25 March 2011

Contempt of Parliament

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative party government has lost a vote of no confidence tabled after a parliamentary committee found it in contempt of Parliament. The accusation was tendentious and was simply an excuse by the opposition parties to bring down the government, but the result is Canada's fourth election in seven years.

With any luck the gambit will rebound on the perpetrators, but the incident made me ponder on how low the British parliament has fallen. The main categories of Contempt of Parliament are:
  • deliberately misleading a House or one of its committees;
  • failing to testify or provide required documents to a House or one of its committees;
  • attempting to influence a Member of Parliament by bribery or threats.
Those first and last of these acts are committed so regularly by British governments as to consitute standard operating procedure. If the Members of Parliament lack the collective pride to demand respect from the executive, they should not be surprised that the people they are supposed to represent holds them all in contempt. 

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