POP Quiz for Democracy fans!

Elizabeth May

OK, everyone really committed to regaining democracy in Canada; can you spot the whopper in the following statement from the Prime Minister?

“Do I realistically expect that everybody who works for me is perfect? No.  We can’t run an operation like that.  But when people make mistakes, we expect them to own up to them and learn from them and I’m sure they will in these cases.”

I am still reeling from hearing Stephen Harper say that on last night’s national television news in response to questions about bad (abusive) behaviour from his ministers in airports.

I am sure you all spotted it too.  “Works for me.”  Works for you?  No they do not work for you, Mr. Harper.  You are not CEO of Canada, Inc.  A wholly owned corporation of you.  These Members of Parliament, whom by your decision hold the title of Members of Privy Council, like you, are working for the people of Canada, through a venerable institution called the Parliament of Canada. 

What does it mean to be a “Member of Privy Council?”  Special access to you?  No, the Privy Council is a body historically to advice the monarch.  Our system does not directly elect a Prime Minister.  We elect 308 MPs and, in principle if not in practice, the Prime Minister is first among equals.  It would be constitutional for MPs to gather after an election and pick a lesser known MP with great skills in team-building and consensus development to be the Prime Minister.  The reason that cannot happen is that the MPs are also governed by something beyond our constitution -- the rules governing their political parties. 

These people do not work for the PM.  They owe their primary duty to the voters in their constituencies and to the country as a whole.  This is not “an operation.”  This is a democracy within which, Mr. Prime Minister, you hold a minority of public support.

I feel like having a tequila tantrum myself.  (No need to alert the authorities.  Any such tantrum will be in the privacy of my own angst about dwindling democracy.)