Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Parliamentary history today

I'd been meaning to salute Adam Gopnik's recent arguments that Canada is "the model liberal nation" --as recently excerpted here in the Globe (if it doesn't paywall you) drawing on his recent book -- for making John Ralston Saul and his subjects Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hypollite LaFontaine momentarily known to Americans.

I've also been noting a few commentators who stand on Responsible Government ideas when assessing the decision of Jody Wilson-Raybound and Jane Philpott to run as Independents. They seem to disapprove.  Dale Smith wants them to read his book, natch, and attacks their "ignorance" for not accepting that political parties are a vital part of parliamentary operations.

He's not wrong. The crying need in Canadian politics is for building accountability within parties, not for independents trying to make nice with everyone. "Consensus" politics, non-aligned MPs, and electoral reform (of the MMP form at least) all lead away from that.

But what are two prominent politicians, having been summarily ejected from their party for insufficient loyalty to the boss, to do?  Join one of the other, equally autocratic, parties? Their prospects as independents seem lousy, but striving to give the message that MPs are important and leaders are just the nobodies they choose to raise up may be a cause worth striving for.

Aaron Wherry notes:
In the last Parliament, Brent Rathgeber spent a great deal of time and effort lamenting the state of things. He had been elected as a Conservative, but split with the party and wrote a book about the problems he saw.
It might have been noble work, but it only mattered so much. As a Conservative in 2011, he'd won 63.5 per cent of the vote in his Edmonton riding. Running as an Independent in 2015, he finished a distant third, with 19.7 per cent of the vote.
Image: from CBC online

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