Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Christopher Moore - 1867: How the Fathers Made A Deal, p.251

The 1860s suggest powerfully that the problem of the 1990s (and moreso today - ed.) lies less with parliamentary government than with the fact that it has largely ceased to function in Canada. When the (1997) election was over, what seemed missing from Canadian politics was that dead, and dismissed, and derieded concept from Victorian textbooks, responsible government.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, responsible government meant that the survival of the prime minister and his cabinet depended, day by day, on the verdict of a vigilant parliament. Members of Parliament were chosen by, close to, and dependent on (for those times) a broadly based and well-informed electorate. Contemplating the results of the election of 1997, I found myself wishing we lived under conditions more like those.


With better things to do these past two weeks, my re-entrance into civilized society was highlighted with the news that Garth Turner was inexplicably sacked. Amid the rampant censuring of the Reformed Reform Party command-control machine (interpreted as 'party discipline' by some), Garth Turner often served as the lone constituent voice in a party which has taken perversion of parliamentary democracy to consistently new extremes.

Given that the good people of Calgary-Southwest are actually the only ones who elected Mr. Harper, I find it odd - and tragic - that simple disagreement is enough to warrant such an arbitrary dismissal of the elected Halton member of caucus. No Bush stomping here. Our system of government is pretty basic. Local people are elected to go and convey our views in the great national forum. Parties developed around representatives with similar political and policy interests with leaders dependent on the constituent minded support of caucus. Today's party practice has turned this fundamental notion upside down. The caucus has been degraded to the role of mere 'disciplined' disciples - sent out to blindly preach the gospel of whatever doctrine the top-down regime dreams up.

Mr. Turner seems to be the only one to understand the original concept:

"I have said here many times, and consistently since I was elected this last time, that I work for the voters — the people, the taxpayers. After that I heed my party and the political establishment. All are important, of course, but the people come first."

With such autrocratic machinery in place, are we to now blindly trust these characters to 'reform' the Senate 'for all of us'?