Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Michael Chong and the Canadian Revolution
Well it's not exactly the French Revolution eh? But this being Canada it's probably the closest we can get to one.
Michael Chong has presented his Reform Act that would shake up our Parliament to its very foundations.
Conservative MP Michael Chong today tabled the proposed reform act, a private member's bill intended to restore a system of checks and balances that would shift some power away from party leaders towards members of Parliament and their party caucuses.
And trim the power of would be dictators like Stephen Harper.
But because this is Canada, already some voices can be heard saying whoa, wait a moment eh? Not so fast.
Given the pre-game hype and the immediate call to arms by supporters of Conservative MP Michael Chong’s democratic reform bill, anyone poking holes in it could stand accused of also opposing motherhood and apple pie.
And like Tim Harper they do have some good points.
The Liberals also seem ready to back Chong. But Justin Trudeau should be careful because the Chong bill would allow a leadership review to be triggered by written notice by 15 per cent of the caucus. The leader can be dumped by 50 per cent plus of the caucus. That means it would take six disgruntled Liberals to trigger a review and a leader who survives is still a wounded leader.
These are matters that require debate. Right now we have a bandwagon, but one of our great democratic deficits is lively debate. Chong would be the first to say let’s slow down and hash this out.
But nobody is suggesting there shouldn't be a lively debate. And like the wise old rabbi, or Andrew Coyne, I can't help feeling if not now, WHEN?
Can’t be done. Too risky. Goes too far. Doesn’t go far enough. Whenever and wherever someone actually makes some concrete proposal to repair our damaged democracy, the forces of inertia almost instantly gather to ensure it never happens. Of course, everyone agrees that something should be done. Just not, you know, this.
All of this, as I say, before anyone had so much as seen the bill, let alone thought about it. All anyone needs to know in this country is that a reform or innovation of some kind has been proposed to come up with a hundred reasons to reject it, on the principle made famous by F. M. Cornford: that nothing should ever be done for the first time.
Because all the Reform Act would do is to return Parliament to its original version, and taking a risk to save our democracy is worth it.
And even if it would mean the odd crackpot slip through, is the chance of such an occasional nuisance worth the extremity of the remedy — handing the leader the power of life or death, career-wise, over every single member of the party? Are we that paralyzed by fear of a little democratic unruliness, that abject in our longing for a strongman to protect us from ourselves?
When compared to the greater risk of losing it altogether.
There are always risks in any reform. But let me propose to you another set of risks. There is a risk that we might allow our elected representatives to become meaningless ciphers, with no role other than to cheerlead for the party leader. There is a risk that Parliament might cease to perform any useful function: not debating policy, not scrutinizing bills, not holding governments to account. There is a risk that our system of parliamentary democracy might become neither parliamentary nor democratic.
So I'm for it eh? Not just because I believe that we're still a young country and we shouldn't be afraid of change. When you're living in a place like Harperland it's not just good it's necessary.
And not just because I believe that it's our sacred duty to make sure that no Canadian leader can ever do again what Stephen Harper has done to this country.
Act like a King instead of a Prime Minister...
Or a power hungry monkey.
But also because I believe we can use this issue to put even more pressure on Harper and hopefully drive him from office before the next election.
Because if both the Liberals and the NDP support the Reform Act, but Harper instructs his Cons to vote against it, we'll look good and Great Ugly Leader will look even more like a dictator.
Which should make him even more unpopular, and by making his Con caucus even more unhappy and divided than it was before, might make him decide to quit sooner than he had planned.
Yup. If we can't have a revolution eh?
Let's turn up the heat, give our democracy a pat on the back.
Or a kick in the butt.
And rock the King to his very foundations...
Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers