Daily Archives: March 27, 2011

The C Word


Gilles Duceppe of Stephen Harper: “I don’t like people lying”

Stephen Harper is pretending out of the gate that the issue in this election is the possibility of a coalition government involving the opposition parties — as though this outcome were some form of treason, when it is in fact a threat only to the prolonged life of the Harper government, sometimes confused by the Harper government as the institution of Canadian government itself.

Above, Gilles Duceppe reminds us that Harper wasn’t always so resistant to the idea of coalition government when the coalition might have been the Harper government.  Today, Duceppe produced a 2004 letter to the Governor-General signed by the leaders of the opposition parties — including Stephen Harper — advising her that the opposition might be able to form a government if the then Liberal minority fell.  At that time, such a maneuver would have been regarded as parliamentary procedure. Now the idea that opposition parties might co-operatively command the confidence of the House is an affront to Canadian democracy — despite the fact that maintaining the confidence of the House is how parliamentary democracy works, and that such an arrangement would, unlike the Harper government, represent the majority of Canadians.

More in The Gazette.

Conservative Scandals

Conservative senator Doug Finley: charged with election law violation, along with one other Conservative senator and two Conservative operatives. The charges are serious enough that they are facing jail time.

A partial list from Lawrence Martin:

Just recently, we had the document-altering scandal featuring International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who appears in the House of Commons for Question Period but refuses to answer questions on the matter.

Just recently, we had new revelations in regard to the government’s so-called integrity commissioner, the one who received 228 whistleblowing complaints and upheld not a single one. She left with a half-a-million-dollar severance package – and a gag order to go with it.

Just recently, we learned that the office of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney used ministerial letterhead to raise money for the Conservative Party. We’ve also seen a contempt of Parliament motion brought against the government for its refusal to disclose basic information on the costs of crime bills and on corporate profits. And we’ve seen the Conservatives release attack ads of such questionable quality that they were withdrawn.

Just recently, The Canadian Press reported that, in the tradition of l’état, c’est moi, the Prime Minister is insisting that “Government of Canada” nomenclature be changed to “the Harper government.” Some wag suggested the PM might want to change his own name – to Stephen Hubris.

Just recently, the PM appointed Tom Pentefountas as vice-chairman of the CRTC. Mr. Pentefountas comes equipped with two qualifications: his close friendship with the PM’s director of communications, and zero experience in telecommunications.

Also recently, four Conservatives, including two senators, have been charged with breaking federal election law.

There’s more.  Make your own list.

Contempt of Parliament

Stephen Harper said in an interview today the voters “don’t care” about the contempt of parliament issue, and that it is “not the substance of the election.”

We’ll see. There is polling to suggest that this is indeed an issue among older voters.

How serious is this? In the entire history of the Commonwealth, no sitting government has been found in contempt of parliament.  And this government is guilty on two counts.

The Harper government stands alone on this one. It has made parliamentary history, twice: first, in the finding of contempt, and, second, losing the confidence of the House as the result of that finding.

That sounds like a substantial election issue, and Canadians may care more about it than Harper is willing to acknowledge.

Stanislaw Lem


From Steven Soderburgh’s 2002 film adaptation of Solaris. This clip is especially beautiful; you’ll want to see it (although it is not, unfortunately, embedded; click on the image and hit the YouTube link)

Stanislaw Lem died on this date in 2006 (born 1921).

Frye read Lem and alluded to him regularly to illustrate the relationship between science fiction and romance:

The twofold focus on reality, inside and outside the mind at once, is particularly important when we are reading what is called fantasy. Stanislaw Lem’s story of a kingdom created from robots, The Seventh Sally, raises questions that have tormented us for centuries, about the relation of God or the gods to man, about the distinction between an organism and a mechanism, about the difference between what is created and what has come into existence by itself. (CW 18, 190)