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Wednesday, June 19 2024 @ 10:55 MDT

Prorogue time again.

Canadian PoliticsSo our Maximum Leader Stephen Harper had decided to hit the reset switch on parliament again. This time, despite the crowing on the internet, the timing is similar to prorogations done by other PM's in the past. Yes some scandals are brewing, but proroguing Parliament isn't really going to detract from them. This doesn't mean that Harper doesn't want the scandals to go away, but the reality is that three of the four senators caught with their hands in the till were not only not Liberals, but were appointed by Harper personally. Harper even foolishly let himself get recorded in the House stating that he had personally vetted Pamela Wallen's expenses and that he didn't see any problems with them. That was before the audit of course, one Harper apparently didn't think would happen given his words prior to it's release. The result of all this is that even hitting reset on Parliament may not be enough to distract people from the issue. Even in the unlikely event Harper writes an amazing throne speech the weight of the scandals will likely dog him well into the next year, especially if the RCMP begin to lay charges.

So what does the prorogue get Harper? Well a chance to steer the listing ship Tory in a new and hopefully more popular direction. Despite having a majority government Harper hasn't been willing to set a hard right social agenda due to the real fear that such an agenda would scare off the centre right vote back into Justin Trudeau's welcoming arms. The problem for Harper there is that his rather large social conservative base is rumbling. When in opposition and in minority government Harper was able to hold the social and theo-cons in his base and caucus with the fact that he didn't have the seats to push through a hard right socially conservative agenda. Now with his majority, he's really only tweaked the edges of a hard right social agenda. Yes the long gun registry is dead, but the rest of the gun control regime has stayed in place. Eliminating CPP, EI and other social programs is years away and the Harper regime isn't likely to survive long enough to see that right wing dream through to fruition. Abortion and capital punishment aren't even on the table. Given how Harper has treated his hard right backbenchers, there's a good chance his hard right base may just stay home on election night.

Combine that with the fact that non-hard right Canadians aren't exactly enamoured with the current direction Harper is taking the country and a prorogue starts to make more and more sense beyond immediate political expediency. Harper needs to get the ~10% of the vote that's left his Conservative party for the Liberals back and a softer agenda could just do that. Harper loves the hard right, but he loves the trappings that come with being prime minister more and he's shown he'll throw anyone in his party who gets in the way under the bus to ensure he stays in power. If Harper is smart he'll use the time to come up with a more centrist direction for his government to appeal to the large voting block in the middle. If he's wanting to commit political suicide, he'll circle the wagons and turn hard right to retain his base, causing the more moderate voters to return to the Liberals.

In the end there is less sinister about this prorogue than Harper's previous ones since Harper is in no immediate threat of losing power this time. That makes this no more politically motivated than previous prorogations by previous prime minsters. Has Harper misused prorogations in the past to save his hide? Yes. Is this one of those instances, in reality not really. Rather than jumping on the prorogation, the political left should keep the heat on Harper with the growing list of scandals. Anything else is a distraction and exactly what Harper wants.
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