Tuesday, May 03, 2011
An Open Letter To Stephen Harper
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
The people of Canada have just given you the majority government for which you asked. Congratulations on your accomplishment! Looking back over the events of the past eight years, it is hard to believe that the Parties representing the right have moved from being fractured and largely ineffective to a majority in the House of Commons. Please don't forget from whence you came.
With power comes great responsibility. Canada is a wonderful country, and deserves the very best of its civil servants - there is a reason our elected representatives are called ministers. The previous House was known for its rancour and disrespect. I urge you, now that you have a majority, to lead the way in modelling decorum and cooperation. While there may be a part of you that wants to gloat over your adversaries, please rise above the pettiness and set a new standard for civility.
Many of us have watched your rise to power, accomplished partly by keeping a tight rein on your caucus and by limiting discussion to those issues not deemed offensive by the political center. While this has helped you to succeed in gaining power, I am not certain that it has served democracy well. There are a large number of Canadians on the right who feel disenfranchised. I am one of them. Many voted for you because your party was the least offensive of the electable options. But where do we go from here?
I know, for example, that you have promised not to bring forward a bill to limit abortion, and you have even pledged that your government would defeat any private members bill attempting to do this. This is in spite of the fact that Canada is the only country in the developed world with no abortion law. Political expediency is not a valid excuse to not do the right thing.
We elect people to parliament to represent us. Now that your party has succeeded in breaking the back of those who accused you of having a "secret agenda," can we please have a return to serious debate? Sometimes democracy is messy. Sometimes party members will say and do the wrong thing - regardless of party affiliation. But let us, at least, take the muzzles off and let all of the voices be heard and let the arguments be decided on merit.
You have just run an effective campaign and been granted a majority. You have clearly laid out your platform and now have the mandate to accomplish it. As you do so, remember that you are not given power merely to hold power. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” I truly hope that your character can withstand the rigours of power. Please sir, let your time in parliament be known for its commitment to democratic process and a commitment to do the right thing.
I truly wish you all the best, and my prayers are with you.
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