By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 0 Comments
Last night in Toronto, the Donner Prize for the best public policy book in Canada was awarded to Democratizing the Constitution by Mark Jarvis, Lori Turnbull and the late Peter Aucoin. Mark graciously adapted some of the book’s proposals for a contribution to our series on the House last year.
Congratulations to Mark, Lori and Peter’s family.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM - 4 Comments
-Adopt legislation limiting the size of ministries to a maximum of 25 individuals and the number of parliamentary secretaries to eight.
-Use secret preferential ballots to allow committee members to select Commons’ committee chairs for the duration of the parliamentary session.
-Adopt a set schedule for opposition days in the House that cannot be unilaterally altered by the government.
-Reduce the partisan political staff complement on Parliament Hill by 50 percent.
-Restore the power of party caucuses to dismiss the party leader.
-Remove the party leader’s power to approve or reject party candidates for election in each riding.
That last one goes hand in hand with amending the Elections Act. It also fits with what I tend to think should be the focus right now: changes that can be made with (reasonably straightforward) legislation and amendment. And, as noted by a few readers, I’d add one other: changing the guidelines to allow for CPAC to show more than the individual speaking. In the interests of objectivity, assigning television directors to show a “televised Hansard” makes a certain sense, but, at the very least, stationary cameras should be setup that feed live shots of the government and opposition sides to CPAC’s website. You shouldn’t have to go to the House of Commons to see what goes on there.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 12:48 PM - 23 Comments
There are several reasons why the House performs its critical functions so poorly, but partisan politics in the House is not one of them. Partisanship is to robust democratic politics what competition is to an open economic marketplace. Partisanship flows from the fundamental democratic right to have one’s own political views, to organize politically with others of similar views, and, most important, to stand in opposition to others, whether these others are in power or not, and in the majority or not. This is why the opposition to the government in the British parliamentary system is called the “Loyal Opposition.” In opposing the government, it is not committing sedition, treason, or subversion against the state. On the contrary, it is performing a crucial democratic function. The opposition is recognized as legitimate in its criticism of the government.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 15 Comments
His last book—Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government—was released this Spring. (One of his co-authors, Mark Jarvis, penned a guest post for us a few months ago that outlined some of that book’s ideas for parliamentary reform.)
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 12:14 PM - 15 Comments
Mark Jarvis manages to take issue with both sides of the Brigette DePape debate.
… the point here is simply that of all the reactions that DePape’s actions have generated, it is unfortunate that greater reflection about what is needed to strengthen Canadian democracy and how best to address these needs have given way to overconfidence in the status quo.
You might remember Mark from previous posts like Three-part reform. The book he cowrote with Peter Aucoin and Lori Turnbull—Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government—is now on sale. You can read the first chapter here.