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Norman Spector

Harper tries to change channel Add to ...

My, my.

Perusing the papers this morning, I see reports in both official languages that the Prime Minister will be shuffling his cabinet before the new session begins on March 3. What an amazing coincidence! And what makes both reports - one in the National Post, the other in La Presse - all the more remarkable is that they're both based on a radio interview with the Prime Minister that had not even been broadcast yet when the papers went to press. What an incredible display of investigative journalism!

Best of all - for the PMO, at least - since the two reports don't contain any hard information about who's being dumped, who's being lateralled and who's being promoted, what could be better to set off endless rounds of speculation between now and March?

Why it may be necessary to change the channel can be seen in an anti-prorogation op-ed authored by University of Montréal Professor Daniel Weinstock, published in La Presse and in several Canwest papers today. Though I heartily subscribe to the thesis of the op-ed, I do wonder about its timing.

Professor Weinstock argues that "the Prime Minister's actions risk setting a precedent that weakens an important condition of democratic government - the ability of the people, acting through their elected representatives, to hold the government accountable for its actions." However, to make his argument work, the professor has to subsume last year's prorogation with the current one.

I'm left wondering, however, why he and the other 169 signatories did not speak out when the Prime Minister made the request for prorogation last year, when they may have been able to nip the precedent in the bud when it was actually being set. True, their position would have been less politically popular last year. But if we can't count on tenured "Canadian academics with expertise in the principles of democracy" to take principled positions, on whom can we count in a crisis?

 

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