Thursday, April 26, 2007

THE ANGRY CONSERVATIVE BACKYARD

Yesterday Stephen Taylor expressed his disappointment in the Conservative government for the proposal to ban incandescent light bulbs. He even dubbed the government "Canada's New Nanny." In the comments to Stephen's post, the CPC grassroots are piling on. Adam Daifallah is also concerned. Meanwhile Coyne and Jay Currie have already abandoned hope.

But there is still hope among the party faithful. One of Stephen's commenter's writes, "When we have the CPC majority, I hope this silly stuff stops."

But what is the likelihood of that happening? If Harper and the Conservatives attain a majority on the basis of watering-down their principles, pandering to Quebec and the environmentalists, and writing budgets that make Ralph Goodale proud, is it not likely that they are going to think they need to continue governing as they have in order to keep power? For if there is one thing a majority government wants, it's another majority.

For a short time it looked like Harper was going to be happy with enacting whatever conservative change he could while governing with a stong minority. But the hegemony of power seems to be enveloping the current government just like any other.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:58 AM :: (2) comments

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A CONVERSATION ON SENATE REFORM

I ran into Stephen Taylor at a Queen's grad student function we were both attending this past Friday. We met up in the dessert line, which Stephen commented was Soviet-esque, to which I agreed; however, the rest of the evening was pleasently bourgeois, so it was not to be minded.

When I asked Stephen how things were with "the Party" he noted that he had spoken with the Prime Minister earlier in the week and congratulated him on his movements towardSenate Reform.

I noted my wariness of the PM's Sentate plan, and elected Senators generally, to which Stephen assumed that I wanted the Senate abolished. On the contrary, I do not want to abolish the Senate for I think a bicameral legislature is an important aspect of our Westminster-style federal Parliament. Stephen then commented, somewhat provocatively, "so you think we should be governed by our superiors?" which was of course a rhetorical device intended to move me toward a basic agreement with his and the PM's position on appointing "elected" Senators. I countered this with concerns about the Sentate gaining a stature superior to that of the Commons.

Upon conisderation however, what I should have said was, "yes, yes I do." Not that I believe there are people in our society who are inherently "better" than others; not that there are social superiors who deserve to govern on a basis hereditary right, or "good breeding," or refinement, or even good education and wealth.

However, I do think that there are people who have gained a certain amount of experience in government and that the Senate could be a chamber for elder statesmen (and women) to advise the Commmons, while remaining a step or two removed from the partisan thuggery required of democratic electoral politics.

I have been thinking about a Senate that would include only members who have already served at least two terms in some other elected office, either the House of Commons, a provincial legislature, or as mayor of a city. The Senators would continue to be appointed by the G.G (on the advice of the PM) however they would be nominated by the provincial legislature of the province they would represent. Where I agree with the PM is that Senators' terms should be limited, probably to eight years.

So, for example, if a seat opened up for an Alberta Senator, the Alberta legislature would nominate three candidates to be appointed to the Senate. The legislature could use whatever process they desired to compile their list of nominees. The G.G, on advice of the PM, would then appoint one of the three people nominated. This scenario would mean that even if the Liberals held a 200 seat majority in the Commons, a Conservative could still be appointed to the Senate if Alberta nominated three Conservatives.

The plan, as I see it, balances federal and provincial powers, limits the current powers of the PM, maintains the tradition of our Westminster system, and would require Senators to be experienced senior government representatives, not just party hacks. The Senate, hopefully, would have greater legitimacy as a chamber of sober second thought, yet not overshadow the elected Commons. Finally, I don't believe my plan would require formally amending the Constitution, though I may be wrong.

I still suspect that Stephen and Stephen would disagree with me.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:53 AM :: (2) comments

Friday, April 13, 2007

FURTHER DECLINE OF THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

As if the eating of food over public books and computer equipment weren't enough; as if listening to one's ipod at a volume loud enough for one's neighbour to sing along weren't enough; as if the writing of notes in the margins (and bads one at that) of shared books weren't enough; the level of respect and decorum at the Queen's libraries continues to decline.

Note to people "whispering" in the library: if you are "whispering" to someone four seats over and one seat across a table, and that person can hear you, everyone in between you and your companion can hear you as well. "Whispering" about what your buddy is writing on messenger doesn't make it any less intrusive.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:51 AM :: (1) comments