by Bob Groeneveld
After Sunday’s federal election announcement, I called on a couple of friends for the inside track on what’s happening.
Longtime buddies Sam and Pip are old dogs in the political arena. Not so much backroom as mudroom players, they know where the bones are buried, and how to retrieve them.
Sam is the statesmen of the pair, the thinker, the planner. Pip is more down-to-earth. He keeps his nose to the ground, and doesn’t mind digging through the dirt for the useful bits.
Sam will surprise you with his understanding of what’s going on, but Pip is the initiator, the one who gets the ball rolling…
That’s why, when Sam decided the time was ripe to start a new political party – he’s thinking of calling it the Canadian Return to Access Party – it was Pip who immediately drafted the C.R.A.P. policy statement, entitled simply, List Of Access Demands.
“The first thing we need to fix,” growled Sam, “is the fixed election dates.”
“Which aren’t fixed at all,” Pip interjected.
“Exactly,” Sam snarled. “First thing [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper did after supposedly fixing the election dates at four-year intervals was to call an election after three years…
“A year early!” Pip barked. “On the pretense that his minority government needed a new mandate.”
“Which should be legitimate in a parliamentary democracy,” continued Sam, explaining, “Unlike the American system, ours allows – or should allow – the prime minister to call an election any time he feels he needs renewed public confidence in his government…”
“And conversely,” Pip jumped in, “his government can force him to call an election any time it loses confidence in their prime minister.”
“That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Sam grumbled.
“But it doesn’t,” snapped Pip. “Not when you have the pretense of fixed election dates.”
“Harper got away with breaking his own rule once,” Sam noted, “but twice would create a public perception problem, especially now with the Duffy thing, the oil prices dogging him, the overall economy threatening to tank…”
“And then there’s Pierre Poutine’s robo-calls,” Pip joined in, “and all the other election rules that have been broken.”
“So now we have all the fall-out of American-style fixed election dates in a Canadian system that simply was not built to operate that way,” Sam continued: “First we have extended electioneering long before the official election period…”
“Which inevitably,” Pip interjected, “will turn into continuous, full-term electioneering.”
“With increased partisanship getting in the way of even the simplest pieces of legislation,” Sam continued.
“Just like south of the border,” snipped Pip.
“And now,” Sam continued, “Harper has seized further advantage by doubling the official election campaign period by exercising his parliamentary prerogative, as every smart prime minister of any political stripe will continue to do in future.”
“That’s why,” Pip piped up, “it’s one of the first issues addressed in the L.O.A.D. of C.R.A.P.”
“Every party has its equivalent to our L.O.A.D. of C.R.A.P.,” explained Sam. “Harper was going to fix the Senate, for instance, and a lot of other things.”
“But we’ll stand by our L.O.A.D. and won’t flush it down the toilet the day we’re elected,” Pip promised.