Last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided his government would oppose the mandatory long-form census. Since then, nothing has changed his mind. His right-wing ideology and political instinct combined to make a policy that’s being denounced by almost every leading institution and commentator in Canada.Wow!
His decision was also opposed inside the government by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and by Industry Minister Tony Clement, who’s responsible for Statistics Canada, the agency that administers the census.
Both wrote to the Prime Minister, underscoring the importance of the mandatory long-form census to compile the most accurate statistics on which so much public policy and private-sector decision-making depends. The issue went back and forth inside the government, but, as with everything in Mr. Harper’s Ottawa, the Prime Minister decides.
His is a government in which most ministers are reduced to silence, except for those kept on short leashes, and in which everything, down to astonishingly small details, are decided by the Prime Minister, and only by him. His mind can be changed, but only occasionally and usually only after the passage of time between his initial decision and a new one. In this instance, despite internal discussion, his initial decision has stuck.
I have rare moments when I actually agree with any pundit, let alone Jeffery Simpson, but Jeebus H on a Popsicle stick, he nailed that one.
Question? (Hopefully, Jeffery can assist with the answer.) Why are Flaherty and Clement still in cabinet? Shouldn't they resign as a matter of protocol? We do still have conventions of leadership in government, do we not? If a minister is opposed to the decision of cabinet do they still enjoy the confidence of the prime minister?
Or, is it different with an uber-right-wing government?