A guide to democracy

by Aaron Wherry

The Public Policy Forum has released a summary of a roundtable conducted in March to discuss the loosely agreed upon rules by which we govern ourselves. This follows a workshop organized by constitutional scholar Peter Russell in February.

The contributors to each are esteemed and varied. And the overarching objective would seem to be to codify much of what is presently unwritten or poorly understanding: essentially to create something like New Zealand’s Cabinet Manual, an idea Mark Jarvis considered in his essay for our continuing series on the House.




Browse

A guide to democracy

  1. Hey Aaron — enjoyed your discussion on TVO last night. I wonder if any of the leaders caught the show.

  2. Hey Aaron — enjoyed your discussion on TVO last night. I wonder if any of the leaders caught the show.

  3. We definitely need more written rules….so far we've been operating much of it on 'tradition, precedent, and gentlemen's agreements'.

  4. We definitely need more written rules….so far we've been operating much of it on 'tradition, precedent, and gentlemen's agreements'.

    • We also need more written decisions. If someone gives an order or a directive, it should be clear where it actually came from before anyone obeys it.

  5. Can we have a democratic "manual" for the media, too? Or do they escape any responsibility for our current state of politics?

  6. Can we have a democratic "manual" for the media, too? Or do they escape any responsibility for our current state of politics?

    • As long as it applies to the NP and the Sun chain as well as the others…I would back that.

  7. As long as it applies to the NP and the Sun chain as well as the others…I would back that.

  8. OMG an MP with respect for Parliament!!!!

    "Of course I realized there was some partisan advantage for me, and other MPs, if I allowed this to happen, but it was not in keeping with the democratic traditions of Parliament, nor was it respectful of the office of the auditor," Christopherson said.

    "The hypocrisy of the move was too much. Political parties have done their fair share of sitting on auditor general reports in the past."

    Christopherson said simply changing the rules to suit his partisan advantage would be wrong.

    "Too often, [MPs] they seem to see Parliamentary Committees as a place to play partisan games," he said.

    "Talking about respect for Parliament while railroading changes through without notice or consultation with the auditor general I thought was wrong. How could I ever attack the prime minister for not respecting Parliament, for playing partisan political games, if I pulled a stunt like this?" http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/s

  9. Well, first, any "manual" would have to be self-imposed. Otherwise, we lose freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I just think that a lot of people in the media like to point fingers while shamelessly ignoring their own conduct. How is that journalism? How does that served democracy?

    Second, yup, standards should apply to everyone. In fact, and this might come as a surprise to some on here, some of the front pages coming from the Sun during this election have been laughable. But it's a small splash compare to the hyped up nonsense coming in from the liberal press.

    For the most part, I think the National Post is alright. They engage in the hyped up nonsense, but not as much. And they give a voice to those who think it is hyped up nonsense.

  10. OMG an MP with respect for Parliament!!!!

    "Of course I realized there was some partisan advantage for me, and other MPs, if I allowed this to happen, but it was not in keeping with the democratic traditions of Parliament, nor was it respectful of the office of the auditor," Christopherson said.

    "The hypocrisy of the move was too much. Political parties have done their fair share of sitting on auditor general reports in the past."

    Christopherson said simply changing the rules to suit his partisan advantage would be wrong.

    "Too often, [MPs] they seem to see Parliamentary Committees as a place to play partisan games," he said.

    "Talking about respect for Parliament while railroading changes through without notice or consultation with the auditor general I thought was wrong. How could I ever attack the prime minister for not respecting Parliament, for playing partisan political games, if I pulled a stunt like this?" http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/s

    • He said there are very strict rules around how the auditor general's reports are released and that changing the practice for partisan gain would be wrong.

      "In my view I did the right thing in terms of why I'm there and whose views I'm representing in that committee," Christopherson said.

      The NDP candidate said he'd make the same vote if he had the chance to do it again. Christopherson said now that the draft reports are in the public realm, he said it would be beneficial to release the final report.

      "It wasn't about the content, it was about the integrigy of the auditor general's work. These rules are in place for very good reasons," he said

      Naughty naughty Leo…didn't your mum teach you not to pick cherries?

      • Gotta get them b4 the crows, lol!!!

        On a more serious note, I hope Christopherson is sincere, not playing to the media on the "Ottawa in broken" theme and only Jack can fix it.

        • What you got against crows? :)

          Yeah it would be nice to know there are still MPs who respect the process. It also highlights the fact that Ignatieff may be fast learning his partisan homework despite his rhetoric. It is a depressing picture really, and one of my main concerns with buying the libs did it too line. Right now some bright wrong lib or dipper is studying SH and thinking: " Works for me"!

  11. We also need more written decisions. If someone gives an order or a directive, it should be clear where it actually came from before anyone obeys it.

  12. He said there are very strict rules around how the auditor general's reports are released and that changing the practice for partisan gain would be wrong.

    "In my view I did the right thing in terms of why I'm there and whose views I'm representing in that committee," Christopherson said.

    The NDP candidate said he'd make the same vote if he had the chance to do it again. Christopherson said now that the draft reports are in the public realm, he said it would be beneficial to release the final report.

    "It wasn't about the content, it was about the integrigy of the auditor general's work. These rules are in place for very good reasons," he said

    Naughty naughty Leo…didn't your mum teach you not to pick cherries?

  13. Gotta get them b4 the crows, lol!!!

    On a more serious note, I hope Christopherson is sincere, not playing to the media on the "Ottawa in broken" theme and only Jack can fix it.

  14. What you got against crows? :)

    Yeah it would be nice to know there are still MPs who respect the process. It also highlights the fact that Ignatieff may be fast learning his partisan homework despite his rhetoric. It is a depressing picture really, and one of my main concerns with buying the libs did it too line. Right now some bright wrong lib or dipper is studying SH and thinking: " Works for me"!

  15. Unfortunately, Peter Russell has repeatedly shown his monstrous pro-Liberal bias … and that is reflected in the limited way in which he has approached matters of parliamentary procedure – as a means of reinforcing conventions that would reinforce the prospects of the Liberals …

    His selective discussion of the Westminster system … and the conventions that have grown within the selective parts that he chooses to discuss, leave out a huge lot of the history of our Parliamentary system … and of the principles that underpin it.

    The parts that he reinforces are the parts that give the Parties so much power … and the people so little of what Parliament was intended to give them …

    Of course we need change … but we need change that will allow the people to actually choose the government … instead of letting the party hacks do it … and the required change won’t come if the parties are allowed to impose more party-reinforcing conventions that leave the people out .

    One other important factor that prevents us getting a sound DEMOCRATIC government, is or the role played by a largely ignorant … and hugely emotive … and immensely impressionable but self-important media …

  16. “Codify” or “write down”?

      I don’t think anyone’s proposing that our unwritten conventions be codified into written law.  Writing about our conventions and historical precedents, even in some “official” document is not the same as “codifying” our conventions.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *