December 09, 2008

Despotism Due North?

Our great neighbor to the north is in the midst of a rather interesting political situation. To avoid a vote of no confidence in his minority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament -- and she has assented.

Having a parliamentary system of government instead of a presidential system like ours, Canadians vote for a Parliament, which then selects a government. There are sad and dangerous examples in the last few centuries where a despot has seized power by dissolving the legislature that placed him in power, thereby remaining perpetually in power.

I certainly do not believe that such a fate awaits Canada, but after seeing our great nation turn to torture, suspend civil liberties, and institute an alarming increase in presidential power, I believe we should all see democracy as a fragile thing that must be guarded jealously.

I hope the voters of Canada offer a swift and unabiguous repudiation to Harper for this move, because Canada is an example of democracy to the world that we can't afford to lose.