Friday, October 28, 2016

Parliament: the naivety of insiders.

At least someone doesn't obey the PM's orders
Here was a triumph of the party line, handed down by Prime Minister’s Office and obeyed in these days by nearly 100 per cent of MPs nearly 100 per cent of the time.... And that’s the way it should be.
Paul Wells, formerly of Maclean's, now at the Toronto Star, is a smart and stylish political columnist, and it is fun seeing him transition from the Harperian Maclean's to the Trudeauvian Star.  But this line above is non-partisan. It's just the Ottawa consensus taking over the Wells brain.

The dictatorship of the leader's office. And "that's the way it should be"?  Yeesh.

The principal topic of Well's column is interesting enough that you would think even a press gallery habitue might reconsider some of his shibboleths while drafting it.  Wells is writing about all the new not-very-partisan Senators now arriving in the red chamber, feeling their oats -- and how that might inspire some envy and some emulation in the MPs of the lower house. If senators are going to think and speak, gee, couldn't MPs have some of that?
Strange things may start happening. An upper chamber where members could be thoughtful, entrepreneurial, free from group think but responsible in their exercise of modest power, would present a tempting contrast to the whipped and disciplined life most MPs live during office hours in Ottawa. Surely the Senate can’t have all the fun forever before MPs start to want some of what their colleagues down the hall enjoy. The Senate’s new-found independence may turn out to be contagious.
Well, can't come soon enough, given that parliaments cannot function properly unless leaders, including prime ministers, are accountable to the MPs who put and keep them there.  But it might help if political scientists and commentators could grasp that.

In a week when Justin Trudeau scolds young workers for not listening when he speaks, and the millionaire finance minister breezily declares that precarious employment is just the way it has to be, someone is going to need to start holding the government accountable soon.
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