Friday, 28 June 2013

Get Off Your Duff: Democracy Watch Continues to Fail Basic Civics

Recently the founder of Democracy Watch has once again been given a soap box from which to preach his unique brand of republicanism. An opinion piece in the Toronto Star unduly conveys that notion that he is an expert in his field. The problem is not that he is a republican – the idea of monarchy is morally repugnant and runs contrary to modern conceptions equity and fairness - but that he is consistently wrong when it comes to the subject. His sense of the Canadian Constitution – both as a text and the elements of convention that animate it – and the workings of the Canadian Crown are grossly inaccurate and detract from a serious discussion of the subject.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Partisanship and Parliamentary Politics

One of the recurrent criticisms of the Harper government is the extreme partisan nature of how it operates. It is certainly true that the current government has been more overt in its partisanship, particularly as a tool of control – both of the message and caucus – and as a means of combatting the opposition. This hyper-partisanship has clearly been problematic, sharpening the barbs hurled at enemies – real or perceived – and raising the level of rancor and vitriol, particularly in Question Period and in the form of attack ads. Indeed, partisanship and the Harper are largely synonymous.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Irresponsible Government: Holding the Third Party to Account

Accountability in Canadian politics is often a tenuous commodity. This is particularly the case in majority governments where the executive maintains both a firm grip on the House of Commons and the rules that govern it. The incumbent government is fond of using parliamentary rules and standing orders to curtain debate and speed bills through the elected chamber, making ample use of time allocation, closure and, perhaps most problematic, the use of omnibus bills. The ways in which a government can, if it so wishes, attempt to avoid accountability in the House are, as such, myriad.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Rathgeber Charade

The consensus building around the exit of Brent Rathgeber from the Conservative caucus this past week has settled somewhere between heroism and martyrdom. He has been applauded by the opposition and the pundit classes alike for his stalwart defense of parliament and the right of to the individual Member to be free from the shackles of party dominance. Rathgeber, in short, placed principle above party, parliament over politics. As Andrew Coyne of the National Post put it:
 This is what people of principle do, when they find themselves in a position their conscience cannot abide: They resign. This is what normal politics looks like.