'Any limits on content or opinion were my own' - Macleans.ca

‘Any limits on content or opinion were my own’


Bit tardy in getting to this, but here is the late Doug Fisher’s last column for the Sun, reprinted on the occasion of his recent passing.

I carried the opposition MP’s mentality into journalism. Over the years, my opinions have been more critical than approving of whatever government has been in power … The arrogance of government, its overwhelming control of Parliament, and the opposition’s weakness were a big theme during my four parliaments as an MP—much discussed on the Hill and in the press. I carried that theme with me to the press gallery and have often written about it.

After nearly 50 years, I can only say that government has become immense, the prime minister’s office is vastly bigger and more powerful, more attention than ever is paid to party leaders and in particular to the prime minister, and the House of Commons—whose weakness we bemoaned back in my time in it—has withered almost to insignificance…

Today’s MPs are easily as able and hard-working as during the Diefenbaker years — as well as better educated and provided with far better facilities and support services. Paradoxically, they play a far smaller, less important role than MPs of yore, undermined over the years by a hardening of caucus discipline and by the swelling cadres of aides and spin doctors in the offices of the prime minister and the other parties’ leaders.


‘Any limits on content or opinion were my own’

  1. Do you happen to know when it was originally printed (and thanks for linking to it)?

    It is kind of eerie to read since it sounds like something that could be written about the previous generation of Parliament and the generation before them and the one forming before us now. Government can't help but to grow itself, concentrate it's power and turn open institutions into increasingly distant bureaucracies headed by increasingly autocratic and arbitrary wielders of power.

    The older I get the more I reflect on the more wide-eyed impressions I held of government and become increasingly disappointed as the chorus I once thought made up government is little more than empty rhetoric, rehearsed and rehashed, aiming to placate the people politicians represent and fuel the partisans who can't help but think their team is any different.

    The more one glimpses into the past the one more sees neglected and often-repeated wisdom unheeded, setting the course for history to be repeated… power allowed to become arbitrary while the fans cheer and boo the spectacle, thankful none of it is real.

    Thankfully our bureaucracy is monolithic or our democracy would have eaten itself long ago… and yet so sad the bureaucracy needs to be monolithic.

    • But Fisher's complaint is not with increased bureaucracy, it is with the increased concentration of power within the PMO. Unlike bureaucratization which tends to grow simply from time, the problem of the concentration of power is due to structural imbalance. There are more obvious solutions, and it is a more pressing need.