Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Pourquoi sont-ils là?"

André Pratte aimerait voir un peu plus d'intelligence en politique, en particulier de la part des ministres qui nous gouvernent. Et bien, moi aussi!

"Mais les ministres devraient être en mesure de répondre avec des arguments et des données solides. C’est certainement plus convaincant que des attaques bêtes et sans rapport avec le fond des critiques des adversaires. On s’attend à ce que les membres d’un gouvernement fassent preuve d’un peu d’intelligence. Sinon, pourquoi sont-ils là?"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"you are a bug I will route around"

The ever-brilliant Davis Eaves explains why our Access to Information regime is seriously, seriously flawed.

His advice to our government could not be more on the ball:

"I belong to a generation that gets information in .3ms (length of a google search). If you take 80 days to get my request to me (and edit it/censor it), you are a bug I will route around. This isn't just the end of accountability in government, this is the end of the relevancy of government."

Hear, hear.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brilliant report alert!

This report on minority parliaments from the UK's Institute for Government should be required reading  for Canadian politicians (along with U of T prof Peter Russell's book, Two Cheers for Minority Government, which picks up a lot of the same themes).

Chapter 3, “Canada’s Dysfunctional Minority Parliament,” is particularly relevant, methinks.

After noting the obvious - "Recent events also illustrate that many Canadians do not understand the basic rules of parliamentary democracy" - it goes on to say this:

For minority government to work in Canada there needs to be a dramatic shift in political
culture which emphasises cooperation and accommodation rather than conflict and
partisanship. PMs leading minority governments should act with humility, and recognise
that they do not have a mandate to force their agendas through Parliament. The media has
a responsibility to report on the accomplishments of minority governments as well as their
failures. Past experience suggests that minority government can be successful in Canada.
However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the political actors to find ways to make it

Sound likely with the current bunch? I don't think so either, but no one can say the solution doesn't exist, and the current bunch won't be current forever.

Pomopoli can't happen without that "dramatic shift in political culture." Cooperation and humility are the key to good government, be it a minority or a majority.  Let's hope the culture shift comes sooner than later.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Glen Pearson...

...nails it.

"The House of Commons has been raucus, unseemly and somewhat less than productive in these last number of years.  I was elected three years ago today, in a by-election.  I was a food bank director and professional firefighter, but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to follow.  On the day I was sworn in, I was was sworn at."


"A few minutes later, I took part in my very first vote.  Of all things, it was on same-sex marriage.  The gallery was packed and emotions were in overdrive.  To be sure, there was heckling from all sections, but it was hard to ignore the language coming from the Conservative side.  I didn’t know them, hadn’t even met them yet, and already a salvo of crudity was vented in my direction.  I had no way of preparing for this."


"[U]pon my arrival in the House of Commons, I suddenly felt fortunate. This was a place I greatly honoured and when I was first ushered in, I was in a state of awe.And then came this: verbal abuse, name calling, crudity.  It was like I had come to the hockey rink to play some pick-up and found out I was up against the Broadway Bullies."


"Well, how can we fight for justice overseas when government members can’t even call for it within their own ranks.  Mr. Cotler did his job, as did the Speaker. The response? Continued bludgeoning.  This is not government but goon power; it’s not accountability but assassination; not respectful government but reprobate action. There has been no refinement, no practicing of the nuances of understanding power. It goes on, as it did three years ago."


"My words here are not partisan in intent; they are human.  This wasn’t the government you wanted.  For three years today I have watched it escalate and watched members of all the opposition parties being picked apart by a threshing machine of negative politics.  I have served three years, attempting to stay above the fray, and I’ve earned my right to my opinion.  I am a member of parliament and I ask for it to be a place of honour once again."

Here's hoping, Glen. Keep up the good work, and don't ever give up.

This. Nonsense. Will. End.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Post-modern Post?

Pomopoli is not about partisanship, ideology, or politics  - it is about a different way of practicing politics, which people of different political ideologies can support and implement. In other words, people who believe in pomopoli agree on a how policy should be debated, without necessarily agreeing on the policy itself.

How else could I give props to the National Post?

In an editorial today, they take the Conservatives to task for publicly supporting an airline passenger bill of rights because it is politically attractive, while privately assuring the industry that they need not worry because no one really believes in the bill.

Here it is.

While I'm not sure I agree with the Post's position on the passenger rights issue, I certainly agree with their idea that the government (and all political parties, I'll add) should say what it means and mean what it says.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New evidence suggests the government should pay attention to evidence

In a pomopolist world, policy initiatives will be informed by evidence, consultation, and reasoned analysis.

When politicians base policy decisions on short-term political gain, on the other hand, they tend to create a big ol' mess down the road.

To wit: back in March, former Harper chief of staff Ian Brodie dropped a few jaws at a McGill conference on public policy - during a panel on evidence in policy-making, no less - by frankly admitting that while Conservatives knew GST cut was bad economics (as countless economists lined up to tell them), they also knew that voters didn't know that, or care. What's more, they were sure that voters were tired of hearing from all these egghead-economist-academic-types-who-don't-understand-real-canadians anyway. 

“Despite economic evidence to the contrary, in my view the GST cut worked,” Brodie said. “It worked in the sense that by the end of the ’05-’06 campaign, voters identified the Conservative party as the party of lower taxes. It worked in the sense that it helped us to win.”


As it turns out, one of those pesky economists has amassed a whole bunch of that pesky evidence to demonstrate why Canada's deficit has become a structural one (as opposed to temporary one due only to the stimulus spending). His conclusion? Our structural (read permanent unless something changes) deficit mirrors exactly the lost revenue from the GST cut.

Read all about it here:

But hey - as Ian says, it helped them win.

That it plunged our country into the red for the forseeable future, I suppose, is just an inconvenient side effect of scoring some far more important political points.

This was bad policy. And they knew it. And they did it anyway. And now we're screwed.

Real swell.

People think. What a concept!

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan makes the case for not treating voters like idiots.  

"It is a secret of politics, a deep inside secret known to so few that even the most experienced operatives are unaware of it, that people are thinking creatures. They're not "the masses," waiting to be manipulated. They think, they calculate. This is true now more than ever."

She's talking about her fellow yanks, of course, but it's a pretty sensible view that our own  politicians might want to consider adopting.