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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Random thoughts - on metaphors and Christmas breaks

Just popping in quickly while going through my morning news.

People have been using a lot of metaphors to describe various elements of our current political fiasco. One I've seen a few times now is the coalition being called a "three headed hydra."

I disagree. The coalition is not like a hydra at all.

The hydra is a multi-headed monster of mythology. It was a snake-like creature with a varying number of heads - by some accounts, many hundreds - that acted with one mind. As one head was destroyed, another would grow in its place.

Clearly, this is a metaphor that does not fit the coalition. There is only 3 of them, they don't act of one mind and, as seen by the resignation of Dion, they don't "grow their heads back" all too well.

A more accurate metaphor would be the chimera. Though the chimera is described as being female, while all the coalition leaders are male, the chimera has three very different heads. One is the snake instead of a tail (Layton, with his deal making with the Bloc while at the same time saying a coalition would never happen during the election campaign), the lion (Duceppe - the only one of the three that you know exactly where he stands - for Quebec, not Canada) and the goat (Dion, the sacrificial offering).

Another thing that seems strange for me is the reaction to proroguing the government. Pro-coalition folks are making a whole lot of noise about how undemocratic it is - which is really rich, since they're the same ones objecting when people call the coalition undemocratic.

Prorogue happens regularly. Prorogue simple means to suspend parliament without dissolving it. It's done every summer. It's also done every winter for Christmas break. Parliament was set to prorogue Dec. 12.

For 7 weeks.

I knew they were off for about a month, but 7 weeks? I hadn't realized it was for that long!

Anyhow. The GG simply prorogued parliament 5 days early.

Pro-coalition folks say that this is undemocratic because it allows Harper to "run away" from a confidence vote. Here's the thing. The CPC had already backed off from the things the coalition supposedly formed against. They'd made the concessions. This would have been a good time for the opposition to back off and claim victory, leaving the CPC to deal with the humiliation of looking weak. The opposition parties refused to accept those concessions and formed their coalition anyways. To my mind, the reason is pretty obvious. Especially in light of Layton's groundwork, laid long ago (we really need to have the time line of this made public!). The coalition's sole goal is to oust Harper. It's not about the economy, stimulus packages, or even funding. It's a personal vendetta against one person. The only thing the opposition parties hate more than each other is Stephen Harper. Not a stable basis for a working relationship.

Because of the timing - with Christmas break coming up anyhow - it wouldn't have made sense to dissolve parliament and trigger another election. It wouldn't make sense to accept a coalition that's tearing itself apart already as a new government. Prorogue was, really, the only choice. Step back, give the coalition time to either work things out or self-destruct, while the CPC puts together a budget.

People are also upset over the 2 month "holiday" our MPs are getting. Quite a few throw out some variation of how they wish they could get a 2 month holiday from their own jobs, too.

Here's the thing. Parliament may not be in session anymore, but this is no holiday. Neither is the summer break. Prorogue simply means the MPs aren't required to show up at parliament on a regular basis. They're still working. MPs of all parties are going back to their ridings, where they have to face their constituents. The CPC have to put together a budget, which will be introduced the day after parliament re-opens. A Sisyphean task, since the NDP has already said they won't support it, no matter what's in it, and both the NDP and Libs have rebuffed the CPCs request for collaboration.

Anyone still think the coalition isn't just about overturning the government?

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