How democratic are the Conservatives?

Tease the day: Government whip Gordon O’Connor claims his party is more democratic than the opposition.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

The irony dripped from The Globe and Mail‘s fourth page this morning. At the heart of it all was talk of democracy. The lead quote on a story about each federal party’s voting records—Conservatives break party ranks more often than the opposition, according to the Globe‘s analysis—wreaked of smugness and arrogance in equal measure. Gordon O’Connor, the government’s whip, spoke the following words in defence of his party’s record: “I guess in principle, we’re more democratic than the other parties, basically.” On the narrow basis of the Globe‘s analysis, O’Connor’s claim has merit. The Conservative policy on free votes has led to some measure of dissent from the party line, mostly with respect to private members’ business—when government MPs sided with their party just 76 per cent of the time, compared to, for example, the complete lack of dissent among NDP MPs. Whether or not that statistic makes a caucus more or less democratic than another is an argument to be had, for sure. But then there’s this memory, which deflates O’Connor’s argument.

On March 25, 2011, the House of Commons found the government in contempt. Remember that? The government was Conservative, its ranks in the House of Commons closely resembled its ranks to this day, and its take-no-prisoners approach to House business remains unmoved. The government was re-elected despite the finding of contempt, and that was surely, according to our voting system, a clean and democratic win. But to claim the party, generally speaking, is “more democratic” than anyone else is, “basically,” laughable.


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with new Conservative legislation to punish criminals who harm children. The National Post fronts highly ranked Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic’s victory that led Canada to the quarter finals of the Davis Cup tournament. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Health Canada’s newest strategy to urge Canadians to report side effects of prescription drugs. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Senator Mike Duffy’s alleged request to expedite a Prince Edward Island health card for himself. iPolitics fronts a profile of Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Bergen. CBC.ca leads with a Canadian woman, accused of helping members of the Gadhafi family leave Libya during the country’s 2011 civil war, who says SNC-Lavalin still owes her money for the work. National Newswatch showcases .


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Organized crime. Montreal’s police chief is urging the federal government to renew funding for a 46-member “Eclipse squad” that fights organized crime in the city. 2. Quality of life. The Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada seventh, with a “B” mark, on a Livability Index that measured the quality of life in advanced nations.
3. Voter ID. Three men in B.C. are appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold federal voter ID laws, originally enacted in 2007, based on claims the laws impede the right to vote. 4. Foreign workers. Two unions who took a mining company to court to block the hiring of Chinese workers at a B.C. mine claim hundreds of Canadians qualified for the same jobs.




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How democratic are the Conservatives?

  1. I think you need to use “reeked” not “wreaked” in this context. It didn’t bring into being smugness and arrogance but had an aura (odour) of smugness and arrogance.

  2. “when government MPs sided with their party just 76 per cent of the time, compared to, for example, the complete lack of dissent among NDP MPs”

    The fact that MPs don’t disagree with their party position does not mean it is a sign that they are undemocratic. It could just very simply be that they agree wholeheartedly with the positions taken.

    • To agree with the principles of socialism, you do indeed have to ignore all empirical evidence that would lead a rational person to disagreement with it.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Eh, I’m more bitter now that I’ve realized that more people in the NDP believe in socialism than I first thought a few weeks ago. The idea that people would dispute that the First Nations on reserves require access to private property and equity to lift them out of poverty and have responsible government was depressing.

          So my hatred of the NDP, given that they are willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of aboriginals for their utopian ideology has amped my hatred quite a bit.

          • I didn’t know anybody was saying natives shouldn’t be allowed to shop.

          • No, but they did say they shouldn’t be allowed to own their own homes or their own land on reserves as individuals. Then blame the inevitable problems of homes not being built to code, not built, or not maintained on anything other than the ideology that put the system in place.

          • Unless you are aboriginal or live on a reserve yourself, I suspect your “hatred” of the NDP springs from something other than a noble concern for the welfare of First Nations.

          • Not an aboriginal myself, but my first cousins are. They no longer live on the reserve though.

            Even if I wasn’t though, the problem is obvious. It is only people with hearts of stone that can look at the conditions on First Nations reserves that are caused by a complete lack of the means to access wealth, social mobility, and responsible government. Why are these things missing? They don’t have private property. Owning property and trading property is as natural to human beings as any other social interaction.

          • Members of the NDP (and I’m not one) would certainly be amused to know that, instead of being the “bleeding hearts” they’re stereotypically labeled, they now have “hearts of stone”.

        • Or the complete truth with a golfball show and tell.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • socialism

          so·cial·ism[soh-shuh-liz-uhm] Show IPA

          noun
          1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

          2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

          3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

          • That’s fine, but the theory of capitalism puts similarly limiting constraints on the world view of its adherents, too, usually based on the primacy of unfettered enterprise.

          • capitalism

            cap·i·tal·ism [kap-i-tl-iz-uhm] Show IPA

            noun
            an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

            I am perfectly comfortable with that “limiting” constraint. I also firmly believe that this system is the way to create the most wealth for everyone, and the entire field of economics backs me up. The only problem with capitalism is that there are too few capitalists, not too many. Largely caused of course, through state interference in the market to favour the few.

          • You’re entirely welcome to chose your own preferred economic model. Your belief in its inherent superiority is what’s disputable and, contrary to your assertion, not backed up by the “entire field of economics”.

            I rather doubt you’ve personally surveyed the “entire field of economics” in your journey towards such infallibility.

          • Hey, I’m always open to learn.

            Let me know of a society where people deprived of social mobility have had freedom, prosperity and happiness while being denied ownership of personal property, and I’ll take a look at it. Just one, mind you.

          • If by “personal property” you mean land, many aboriginal nations throughout the Americas before first contact with Europeans.

            That’s ‘way more than one.

            In any event, your premise that aboriginal poverty and social distress is solely the result of lack of opportunities for ownership of private property (or that, ergo, privatizing aboriginal property would solve these issues) is questionable, IMO.

          • Not solely, not by a long shot. Primarily, yes.

  3. The lefties keeps repeating the contempt charge as a legitimate thing. Lets remember a contempt charge rarely happens because the only time it would work is in a minority parliament. It was a bogus charge and everybody knew it. That’s why the public ignored it.
    However, where a real contempt charge should have taken place was the Liberals and their lies and hiding the real costs of the long gun registry. Both Anne McLellan and Alan Rock misled the House about the costs. That was a real contempt charge that should have been levelled at the Liberals.
    However, given the majority government of the Liberals it would never have taken place.

    • So votes in the HoC are not legitimate? Interesting point of view from a CPC supporter.

      • hey, remember they used to say that votes from Bloc members weren’t legitimate because they were from the Bloc? The party has a long history of insane bafflegag.

      • I suppose that opposition vote that accused the government of being in contempt of Parliament would have had some credibility with the electorate if it had been based on an actual evil scheme the government were hoisting on the people rather than an ongoing silly campaign of trivial complaints used by the opposition in an attempt to discredit the government.

        So the voters decided to punish an incompetent disruptive opposition and send a Conservative majority government to Ottawa for at least the next 8 years.

      • Once again you miss the point. Contempt charges will only be contemplated in a minority parliament. That means there are more combined opposition members than government members. No majority government is going to hold itself in contempt. Its not complicated.

        • But you didn’t answer my question: Are votes in the HoC not legitimate?

          • Of course the votes are legitimate. However, this one was contrived and quit ignoring the point. A contempt charge would never be contemplated let alone be passed in the House with a majority government. You know its true.

    • Party above country for ever and always, CPC supporters!

      • Utopian vision of shared control of the means of production above the reality that attempts to do so just lead to human suffering, for ever and always GFMD.

      • I guess we are just like the Liberals in that case. So far, the Conservatives have not been accused of stealing taxpayers money and found guilty in a judicial inquiry.

        • the CPC will never, ever have the courage to call an investigation into themselves. the liberals did so, found the party members responsible and punished them.

          • Paul Martin was naive and didn’t realize the state of corruption within the party. No party member got punished and you know it. Chretien, his Chief of Staff and Gagliano all had some form of responsibility and they skated.

      • Peoples Republic of Chinada

    • Ah, yes…Landslide Annie and Boy Wonder Allan Thick as a Rock

    • The cost of the so-called long gun registry boondoggle pales in comparison with the certain costs of the F35 fiasco on which the Cons tried to mislead Parliament. They were only saved from another charge of contempt by their own utter incompetence on that file.

      So please spare us all the sanctimony about Lib misdeeds.

      • The planes have not been purchased yet. They are funding the research and development as the Liberal government had committed to. The $2 billion in the long gun registry was spent on a fancy computer system that did not work. Where were the Libs when they negotiated the computer company contract to get assurances that the system would do what it was intended to do. So we p.ssed $2 billion down the hole. Lets not get started on adscam and the millions wasted there.

        • And while we’re at the business of not getting started, let’s not get started on the 50 million flushed down Clement’s riding or the billion (or so) wasted on Harper’s narcissistic G8/20 photo op (where innocent Canadian citizens got beaten up, while visiting media were invited to bask on the shores of a fake lake).

          Or the million p!ssed away on the wholly unnecessary transport of armoured cars to India for Harper’s vanity tour of that country.

          See, your guys started off with an unblemished record and a moral right to be all self-righteous about abuse of the public purse, but they’ve long since proven that they, too, can do the backstroke in the public trough just as enthusiastically as the Libs ever did.

          So, not only are the Cons as guilty of behaving like free spending wastrels, they’re hypocritical about it, too.

          • Clement did not steal the money. It was used in his riding. None of us liked it but the fact is his riding benefited from the spending. Harper was not responsible for what the police did. They were under the control of Dalton McGuinty and his band of crooks. I know you guys think that Harper controls everything but get your facts straight. Nobody condones the spending at the G7.

          • “Clement did not steal the money. It was used in his riding.”

            You’re too cute for with words.

            It was money appropriated for other purposes related to the G8/20, which was then allocated to irrelevant projects through a fraudulent process. And, contrary to his denials, the process had his fingerprints all over it. In other words, it was used as a slush fund to shore up his precarious standing in that riding’s polls.

            You’re very good at rationalizing and excusing virtually anything the Cons do and condemning anything the others do.

    • Who is this “everybody”? They were only convicted once but their contempt goes on and on…

  4. While our politicians are waiting for the ruling on voter ID laws, perhaps they could spend a little time considering caller ID laws.

    Given the robocalls voter suppression scandal from the last election, should we not be asking why it is acceptable for calls to be made displaying any number other than the number that is actually calling?

  5. a clean and democratic win? What the hey, MacLean’s as bad as theGlob, unless you know who Pierre Poutine is. Sheesh, media get a grip.

    • I think that’s why he added the clause “according to our voting system”, and not “according to our electoral system”

  6. The conservatives are more democratic, on private members bills. These bills represent about 1-5% of the total.

    Then again the other 95-99% of important legislation is passed in massive bills with little discussion and strictly along party lines.

    Ironically, a nasty virus which indiscriminately kills 95-99% of those infected could claim to be more democratic.

  7. Those of us who are reactionary thinkers don’t trust the election process. They fear the worst so they ensure democracy is never allowed to work. They don’t offer leaders. They offer rulers. It’s a shame because as Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” they never use reason so they miss opportunities. They miss what a Warren Buffet sees with avoidance of reactive thinking in favour of reasoned thinking. Maybe our reactive prime minister can change, but only if he is actually interested in democracy, not imposing his reactive thinking on all Canadians.

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