Tue, Apr
10
2007

What's Black and Blue and Floats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

Tue, Apr 10, 2007

Answer: a mainlander who’s told one too many Newfie jokes.

A note to federal Conservative party supporters: when your party leader and a provincial premier are engaging in a war of words for the hearts and minds of the voters in said province, you sort of do your side an injury when you make lame jokes about the people in the province, especially considering the long irritation the people in that province have had over jokes about people in that province. But, hey, who am I to talk to you about election strategy?

Hat tip to Greg at Sinister Thoughts.


Credit Where It’s Due: John Tory

After my open letter to John Tory and Greg Sorbara regarding proportional representation, I sent off copies directly to the two politicians, carbon copying NDP leader Howard Hampton and Ian Urquhart of the Toronto Star.

To his immense and continuing credit — because this isn’t the first time that he has responded personally and directly to citizens’ e-mails — John Tory wrote me back, saying:

Thanks for your note. My complaint is more to do with the fact that changing the way we elect people here or even changing the number we elect will not change a place which is basically dysfunctional in the way it operates. I have no idea if you are aware of the diminished role of MPP’s over the past 30 years, how little oversight they really have on public money, how little real accountability there is between the government and the Legislature. This is where the real reform should have started. To add more politicians by whatever means will mean more people continuing to do less in the public interest. I think we have it backwards. John Tory

This is why I like John Tory personally. Finding the time to reply promptly and personally, alongside his numerable duties as PC party leader and leader of the opposition, is going above and beyond the call of duty. It really is a refreshing approach from a politician, though I’d be amazed if he could keep this up once he became premier.

Mr. Tory is correct about the lack of accountability between the government and the legislature, and credit him again for adding his own party’s legacy (of Bill Davis, Frank Miller, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves) to the list. I’ve commented on this before, including Ernie Eves’ unbelievably arrogant decision to step outside of Queen’s Park to deliver the government’s budget before cameras in an auto parts factory. But I would point out that a big reason why the government has been rendered so unaccountable is because of the way the current system gives governments which achieve majority standing in the House, despite gaining less than 50% of the vote, power to basically ignore the input of the legislature.

Tory is right that if we were to add more politicians to the current mix, then we would be doing nothing more than adding to the chatter at Queen’s Park. However, I find it odd that Mr. Tory wants to fix this problem before he fixes the way that MPPs are elected to Queen’s Park, since I would argue that fixing the latter would go a long way toward fixing the former. Preventing parties that fail to gain more than 50% of the vote from gaining a free hand in the legislature, forcing them to work with opposition parties in order to pass legislation, and giving no party the opportunity of being within a single sucker punch of majority government, would cool heads and blunt attitudes pronto.

Greg Morrow over at DemocraticSPACE does have good comments to add on the flaws of the initial proposals being floated by the Citizens’ Assembly, and I hope that the Citizens’ Assembly takes those comments to heart. However, I think in this case, as with any proposed change in the way we are governed, our goal should not be to look for a perfect system. If we wait until a perfect system is offered, it will never arrive. The question we should be asking is whether the proposed system is better than the system we’ve got.

John Tory agrees that the system we’ve got desperately needs to be fixed. And, for me, the Citizens’ Assembly’s proposals represent something better than what we’ve got.


And Now For Something Completely Different

I give you, Human Space Invaders

Hat tip to Matt Grady


On This Day

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