Do the evolution -

Do the evolution


Dan Gardner reads the front page of the Globe.

I thought it was embarrassing when a chiropractor was appointed Canada’s minister of science and technology.

I thought it was more embarrassing when physicist Steven Chu became US Secretary of Energy, thus setting up future meetings at which American science is represented by a Nobel laureate and Canadian science is represented by a man who thinks putting pressure on the spine is a wonder cure for all that ails us.

And it was still more embarrassing when the Conservative government, in a budget that tossed money to any upstretched hand, actually cut funding for scientific research. This, I thought, is the very depths of embarrassment. It can’t get any worse than this.

Well, I was wrong. Oh lord, oh lord! Was I wrong!

Later, he disagrees somewhat vehemently with our Paul.


Do the evolution

  1. Does Gardner buy you pints, and Selley when he was here, every time you link to him or something because you seem to present his arguments disproportionally to anyone else?

    Comparing American system to Canadian is inane. American president get to pick whoever they like to fill their cabinet positions while Canadian PMs are much more limited in who they choose. And the nature of the job is completely different as well.

    • I love it when the visionaries who lament the fact that our senators are appointed are equally disdainful of the fact that our executive members are elected.

      • It’s not disdain. It’s just a reflection of our system.

        Either the PM has to work with what he has in terms of elected members (who may be less than ideal for specific portfolios) or else appoint a senator (which can have unforeseen long-term consequences unless the perfect candidate happens to be near the Senate retirement age). It’s nothing like the American cabinet system, where the president’s chief advisors can effectively be hired from anywhere and fired if needed.

        • Actually, they can’t be “hired from anywhere”. Cabinet-level appointees are subject to confirmation by the Senate, and I need not remind you that even Obama, whose party enjoys a significant majority in that body, was not able to appoint his top choices to certain key positions.

    • I link to smart stuff, or stuff I find smart. I agree it’s unfortunate that people like Dan and Chris are disproportionally smarter than everything else.

      • I think this might take the prize for the most pompously arrogant and elistist statement you’ve ever made, Wherry.

        • Wow. I really want to reply to that, but, just…


        • Thanks. Is there a prize? Or at least a statuette I can put on the book shelf here beside my fancy books in the den?

    • Technically, (technically) couldn’t the PM appoint anyone to Cabinet? I agree it’s not generally done, and I’m not saying it would be politically viable, but in a technical sense, am I wrong in saying that the Pm actually ISN’T any more limited in whom he can choose than the president is?

      In fact, given that we don’t have a confirmation process, I think one could argue that in strictly technical sense (again, not at all practically) that the PM is actually LESS constrained as to whom he could put in Cabinet than the President is.

      • Everyday is a school day. I thought you had to be an MP or Senator to be in Cabinet but it appears anyone can be appointed. So, theoretically, PM is less constrained but also depends if GG would appoint Bob, from Elora, to the Cabinet if he was not MP or Sen.

        • Well, I think the GG would pretty much do whatever she’s asked, but it’s DEFINITELY legitimate to ask whether the PM would dare appoint Bob from Elora to Cabinet (answer: almost certainly “no”).

          However, what if, say, the PM overlooked Bob from Elora, but decided to appoint, let’s say John Polanyi (Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry) as Minister for Science and Technology or Robert Mundell (Nobel Prize in Economics) as Finance Minister? That wouldn’t be nearly such a gutsy move by the PM, and I’m not entirely sure that many Canadians would decry the appointment of a Nobel Laureate to Cabinet on the grounds that he wasn’t elected (given that any policy he recommended would have to go through the elected Parliament to go in to effect).

          By all means it would be a dramatic departure from past practice, but I’m not entirely certain that Canadians would object if HIGHLY qualified people were being appointed to Cabinet from outside of Parliament.

          Of course, they’d have to ACCEPT the appointment, which is another matter all together…

  2. Yeah, much cooler heads would prevail if Harper, say, went outside the elected MP’s to pick his entire cabinet.

    We only had to hear about Fortier/Emerson for HOW long again?

    Personally, I’d love it if Harper did not have to choose MP’s for cabinet posts.

    • Sure, as long as they were subject to confirmation by the Senate, just like in the US. I’d love to witness Gary Goodyear’s confirmation hearing in that case.

    • The cases of Fortier and Emerson were not about choosing non-elected cabinet ministers. For Fortier, it was a case of appointing him a senator first after Harper had spoken out against a non-elected Senate.
      Emerson was an elected MP. The objection was to the fact that he had run and been elected as a Liberal and had crossed the floor immediately after the election. The perception was that he had done so for a cabinet post.
      Other examples of cabinet appointees who were not MPs at the time were (I believe) Pettigrew, Dion and Trudeau, which, as I recall, did not draw much of a reaction at the time.

  3. Do the Evolution is a great Pearl Jam song, thanks for reminding me of it. I think I may just crank it up and try and forget about Chu v. Goodyear. Harper/Goodyear better be keeping church and state separate. Can we get back to election talk yet, I WANT ONE!