Harper Settles for Tripoli Senate
If you can’t get what you want, change what you want. That seems to be one way of redefining success. For years in the early days of the Reform Party and “The West Wants In!” campaign, Stephen Harper and his fellow reformers talked about smaller government and other reforms to make Canadian government more responsive and democratic. One of those goals shouted from the unrepresented hinterlands and spoken boldly from the Opposition benches is now more of a wish-list thing…that is, a reformed Senate for Canada.
The language used in the old days was Triple-E: Elected, Equal and Effective. Everyone knows that Mr. Harper has now taken control of the Senate by appointing a whole slew of unelected (and some perhaps unelectable) Tory Senators to help him pass legislation with a minimum of foot-dragging. Real Senate reform and the real election of those Senators may still come... someday. Now that Mr. Harper has a majority in both the House and the Senate, he may be able to restructure government significantly. How he proceeds in that regard is still to be seen. Most Canadians realize he has already succeeded in concentrating power around the PMO and in his expanded cabinet.
However slowly democracy may be advancing on the home front, we now have other ways to measure our influence, including our recent involvement in Libya’s civil war, a war which seems to have reached its logical conclusion, with the overtaking of Tripoli and Moammer Ghadaffi’s stronghold. Without NATO’s air strikes and what began as enforcing a “no-fly zone”, it is doubtful that the beleaguered rebels could have toppled the strongman / dictator. What is far from clear is what kind of regime will be established when the oppressed become the dominant players. This writer believes the cure could be worse than the disease. Let’s all pray that I am wrong.
This year has been a year of tumultuous and chaotic change, beginning with the Arab Spring. No doubt the pent-up frustrations of the citizens of Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya provided fertile ground for foment. There is also no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and other manifestations of Islamic jihadists have poured fuel on the fire in the not-unrealistic expectation that these nations will become a cohesive springboard for increased terror and pressure on Israel and for the spread of Sharia throughout the world.
The amazing thing is that Canada and its NATO partners jumped into the fracas in Libya with so little discussion or debate. There is no shortage of dictators in the world against whom Canada could wage war at any time if that were deemed useful and expedient. The civil war which has raged in Sudan for twenty years and cost over two million lives is just one example of innocent citizens being brutally killed by those in power. In fact, in our own country, 100,000 innocent Canadians are killed each year by our government. We call it abortion. Stephen Harper doesn’t want to discuss it. Why is Libya chosen for an area in which Canadian troops and supplies should be deployed because a madman is abusing his power?
Canada should look closely at its alliances. While we wish to be a good neighbour to the US, jumping into every war in which they entangle themselves should not be a pattern we can’t break. With Barack Obama at the helm, we need to really question whether our complicity may lend support and legitimacy to regimes which will become a threat to real democracy in the future. I suggest Mr. Harper get back to making a Triple-E Senate work at home before claiming victory in a Tripoli Senate in Libya.
Of course, now that Libya has been thrown open to the winds of change, Canada should use any political capital it has earned with the rebels to stress the importance of religious freedom, freedom of speech and equality for women in its government-in-transition. My expectations are not high but we should not be afraid to promote the kind of democracy we believe in—even if we have not achieved it yet ourselves.