Politics

My wish list: John Geddes on pundits, politicians and policy

Why Senate reform efforts should die an early death along with all the hand-wringing about productivity

Macleans.ca has asked its leading bloggers, pundits and critics to weigh in with what they’d like to see in 2012—in politics, television, film, books, wherever. The wish lists will run throughout the month of December and will be archived at macleans.ca/wishlist.

(1) When pundits, lobbyists, economists, former bureaucrats and retired politicians—along with sundry other commentators— decide to pronounce on the state of Canadian health care, I wish they would stop just saying it’s getting more expensive. We know the population is aging and demands on the system are increasing. No point repeating it over and over, unless you’re also offering concrete suggestions for reform.

(2) When cabinet ministers puff out their chests and declare that they are taking responsibility for dubious goings-on—blatant pork-barrel spending in their ridings, say, or failure by their departments to keep Parliament properly informed of costs—I wish they would actually take responsibility. Just speaking the words doesn’t make it so. They must say which bureaucrats or political staffers have been fired or demoted, or offer the prime minister their own resignations.

(3) I wish work on reforming the Senate would be abandoned and work on abolishing it taken up with gusto.

(4) When pundits, lobbyists, economists, former bureaucrats and retired politicians—along with sundry other commentators—decide to pronounce on Canadian productivity and innovation, I wish they would stop just saying they aren’t good enough. We know productivity lags and corporate R & D spending is too low. No point repeating it over and over, unless you’re also offering concrete suggestions for reform.

(5) As the long, complex task of renovating and restoring the historic and beautiful buildings on and around Parliament Hill continues, I wish the prime minister would swallow his pride and revive the project to convert the former U.S. embassy—that handsome, needlessly empty Beaux Arts building directly across from the Peace Tower—into a national portrait gallery.

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