Let us now think seriously about this place - Macleans.ca

Let us now think seriously about this place


Janice MacKinnon, Rick Salutin, Jeffrey Simpson, Susan Delacourt and Ned Franks talk with Steve Paikin about the utility or futility of our current Parliament.


Let us now think seriously about this place

  1. Biased!

    Oops. Forgot to watch clip first.

  2. Is this the same broadcast that was flagged here a few weeks ago ?

  3. I think Rick Salutin has obvious got it right. What's fundamentally f-ed up about this parliament is that we have a government that isn't within a country mile of having the genuine support of a majority of MPs in parliament. And yet, because of a number of factors–lack of understanding of the parliamentary process, media reaction, Stephane Dion, the Bloc, a massive disinformation campaign by the PMO–Canadians also wound up rejecting the one option that could have rectified that problem.

    • Well, the Government would fall if a majority of MP's didn't support the Government on important bills.

      The problem really is that the country really is divided along regional lines, and the representative system reflects that. The Bloc is just the logical expression of the alienation of Quebec, the most extreme case of regionalism (among many). It's not that the system isn't working, it's that the country isn't working. IMO Parliament is a genuine expression of how plaintive, self-interested, infantile, and uncooperative the country actually is.

      • The country was certainly divided along regional lines in the 90's and in the first part of this decade, but is this still the case today? At the moment, polls show that the governing party is also the preferred party in every region of Canada outside of Quebec, where it is jousting for second place.

        • Well, marginally, but I fear the polls favouring any party do not reflect an underlying consensus; that is, Salutin's complaint is that Chrétien and Harper are able to govern without much of a popular-vote mandate. I just meant that you couldn't change the system to better reflect the popular vote because Canadians relish the regional power of representative FPTP. This much outweighs, I think, the frustration of Liberals in Alberta, Conservatives in Toronto, NDPers hither & yon, and federalists in Quebec. Thinking of Quebec alone, any change that prevented the Quebec caucus, be it Bloc or something else, from throwing its weight around via representative FPTP would break up the country. So Salutin's complaint is really a non-starter.

          • If every individual MP required 50% plus one to win their seat, they'd have to start treating their opponents with respect and show willingness to compromise during and between election campaigns.

            This seems like an obvious solution, but I have yet to see a single politican of any stripe suggest it.

          • That hadn't occurred to me! What a great idea.

          • I like this idea too. Any chance Macleans could discuss the pros and cons of this somewhere, rather than another game of verbal ping pong with the proponents of PR and its more vigorous detractors? Wells, Coyne, Geddes are you listening…maybe the new guy could be sucked into this debate?

          • Stay tuned. We'll start a movement. Surely it's got more likelihood of attracting broader public support than the current electoral reform advocates.

          • If every individual MP required 50% plus one to win their seat, Alberta would be the only province that would consistently elect MPs. I assume you're proposing multiple ballots, so there would be a runoff between the top two or three candidates? That could get complicated and cumbersome.

        • I live in Toronto, and the governing party is definitely NOT the preferred party here. Of course, many of the people who believe that the Conservatives are the Voice Of The People tend to ignore Toronto and the central cores of other large Canadian cities, in which there is very little Conservative support. (I'm not specifically referring to you as one of these people.)

          On my crankier days, I wonder whether the Conservatives would be happier if they could just kick Toronto and maybe Montreal out of Canada entirely.

  4. Jack – frankly – Federal politics – starting in the late 1970's are to blame (are you listening Joe Clark?).
    clark got to power – in part – by playing to the provinces – (remember Headwaiter to the Premiers?)
    Since then – successive Federal governments have been downloading to provincial governments. In Ontario at the mo – it's not just HST – but Job Development in Ontario was downloaded 3 years ago – quietly – similar program transfers in other provinces I believe – how can we view ourselves as members of a single united nation when our programs are being balkanized?

    • Bang on.

      Now – name one federal party that articulates centralization as an even remotely acceptable polciy direction…


      • And this is the real sin of the liberal party [ IMHP]. Ever since Trudeau departed the stage they've been full of passionate intensity while lacking all conviction.

  5. Nop, it's simpler than that – a preferential ballot. Just like all of the major parties use in a nomination race.

    • Oh. I didn't realize that you were referring to a preferential ballot system when you described it earlier.

      • Pretty hard for any of the parties to claim that it is undemocratic when they all use it internally.
        There's no real added cost to Elections Canada, except that counting may take a little longer on election night – but that, in itself has the added bonus of negating the need for the regional blackout on results…
        Best of all it forces voters, campaigners and candidates to seek middle ground and local consensus, as opposed to PR which encourages excessive partisan brinksmanship in the House.
        It would also put an end to ethnic profiling as an electoral strategy.