude that, while it has no sponsorship scandal on its books, it’s already surpassed its predecessor on a range of other abuse-of-power indices. The government’s arc of duplicity is remarkable to behold. And there are more revelations to come. It may not happen in the next election, but there will be a tipping point and the PM and his ministers will pay the price.

The Liberals, supported by the other opposition parties, are ensuring their best to make sure these ethical breaches are highlighted to the public’s mind and make this government pay the price now, not later:

The following motion on the Conservative “in and out” election scheme of 2006 passed in the House of Commons last night by a vote of 152-139:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based, and that, further, the House calls upon the Prime Minister to: (a) order the immediate repayment of any and all illegally obtained electoral rebates that were paid out to candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada as a result of the “in and out” fraud; and (b) remove all individuals facing charges for this fraud from any position of responsibility within Government or the Conservative Party of Canada.

As Chantal Hebert says, this looks to be the first step towards bringing down the Conservative government on ethics. I suspect the next steps – or the final steps – will be on two other fronts: whether the Speaker rules that Bev Oda is in contempt of Parliament for her misleading of the House, and another motion on contempt that has not received as much media airplay brought forth by Liberal MP Scott Brison regarding the government’s refusal to reveal spending figures to the House Committee on Finance on its justice bills and other financial projections.

It all ties together into the ethics and accountability themes. Conservative supporters say Canadians don’t care about these issues, but as I recall, the same was said in 2006. Conservative supporters also try to slough off these charges by saying “look at the latest polls, we will slaughter you!”. Well, in my opinion, it’s time to find out from the Canadian people whether they think these activities are worth keeping this government in power or not.

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6 comments to Losing the moral responsibility to govern.

  • TofKW

    Liberals paid the price in 2006 on ethics and accountability. Harper clearly learned nothing from them.

    Time to take this gang of lying bastards down. Whatever it takes, bring on the vote of non-confidence.

  • Another great article Scott.
    I am hopeful that Canadians from east to west are starting to smell the stench emanating from Ottawa. It has wafted into Alberta for sure, possibly permeating some of the ignorance bubbles people seem to love walking around in.

    It is high time to find out how the Canadian people feel about the disgusting Harper regime.

  • Joan Richard

    Scott, you are exactly right. And I find Harper’s most egregious flaw is his lack of honesty and transparency in almost everything he does. He bring in omnibus bills with all sorts of hidden agendae that must be supported in order to support the overall bill, he makes policy statements in front of his chosen supporters rather than in Parliament, he denigrates anyone who disagrees with him, he gives only his most ardent sychophants leave to speak openly and on and on and on. What irritates me the most is his arrogance and assumption that he is the government of Canada and seems to believe that he is accountable to no one except perhaps his religious right followers who he apparently accepts as the rightful owners of our country. He is the most disgusting, egomaniacal tyrant we have ever had to endure and I hope that Canadians wake up to the fact before our country is in ruins.

  • It is about time. Bring this corrupt government down.

  • Beerbob

    Don’t forget instructing the lap dogs in the Senate to shitcan a bill passed by Parliament without commitee study or discussion of any kind. That was probably legal, but it was really slimy.

  • Scott, you said “I’m sure some of my readers can pull up the exact quote.” Happy to oblige:
    “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”

    The examples you’ve given aren’t strictly cased of cancelling or avoiding dissent, just of acting unscrupulously and anti-democratically; which, to my mind, is well more than enough to cause him to lose the moral authority to government. But there are also ample examples of Harper and his Cabinet canceling and avoiding dissent, such as dumping or launching personal attacks against government watchdogs and dismissing the views of anyone who disagrees with him as coming from merely “the chattering classes” or “the elites.”

    But the conclusion is exactly right. The “Harper Government” has lost the moral authority to govern.

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