One minor observation on Jack Layton’s visit to the National Press Theatre


It is a truly remarkable thing that, with the Prime Minister and two opposition leaders individually and publicly committed to Making Parliament Work, our democracy remains an utter mess.

Kady has far more comprehensive coverage here.


One minor observation on Jack Layton’s visit to the National Press Theatre

  1. Noam Chomsky would say that this public commitment to MPW is the first indicator that they are collectively engaged in a plan to undermine the institution.

  2. I agree with the gist of your observation, but I wouldn't say that our democracy is an utter mess. Compared to many other democracies around the world, Canadian democracy is relatively functional, civil, orderly, and corruption-free.

    Minority governments can be a real pain, but polls show that most Canadians are comfortable with the idea.

    • Another election in the Fall could change much of that. Canadians are a placid populace till something finally pushes them ver the edge. It, will Canadians tire of annual elections, is a huge unknown that nobody can predict….even if you ask them. This is why the parties are being cagey about it all.

      So to ultimately support your point, the parties are refelctive of the mood they hear and sense, which kind of means that things are functioning reasonably well.

    • "Minority governments can be a real pain, but polls show that most Canadians are comfortable with the idea."

      The key word, I think, is "comfortable." On the whole, Canadians are feeling very comfortable. The recession has hit some part of the country very hard (eg. automotive and forestry regions), but generally speaking there is little public (as opposed to personal) angst. Given our dysfunctional democracy at the federal level, I think we are in the process of proving that there is no depth of dysfunction to which a comfortable electorate is not prepared to sink.

      • The only reason so many Canadians say they are comfortable with minority governments is because they think opposing them would be racist.

        • If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.
          –Oscar Wilde

          (The truth here being that many Canadians are so uninformed, their polled opinions about things like "minority governments" are automatically suspect. But this is true of many Western democracies)

          • Todays self conversation star to the muppet. In the original post he tells us that polls show that Canadians are comfortable with minority governments. Waits awhile then tells us the polls are crap… (but does get to add a quote (I think from the guy in the garbage can))

          • You're right, Stewie, I should really try to be less nuanced about this sort of thing.

            My first post was 100% correct (polls certainly do show that Canadians are comfortable with minorities).

            Justin Wordsworth (the one with the Oscar the Grouch avatar) chimed in with the jokey point that we can't always extrapolate from such polls with any degree of confidence, because some respondents probably misunderstand the question. It's a valid point – it doesn't mean the polls are "crap", though.

            Jack Mitchell also made the excellent point that the high comfort level of Canadians (public complacency, rather than public angst) actually serves to enable democratic dysfunction.

          • I never trust the Polls, aren't they the ones who put screen doors on their submarines?

  3. Jack is committed to making Parliament work, if his votes mattered, we would have had close to 100 elections in the last three years, costing Canada about 300 billion. About the only thing they work on is making sure it looks like the Liberals hold the bag.

    • Parliament does more that vote on bills and confidence motions.

    • Sounds like economic stimulus to me! That's what Canada's socialist, big-government Prime Minister Stephen Harper is all about, isn't it?

  4. The cutest thing about this post is the idea that because the leaders of the parties are committed to something publicly that that somehow means they're actually, you know, "committed" to it. LOL What evidence is THAT supposition based on?

    Need I even begin to list the things that our leaders have, in the past, been publicly committed to right up until the very moment that they very publicly did the exact opposite? Even just limiting ourselves to the current government provides a list of "public commitments" as long as my arm that weren't worth the videotape they were captured on. Arguably this government has gone so far as to enact legislation (more than once) that they claimed fulfilled a publicly made commitment that, on it's face, did no such thing. They've even had to have it explained to them, in public, that legislation they passed didn't do what they said it did, and in no way satisfied the commitment they'd made publicly, even though they had pointed repeatedly to the legislation and claimed that it was the fulfillment of said commitment (go ahead and guess which instance I'm talking about, 'cause there's more than one!). And, of course, previous administrations were no better, the current guys and gals are just the latest in a long line (who was going to eliminate the GST again???).

    I think the only "truly remarkable" thing here is this notion that the public commitment of a party leader actually means something.

  5. If Parliament ever begins working I'm sure Jack Layton will demand it be taxed heavily in order to support other, less fortunate governments.

    • I know it's very, very wrong of me to admit this, but I can't stop giggling at this comment.

        • Complacency isn't working.

      • Me Too! it is a good burn as it works on so many levels –

  6. "Making Democracy Work" is about as meaningful a phrase as "Support Our Troops".

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