Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Democratic Rot In Canadian Politics

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper


Here's an interesting article on the state of Canadian politics for my fellow Canadians as well as readers south of the border:

by Michael Den Tandt

Is Canadian democracy sick? Anyone who watches Question Period daily would have to say it is. Democracy is on the canvas, laid low by the one-two punch of abusive prorogations and omnibus bills. The cretinous din of what passes for debate today in the House of Commons is a constant reminder that this is so.  (There are exceptions: more on that later).
Can the problems be fixed? Again, the consensus is yes. There’s no shortage of proposed remedies, geared to restoring Canadian Westminster-style democracy, or even improving it beyond what the fathers of Confederation imagined. Some are complex: Others are straightforward, and could be inserted into any party’s policy kit.
But do the parties want reform? Here, we enter trickier territory.
Conservative MPs would like to have more sway within the Harper government. In unguarded moments some will grouse aloud (but off the record) about the whippersnappers in the PMO, barely out of short pants. Cabinet ministers can’t much like the fact that, through the Privy Council, this PMO wields influence directly on the senior bureaucracy. Ministers today are spokesmen and women for the government – not decision makers.
There’s nothing cabinet ministers can do about this though without losing their jobs, or worse. Former minister Helena Guergis serves as an abject lesson. The prime minister will stand by most ministers through thick and thin, despite their mistakes: That appears to be the main benefit, for them, of ceding power. But if and when a minister gets ditched, it’s all the way and for good, with no hope of redemption. So, forget about seeking reform from within this government.