Prime Minister sets bad example trying to live above the law

Dear Editor:

Laws are basic to any civilized society. One of the ways we establish a common ground where all can meet, function and operate from — despite our differences and diversity — is by creating laws that apply equally to all. It is accepted that no one is above the law. Laws are part of democratic accountability. They are generally based on common sense and define what is acceptable in a society.

“Parliamentary law is the general body of enacted rules governing procedure in legislative and deliberative assemblies.” One definition of contempt is “willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body.” Because in a democracy, it is the people who vote for representatives to go into those chambers where parliamentary law applies, it is the consciousness of the people that allows or not our country to crumble into lawlessness and injustice.

Laws are especially essential in a democratic society like Canada that values ideals such as equality and justice. But Conservatives belittle the importance of laws and show further contempt for the common people by campaigning to make Stephen Harper prime minister again. Do you want a prime minister who believes himself to be above the laws that you would be punished for breaking? Where will he take our country if we allow him to lead us?

Anarchy would seem to be where we are headed with Conservatives at the helm. Anarchy is defined as a “chaotic situation in which there is a total lack of organization or control (in this case, control by the people over their own fate); the absence of any formal system of government in a society.” Parliament is already dysfunctional and chaotic enough (due to Conservative disruptive strategies), without completely defying the rules that work to unify a large and diversified country such as Canada.

“Contempt of Parliament is the crime of obstructing the parliament in the carrying out of its functions.” No government in Canadian history has been found in contempt of Parliament, but now the Harper government has been defeated in the House of Commons on a non-confidence motion, taking us to an election. It was declared that “the government is in contempt of Parliament and has lost the confidence of the Commons — the Harper government has broken the rules of Canada’s democratic system.” That means we can’t trust Conservatives to follow the rules that work to keep our country functional, coherent, and democratic.

As Thomas Walkom, national affairs columnist at The Toronto Star wrote, “Yes, contempt of Parliament does matter…The only thing close to a democratic national body in Canada is the House of Commons. To be contemptuous of its members is to disdain those who elected them…But throughout the life of this now-dead Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to accept the voters’ verdict.”

When he should be withdrawing in disgrace, Harper has the gall to ask Canadians for a majority vote, proving that he still thinks himself above the law, ignorant of his crime.

I see it as if we were all in a boat together and that boat is sinking, but Conservative passengers are in denial, blubbering about how they are taking us where we want to go. Nevertheless, they grab all the life jackets, leaving some with no means of survival. The boat analogy certainly seems apt after reading in The Green Party of Canada’s assessment of the Conservative budget: “$400 million to support the nuclear industry but nothing to support alternative energy. $1 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies that already made a profit of over $8 billion in 2010. $10 million for the Grey Cup and Calgary Stampede versus $2.5 million for the Great Lakes (which supply drinking water to 8.5 million Canadians) shows pretty clearly how much the current government values clean water.”

“Canada faces a triple deficit. We have an economic deficit, an ecological deficit, and a social deficit,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Do you really want to vote for that Conservative ideal — survival of the greediest — again?

Given Harper’s disregard for democratic law, it is no surprise that he is campaigning against any “coalition” for democracy, as if people gathering together to stand up and work for democratic law was a bad thing. Despite the Conservative propaganda that makes “coalition” a bad word, a coalition is merely a coming together of different entities to achieve a common good. In this case, non-Conservatives are merely advocating and embodying democracy and want to make government work for all the people who elect representatives to democratically govern them.

Although Alberta voters don’t highly esteem democratic accountability, I guess this election will tell us whether Canadians as a whole value democracy.

Evone Monteith