Hey, everyone - let's go hang out at Wells' place! - Macleans.ca

Hey, everyone – let’s go hang out at Wells’ place!


More specifically, the comment thread for this post, which is full of Senate reform debate-y goodness, and features ITQ as a Muttart-inspired archetype supporter of the status quo. What can I say, when it comes to the actual machinery of our democracy – the parliamentary system, in all its quirky, Rube Goldberg glory – I’m a bit of a radical.


Hey, everyone – let’s go hang out at Wells’ place!

  1. Some would-be senators have already started their speechifying over there.

  2. Kady, please tell me that Andrew Potter’s “Defend the parliamentary status quo at all costs, everything is FINE here, just FINE” school of thought hasn’t rubbed off on you.

  3. *Potter* feels that way too? I had no idea! I thought I was the only one. It’s been so very lonely in my tiny corner of extremist parliamentarianism. (Note: I’m not defending the current state of the House – quite the opposite; however, I would argue that the root of the current malaise is, in fact, a lack of respect, both literal and figurative, for the institution.)

  4. Padraic,

    I’m actually not remotely happy with the status quo, and I don’t think everything is fine. Whatever gave you that idea? I hate just about every reform introduced since the end of the Chretien era.

  5. I guess it was reading your blog for the past four years. So what are some parliamentary reforms you’d like to see?

  6. For one, I’d like to the repeal of the fixed-election law. I’d also like to see the elimination of the position of Ethics Commissioner.

  7. Ah, right. So I should have said “the status quo, circa 1982”. Or would it be 1867? Constitutionally-enshrined rights are, after all, a gross violation of the parliamentary tradition.

    Please tell me you at least would like a return to caucus-elected leaders in your uber-traditional legislature.

  8. Potter’s a status quo ante man.

  9. Again, not sure why you think my views on this are so antedeluvian. My love of the Charter is long-standing and well-publicised, and I’ve never suggested we’d be better off without it. I’ve never written anything about how to elect leaders, since I have no opinions on it one way or another. I’ve also written, quite recently in fact, on the need to possibly reform the equalization and transfer system, which would entail substantial reform/curtailing of the federal spending power.

    But I guess if turning Parliament into a Congress is your ideal, everyone else looks like a reactionary.

  10. Repeal the fixed election law? Why bother repealing something that doesn’t mean anything anyway? :)

  11. I don’t think you are a Charter-hater, rather I was just trying to point out parliamentary tradition has its limits. All I’m saying is if you’re going to oppose electoral reform, parliamentary commissioners, and an elected upper house, make the argument on merits (or lack thereof), not on the fact that it’s a divergence from the past. *Sometimes*, you fail to do that.

    Your comment about Congress here, and your reference to republicanism on the other thread, make me think you are the reactionary here: we’re supposed to run away from anything that has the whiff of a non-parliamentary system to it.

    When do we get to see the Coyne-vs-Potter smackdown on these things?

  12. Andrew,

    I agree. The 4-year fixed election dates are stupid, although it’s been tremendously amusing to watch Harper stew in them. The reality is we already *had* fixed election dates, unless the government should fall sooner. The constitution sets that at 5 years from the date of the previous election.


    Absolutely. A return to caucus selecting — and firing — its leader would be the most democratic change we could possibly make, as it would begin to re-empower MPs as our representatives to the party and to the government, instead of MPs serving as the party and the government’s representatives to us.

  13. Kady,

    Your thread has been hijacked! You sent everyone over to play elsewhere, and they came back and sullied your sandbox.

    I, too, think that the Senate works a whole lot better than many think it does.

    Elect the Senators? No way: to do so would introduce the same petty narrow-mindedness that often drives the House.

    Limit terms to 10 to 15 years? By all means. Doing so would let the past-their-due date Senators retire with dignity and would inject some fresh thinking into the place.

    So, I’m pretty much for the status quo. Or, I would be if we had a full Senate. But that’s a different story.

  14. Agreed, Miss or Mr. NTBN — the funny thing is that, as far as actual, constitutionally mandated duties that the Prime Minister must fulfill, there are very few, but one of them is advising the GG on the appointment of senators. I wouldn’t be surprised if some province – or, for that matter, some senator (hello, Serge Joyal!) – eventually drags the government to court to argue dereliction of duties.