Saturday, August 13, 2005


I've gotten into a debate with Declan of Crawl Across the Ocean, over on his blog regarding some of my statements about the Governor General designate.

You can read the comments there, but I'm going to try and clarify something here.

Primarily, Declan accuses me of violating the sanctitiy of the secret ballot. I do not believe that asking Mme. Jean how she voted in the 1995 referendum does any such thing.

The issue is one of public opinion and free expression. I, like anyone else, am free to ask Jean, anything I like, including 'what did you have for dinner last night?' and 'how did you vote in 1995?' Similarly, Jean is free to answer the questions however she wishes, or to even not answer at all. Such is the nature of freedom of expression.

Let me be clear that I am not advocating for a law demanding all Governors General disclose their voting habits. Nor am I advocating that Jean be hauled before a Parliamentary committee to answer the question. Such methods would be deplorable and likely unconstitutional. It would be equally wrong for the Prime Minsiter to pass an order declaring it illegal for the public to ask questions of the Governor General. Jean, like everyone else, is liable to be held accountable to public opinion. If the public believes her 1995 vote is a relevant issue, then it is.

Jean or the PMO are free to make the argument that her vote is none of the country's business. The country may accept that and it may not. Declan is, likewise, free to express his opinion that no one should be asking how Jean voted. He may or may not convince people that he is right. As long as no one treads onto the ground of slander, libel or hate speech, anything else goes.

That's how the public sphere works.

Posted by Matthew @ 5:25 p.m.

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I don't really disagree with anything you wrote here. Certainly, I didn't mean to suggest that you were advocating a coercive solution to the issue, and apologize if I gave that impression.

It doesn't really address the real question which is 'should she be rejected as G-G if she doesn't answer the question to our (the public's) satisfaction?', but I guess we've covered that one off pretty good over at my site :)

Posted by Blogger Declan @ August 13, 2005 6:19 p.m. #
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