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Harper's Unnecessary Election

From March 25, 2011

In an extraordinary and unprecedented move, civil servants across the country were instructed in November 2010 to rebrand 'The Government of Canada' as 'The Harper Government'. Instead of bearing the name of our country, hundreds of official government documents were being printed in the name of a prime minister. As Rick Mercer put it, "what kind of ego would you have to possess to sit there and say, well, I think Canada has a nice ring to it I but I like my name better."

Now if that was as far as it went, it would still have been too far– but Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are nothing if not persistent when it comes to their disrespect for Canadian democracy. Early in 2011 they were caught having altered an official government funding document, lied to parliament about the content of that document, and then refused to reprimand those directly responsible for altering and lying about the document. They refused to release the Parliamentary Budget Office's report describing the true price tag of their prisons bill. They tried to hide the actual cost of their no-bid contract for fighter jets – a jet program that even the Pentagon is now backing away from. Some of their staff illegally interfered with Access to Information requests, while another sent out campaign fundraising letters on the government dime. Every step of the way this government shows its contempt for parliament–that is, for the collected voices of our elected representatives–and refuses to work with anyone who does not wear the same shade of Conservative blue.

So when Stephen Harper complains of an 'unnecessary election'–on what grounds does he believe it to be unnecessary? Just because Harper decided to rename the government after himself, it doesn't mean he gets to be prime minister for life. By the rules of Canadian democracy, elections are held at least every four years, but they are also necessary when the government has lost the confidence of parliament. And this is exactly what has happened.

If a minority government is unable or unwilling to work with the other parties–it falls. Canadian democracy demands it. Nevertheless, Stephen Harper still complains about having to face an election of his own making, and in so doing continues to insult the intelligence of Canadians. An election is not a hardship.