Thursday, April 29, 2004

NOTHING TO SEE HERE, BUT MAY I REFER YOU TO...

If you're looking for political commentary head over to the Election Blog. There's lots being written there today and in the past few days.

I'm still studying, going right to the end (beyond the end actually).

Posted by Matthew @ 1:38 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

WORKERS RE-GAINING PROTECTION IN ONTARIO

I missed this originally, but along with cutting the 60-hour work week Ontario's Labour Minister Chris Bentley announced he plans tougher enforcement of Ontario's labour laws. Good for him.

Len Crispino, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce objects. POGGE takes him properly to task.

Posted by Matthew @ 8:09 PM :: (0) comments

BLIND FAITH

The Habs should have won last night. They didn't necessarily deserve it, but nor did they not deserve it. Both teams played a good game and the Habs were leading 3-2 with only seconds remaining.

Then Craig Rivet left Vincent Lecavalier alone in front of the Montreal net with enough time and space to build a cabin and bake a cake. Lecavalier has proved this series that he will kill you given those types of opportunities and he did just that, scoring to tie the game with 16.5 seconds left. Again the Habs proved they couldn't play a full 60 minutes of hockey.

In the last series, when the Habs went down 3-1, I firmly proclaimed that they would come back. I was absolutely confident in this assertion because I knew the Habs had been the better team to that point, despite what the scoreline showed. Right now I have no such confidence. The Lightning have clearly been the better team in this series. However, since my support for the Habs is the closest thing I have to religion it is impossible for me to count them out. So, there's nothing left to do but take it one game at a time. It's time for a come-back. Habs in seven.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:47 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, April 26, 2004

DENYS ARCAND, Ph.D (McGill 2004, honourary)

McGill University has announced the recipients of honourary doctorates for the spring 2004 convocation. The list of seventeen includes filmaker Denys Arcand, lawyer and Chretien politico Eddie Goldenberg, and human rights lawyer and activist Mary Robinson. All the recipients are incredibly accomplished, talented and intelligent individuals as would be expected from the best school in the country.

McGill 2004 B.A graduands who are also readers of this blog may be interested to know that the honourary degree recipients for the Faculty of Arts undergraduate convocation are the above mentioned Denys Arcand and author Clark Blaise.

Arcand is well known for his many excellent films perhaps most notably Le Declin de l'empire Americain and most recently Les Invasions Barbares which won this year's Academy Award for best foreign film. Author Clark Blaise's many novels, short stories and non-fiction have received critical and popular acclaim. He has also been very active in the Montreal literary community.

McGill readers will already know that this year's convocations will be held outside on the lower field. This is a welcome change from previous years when convocations have been held at indoor locations such as the gymnasium. Any self-respecting school with any sense of tradtion should hold convocation outside. I am still perturbed however that the school decided to hold the event under a massive tent. A proper outdoor convocation should be actually outside. What of rain? You deel with it. You come prepared, it builds character and its part of the charm. Oh well, at least Drs. Arcand and Blaise wont be sitting under a basketball net.

Addendum, Same Day 9:18 p.m.- To my knowledge the valedictorian for the Arts convocation has not yet been selected but the decision should be made soon.

Posted by Matthew @ 8:42 PM :: (0) comments

Sunday, April 25, 2004

ONTARIO CUTS 60-HOUR WORK WEEK

From The Toronto Star.

Ontario is introducing legislation Monday that will end the 60-hour work week, forcing employers who want their employees to work more than 48 hours in a week to get permission from both their staff and the government.

In addition, employers will only be allowed to ask for an extension up to a maximum of 60 hours a week, The Canadian Press has learned.

"We want to be able to give people the choice, so they don't feel undue pressure," from employers to work long hours, a government source said.

"It ensures people aren't forced to work longer hours than they want to."

It's about time.

The Harris government's extension of the 40-hour week to 60 hours in 2000 was a significant blow to the rights of labourers and a major affront to organized labour's long fight over the twentieth century to achieve the 40-hour work week.

Good for the Liberals for bringing Ontario back in line with the other provinces where the work week is 40, 44 or 48 hours.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:06 PM :: (0) comments

WEEKEND QUERY

Does anyone know of any countries that are not islands where people drive on the left hand side of the road?

All of the left hand driving countries I know of are islands. I ask because I am wondering if there are two countries, one left hand driving the other right, that share a border, and if so, what happens at the border when driving across? Would there be some kind of directional signals, or perhaps a confusing round-about to put you on the proper side, or just some crazy no-man's land where people have to sort themselves out and collisions occur regularly?

These are the things I think about when procrastinating from real work.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:47 PM :: (1) comments

Thursday, April 22, 2004

IF IT WOULD MAKE HIM FEEL BETTER...

Jean Lapierre, Team-Martin's senior Quebec lackey (I would refer to him as an MP or minister but he is neither just yet), on the front of today's Globe and Mail says he wants to see RCMP lay more charges in the sponsorship scandal and soon. What is the reason for this government interference with the federal police? Says Lapierre:

It would provide relief, because I think people want to see people found guilty. They want to see people accused and eventually found guilty.

Never mind finding the right people, never mind the procedures of the legal system, the important thing is that people are charged and found guilty so that Canadians can 'feel' better.

Now I don't really think Lapierre is influencing the RCMP but still, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli shouldn't be put in a position to have to deny such charges, said Zaccardelli:
There is no [political] pressure whatsoever. There has never been any pressure whatsoever, and ther is none now.

Well I'm glad that's cleared up because Lapierre has me worried.

Update: Same Day, 3:50 p.m. - Warren Kinsella (no permalinks), is similarly worried by Lapierre's comments but claims the man has a law degree. I'm still dubious.

Update: Next Day, 3:19 a.m. - Oh Good Lord. Paul Wells suggests that Lapierre could be in line for Minister of Justice.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:26 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

MEMO

To: The person who reached this site searching for "arguments for quebec to be a distinct society essay."

1. Get your own ideas and write your own essays
2. You're not going to find the answer to that question here

-----

My own work continues, semester... is... almost....over.

Posted by Matthew @ 6:44 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, April 19, 2004

SPONTANEOUS PARADING...

... down Boul. St. Laurent, and across this city I imagine. Honking horns, people cheering in the streets. It's awesome.

The Habs came back from 3-1 down and who called it?

Bring on Tampa Bay. GO HABS GO!

Posted by Matthew @ 9:54 PM :: (0) comments

HOW MUCH HAVE THINGS CHANGED?

CP reporter Joan Bryden reports the Liberals are publically turning on each other along the lines of Martinites and 'Liberals in Exile,' as Warren Kinsella has termed the true Liberals.

Much of this article should give Team-Martin a lot to worry about, but I think the most important point is made by Winnipeg MP John Harvard who,

said he fears some Liberal rank and file, upset about the internecine feuding, will sit out the election.
"My grassroots people need to get a sense that bygones are bygones . . . I don't think they did that," Harvard said.

Yup.

In the 2000 election I volunteered on the campaing of then Treasury Board minister Lucienne Robillard in Montreal. Along with dozens of other volunteers I woke up at 7:00 a.m. to put up campaign signs, I compiled data bases of voters to call, and did various other grunt work, quite gladly, that is so necessary to running a successful campaign at the riding level. I was proud to be working for the party of Laurier, King, Pearson, Trudeau, and Chretien. I can tell you I won't be voluneering for Team-Martin, in fact, I will likely give my services to another federal party.

So is David Herle ready knock on doors and put up lawn signs?

[Link via Mader Blog]

Posted by Matthew @ 12:55 PM :: (0) comments

TEAM-MARTIN ANTI-CANADIANISM

Yesterday both Mader Blog and PolSpy pointed out and rightfully denounced Team-Martin strategist David Herle's comments that the Conservative Party of Canada is 'anti-Canadian.' Comments like this are insulting, should not be tolerated, and only serve to indicate the levels to which Team-Martin are willing to reduce thier political discourse.

The statement is obviously insulting and disrespectful to the party but also to any Canadian who would vote for it, who would consider voting for it, or who even acknowledges it as a responsible federal party. The message from Herle and Team Martin to all Canadians is this: if you recognize the legitimacy of the Conservative Party you are anti-Canadian.

Is this the level at which Team-Martin is going to debate the next election? To so recklessly and disrespectfully label their opponents, Team-Martin indicates that they make no attempt to understand and consider an other's position. It exhibits their intellectual laziness and sheer narrow-mindedness. I suspect that the 35% of Canadians who would today vote for the Conservatives don't take kindly to having thier decision labelled as 'anti-Canadian.' I imagine that most other reasonable citizens and potential voters who, like me, may not be voting Conservative also do not want to be told what is and is not properly Canadian.

Cross posted to BlogsCanada E-Group Election Blog

Posted by Matthew @ 2:43 AM :: (0) comments

Sunday, April 18, 2004

COLLAPSE OF GLOBALISM WATCH

In last month's edition of Harper's magazine, John Ralston Saul wrote an essay entitled "The Collapes of Globalism (and the Rebirth of Nationalism)." The full text is not available from Harper's but for some reason it is from The Australian Financial Review.

Saul makes several points in this essay but I think the principal one is this: He argues that for the last thirty years national governments have continually ceded the power necessary for exercising political will to the ideology of Globalization. Saul writes,

Government after government, as if in a fit of moralism, legislated away its right to take on debt or collect new taxes, even though both of these were fundamental governmental powers.

He continues by noting,

From the early 1970s to late in the century, multiple binding international economic treaties were put in place, while almost no counter-balancing binding treaties were negotiated for work conditions, taxation, the environment, or legal obligations. For 250 years the painful job of building the modern nation-state had depended on a continual rebalancing of binding rules for both the public good and self-interest. Now this balance was tipped violently one way by simply shifting much of our economic power out into the global marketplace.

Saul sees this trend changing however. Increasingly he sees nations taking back the levers of control over thieir nations economies and foriegn policies. He points to specific examples in Brazil, Malaysia and the United States. Saul sees September 11, 2001 as a particular turning point saying,

Then came the explosions of 2001 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. In the following days, the world economy began plummeting to a depression. Corporate leaders hunkered down to their businesses, forgot about world leadership, and, with a classic desire to reduce risk, slashed their investment programs, thus accelerating society's economic plunge.

As for the political leaders, ministers of finance, chairs of reserve and national banks - the constituted elites of the nation-states - they rolled into action. They traveled and talked, printed money, and spent vast amounts of it. And they managed to stabilize the situation. In other words, there was a brutal highly public, and existential reversal of roles. The governments of the nation-states took back their full power both to act and to lead.

I think this trend is continuing. The strongest example must be that of the United States taking on billions of dollars in debt to finance a largely unilateral war for its own self-interest and what it believes to be the public good.

In another example POGGE points to American judges and legislators who are taking increased note of the Chapter 11 provision of the NAFTA. POGGE links to a New York Times article that quotes John D. Echeverria, a law professor at Georgetown University saying, "This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand."

I don't think this means that global markets are going to come crashing down. I do think however there is a growing willingness for nations to assert all of the powers available to them in order to act in thier own interest and for the good of thier own publics. It seems as well that the United States is leading in this regard.

Saul's most prescient statement in the whole essay is quite brief. He asserts, "Democracy exists only inside countries. Weaken the nation-state and you weaken democracy."

Are the democratic nations of the world going to incresingly excercise their powers as nations in order to preserve sovereignty, security and democracy? And does this mean the collapse of Globalism?

Posted by Matthew @ 11:42 PM :: (0) comments

Friday, April 16, 2004

ANTHEM POLITICS

As I mentioned below I couldn't watch last night's Habs/Bruins game 5 in which the Habs soundly trounced the Bruins. Message to Bruins fans: Be afraid, the Habs are coming back.

However, I wish to address a larger issue in relation to this series. At the beginning of both games 3 and 4 in Montreal the fans at the Bell Centre booed and jeered during the singing of the American national anthem. This type of behaviour is disgraceful and deserves to be condemned. If the booing was meant to be some type of political statment it was ignorant. It is troubling that some Canadians would stoop to such boorish levels out of an inability to differentiate between a people and government policy. And it would seem to be an expression of petty nationalism that I have said before has no place in professional hockey. If it was some kind of attempt to rattle the Bruins and show support for the Habs it's simply beyond ignorant and insulting.

In response Boston Bruins fans showed the up-most class and put Montreal fans to shame, when, last night before the start of game 5, they loudly cheered the opening line of Oh Canada and showed great respect for the Canadian anthem. Outstanding. That's exactly the type of response that will hopefully put the patrons of the Bell Centre in their place.

Shortly thereafter the Habs will put the Bruins in theirs.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:23 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, April 15, 2004

FOR THE RECORD

I know game five of the Habs/Bruins series has just started. I can't watch tonight because I'm in the thick of paper writing. However, I wanted to get this in before it becomes reality.

After the game four loss, largely as a result of the Kovalev debacle, everyone was writing off, or nearly writing off the Canadiens. I think that the Habs were the dominant team for most of games two, three and four. I think they have been quite unfortunate not to be the team that is up 3-1 at this point. If they keep up their current level of play and can eliminate the minor yet decisive lapses that cost them games two and four they will still win this series.

Other than in game one there has not been a point during any individual game that I thought the Bruins were on their way to winning that particular game. The Habs will still come through.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:22 PM :: (0) comments

GOVERNMENT CRACKING DOWN ON BLOGSCANADA

Jim Elve, the man behind the essential Canadian blog directory, BlogsCanada, and the organizer of the BlogsCanada E-Group has been contacted by lawyers from the Department of Justice on behalf of the Treasury Board. The government of Canada claims that the BlogsCanada site violates government copyright in several instances and has ordered Jim to 'cease and desist' immediately.

Jim has a post up at his personal site, Officially Unofficial, outlining the government's claims and responding to them in detail. He has also prepared a press release on the issue that I believe will be sent out shortly.

The action by the government seems pretty heavy handed and unnecessary to me. I'm sure I don't have to preach to readers of this blog that the Internet, and blogs in particular, are sites for free expression and debate. Jim notes that his site, which he admits mimicks but is clearly NOT the government of Canada, has been operating for quite some time but it was not until the E-group blog started up and Adscam broke that the government decided to take notice. Is there a connection? It is admittedly circumstantial, but it would be not a little worrisome if the government were now using the Copyright Act as an excuse to silence a forum that has gained increased readership and that has been especially critical of the government in the last few months.

Surely this is just a little misunderstanding over template design and not an attempt by the government to regulate expression on the Internet.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:37 PM :: (0) comments

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

TRUDEAU AT UofT, NO LAURIER AT McGILL

The University of Toronto has announced that it will name its Centre for Peace and Conflict studies after Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. This is great and rather remarkable. It is great because, in my opinion, there can't be enough public honourng of Trudeau's legacy. My own personal suggestion is to name the Trans-Canada Trail after him. For a Prime Minister who so much enjoyed, and was so committed to, the Canadian wilderness (he was the first PM to visit the North) such an honour seems particularly fitting. It would have the added benifit of getting his name on dozens of Parks Canada signs across Alberta. But I digress from the point I had originally inteded to make.

The naming of this centre is somewhat remarkable becasue Trudeau is not a graduate of the UofT nor has he or his family donated any money to the university. Obviously, there is still the advantage of co-opting such a widely known and prestigious Canadian name, but still.

This will be one of the few times I say this but I think McGill could take a lesson from the UofT here. At McGill I do not know if it is an outright stated policy, but it is fairly well understood these days, that the only way to get a building, or anything for that matter, named after you is to pay for it yourself. For example, back in the early 1980s McGill students held a referendum on what to name the new Students' Centre building. In a unique and somewhat hilarious choice the student body voted, fairly overwhelmingly, to name their building after McGill alumnus William Shatner. However, because the intrepid Mr. Shatner had not donated any cash to his alma mater the McGill Senate refused to ratify the decision of the students. To this day the Students' Society building is know by all as 'the Shatner Building' except by the university administration.

Now I'm not so concerned about the Shatner Building. Whether the university recognizes it or not the name has stuck. What I am concerned about is a much more prestigious alumnus. The late Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier was a graduate of McGill University's law school. Most other schools, if they had an alumnus who happened to be one of the greatest political leaders the country has ever known would find something to name in his honour. Not McGill. We have no Laurier building, no Laurier Scholarship, not even a Laurier reading room or park bench.

McGill really doesn't need anything else named after the Bronfmans, Molsons or McConnels. I'm sure we can find something to name after such a well known and important alumnus as Laurier. We do have a new residence that is waiting for a name.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:10 AM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

NEW POLL. WELLS DELIVERS

If you have not yet read Paul Wells' analysis of the latest Globe-CTV-Ipsos Reid poll go do so now. Wells breaks his promise not to meniton PM PM this month but it's well worth it. His commentary is not just on the poll but on the Team Martin strategy in general. Best line:

Paul Martin replaced Stephane Dion with Jean Lapierre in the belief that the popular kids are always worth more than the kids who ace their exams. Now it is the exam day each of us faces in our worst anxiety nightmare, and Martin is getting notes passed to him by the prom king. Brilliant.

As I said, the whole thing is well worth your time.

Posted by Matthew @ 5:41 PM :: (0) comments

ON THE OCCASION OF MY LAST DAY OF CLASS AT McGILL

Today is my last day of classes as an undergraduate at McGill University. I'm not getting all misty-eyed just yet because I actually still have two papers and several exams to write, so it doesn't quite feel as if I'm finished, but today is the first in a series of lasts for me and McGill. It should also be noted that 'class' is a fairly loose term today. My last class actually involves going out for drinks with my honours seminar professor and fellow students. It's really quite a fitting way to end four years at McGill; relaxed academic discussion over pints at the grad students lounge.

I'll give a more lengthy valediction when all of my responsibilities are dispensed with and I'm secure in the knowledge of moving on to the alumni association. Needless to say, four years at the best school in the country have been incredible. I soon have to begin reconciling myself with moving on to Queen's.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:41 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, April 12, 2004

THE GREATEST CANADIAN?

Speaking of lists of greats, I haven't seen much discussion of the CBC's 'Greatest Canadian' survey. I would have at least expected to see people condemning it as trite, useless, gimmicky, vague, ripped-off the BBC, etc. etc. Perhaps no one wants to even dignify it with a response. Or, perhaps people have been carefully considering their nominations, as I have.

I have to admit that while this 'contest,' or whatever it may be, is all of the above things, I am a sucker for Canadiana, lists, the CBC and history, so this little excercise appeals to me.

Deciding on 'the greatest Canadian' is pretty difficult task, in part because the criteria are so vast and vague. I believe the first criterion should be that no one still living should be able to be nominated. First, the person should be dead so that we can gain a proper perspective on thier life's accomplishments and 'greatness.' Secondly, and relatedly, who's to say someone we nominate today wont pull and Alan Eagleson and embarrass us beyond belief a few years from now. Thirdly, imagine the awkwardness of a living Canadian being voted as the 'greatest' ever. I can't imagine any great Canadian, humble as we supposedly are, handling such an accolade well.

The second qualification should be a limit on the time span. Since Canada is a former British colony it is difficult to distinguish the point at which a particular person can be considered 'Canadian.' The CBC seems to think that we can go as far back as John Cabbot and Samuel Champlain. While I agree these people were influential to Canada I don't think they can rightly be counted as Canadians. Personally, I feel that Canada really started to take shape as our own nation in the early 19th century after the War of 1812. Consequently I would excluded anyone who died prior to 1814. This leaves out General Brock and Tecumseh in particular, but despite how important these men were to Canada, I don't really see them as Canadains.

So then, after several days thought and a little research while procrastinating from paper writing, I have put together a short-list of greatest Canadians. Actually its more of a long-list, I'll shorten it if I decide to give it any more thought. I've divided the list into categories to make consideration a little easier. Remember my criteria: the person has to be dead, and has to have died after 1814. I haven't provided links to the bios of any of these people. Most are available at the CBC website. But really, if you haven't heard of these people you might want to re-evaluate your qualifications for citizenship.

FOUNDERS
Robert Baldwin, Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, Joseph Howe.

EARLY CONFEDERATION POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
Fathers
Sir John, Sir Georges Etienne Cartier, George Brown, Thomas D'arcy McGee

Women
Nellie McClung, Agnes MacPhail, Emily Murphy

First Nations
Mistahimaskwa (Chief Big Bear)
Pitikwahanopiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker)

20th CENTURY POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
Prime Ministers
Sir Wilfred Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Others
Vincent Massey, Tommy Douglas, Joey Smallwood, Frank R. Scott

ARTISTS/AUTHORS
Robertson Davies, Glenn Gould, Margaret Laurence, Bill Reid

INTELLECTUALS
Northrop Frye, Stephen Leacock, Hugh MacLennan, Marshal Mcluhan

WAR LEADERS/HEROES
Billy Bishop, Gen. Sir Arthur Currie, Lt.-Col. Dollard Menard, Georges Vanier

SCIENCE/MEDICINE/INVENTION
Dr. Frederick Banting, Dr. Charles Best, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Sanford Flemming, Dr. Wilder Penfield, Sir William Osler, Dr. Emily Howard Stowe

JOURNALISTS
Dalton Camp, Barbara Frum, Peter Gzowski

INSPIRATIONAL
Terry Fox, Maurice Richard

Posted by Matthew @ 2:21 AM :: (0) comments

ALEXANDER, NAPOLEON, CHURCHILL. CAMPBELL?

When I first saw this story I seriously thought it was a late April Fool's Day joke. Apparently, Kim Campbell has been named one of the 50 "most important political leaders" of all time. Yes, that Kim Campbell.

This list appears in a new reference book, 'The Almanac of World History' published by the National Geographic Society. Jane Sunderland, a spokesperson for the society said, "Given that there have not been that many females who have led nations, we chose to include her."

James Marsh, the editor of the Candian Encyclopedia takes a much more reasoned stance saying, "I don't think Kim Campbell should even make a list of great Canadian leaders."

Indeed.

A complete list is not available online but other Canadian news outlets report that such historical figures as Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Churchill, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln and Charlemagne were included. To choose fifty leaders from all time is a pretty short list. I think that on a list of fifty all of the above people would be debatable. But Campbell on a list of the 'greatest leaders'? She was a leader for 132 days, and she was a bad one at that. I don't know if Margaret Thatcher was on the list but clearly if you're going to choose a female prime minister she would be the one. To then crowd a list of fifty with Campbell just seems ridiculous.

Back in 1999, while I was still in highschool, I spent the year compiling a list of the one hundred most influential people of the last 1000 years as a sort of millenium project. It did not even cross my mind to include Campbell on such a list. In fact, despite being a staunch Canadian nationalist, I considered very few Canadians, and on a list of fifty political leaders I don't think I would be able to include any Canadians at all. According to this CBC story, however, both Sir John and Mackenzie King made the National Geographic list.

I really think National Geographic should stick to maps.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:19 AM :: (0) comments

Thursday, April 08, 2004

IT WOULD BE A NICE DISTRACTION

Apparently the prime minister has not dismissed out of hand a private members proposal for Canada to form some type of political or economic union with the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Do we need any further evidence that Martin is casting about wildly for something, anything, to define his govenment by?

Sean Incognito has a good post on the topic and points out that the islands may not be the tropical paradise Canadians are hoping for.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:56 PM :: (0) comments

CLEARLY IT WASN'T AN ORIGINAL IDEA

When I posted on Monday, below, on a PR Senate I assumed that this wasn't the first time the idea had been raised. Fellow blogger James Bow had an extensive series of posts on Senate reform in January 2003. It's very interesting, and starts here.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:44 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, April 05, 2004

A PR SENATE? HEY, THAT WAS MY IDEA!

I haven't been blogging much because it's early April and final papers and such loom, yadda yadda, you've heard this sob story from me before.

Anyway, I was reading this book on the American Constitution over the weekend (R.A Dahl,How Democratic is the American Constitution?, Yale UP, 2002) for Broadbent's class and in one chapter the author takes up a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of proportional representation. I have been a long-time opponent of proportional representation but recently I have been thinking about it more positively. Dahl finds a lot to like about PR and he's also not a big fan of the way seats are allocated in the U.S. Senate. This got me thinking, not so much about the American situation but about the Canadian. I thought to myself, perhaps proportional representation could work in the Canadian Senate thereby establishing two of the more important three-E's.

I'm still formulating my thoughts on this proposal so I wasn't going to blog it but I woke up this morning (okay this afternoon, but I was up late writing) to find that two of my fellow bloggers have had the exact same idea over the weekend. Footprints of a Gigantic Hound got the ball rolling on Saturday and The Middleman followed up this morning.

There are lots of possible variations on this plan and a few possible constitutional and practical snags. One of my primary concerns would be to insure that the Commons remains the principal of the two houses. Maintaining the tradition of money bills originating in the Commons would help to preserve this. However, it would be fairly logical to assume that whichever party is governing in the Commons they would have fewer seats and more parties to deal with in a PR Senate. As such the Senate would likely become the chamber of greater negotiation and compromise which may then shift the ballance of power towards the upper house.

As I said, I'm still thinking it over and I don't have that much time to do so right now. I hope that this debate continues though because I think its an interesting possibility.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:33 PM :: (0) comments

Thursday, April 01, 2004

RUMOUR MONGERING

Is May 25th election day? John Duffy and Maderblog think it could be.

Meanwhile, Jim Elve and his 'informed sources' say its June 8.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:04 PM :: (0) comments

APRIL FOOL'S

The spoil-sport over at Maderblog complains about April Fool's, saying the day is particularly frustrating for news junkies and bloggers.

I think its great. I think its an incredible social phenomenon. That there is a day set aside when it is permitted to be devious and attempt to mislead others is a really interesting realese valve society has created. That news organizations even engage in this activity is a fascinating instance of permissable transgression within the public sphere.

The best April Fool's hoaxes are one's that should be ridiculous enough to realize that they are fakes but are just realistic enough to be believable to those who don't take a second glance. Often they include a hidden give-away such as including 'April Fool' within the text of a story in anagram form, or something like that.

A list of the 100 best April Fool's day hoaxes is available here. Our own Pierre Bourque makes the list at #42 for his April 1, 2002 story about Paul Martin resigning from cabinet to raise prize winning cows and ducks on his Quebec farm. The story sent currency traders and the PMO scrambling until Martin denied the story and Bourque indicated it was indeed a joke. Brilliant.

Its stories like these that make one read the news just a little more carefully.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:00 PM :: (0) comments