By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 30, 2012 - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas considers Bruce Hyer’s defection in the context of Thomas Mulcair’s hopes for regional outreach. Brian Topp considers Mr. Hyer’s defection in the context of the “bozo eruptions” that apparently hurt Wild Rose’s chances in Alberta.
Our political system tends towards hyper-centralization, and imposes a discipline on elected representatives that, at least some of them sometimes believe, disrespects and disempowers them. A “crisis of surplus consciousness” can result, in which the few at the top end up with too much to do (and therefore cannot do it well), which the vast majority of other team members end up with too little to do (and aren’t happy about it). This, to be precise, used to be said with reference to the hyper-centralized system in place in the Soviet Union. It could also be said of a number of poorly-led, hyper-centralized private corporations. It may be what parliamentary systems inherently drift into.
But as the Alberta election testifies, our political system also brutally punishes political teams who fail to maintain the tightest possible order in their ranks – at least as far as anyone can see – at every stage of proceedings including elections. “Bozo moments,” policy disagreements, strategy debated in public: Any chink of light is seized on as evidence of unfitness for office.
It seems to me there’s a distinction to be made between a candidate saying something that a significant number of voters find offensive and a candidate expressing a different opinion on policy or strategy, but it’s certainly the case that any break in unity is first and foremost discussed as a potential crisis of leadership.
Brian thinks “it is possible to have a respectful, deliberative, democratic political team that then presents a united front,” but the question remains, what does that look like? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The New Democrats have said they will unanimously oppose Stephen Woodworth’s motion—which, as private members’ business, would generally be considered a free vote—and Jeff Jedras argues that the Liberals should whip their vote.
If this issue is as fundamentally important as our messaging makes it out to be (and I believe it is), why are we not whipping this vote? If Harper not killing a private members bill is evidence he supports it, what does it say when the Liberal leadership lets its members vote for it? How are we any different? And worse, we’re launching petition drives and releasing pious press releases while pretending to be different. It’s ridiculous, and we’re setting ourselves up to look like hypocritical idiots.
As noted last night, the government’s chief whip spoke against Mr. Woodworth’s motion during the first hour of debate. During QP, the Prime Minister said it was “unfortunate” that the motion had reached the House floor. The NDP sent out a news release yesterday calling on the Prime Minister to prevent Conservative MPs from bringing forward initiatives related to abortion.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM - 0 Comments
Presuming that a method of counting votes can be found, Liberal delegates will spend some of this
afternoonevening voting on proposed amendments to the party’s constitution. Jeff Jedras seems to have the definitive guide.
Tomorrow morning delegates will convene to vote on various policy proposals. Once again, Jeff is the one to read.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 7 Comments
With all the countries in the world yearning for free elections and representative democracy, I refuse to seriously consider cost as an impediment to fairer representation…
I would truly love to see the Liberals be bold here and get serious with an agenda for democratic and parliamentary reform; let’s throw in looking at voting reform at the same time. It’s all part of the wider puzzle, and it’s time we stopped nibbling around the edges and got serious about this. But in the mean time, please stop complaining about the cost of democracy.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM - 25 Comments
Kate Chappell considers the Occupy movement and the act of voting.
A sign I saw this weekend at the Occupy Ottawa camp said something to the effect of voting as an institution being broken. But if the majority of us do not engage in the activities required of us by this institution, how can we fairly and accurately assess its effectiveness? I argue that we cannot begin to do so. It is ironic that the Occupiers’ main message calls for an end to inequality. Voting is the activity most blind to socio-economic status and a free, convenient means of registering one’s preferences..
Many of the Occupiers seem to be partial to anything but what we have now. In fact, many seem partial to an anarchic or communistic system. But let’s back up a minute. What if they had all voted in the last federal election? We would likely have a different prime minister.
Jeff Jedras previously quibbled with the suggestion the the Occupiers would simply be better off voting.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 11, 2011 at 4:07 PM - 11 Comments
In his debut for Macleans.ca, Jeff Jedras criticizes the current clamour for open primaries.
I want to broaden the Liberal tent and make it more relevant to Canadians too. But open primaries are gimmicky and unlikely to build a lasting connection between the Liberal party and Canadians at large. I just don’t forsee a groundswell of Canadians rushing to get involved to pick the next leader of the third party. Gimmicks aren’t the way to engage people. I’d rather build a democratized party where membership matters, and encourage Canadians to join and support us for our ideas.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 2 Comments
The private members’ bill set to be debated tomorrow is C-306, put forward by Mathieu Ravignat, the NDP MP for Pontiac.
This enactment provides that a member’s seat in the House of Commons will be vacated and a by-election called for that seat if the member, having been elected to the House as a member of a political party or as an independent, changes parties or becomes a member of a party, as the case may be. A member’s seat will not be vacated if the member, having been elected as a member of a political party, chooses to sit as an independent.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8:52 AM - 10 Comments
Jeff Jedras questions the suggestion that Occupy protesters would simply be better off voting.
Yes, they should get involved, but we should also reform our political system because, the fact is, it is viewed as irrelevant and ineffective by many Canadians, and not just the young folk. If we want greater engagement by citizens of all ages, we need to start doing something differently.
Off the top of my head, I’d suggest loosening the oppressive yoke of party discipline, empowering individual MPs to have personalities and agendas and represent their constituents and causes, and making the policy development process in political parties actually connected to their election platform instead of an exercise in pointless tedium. For starters.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 2:16 PM - 15 Comments
Jeff Jedras notes Stephane Dion’s continued dissection of the Harper government’s Senate reforms, including the exclusion of federal parties from the proposed process. Meanwhile, an informal poll of academics in Alberta and British Columbia finds overwhelming opposition.
Professors contacted in the two provinces agreed by more than a 3-1 margin with the proposition that the reforms, aimed at ensuring senators are elected and limited to nine-year terms, are against their provinces’ interests. The legislation, being debated this week in the House of Commons, “scares me, to be honest,” said University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan, a former senior Harper adviser.
John Geddes considers the massive questions left unanswered.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM - 3 Comments
In the wake of last week, Jeff Jedras looks forward.
I think the way forward is multifold. Politicians of all stripes should heed this message, and reconsider their ways. But I think the bigger challenge is for our citizens, and it’s two-fold. First, recognize that there are more Jacks out there, and in every party. Seek them out and support them as they try to work in a system designed to stifle them; too many good people give up on public life, but we need them too much. Help them persevere. Second, be the change you want to see. Get involved, up to and including running yourself, in promoting the ideal of public service you would like to see.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 2:08 PM - 0 Comments
Chris MacDonald draws a business lesson from the political career of Jack Layton.
Clearly, the challenge Layton faced—and by all accounts met admirably—is the same one faced by business leaders everywhere. And that is how to compete zealously in order indirectly to promote the common good, while at the same time resisting the natural temptation to behave in such a way as to bring the entire endeavour into disrepute. Competing in a zealous but civil way is an essential part of Jack Layton’s legacy, and a crucial challenge for all leaders in the worlds of politics and commerce.
Jeff Jedras takes the same lesson for partisans.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 1:56 PM - 11 Comments
While many may think we vote for a Prime Minister, in fact we don’t. And we don’t vote for a party either. We vote for a Member of Parliament to represent us in Ottawa. We send 308 Members of Parliament to Ottawa and, from their ranks, the governor general calls on one to form a government and test the confidence of the House of Commons.
Whatever people may base their voting decision on, the fact is we’re electing a person to represent us. If they change parties, or do something else that we disagree with, then we can defeat them when and if they run for re-election. But taking away their legitimate right to change party affiliations only serves to further re-enforce this fundamental misunderstanding of our political system and further dilute the role and responsibility of individual MPs.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 4:56 PM - 19 Comments
Bill Curry looks at the practice and impact of targeted tax credits.
The Public Transit Tax Credit was one of the most high-profile tax expenditures announced by the Conservatives in 2006. It was originally projected to cost more than $200-million a year, but has so far been coming in under budget at around $130-million a year. Four years in, experts are unable to say whether the program is encouraging new transit users or simply rewarding those who were taking transit anyway.
Michael Roschlau, president of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, said it’s a great idea to reward people for taking public transit, but the statistics do not show that the credit produced a spike in ridership. “We have not been able to attribute a direct correlation between the ridership trends and the tax credit,” he said.
Jeff Jedras laments.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 4:35 PM - 22 Comments
You see the country; you talk to people; you are in the incredibly privileged position of being able to knock on almost any door, phone up almost anybody, and have them talk to you about what they’re doing, feeling, hoping. My point is that political reporting, for the most part, day-to-day, whether because of dictate, habit, tradition, evolved instinct, ease – I don’t know why – doesn’t reflect this. Instead, it’s about Harper charges this, Ignatieff complains that, and as much as we – politicians and political media – find all this fascinating, most Canadians do not. Who’s to blame is not the point. I think, in fact, we – politicians and political media – bring out the worst in each other.
Unrelatedly, but relatedly, Jeff Jedras sighs in all directions.