Saturday, June 7, 2014

A system guaranteed to fail

I grumble about the quality of political journalism hereabouts and these complaints seem justified, even urgent, when an Ontario pundit demonstrates an example of powerful advocacy for the public interest. Andrew Coyne may be at the height of a career that has always had him near Canada's centres of power. Friday, his National Post column is 'We once had to wait weeks for a new Harper abuse of power. Now we're getting them two or three a day'

Obviously, Coyne has Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in his sights:

"…Several themes run throughout these: a contempt for civil liberties, for due process, for established convention, for consultation, for openness, replaced throughout by a culture of secrecy, control, expedience and partisan advantage. Worse, there is virtually nothing anyone can do about it. All governments have displayed some of these traits. If this government has pushed things rather further, it is because it can: because we have so centralized power in the Prime Minister's Office, with so few constraints or countervailing powers.

"Where this has lately come to a head is in the appointments process. For in Canada, uniquely, the prime minister's powers of appointments extend not only to all who serve beneath him, but to every one of the offices that might be expected to hold him in check. He appoints the Governor General, all the senators, and every member of the Supreme Court; the governor of the Bank of Canada, all the deputy ministers, and every Crown corporation president; the top military officers, the heads of the security services, and the commissioner of the RCMP; plus all of the officers of Parliament I've mentioned and several more besides. And those are in addition to the already vast powers of appointment with which he rules over members of Parliament: not only cabinet, but all the parliamentary secretaries and all the committee chairs as well…"

I urge you to follow the link above and read Coyne's entire item. All should consider it because he focuses on a major defect that is present in Ottawa today and in most provincial capitals. The old Canadian system of responsible parliamentary government decayed and was replaced by a near-presidential style but with few checks and balances and no term limits. Without debate and through no considered plan, we combined elements of two kinds of government and built a new style worse than either.

Self-serving people who admire autocracies designed Canada's present governments. Harper is himself Ottawa's lead autocrat whereas Christy Clark is more the puppet of unseen forces. Both are in positions that appeal to and attract narcissists, who, according to Malcolm Gladwell, make the worst managers. However, power resides in one office and all party members pay obeisance or suffer expulsion.

Leaders stand at the top of the ladders and employ agents to control who can mount the bottom rung. It is a system guaranteed to fail.

Read: Stephen Harper: the Scary Madness and the Dangerous Denial



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4 comments:

  1. .. I believe mr Harper is on a headlong bullrush, full ideological blinders in place.. destination.. his full twisting buffalo jump to a fitful disturbing legacy junkheap. He will limp away, and receive stunning potshots the rest of his life.

    The actual Harper memorial buffalo jumpsite will be Alberttawa.. a disturbed metaphysical segment of the grandiose Harper brain. Thus Alberttawa is a dangerous reckless place that goes wherever Harper goes.

    Harper and his complicit subservients, corporate and foreign partners will soon celebrate the great coercion and announce that Pacific Gateway Pipelines will be driven to the coast..
    and that flotillas of Chinese supertankers will arrive as well... despite all Canadian wishes against this drastic mistake. Thus the die is cast.. and Harper's fateful last desperate run commences.

    By saying yes.. Harper defies Canada and Canadians who will engage him in the forests and in the courts.. and eventually shout him from power

    By punting and delaying the decision till after the next election he will be deposed - retired
    and despised for all the other failures, F35's, election frauds, spying on Canadians etc

    By saying no to the pipeline, he is deposed from within, fired.. or as he might say.. retired
    His own evangilical secret parliamentary caucus and its roiling base are already pressing nastily for enactment of their legislations and pro rapture government

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  2. I thought it was just me, but I've found Coyne lately more provocative and intelligent. His economics background is worth debating on occasion, but his conclusions, frequently libertarian as they are, usually prevented me from getting any further than the leader. But lately (and I mean for the last three or so months) I've found myself reading to the end and once, turning ahead to the opinion page in hopes me might be found there.

    I certainly hope this malaise passes soon....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One reason Coyne's opinion might gain traction is that he is not a dedicated antiestablishmentarian. He's not been uncomfortable with important Conservative policies but he's recognized and given voice to concerns about Harper's despotic tendencies. The indicators have been there for years but, for Coyne, Harper has gone past the tipping point.

      I hope a serious campaign for reform begins. This is not only about Harper; he could easily be replaced by a Conservative colleague, or another party leader, but, while the cast of characters would change, the presidential style would continue. It is attractive to power seekers of all stripes.

      People of Canada were not participants in the change of government style; it gradually evolved. Can it be substantially improved? Probably not while any one party holds a majority or near majority in Parliament.

      Delete
  3. Canada has had a coup d'etat, only it was so quiet, nobody actually knows about it. In other countries, governments are over run by either the military or by the people, in Canada, the government was overrun by itself.

    By rejecting Parliamentary rule, the conservatives have implemented a pseudo religious/conservative regime which believes all people are guilty unless proven innocent or are converted to Herr Harper's religion; a religion of power at all costs. Like the religious convulsions of the middle ages, Herr Harper's neo-conservatism takes no prisoners and ensures wealth to all adherents, thus the faithful will follow him to the end.

    The rest of the peons that make up this growingly sad country are now stuck between a rock and a hard place as what to do. Voting in elections every 4 years does little as the winners always trample on the rights of others. Both the NDP and Liberal parties have been found wanting, yet the great unwashed wants change. As the elites in this country flout the law, the law of the land grows increasingly irrelevant and now the angry are taking the law into their own hands.

    Herr Harper's legacy will be one of ultimate greed and want, where friends of the government literally rolled in government wealth, where the needy and most vulnerable Canadians were left in want. Herr Harper calls himself a Christian, yet I see no Christian values with the man and his followers, instead I see the same old evil that reared its ugly head in 1914 and 1939. The Canada I now live is a stranger to me; it's politicians caricatures of an earlier age, 1 dimensional, no substance. Woe for Canada, we have been overrun.

    ReplyDelete

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