Dogs bark and the caravan moves on

Posted on June 6, 2011
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Brigette DePape, a page in Canada’s Senate, held up a “Stop Harper” sign in the aisle in front of the speaker during the throne speech on Friday. She was hustled out of the chamber and promptly fired.

The government had been so clear in advance about what would be in the speech, her action was the only surprise of the day. As such, it got quite a lot of attention.

The event was an excellent example of the old Arab axiom, “Dogs bark and the caravan moves on”. While startling and unusual, her action carries no weight whatsoever. Brigette DePape is a very small dog. She will not be martyred with imprisonment. Her stunt will not put so much as one grain of sand in the gears of government.

Canadians who cared have made a choice and voted. Our most excellent Parliamentary system has produced a majority government and given it a mandate to direct our affairs for the next five years.

Some folks whine that the government did not get a majority of the popular vote. To me that is entirely irrelevant. Jean Chretien’s Liberals won majorities when the Progressive Conservative Party was split by the formation of the Reform Party. Peter MacKay resolved that issue when he took his dwindling PC’s into a merger with Reform. He probably does not get as much credit as he should for the current Canadian political landscape.

If, or when, one of the centre left parties give up hope of ever forming a government, they may find their own Peter MacKay. The solution to concerns about governments without popular majority support is to win the most seats.

Nor am I upset that members are expected to vote the party line. We elect a member we hope will represent us in caucus but we know they are members of one team. We are entitled to expect they will represent us forcefully in caucus (team meetings) but we are not entitled to expect them to help the other team if they don’t like the batting order. There are moral exceptions and Parliament usually allows for those with free votes. Otherwise, members opposing the team are usually traded to the Leafs. That may seem like mixing metaphors but don’t the Leafs sometimes look more like a baseball team than a hockey team?

The fact that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are governing without a popular majority does have some significance. They want that majority and will try to govern to move toward it next time.

We have a wonderful system. The caravan moves on.

On we go.                                                                                          DAC

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