Speaking of Venezuela - Macleans.ca

Speaking of Venezuela


David Frum, speaking in, and of, Venezuela:

In our modern world, we have two main systems of democracy. In the United States, France, and Mexico, the executive and the legislature are elected separately. Powers are separated, and each checks and balances the other. In Britain and the British Commonwealth, in Japan, and in most of Europe, the legislature is elected directly and the executive derives its power from the legislative majority.

Political scientists argue about which system is better.

But all agree on which system is worst: a system where the executive controls the legislature. You can call this system by many names: guided democracy, Peronism, socialism with Chinese characteristics.

By whatever name, the system of executive supremacy over the legislature amounts to the same thing: unchecked power. Such power can never be trusted. And those who most avidly seek such power are precisely those who can least be trusted with it.


Speaking of Venezuela

  1. I knew there were international anti-prorogation rallies planned for today, but I hadn't heard that they were holding one in Venezuela!

    I wonder if Mr. Frum is one of the 213,000 people in the Facebook group?

    • They don`t need to prorogue the parliament in Venezuela. They banned the oposition and organized a militia stronger than the army itself, and it is linked directly to the president.
      Don`t dare yourself to compare Canada with Venezuela. I guess you never left North America in your life, you have simply no idea of what it is going on in Venezuela.
      Inflation of 36% a month, serious goods distribution and violence. Caracas today is the most violent city in South America, way more dangerous than Rio de Janeiro.
      Don`t dare yourself to compare any Canadian leader with Hugo Chavez. Even if we were talking about a Liberal Prime Minister.
      Have you heard of Harper sending strong militar weaponry to any international drug cartel? That`s what Chavez does with the FARCs.
      Have you seen Harper sending his militia to shut down CTV? Or perhaps Radio Canada, since they are separatists? I never heard of. But Chavez just did it AGAIN yesterday. Over 30 radio stations and half a dozen TV channels.
      I have a guess: you don`t like anything the Conservatives do, but if the Liberals do it, you would cheers like a boy in a hockey night.

      • When I sad "serious goods distribution", I meant "serious problems with goods distribution". I will clarify my statement: markets, groceries and convenience stores have many empty shelves. There are huge lines for sugar, milk, rice, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

      • If Mr. Coyne can put his tongue in his cheek I think I'm entitled to reply in kind.

  2. "Countries with very strong presidencies and weak, overawed or suborned legislatures are especially vulnerable to non-transparency. Who will ask questions? Or enforce answers? Or check the accuracy of those answers if given? The media can never do the job by themselves – and if the media are also controlled or intimidated, then billions of dollars can vanish into the murk. Money can be lost without being stolen."

    Frum could have written that about Canada anytime within the past 20 years or so.

  3. That's a great speech. It's surprising he made that speech in Venezuela, I'd expect that Chavez would be none too pleased, so Frum might have needed to make a hasty exit.

    It's easy to see the analogy Andrew Coyne is making. Of course, there is a difference with what has happened here – Harper has the power to determine when a legislative session starts and ends, but he does not control what happens within that session. However, perhaps we need to consider some checks on the power of prorogation as some have suggested. At the same time, senate reform is a good idea as well. I think that having elected senators that were able to enforce their own legitimate control over what comes out of the legislature would be beneficial as well.

    • He obviously can control what happens within the session as he has demonstrated in the past two. Last winter he knew he was likely to lose a confidence vote and so asked for prorogation. This last session he didn't want to produce the requested Afghan documents as ordered so he prorogued again. Pretty hard for Parliament to do anything when he won't allow them to sit.

      • Like I said, when parliament is in session, he doesn't control what they do (Obviously, by your own words! As if Harper was engineering his own no-confidence vote). He can only control when the sessions start and end.

        • While you're limiting the analogy to only the current minority situation, it is very hard to argue that a majority-leading PM doesn't control parliament to the degree described. That's a fault of our particular brand of the system, since other westminster parliaments reportedly don't have the same problem (at least, not to the same degree).

      • To add to the other replies to you immediately above, there is also the reality that Harper at least, if not other recent PMs, has effectively minimized or mitigated the work of the committee system via obstruction tactics.

        • I do not agree with that assessment either. It is the committee members of all parties that decide whether a committee functions well, and Harper is only peripherally involved.

          • So if the PM doesn't like how that committee is functioning a handbook on how to disrupt that committee is justified?

          • According to Wikipedia the memory-span of a goldfish is at least three months.

          • What's the memory span of a squid?

          • Heh, you do have a sense of humour.

      • Harper was not simply facing a vote of non-confidence last year. The Canadian public, who had resoundly rejected Stephane Dion as PM mere weeks previous, were having another government forced upon them that had zero democratic legitimacy. What the coalition was attempting was to usurp the government without going to the people.

        The government has explained this years prorogation away with many different reasons, many of which are valid.

        Parliament also has one heck of a democratic option to do something, it can vote non-confidence in the government when parliament resumes and go to an election. The opposition is allowed to dislike things the government does. But that government is the government until the people say otherwise in an election.

        • "What the coalition was attempting was to usurp the government without going to the people."

          And the government's response? Shut down the opposition's only mechanism to take the question to the people.

          • "And the government's response? Shut down the opposition's only mechanism to take the question to the people."

            Perhaps the Opposition SHOULD have brought this coalition mechanism to the people DURING the election only a mere few weeks prior???? What a rediculous point you made………as usual!

    • Simplistic Senate reform (the sort currently being talked about) increases the power of the PMO. Senators with limited terms facing elections will be susceptible to being "whipped" just like our MPs.

      • Maybe you could elaborate how they would be whipped then as opposed to now. In my estimation, it is the opposite of what you are saying. Now they are appointed by the PM, so obviously they are beholden to him. If they are elected they have legitimacy of their own.

        • How are senators beholden to a PM after they have been appointed?There is no formal mechanisn under which a PM may remove or influence a sitting senator [ outside of perhaps crimminal activity] The senate is limited as it is precisely because they are not elected. We don't need another elected body competing with the HOC. What we need is for the PM[any PM] to no longer have sole control over appointments.

        • Be careful, you are crossing standard conservative talking points. (Harper regularly calls on the Liberal House leader to "control" Liberals in the Senate.

          But to be serious, it is money, nominations and influence. For a party in power the PM effectively controls purse strings, can override local nomination procedures and decides how much effort the party will expend in key ridings. True these occur at election time and long terms would help. (Remember the 12 year term is a compromise, Harper was originally proposing much shorter terms) Between elections, there are cabinet seats, committee assignment and status within caucus.

          I am not saying these issues cannot be dealt with, I am saying that the proposed reforms do not deal with them.

  4. I wish she had decided otherwise but as many folks say, perhaps M. Jean had no choice but to grant both of these legal-but-still-wrong suspensions of Parliament.

    So Andrew, David: Do we need an elected GG with some real political power to make minority parliaments work and majority govt follow the rule & spirit of the law?

    • One of the things I ended up researching was our concept of Responsible Government, how we came to have it, the outright revolt before we had it, the violence right after we had it, etc. What I took away to apply to this time and circumstance was that we, the people, must be responsible for our government. We must, if needs be, force our government to be responsible to us. If we elect someone above our current parliamentary system to be the one *really* in charge, then will we soon have to elect someone above that someone to be *really, really* in charge, and so on?

      The problem is that we elect 308 someone's, but the inching of power taken by the Prime Minister's office over our country's lifetime has gotten to the point that those 308 someone's have practically zero power. This can be fixed, and it can be fixed without even changing our written Constitution. We, the people, just need to make them get on with it!

    • You mean, we need to go back to having a queen or king?

      • You hadn't noticed that we have a queen?

        • Aren't you clever. We do have a queen, and I don't need your snark to point it out, a queen who acts as nothing more than a figure head. The GG is her representative, and the GG role is mostly symbolic as well. Idiot.

          • Utterly humourless, aren't you.

          • I'll laugh if it's funny.

    • I think if could find a way to elect (That is the citizens of Canada would have a direct or indirect role in nominating the GG and the LGs ) would go a long way in restoring the balance between the PMO and Parliament. The constitution would have to be recalibrated (pardon the pun) and some well established precedents would have to be revisited but in the end a GG with some real but limited powers (like the Irish or German presidents) would be good for Canada.

    • I certainly believe that Jean had a choice (and made the right choice). Both suspensions of parliament were wrong, however the GG's job is not to attempt to micromanage or even manage the PM. By convention, she was expected to grant the PM's request. The only real reason for not granting a sitting PM's request is that substantive damage will be done to the country. While Harper's shenanigans over the budget statement last time and his avoidance of a parliamentary committee's oversight this time have damaged Canada's democracy, (for the Conbots: by weakening important conventions that in the Canadian system had previously acted as a check on the power of the PMO.) that damage is transient and easily corrected by the voters as noted by Jenn.

      At some point, we may well need an activist GG to stare down an out-of-line PM. Personally I hope we have someone with Jean's backbone and character when if we reach that point.

      • A better choice would have been to send the PM back to face a CV in the house. I don't know if there could have then been some horse trading to avoid a loss of confidence. But that might have produced a useful outcome and a chastened PM?…if he had lost she could still have refused the coalition[ although i don't know on what grounds?] and granted an election…of course it's doubtful that would have gone well for a coalition

    • I think we are capable of having a governor-general or president either elected by the people or selected by parliament.

  5. David Frum on Hugo Chavez. I wonder what he might say ?

    • Something sulphurous?

      • I was thinking more along the line of another data point on an axis of evil ?

  6. Yup, it's a struggle between the exexutive power and the legislative power. I wonder how many of the demonstrators know the difference between the two.
    In any case, Canada needs to have a good hard look at how it's being governed, and that includes asking the question why we still have an unelected senate and why a provincial party is so readily participating within federal elections.

    The system we've got is pretty rotten because it's in essence a run-away form of British example. Why can't we, as Canadians, decide for ourselves what would be workable for our country instead of wanting to follow British examples at all cost. We have outgrown the British parliamentary system for more reasons than one.

    • You should tell this to the Americans as well, whose system is based on British colonial government.

  7. "Political scientists argue about which system is better."

    Electoral systems (majoritarian vs. consensual), are a much bigger source of debate than legislative vs. parliamentary. And to be fair, China's not doing so badly these days. We fetishize democracy in the west, without understanding what it is. I am not free because I live in a democracy, I am free because I live in a liberal democracy with a constitution that guarantees certain rights.

    • True. Democracy alone is not enough, it doesn't avoid the oppression of minorities. Venezuela is a good example. Chavez is elected but has managed to eliminate all checks on his power. He controls the judiciary as well, rendering the constitution toothless and guaranteeing no individual rights. People have no individual rights, so he can destroy lives by shutting down media and restricting free speech, expropriating possessions, expropriating wealth, and ruining the lives of any who do not serve his interests.

      • "Democracy alone is not enough"

        Rule of law and property rights are the most important things in developing a stable country. Democracy is great, obviously, but I would choose property rights over democracy if forced to choose. I would rather live in Singapore than Venezuela.

        • I would add a vibrant civil society. We need to ask what prevents governments from seizing total control in our own democracy. Is it the laws or institutions themselves? No. It is near-universal support for those laws and institutions. It is the fact that people talk politics amongst one another. It is the fact that people organize politically (without resorting to military means).

          The erosion of checks and balances in Venezuela are possible because there isn't the same kind of civil society supporting them (even before Chavez, democracy didn't exactly thrive anyhow).

        • Singapore vs Venezuela? I think almost anyone would choose Singapore!

          • I choose Singapore because it's not a democracy, it's a one party state – authoritarian – but they are former Brit colony and have mostly kept common law. It is interesting country – I think Chinese Communists will need to emulate Singapore if they want to stay in power and create wealth at same time.

          • Yes, it is a pseudo-democracy, a democracy where the same party always wins, and the government does not allow effective opposition.
            It's hard to say where China will be going. I agree that the status quo is not sustainable in the long run in China. Whether they can emulate Singapore, that is a good question.

  8. In other word, Canada''s predicament under Jean Chretien was much more worrisome than it is today under Stephen Harper.

    And it was less worrisome under Joe Clark than it became nine months later under Pierre Trudeau from 1980-1984.

    Though I suspect David Frum might agree with these two observations, I am not sure where Andrew Coyne would come down on either.

    • Campaigning for the Senate, Norman, or an Ambassadorship somewhere?

      • Senator Spector… has a nice ring to it, I must agree.

        • I'd be inclined to vote for Spector for a senate seat.

          • Odd how Mr Spector leaves his own time under Mulroney out of his bizarre assesment?

          • Sorry, not sure what you are getting at, and I have a queasy feeling that I might have forgotten something…got a link or some other clue?

          • I believe that Spector used to work for Big Bri…

          • That's it? That much I did know; I'm going to need something more concrete (and despicable) to withdraw my 'vote'.

          • I wasn't really getting at anything other than i found it odd how NS referenced Chretien and Trudeau's majorities and not Mulroneys. But maybe it was me who didn't fully get NS point.

          • OK, I can go with that. Hmmmm, on second thought, maybe Spector's communication skills aren't up to the task of being a senator. :-)

    • I would agree with that assessment. Trudeau and Chretien had far more control over the legislature.

      • Yes, they did. Why would that be again?

        I can't for the life of me remember a reason that Chretien might have had more control over the legislature than Prime Minister Harper does.

        Give me a little while… it'll come to me.

    • I totally disagree as regards Chrétien. The fiercest opposition he faced came from his own caucus – and a majority Liberal Senate. Did he not have to name four extra senators in order to have the Clarity Bill adopted by the Senate because a number of Senators voted against it? Want to go through a quick recap of the bill on cruelty against animals?

      How many liberal MPs voted against same-sex marrriage? How many against setting up the gun registry? And there were a number of Liberal MPs who voted against the Martin government's initiatives.

      Now name me two bills where a number of Conservative MPs have voted against the Harper government's initiatives.

  9. "socialism with Chinese characteristics."

    This cannot reasonably be considered worse than most forms of democracy. Polls show that Chinese are much happier with the direction their government is going than those in so-called liberal democracies and that their government more accurately reflects the will of the people too. Taxes are much lower, nobody is getting called racist for owning a pickup truck there, nobody is losing their jobs for opposing gay marriage, unlike America.

    1973 called, Frummie, they want their narrative back. Seriously, you guys got to get off this China bad, liberal democracy good jag you're on, it simply is not factually accurate. Democracy, in most countries,*inevitably* leads to the Chavezes, and Thaksins, and Ahmadinejads, idiot demagogues wildly popular with the masses who promise poor people the world and ruin their countries in the process.

    "I am free because I live in a liberal democracy with a constitution that guarantees certain rights. " – Hahahaha, oh that's funny. As if we have freedom of speech, or association, or conscience here in Canada. Our constitution is so full of loopholes that it's not accurate to say these rights are "guaranteed". They can be stampeded over in the name of "employment equity", or by whatever a radical court determines "can be justified in a yada yada yada". Canadians, in a global context, cannot reasonably be considered free. Free to complain about the government? Big deal, it doesn't get us anywhere.

  10. "IMO all MPs, including the PM, should get the same salary. Period. Equals. "

    I'd like to build on Lorraine's brilliant suggestion by further advocating that burger flippers make the same coin as brain surgeons. Period. Equals.

    Complaining about MPs salaries is the ultimate in penny wise and pound foolish in a country where federal government spending is rapidly approaching $300 billion a year.

    • As prof Franks noted this week, our MPs make double the base salary of MPs at Westminster. Yet, at Westminster, MPs act more independently. The caucus of the ruling party at Westminster is not beholden to the cabinet. They even forced Thatcher out of there!

      They (the party leaders) control the legislature by controlling the bonuses and the flow of money to finance election campaign advertising, etc. We are left with MPs who are answerable to their parties, not to their constituents. We are rapidly moving towards spending $350 billion because of that. There is too little scrutiny of government from within the Con caucus.

      And yes, I'll dare say it, there was more when Chrétien was there. In fact, he could have ended up like Thatcher!

    • And by the way, Democracy Blows, when I wrote " I am concerned not by the amounts but by the multiplication of bonuses" I meant exactly that. It's not about county pennies but about counting the pressures put on MPs to toe party lines – hence our loss of government scrutiny from MPs who are not in cabinet.

  11. With a front-page editorial and "protests", this issue has really jumped the shark.

    Ignatieff says it is a threat to democracy but will not vote non-confidence because when they threaten an election "that Canadians don't want" they tank in the polls. Ignatieff is not against prorogation but promises only to prorogue less often.

    Layton is against prorogation (which is fine as he would never be in a position to use it anyway) and at the Ottawa rally says it is "not too late" for PM to call GG to recall Parliament (i.e un-prorogue). Not going to happen.

    So where does the protest go now? It will not succeed in reversing the prorogation. There will be no election as Ignatieff has said so. So where does this rage go? Nowhere.

    Harper can't believe his good fortune. With all this non-sense over prorogation which in the end will burn itself out because it won't be reversed, there has been absolutely no mention of Colvin or redacted memos or war crimes (Recall Flanagan saying he supported prorogation because the Opposition was using Parliament to "harm" the Canadian Forces).

    We know from Karl-Heinz Schrieber/Mulroney affair that Harper can be pressured into agreeing to a public inquiry. So if the "Parliament will fight!" anti-dictatorship protesters had kept on the pressure (in spite of prorogation) Harper might have been pressured to agree to an inquiry on Afghan detainees. But bizarrely the negative "protest energy" went against the prorogation decision itself, and both Ignatieff and Layton fell for it. It's a bonus for Harper because not only is the channel changed from Afghan detainees but the current protests against prorogation will go nowhere, but also because the "movement" will look weak and impotent because it will result in nothing because we are year(s) away from the next election. An extra-bonus is Ignatieff and Layton are saying the same thing thus bringing back thoughts of the coalition-thingie.

    When Parliament resumes on March 4 we'll have a budget and any negative political energy will be wasted on headline-and-Facebook-grabbing faux-outrage over prorogation and Senate appointments. Colvin and his redacted memos will be long forgotten. Win-win for the Prime Minister.

    • Keep telling yourself that.

      • In other words the ends justify the means.

    • "Layton is against prorogation (which is fine as he would never be in a position to use it anyway) … "

      Yeah, but just imagine if he were.

  12. Canada is still a colony, Harper is still in power because the queen stopped the coalition government and that my friends is colonialism, this womes (the richest in the world) owns most of Canada's land as well as Australia and other nations.

    Besides the queen who is a zionists we have the other powers…..the business lobbies just like in the USA the tell the harper regime what to do. The Bilderbergers run the show and anything close to socialism is a no-no. Canada's health care and employment insurance is socialism and if you give Harper a chance he will privatize it…he has tried and will continue to try.

    As for thi Mr. Frum campaign against Chavez and Venezuela all I can say is that he is just a mercenary at the service of the criminal mafia who wants to control the world.

    How about the all mighty USA sending 20,000 soldiers to Haiti to shoot those who survived the quake? ain't tjat great, everybody else is sending doctors and rescue teams while the USA take the oportunity to invade and set up a new military base. God Bless Amerikkka!

    • "How about the all mighty USA sending 20,000 soldiers to Haiti to shoot those who survived the quake?God Bless Amerikkka! "

      Good job at comment control Maclean's. You should be proud to attract readers like Palumundo. Just kidding, you should be ashamed.

      • American (and more recently Canadian) troops have been used in Haiti many times, and generally not for the good of the average Haitians. Trepidation regarding having US troops in another country is based on experience.

        no shame there Explainer – just a difference of opinion

        • Americans cut off aid to Duvalier for ten years because of his brutal oppression. Papa Doc actually complained that the Americans were racist for giving aid to D.R. and not Haiti. That's hardly evidence of propping up a brutal regime as leftists claim.

          American occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century was actually a high point in human rights there and most Haitians would prefer the Americans to occupy Haiti rather than have to deal with their own government, which they hate. I conducted my own investigation into the matter because the media has been negligent in telling us the real deal and I was not surprised by what I learned – the claim that America has oppressed Haiti is a crock.

          Three thousand (some say ten thousand) NGOs in Haiti, many of them American, millions in foreign aid, thousands of Haitians allowed to immigrate to America, and people still criticize America. That's not a different opinion Pal is expressing, it is a wrong opinion, a bad opinion, and an evil opinion. As an Anglo Canadian I am entirely justified in being extremely concerned at having explicitly anti-White anti-Anglo freaks and hatemongers like Pal (and possibly you) living in my society.

          It's simply false – and hateful in the extreme – to say 20,000 troops were sent by the Americans to shoot the survivors. That comment goes well beyond hate speech and should be deleted and his IP address forwarded to the FBI and CSIS.

          • Hate speech? why aren't they sending doctors ?and I assume you believe that Iraq is now a democracy free of weapons of mass destruction? Why are they setting up 7 military bases in Colombia and destabilizing an area of peace? oh yeah I forgot…the war on drugs….uhm…funny thing is…wherever US troops go, more drugs seem to get produced, see afghanistan before and after the invation, also Colombia before and after plan colombia, drug production has gone up not down. US believe they are the police of the world and drugs finances their plans.

            I guess you only like comments that agree with your Anglo Canadian mind, you assume I am not Anglo Canadian because I disagree with you? what is your society? one that agrees with mafias sending our kids to die in a war based on lies? btw do you think I don't know that anything and everything in the net is monitored already by the fbi and csis etc You will be happy with a fascist estate explainer, don't worry it won't be long before we get there.

          • They are sending food, water, soldiers to keep the order and safety of all doctors and nurses. Yes, their doctors are also militar.
            If the US didn`t send soldiers you would blame them for doing nothing. So they sent the soldiers, and you complain about that.

          • I'm not kidding, by the way, call this one into CSIS, the FBI, and Interpol, this guy is a time bomb/potentially genocidal maniac who is clearly inciting hatred and contempt against Anglo Canadians and Anglo Americans; a hatred that goes well beyond legitimate criticism and veers into incitement of genocide, something that Macleans' virtually 100% white/Anglo staff should be concerned about. They'll come for you first.

            Seriously: America sent twenty thousand troops to shoot the survivors? This is reasonable debate? Are you f*cking nuts Maclean's? The implicit agreement and support of Palomino's genocidal spew (where is the criticism?) by the Maclean's commentariat, nearly 100% lefitst, is duly noted, by the way.

            Yeah, I think the FBI and Homeland Security should know that Maclean's is providing a forum for genocidal maniacs to spew hatred towards America and the Anglosphere. That would be reasonable. Canada is a signatory to an international protocol on internet hate (Convention on Cybercrime, signed in November of 2001 by the Liberal gov't); as Irwin Cotler noted at the time: "Incitement to hatred can itself be a connecting link to terrorism, and in some instances, it's the most proximate cause of terrorism itself." Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go drop dime on this terrorist website, enough is enough.

          • Is that you Mark?

          • Wow
            whoever Explainer is, I think he is worried about … genocide against the Anglos????

            even farther out there than the Biderbergers stuff and "shooting the survivors"

    • Tinfoil hat special, aisle 3.

  13. The ultimate constraint on a parliamentary governing party is the threat of losing a confidence vote and thereby losing power. In Canada, currently, for Heaven's sake, the opposition outnumbers the governing party. Therefore, why doesn't the opposition vote them out? Well, we know the answer to that. The real problem in this country is an opposition which is transfixed with trivia, such as prorogation (for Heaven's sake). Go for it, opposition, and oppose.

    • Go for it indeed. If the government puts some poison pill or other in the budget, it's election time. I look forward to Harper getting his 3rd minority in a row and seeing his underlings get restless.

      • Let's ban the opposition…there, happy now? Or would you prefer a cowed opposition?

        • Er, I think you missed my point– I was calling excanuck's bluff. Harper won't have the gonads to poison-pill the budget now that he's down to tied-with-the-Libs polling territory. I don't want a cowed opposition at all.

          • My remark was directed at excanuck, . I just hate to jump the queue sometimes. Sorry bout that.

    • I never get tired of supporters of a government that prorogued Parliament explicitly to avoid losing a confidence vote, suggesting that it's just the opposition that is scared of confidence votes.

  14. I don't think we have outgrown the Westmester system – we have deviated from it too much because of salaries, indemnities, etc., we give our MPs and because of the way we finance their private clubs or political parties, if you wish (they're not our political parties – parties are not part of our institutions).

    Looking at the salaries and indemnities package, starting from 1867 to today, I am concerned not by the amounts but by the multiplication of bonuses, idem $15,600 for acting as Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole in addition to the $155,400 base salary. Half of the house obeys their party leader in order to get their bonus while the other stays quiet in order to get one of these posts. IMO all MPs, including the PM, should get the same salary. Period. Equals.


    • I'd like to build on Lorraine's brilliant suggestion a little more honestly. (Although auto mechanics making 1/10000th of a CEOs salary is also something we can talk about DB)

      While I do believe extra work deserves extra reward, perhaps a system can be devised where the PM is not the final (and only) appointer of these "bonus" positions. There are a lot of them, so I'm not sure if a caucus vote would be effective, or what. But it is worth thinking about.

  15. Harper's power seems to be unchecked by reason of the Opposition's refusal to check him, for it's own several purposes. So it's not just the Tories lording it over us. It's the political class in it's entirety. Maybe the sentiments held by the voters in Massachusetts will move northward in the spring!

  16. Harper has a minority government. Prorogation forces a vote of confidence on the Speech from the Throne. If Harper is bad for the country and is a tyrant, the Opposition is being given an opportunity to stand up and defeat him instead of whine.

    The problem is not prorogation. The problem is the cowardice of the Opposition parties. They are unwilling to defeat a government they claim is bad for the country. The stalemate in the country is prolonged because the Opposition is afraid to make their case to the people in an election campaign.

    No Constitution can solve the problem of cowardly politicians who only talk and refuse to vote on their convictions.

    Stop whining. Defeat the government.

  17. Democracy delayed is democracy denied.

    • Funny…i thought the clear message from the electorate throughout this whole minority govt has been stop playing games and do your job? Whenever either of the main parties has strayed from this the polls have reflected that fact. The opposition parties may well fear losing an election, and with good reason. They need to present a credible alternative to the public before pulling the plug…anything else is rolling the dice.

  18. To vote against the ruling party en-masse? Seems possible.

  19. Yep…if you call him an idiot he'll start whining about how you lack courtesy.

    • You're like one of those pesky nippy little terriers.

      • It's all in your mind. I'm rarely angry. I'm more of a border collie type…need constant working or i get snappy.

    • her timely exit from the political scene couldn't happen soon enough. Even the greens aren't stupid enough to keep her.

      • This is what she flew across the country to deliver. Apparently Victoria (where Akin contacted her) wasn't good enough. Never mind those ghg emissions. I couldn't watch it all.


  20. This has been the reality for a long time. The check on federal power comes not from within the institutions at the federal level, but rather the provinces. The population has generally maintained a divided provincial/federal government by party, which has ended up being the true opposition.

    The prorogue of parliament is just a continuation of the dysfunctional institution we have had for a long time. The real threat is the non entities that make up the provincial premiership, and the various institutional arrangements that make the provinces beholden to the federal government.


  21. Pity we can't grow bananas to complete the comparison.

  22. Frum taking on the Harpies!

  23. The check on government spending comes from the House of Commons. The federal spending power is a different matter as it relates more to the areas of spending than the sums spent by government. In areas that are 100% the responsibility of the federal government, idem, defence, diplomacy, parliament is 100% responsible for checking spending.

    But as Democracy Blows demonstrated in his comments to me, he and many give more value to spending than to scrutiny.

  24. If you marchers want true Democracy ……start marching for ONE VOTE ……ONE TAX PAYER !

    In other words vote in a referendum ! BY PASS THE POLITICIANS and move the laws forward and up to date .

    The only country in the whole world that has up to date laws is Switzerland . I vote Federally (Switzerland ) regularly . I know my vote counts and politicians CAN NOT CORRUPT MY BALLOT it trumps them .

    For THAT MARCH ……. I would be there !