While everyone was staring at their televisions yesterday waiting for the PM to emerge from Rideau Hall to tell us all whassup, I was crammed into a CBC booth doing Radio Q along with Tory spindoctor Tim Powers and his NDP counterpart Brad Lavigne. It was supposed to be a non-partisan look at the nature of the messaging coming out of the government and coalition camps, and Brad and Tim were both great. I was a bit of a third wheel and didn’t have much to add, but you can listen to it here if you like.
But the one thing I did say I thought was worthwhile was that while the whole affair was pretty sordid with neither side acquitting itself well, it was at most a political, but not constitutional, crisis. In fact, I said (to Jian’s obvious surprise) was that democracy had been well-served by the events. Thirty six hours later, it is one of the few things about The Madness that I still feel some certainty about: That it was in many ways an excellent Civics 101 moment for Canadians. As Brad pointed out, Canadians were actually learning a lot, on the fly, about their system of government and how it functions.
I’ll go even further and say that the media did a good job, much better than we did during the election itself. There was not a day this week that I did not read something fresh and interesting and educational in the Citizen, the Post, the Star, the Globe, and right here at Blog Central. I certainly didn’t like what was going on politically, but for all the sturm and drang, at no point did I feel we were in a constitutional crisis, or that Canada was going to hell in a handbasket, as my mother likes to say.
Sure, it might have gone otherwise. The GG might have refused Harper’s request for prorogation, he might have resigned, she might have asked the coalition to take over, Alberta might right now be on the brink of separating. Or maybe we’d be in the middle of an election. Or maybe we’d just be waiting for Monday’s vote. But the world unfolded as it did, validating once again Wells’ First Rule: Canadian politics tends toward the least exciting possible outcome. I prefer to believe that our system of government has something to do with that.
Obviously this is not settled, only delayed. And if you want a sense of how hairy things could get in January, I encourage you all to check out Glen McGregor’s story on the front page of tomorrow’s Ottawa Citizen.