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Andrew Coyne’s Modest Proposal

January 10, 2010

The Canadian Interwebs are ablaze with anger over the recent prorogation of parliament and polls tell us that even the general population is quite upset.  Hopefully the fast growing Facebook protest group “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament” will tranlate into feet on the ground during the nationwide protests against proroguing on Jan 23, the Saturday before MPs were supposed to go back to work.

One clear indication that this is not just your regular scandal is that pundits, leaders and citizens from many different ideological directions are showing equal outrage at Prime Minister Harper’s disrespect for the insitutions of democracy.  Andrew Coyne is generally regarded as fairly conservative but in the old PC party way, not the Reform Alliance way.  Mr. Coyne has been a reliable advocate for increased democracy from proportional representation so senate reform to simple respect for parliament.  His outrage at the current situation in a recent Macleans article is palpable. Give it a read.

Mr. Coyne proposes discarding parliament altogether in favour of simple party elections and continual prorogation.  I think its clear Mr. Coyne is being satirical in the style of Jonathan Swift but his point is valid.  At present, Canadian parliament is disfunctional, by which I mean, completely non-functional.  The minority governing party uses public money to advertise their initiative and campaign outside of campaign season.  They use any apparent moment of weakness in their opposition to attempt to slip through tremendous steps backwards such as removing per-vote party funding, childcare, education initiatives, arts funding.  Meanwhile the opposition parties spend more time scheming about how to depose each other than how to contribute to or defeat the government.  There is no notion of cooperation between opposition parties for its own sake and when there is (ie. The Coalition) it is implemented in a sloppy and dangerous manner and then abandoned at the first sign of opposition.

In sum, the current parties in Ottawa have no spine and all are playing a game with the political system attempting to jockey themselves into power rather than attempting to represent the interests of the majority of Canadians as they were elected to do.

So perhaps we should do away with parliament.  Frankly I’d prefer doing away with parties, though I don’t think that is actually possible.  The best solution, as I’ve suggested many, many times would be to cooperate and implement real democratic reforms that would ensure future governments represent the majority will of the people and that the role of the Governor General is elected and not something devoid of all power.

Update: In case anyone disagrees with my analysis and does not believe Mr. Coyne is capable of satire…in his own words.

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