Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Drivel Watch: Kinsella on senators and prime ministers

Warren Kinsella disapproves of Senator Nancy Ruth's outburst on the maternal health/abortion controversy. But his remedy is worse than anything she did:
Her leader, the Conservative Prime Minister, must kick her out of caucus.
Where does this crazy notion come from, that leaders kicking people out of caucus is a good idea? In functioning parliamentary systems, party leaders are part of caucus and subject to its discipline just as other caucus members. The idea of party leaders as unaccountable dictators free to end the career of parliamentarians not slavishly loyal to them personally is anti-parliament, anti-democratic, and deeply dangerous. Nothing is more worth encouraging than the freedom of parliamentarians to say unpopular, inconvenient, even foolish things, free of censorship by the party Central Committee and its spin doctors

Kinsella is a Liberal partisan, probably mostly concerned here to put the Conservative leader on the spot. But nothing damages Canadian political life more than the rarely challenged assumption of Canadian party apparatchiks that the absolute power of unaccountable leaders is not merely a good thing but a thing beyond discussion or reconsideration.

If the Senate Conservative caucus collectively though it necessary to censure Senator Ruth, that's one thing. But if the Conservative leader attempts to send Senator Ruth to Siberia, the Senate caucus should tell him to shove it.
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