Saturday, May 14, 2011

Canadian Realpolitick

I guess the head-in-the-sand attitude I'd adopted in the immediate aftermath of the May 2nd federal election results will no longer hold. The new political landscape has been brought home to me by three separate events this week:

1. At their annual march on Parliament Hill, pro-life activists looked newly emboldened, despite what Harper said during the campaign about not reopening the abortion debate. Apparently several of his bankbenchers haven't yet received this memo, because several of them were there making speeches about what was now possible for their movement with a Tory majority.

2. The Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case surrounding InSite, Vancouver's safe injection site in the Downtown Eastside. The city and the province want the clinic to remain in operation, backed by overwhelming statistical evidence on how many lives have been saved since its doors opened. Ottawa is arguing that the clinic's special dispensation to operate outside the Criminal Code is untenable, especially as that Code is administered federally. According to their lawyer, however, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Tories would shut InSite down, despite what previous cabinet ministers have stated.

3. And speaking of the Supreme Court, the announcement by Justices Ian Binnie and Louise Charron that they will take early retirement from the bench, combined with the mandatory retirements at 75 of three other Justices (Morris Fish, Louis LeBel and Marshall Rothstein) over the next four years, gives Harper the opportunity to recast what he has previously decried as an overly activist judiciary in profoundly conservative ways. Making the Court subservient to a Parliament whose democratic principles Harper has already proven he's more than willing to cast aside at whim would of course entrench his authority even further.

If most of the voters who chose the Conservatives this time around did so on the basis of their economic stewardship, they may be in for a very rude surprise in the coming years.

Just saying.


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