Monday, July 06, 2009

Potter on parliament in the LRC

Those of you who took up my offer some months ago and are now luxuriating in the munificence of my benevolence (that is, you are receiving the complimentary Literary Review of Canada subscription for which I had the pleasant opportunity of making nominations) can now read in the crisp new pages of the July-August issue Andrew Potter's lively review of Peter Russell and Lorne Sossin's collection Parliamentary Democracy in Crisis, an academic instabook about the coalition, the prorogation and all that from last winter. The review is not online as yet, so for the moment it's dead-tree or can't-see.

Potter is hard on the collection for including only those he calls "parliamentarians" -- that is, those who saw the coalition as a normal and legitimate part of the parliamentary process, and now see their task as explaining to benighted and ill-informed Canadians why this is so. Potter notes several prominent scholars and intellectuals who took the contrary "democrat" position last winter: that is, they asserted that the coalition challenge may have been conformed to parliamentary rules but offended against the requirements of popular legitimization and consent. Not that they are necessarily right, says Potter, it's their exclusion from the volume that is unacceptable. The contributors, he fears, are permitted to lecture when they should debate.

Regular readers may guess I'm a "parliamentarian" myself. But I see Potter's point. Well done, LRC (again).

Update, July 9: Potter expands on this at his Maclean's blog, and a flood of commentators vent.

Update, July 13. The July LRC is now online, but not including Potter's article.
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