Monday, April 05, 2010

Drivel watch: The Globe on rep-by-pop

Nice to see that many of the blogs I follow also observed the Easter holiday. Okay,Torontoist/Historicist had good stuff on how the city observed Easter in 1910, but in general, it was: To hell with the 24-hour blogging cycle. Even the relentless Daily Dish now takes weekends off.

And if we can take weekends, we should be able to take up leftover news.

I'm still puzzling over the incoherent weirdness of the Globe & Mail's editorial position on changes to the House and Senate last Friday. The paper saluted the revised seat allocations in the House of Commons as being in keeping with George Brown's commitment to the principle of representation by population. Then it noted the inconsistencies that have survived, and declared:
Such disproportions as this ought to become easier to correct, if and when the Senate becomes an elected chamber.
Now, no one has to believe in rep-by-pop. But one would think you either believe in it or you don't. The whole point of an upper house is to countermand the representative lower house. Creating a powerful upper house is a way to confound one person/one vote principles and representation by population, not to reinforce them.

George Brown and the confederation-makers of the 1860s were seriously committed to rep-by-pop principles for the Canadian federation, and therefore they ensured that the upper house would be weak. The Globe and Mail of 2010 seems to think it can endorse rep-by-pop and a powerful, unrepresentative Senate at the same time.

The Globe imagines there could be an upper house in Ottawa in which provinces can "directly elect senators with a mandate to represent their specific concerns." Actually, that's what provincial legislatures exist for. If you give the Senate power to countermand the House, you don't get empowered provinces. You just get a weakened House and a less representative Parliament.

PS. Quite indepedently, Vancouver's Tyee notes an American who gets it.
Follow @CmedMoore