There’s an old tail once told in English literature that was written by Herman Melville in 1851 about an old sea captain called Ahab that goes nuts hunting down a whale (Moby Dick) that took his leg. In the end Captain Ahab became so consumed with “vengeance” that he became careless which cost him his life. Over the past few days a clearer picture is starting to emerge on the reasoning behind the fair elections act put forth by Government.
Another tale of political “vengeance” has surfaced in the Hill Times with Conservative MP Jay Aspin suggesting that the severing of Elections Canada investigative branch was in response to leaks the agency provided the media on the robocalls investigation. Couple that with the comments from Harper’s former Communications advisor Geoff Norquay on the CBC regarding the Conservative party taking “vengeance” on the Chief Electoral officer with the fair elections act due the “in and out” scheme; the tails of Moby Dick come to mind.
The Conservatives with their spears in hand on our electoral process seem to be heading towards a leadership crisis internally. We have MP’s and former Conservative advisers all painting the picture of Harper acting like Captain Ahab, which seems to be super bad for the party image. It strongly suggests to me there are a lot of very angry people in the Conservative party right now at their leadership, or their just not cognizant of the damage there are causing due to the blindness of vengeance on being held accountable by Elections Canada. Considering Norquay commented on this who’s expertise are in communications, I would have to believe a lot of people see problems with having Ahab at the helm.
Stripping Elections Canada’s ability to investigate independently, most experts on electoral reform and almost everyone outside of the Conservative whip believe would be a grave mistake, and put our democratic rights at risk. This may also put us in a constitutional crisis 18 months before an election. On the other hand, some Conservatives may face possible criminal charges if the Elections Canada gets more powers to investigate due to the robocalls scandal which the government has been stonewalling election officials on for months. This looks like a lose/lose situation to me. This has effectively backed the party up into a corner, with Captain Ahab at the helm and significant problems remaining with all parties not following the rules, to which will most likely not be fixed by the Conservatives who are currently under investigation.
With a two week break coming up after this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a good old Canadian proroguing, because that’s about the only option Harper has here to reset the slate, and save face not just on political capitol, but with internal divisions in his own party on this issue. As Conservative MP’s hear from their constituents over the next few weeks, those divisions could end up being a lot more visible, and a lot more deeper when Parliament resumes on the issue of electoral reform.
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