The Shotgun Blog
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Are you still awake?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he wants the advice of Canadians on how to manage the economy once the government's stimulus-spending program ends.
So it's kind of funny that the prime minister's visit to Winnipeg on Tuesday appeared to have been swathed in as much secrecy as a minor paramilitary operation.
As reported by Financial Post reporter Paul Vieira, the government is launching cross-country consultations with individual households and small businesses on how the government should nurture the recovery once its $48-billion stimulus program winds down at the end of March.
The Prime Minister then began his tour by refusing to take questions, and subsequently flying off to South Korea. Oh, Stephen, you do make these things too easy sometimes. Now let's work through the logic behind King Stephen's Royal Progress through our fair Dominion.
The Prime Minister, as is well known, holds an MA in economics. Most Canadians, as is also well known, do not hold MAs in anything, particularly not in anything as obtuse and mathematically themed as economics. So a man who is an expert on something is, at great expense to the treasury, about to ask non-experts about how he should do his job. Shouldn't Stephen Harper, MA, being telling us how he is going to revive the economy? Or is it the case of him being our leader, so he must follow us?
Publius comes from the Allenby School of Economics. In the classic film Lawrence of Arabia, Jack Hawkins' character, General Allenby, is asked whether he will do nothing to stop an incipient revolt. He replies: "Why not, it's usually best." The Prime Minister does not come from this school.
Early in his career - as evidenced by his MA thesis - the PM believed that government stimulus spending was largely useless. That was before he entered politics. In politics you must do something in a crisis. Why? Because it is expected. That the something being done is worse than useless is not the point. Politics has little to do with economics, or logic, and everything to do with mass pyschology.
Speaking of delusions, let's return to the tour. Stephen Harper will not be listening to ordinary Canadians. Ordinary Canadians are too busy working and paying taxes, in order to finance these transcontinental junkets, to show up and tell the Prime Minister what they think. Instead, carefully orchestrated pressure groups will appear to tell the PM to spend more money - on them. He will then, quite dutifully, ignored everything he has heard, knowing full well that he is not hearing the voice of the people, simply the voice of the parasitic statist class.
Like the royal progress of old, Stephen Harper's Autumn Tour is to show the people he cares and is in command. It is the image the people have come to know, that of the Imperial Prime Minister. That is not, however, his constitutional role. It is a perversion of the British Parliamentary system. The head of Her Majesty's Canadian government he is suppose to be first among cabinet equals, not a Canadianized King Canute.
He may campaign, he may tour but his main source of knowledge as to the state of the country, as well as his legitimacy, should come from his caucus. The Prime Minister of Olden Times was elected not by the whole electorate, but by members of his own caucus. That seemed horribly undemocratic to the progressive thinkers of a century ago, so the system was replaced by the membership selling carnivals of today. A spectacle most sane Canadians avoid like the plague. The usually uninterested being herded by the often unscrupulous.
With a Prime Minister beholden to a fluid party membership, rather a comparatively fixed parliamentary party team, he rules with little restraint. Backbenchers are regarded as trained seals because, for practical political reasons, that's their role. Canadian voters respond accordingly, treating their local MPs as voting machines and seeking redress on major issues to the Big Boss.
It has been said that there is nothing so close to God on earth, as a Prime Minister with a majority government. This state of affairs has been blamed on the nature of parliamentary government, but this is not true. The essential parliamentary mechanism of accountability, that Parliament and not party gives a government (the cabinet) its mandate, is ignored. A hazy notion of "democracy" has replaced it. But democracy, in the sense of a government accountable to its people, is meaningless without actual mechanisms of accountability. Throwing the bums out, if the economy is doing badly, every four years is not accountability. It is the same play with different players.
Posted by Richard Anderson on November 14, 2010 | Permalink
Posted by: Paul | 2010-11-22 6:51:00 PM
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