Bless this mess


In a two-part post—here and here—Kady O’Malley reviews all that has befallen Parliament’s committee system.

The first one to collapse  was Procedure and House Affairs. where a motion to investigate the Conservative Party’s in-and-out electoral financing scheme led to meeting after meeting after meeting of government members running down the clock to prevent the vote from being called. Eventually, the opposition parties got fed up and ousted the chair — at the time, one Gary Goodyear, since ascended to the ranks of junior cabinet minister — which really did not go over well at all, particularly for Joe Preston, who was elected to take Goodyear’s place, despite his vehement protestations. After accusing the opposition of forcing him into indentured servitude, which made for a truly touching acceptance speech, Preston reluctantly took the chair, and adjourned the meeting, which turned out to be the last one the committee would hold until well into the next year.


Bless this mess

  1. What's the opposite of accountability? The Conservative Party of Canada.

    Thank god Kady is such a Parliament nerd (in the most positive sense) and reports on this stuff.

  2. And the governing party should only participate in parliamentary work when the purpose is to sing its glory.

  3. We're passing not even half the laws we used, so sayeth Ned Franks. Harper is showing up for fewer QPs than predecessors, so sayeth Le Devoir. And in the only places left for any real work to get done – committees – sabotage by government has become the norm.

    Begs the question: has anyone been tasked with – oh what's the expression, now – *governing the country*?!?!?!?!


    • Do you equate governance with the number of laws that have been passed?

      • No, but I think that crafting legislation is a pretty central function of the legislative branch.

        Laws constantly need to be tweaked to stay relevant and effective, never mind those that don't exist but should, and those that do exist but shouldn't. It's not the only way governments accomplish stuff, but if things like House debates, QP, and (especially) committees are not taken seriously, then the legislative function itself is not being taken seriously.

        If they're not debating laws and policies in Parliament, then what are they there to do?

        • I don't disagree with your second paragraph.

          But at the same time, I often feel that legislatures pass too many laws, often attempting to regulate in areas where they should not (passing laws that affect everything under the sun, such as the prominence of the French lettering on signs in Quebec, the colour of margarine, and the permissible locations of bowling alleys). So I happen to like the fact that minority legislatures pass fewer laws – when new laws are truly needed, they will be able to get something done.

  4. Maybe it's time for a check-in with the Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher?

    According to his website … "During his time as Minister, Fletcher has introduced democratic reform legislation that would strengthen Canada's democratic process."

    Maybe a reporter or two could call him up and ask him what he's doing to "strengthen" the committee process and "strengthen" the role of MP's. Call him up and find out what he's doing to earn the extra dough he's paid as a Minister.

  5. Parliament should reform the committee system and take inspiration from the most democratic land in the world: <a href="">Alberta. If the Conservative caucus could meet in Tory-only committees that take place behind closed doors, don't publish minutes and entitle their members to an extra $12,000, there would be no more boycotts, scripted shenanigans or pesky investigations. The little people at Tim Hortons could be safe in the knowledge that the government is providing Strong Leadership without interference from opposition politicians, who are Just Visiting anyway, and Special Interests (i.e. Canadians).

  6. It is a little sad that Kady is still producing the best content for Macleans.

    • Seriously, not having somebody doing her stuff is a big big hole in what they have to offer. I realize Kady is irreplacable, but couldn't they at least try to have somebody doing play by plays for important government meetings?

  7. I think the lesson here for the opposition is "Stop using committees for political showboating, and the government won't feel it has to respond in kind."

    • All this accountability stuff waaay to expensive and cumbersome anyway.

      And besides, it's a Conservative government where "our principles don't apply to us".

      • The nerve of it…the opposition being the opposition, representing the views,concerns of actual people who voted for them… what next?

    • Parliamentarians should, as a rule, ignore what the governing party does.

      • They should be talking about governing the country, and issues Canadians face. A committee should not be used as a tool to embarrass and demean half the committee members.

  8. Unfortunately, the canwests and suns of the world are only happy to heap more Tiger fluff and Olympic photoshop-ops for our sweet teeth. Nary a word to hold our government accountable (in most instances, or buried behind above pap).