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Stephen Harper wishes there was more debate in Parliament

If only the opposition weren’t so afraid


 

Michael Den Tandt flags this video of a speech the Prime Minister gave in London, Ontario last week as a hint at the 2015 campaign.

The speech is worth watching in its entirety, but let’s go to the 19:50 mark, at which point Mr. Harper starts musing aloud about one of the great unwritten stories of his government’s recent time in office.

Now actually, friends, when I talk about how busy we are, I think one of the great unwritten stories over the past couple of years is how much we’ve actually been able to get through Parliament … In fact, we have been able, regularly, to get our policies through Parliament virtually unhindered. Why? Well, it’s certainly not because the opposition supports our policies. We all know that they don’t. Rather it’s because they don’t want to debate what we’re doing because then they would have to talk about their policies. And we know they don’t want to do that.

This is brilliant.

Why has the government been able to pass its legislation through Parliament so easily? Well, it’s not because of the compliant majorities in the House and Senate or the use of omnibus legislation or the habit of using time allocation to limit debate or that move to limit the ability of independent MPs to provoke vote marathons in the House. No, it’s because the New Democrats and Liberals are afraid of debate.

The New Democrats quickly interjected yesterday to note that their members have actually been incredibly talkative over the last three years.

It is at least heartening to hear the Prime Minister championing the idea of parliamentary debate. It also seems a brilliant attempt to turn on its ear the general complaint about this government’s handling of Parliament—never mind the prorogation and omnibus bills and time allocation and the reluctance to cooperate fully with the parliamentary budget officer and that finding of contempt from a few years ago, look at all this legislation we’re passing. And it’s because the opposition doesn’t really want to debate us. Because their policies are crazy.

It’s simultaneously a claim that the government is not afraid of debate and a brag about the government’s efficiency. You might think there would, in a parliamentary system, always be a tension between the ideals of debate and efficiency. But, surrounded by crazy cowards, the Harper government has found perfect balance.


 

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