11.20.2010 07:35 AM

Prof. Simpson identifies the disease

To wit:

“The country is essentially split into big blocks defined by geography, traditional voting habits, language and identity (see the Bloc), and nothing any of the parties tries shakes the grip of the other. Occasionally, it looks as if a party might be making a move on one front (Conservatives for a while in Quebec; NDP in B.C.), only to watch the offensive go nowhere. Meantime, no policy has caught the public’s imagination enough to cause major shifts.”

Professor Simpson identifies the disease. But who has the cure?

Hands up, class. We welcome your comments.

52 Comments

  1. Cath says:

    Yep, I agree with Simpson. His point about the media’s role in dragging down what’s important and what voters care about to the point that the public turns off and tunes out of media pap is spot-on. That there has been no real policy that has had that “WOW” factor among Canadians is also true I believe. I want politics to make me feel like Crosby did when he scored that winning goal for Canada at the Olympics. At the moment my excitement meter on politics in this country is on par with enjoying a bowl of oatmeal – mushy with a few lumps. It’s supposed to be good for us but YUK!

    • The thing with that analogy is that Canada BEAT another team. So what idea(s) should Canadian politicians be trying to defeat? Socialist nonsense? Bailout Fever? PC mumbo-jumbo? Multi-cult fanaticism?

      • Cath says:

        My point George Bush is that at that one moment in time it was a very proud feeling of being one nation and being the best nation.
        If we can feel that way about our Olympic hockey triumphs, why can’t we feel that way about the issues our politicians are fighting for?
        Is it because we have no pressing issues, or is the media leading us into the la-la land of oatmeal and issues that read almost like tabloid trash some days?

  2. Loren says:

    It’s only a “disease” in the opinion of those who desire an empowered federal state.

    It could equally well be argued that the situation actually reflects the evolution of Canada into a true confederation.

  3. nic coivert says:

    I think there is a lot more volatility in the electorate than Mr. Simpson is acknowledging. A recent poll suggested that 23% of voters would be willing to vote for a different party than they did last election. Recent municipal elections also indicate a populace ready for change. However this is all muted by the fact that apathy is still the big winner, change is difficult to attain with a 50-60% voter turn-out. The Conservatives don’t see this as a problem, within the current parameters they will win; it would be a problem for them if the other 40% of voters decided to go to the polls. A part of right wing strategy therefor has been to piss in the well. Keep people disgruntled about politics and politicians and you lessen their ability to affect change in the system.

    One thing that could break the juggernaut would be a Liberal endorsement of Rep by Pop, but again, it is confusing how this would actually work and nobody seems to able to agree on any one system. And you can bet that if the Libs and NDP ever got together on this thing the Cons would do everything imaginable to confuse and abuse the issue.

    For the current government Democracy is much easier to manipulate when people are disengaged, disaffected and distrustful.

    If you want to slow the game down, kick the ball in the mud.

    • Dan says:

      Rep by pop would only further highlight the regional, and language barriers that already exist in Canada (see Quebecois, Bloc).

      I think the era of Pan-Canadian policies is pretty much dead. There will be exceptions in the future with a leader who genuinely can reach out, and appeal to a wider audience, but I don’t see any on the horizon and think that it will be the rare exception of a dynamic personality with broad appeal how can cobble together a majority government.

      I think minority governments will be the norm for the foreseeable future (barring extreme circumstances)

  4. VH says:

    I’m not sure what Simpson is on about because I thought politics was supposed to be about people.

    No one person has come to the fore with the right combination of charisma, charm, flamboyance and philosophy. “Likeability” you might say.

    Not every moment in politics has to have really great leaders and it seems like we’re in one of those periods now. It’s like we’re in a thousand mile march of the dour men.

    It hasn’t been apparent to enough people that the Liberal party has given anyone anything to rally around for a long time (and don’t tell me that wanting to tax people for using carbon was something to rally around).

    And Harper….well he’s the most dour of the dour men.

  5. Brammer says:

    I recently wrote to my MP and Ignatieff to share my thoughts. Their response:

    “The Liberal Party believes that Canada?s foreign policy must be balanced among the 3 Ds ? defence, development and diplomacy. Canada must continue to work with other NATO and UN partners to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government to provide educational, health and social services, promote the equality of women, and develop its democratic institutions.”

    My response:

    “I suggest that we are missing one more “D” – democracy. Canadians expected our troops to leave Afghanistan in 2011, but now the Conservatives have announced that they plan to extend the mission without a vote and Bob Rae went along with the equivalent of a shoulder shrug. I don’t so much care about the Liberal position on extending the mission as I do the fact that your party colluded with the Conservatives in avoiding putting the question before the house of commons. Clearly the 4th “D” is missing!

    I am very frustrated with the way in which your party and the Conservatives have thwarted democracy. The only parliamentary leader who has shown consistent leadership on this issue is Jack Layton.”

  6. Greg says:

    It isn’t a who, but a what. Electoral reform is the only way forward, but since the big parties and the corporate media hates that idea, the war will continue for several more pointless years.

  7. Riley says:

    Introduce proportional representation and conventional wisdom cronies to dust. We’d have seats held by very major party — including the greens — in every province, coalitions and consensus building would become more the norm as in Scandinavia and false regionalisms would disintegrate before our eyes. The media would have to cover policy for a change. How refreshing. Right now everything about our system is phony. Which is why nobody can predict what will happen until election day.

    • Warren says:

      Rep by pop, eh? Let’s go for a pony for every girl, while we’re at it.

      • Riley says:

        Seats distributed according to the percentage of the vote they receive, not by population (maybe rep by pop was a typo in your reply). The reality is that we have five competitive parties but a steam age system that produces phony results. Imagine if someone were designing a democratic system from scratch. Do you honestly think they would suggest a system that gives all the power to a minority of voters? Because that’s what we have due to historical accident. At the very least I’d suggest a preferential vote. That would be simpler to understand and sell to voters … Rank the candidates in order of preference… To win you need at least 50 percent support from first and second choices (even third if necessary). It wouldn’t deliver try proportionality but at least it would produce something people could live with. Right now simply NEVER get the government most people would choose (except in a few rare instances).

      • Student501 says:

        I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. It takes them forever to pass just one Bill, it’s unlikely they would ever pass something as controversial as this.

    • Brammer says:

      Refreshing indeed. All Canadians represented in the house and Parties forced to work as coalition parners.

      The trick is to have a clear platform on how to achieve prop. rep. It was on the ballot last time in Ontario but the messaging was really weak and the proposed system would have seen people appointed to power without having their name on the ballot. You want to serve, you got to run.

      Fix those two parts and you have a system.

      • Greg says:

        The problem is traditional parties would be threatened as the first past the post would no loner benefit them. Thus, expect them to ridicule the idea at every turn.

  8. S. Peterson says:

    I do. Proportional representation. And we will have to do it ourselves because the major parties won’t. The conservatives would rather hang themselves. And the smaller parties can’t.

  9. MississaugaPeter says:

    The cure is leadership that listens to it’s Party’s members and fellow Canadians.

    The cure is leadership that is capable of offering a viable alternative platform and then seeks quality candidates to represent it.

    Listening to Jim Coutts this past week speak about how Pearson overcame the 1958 disaster when the Liberals only captured 48 of 265 seats, made me realize what was lacking in our present Liberal leadership. He discussed the strategy of creating a platform that resonated with Canadians and then the Liberal team’s recruitment of quality candidates right across the country.

    This is in contrast to an attempted repeat of the 1960 Thinkers’ Conference but which was held more for show than actual policy – THIS WEEK’S DEFICIT IN DEMOCRACY IS PROOF OF THAT. Also the failure to recruit quality candidates, sorry folks, plugging in Genco the day the by-election is pathetic preparation. And where are new ideas to test during by-elections, unless you consider THIS WEEK’S DEFICIT IN DEMOCRACY IS PROOF OF A NEW IDEA!

  10. J. Coates says:

    Prop rep? I will never happen.

  11. AmandaM says:

    Not a popular, or Liberal, idea, but I am a proponent of Mandatory Voting.

    1. All political parties would be required to address the needs of all groups of Canadians, not just those who traditionally vote.
    2. Canadians would be required to pay attention – I think apathy is a huge part of this disease, and when you MUST vote, you pay attention, and if we mixed it with prop rep and an elected upper chamber, smaller voices would be heard.
    3. Traditional non-voters would be pissed for exactly one election cycle, and then once they knew their voices are heard and needs addressed, they would settle down.
    4. Yes, it forces people to do what is their constitutional responsibility. But every parent knows that sometimes you must enforce responsibility as much as privilege.
    5. Mandatory voting would get us out of this rut of indecision and band-aid solutions. With one election, we would be clear on what the WHOLE population wants, and that need to GOTV in terms of “just get to the damn polling place” would largely disappear.

    The result, I am convinced, would be a good mix of members of all houses, and people would realize they’re part of many more groups than just “white, male, torontonian”.

    Anyway, not likely anytime soon.

  12. crocker jarmon says:

    And here in lies the major problem facing the Liberal party, it has no regional base to act as a rock of votes. Sure it has MTV (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver) but it doesn’t even hold those solidely (NDP/Bloc). It used to have Quebec but hasn’t for 26 years, going back to the Mulroney sweep in 1984. I would argue those seats that are held by the Bloc aren’t going back (with obvious exceptions). Ontario was never “Liberal” even when Chretien won his majorities, that was the by-product of a divided right. The Maritimes are swing and basically non-ideological when it comes to voting – based more on regional, family and social patters.

    So, that is the problem, it isn’t Ignatieff, Dion, et al. Now, what they do have is history, stability and are considered a “safe” vote by almost everyone so they could win a minority by picking up 20 seats in Ontario and 10-15 in Quebec.

    This isn’t going away anytime soon – and to simply think that if regional parties like the Bloc disappeared, harmony would reign is just pissing in the wind. Proportional representation would make it even more divided as the single-issue parties would then have more muscle not less. And if you think PR hurts the Tories more than the Libs, think again. Or, think twice, haha.

    • Warren says:

      What about what Simpson said about the Cons?

    • Greg says:

      “Screw the west, we?ll take the rest”

      Unfortunately for the Liberals they wrote off a large part of Western Canada for a long time with comments like this. The willingness to run against a part of the country may make smart politics for 1 campaign but what about the long term? The Liberals can put a cowboy hat on every leader of their party and have them flip pancakes in time to an Ian Tyson song but it won?t make much difference. Western Canada won?t open up to them for a long time.

  13. jbro says:

    …eventually the country will swing back from the right. i guess it just depends on how much damage is done in the meantime; this reminds me of the mulroney era in this regard.

    i’ve been reading ‘harperland’ by l martin, and i’m pretty concerned about the dictator-style power of the pmo.

    there is a tension between today’s transparent information age and the pmo’s idea of information control as primary from of power. it feels like the future against the past. it is similar to people of the 1940-50’s completely missing the boat in the 1960’s.

  14. orval says:

    The cure is already happening. We saw it with Potash and now with Afghanistan mission-extension. It is a de facto Conservative-Liberal coalition. It is the best thing for our country right now. It stabilizes our national politics (we are not on the verge of an election every single day). It marginalizes the NDP and makes the Bloc irrelevant. I wouldn’t be surprised if Conservatives and Liberals are already working on including a home care tax credit in the next budget. I hope they are. It seems like a good idea. Prediction: Liberals will support Budget ’11 (a good thing). Another prediction: no election until 2012 (another good thing). I know, I know… Yogi Berra…”never make predictions, especially about the future.”

    As for the media: Polls are NOT news. Remember that journalism is a craft, so practice it. We want reporting, not journalists’ opinions. Stop focusing on the superficial and the trivial. Start with substantive and balanced analysis and reporting. If so, we might start buying newspapers again.

  15. JH says:

    This used to be a country governed and led by political giants – from all parties! And Jeff Simpson used to walk amongst them as an equal. He has gone way beyond his past due date and in fact, I think he and his fellow scribes are in many ways responsible that today we are subject to the governance of midgets from all sides of the political spectrum.
    Depressingly so and I have no hope of this changing anytime soon.
    Think about it, what decent, intelligent and public spirited citizen would want to subject themselves and their loved ones, to the lowlifes that inhabit Parliament Hill or the character assasination that passes as political discourse in this country?

  16. Mulletaur says:

    Propose transformative change to Canadian society. From the right, a two tiered flat tax. From the left, a guaranteed minimum income. Also, we need to stop dumping on politicians so we can start recruiting better ones. And forget about proportional representation, how we choose on election day is not the problem. What happens between elections is the problem. We need to mobilize and engage ordinary citizens in political life. The only way to do that is to get citizens in on policy decision making and implementation at all stages. Because we don’t trust our politicians anymore, changing the way we vote for them is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We need to give the power to govern directly to the people.

    • Riley says:

      The reason we have problems between elections is that we elect phony governments that most people didn’t vote for so we don’t like what the phony representatives foist upon an increasingly cynical electorate. Things are better in Sweden and Norway And Finland and Denmark and Germany and … Need I go on?

      • Mulletaur says:

        And the only solution that will hold our politicians accountable to what the people want is deliberative governance. Elections by their very nature produce bad results. They only represent a snapshot in time, and even then, they are not very ‘democratic’ in the true sense of the word. For example, Stephen Harper’s party received 36% of the popular vote in the last election on a turnout of 64% of eligible voters. That’s a whole 23% of the eligible voting population who voted for him and his party. Such a system can’t help but produce a bad result that the majority of Canadians don’t want. The only way to get around this is coalition government, but despite Warren’s promotion, this is not something that Canadians are ready to accept, mainly because of the Bloc. The only way to get around this is to involve people directly in governance between elections.

  17. billg says:

    The disease is the NDP and the Bloc. When 80 to 90 seats in a 308 seat house are typically reserved for members whose only goal is to either break up the country or bankrupt it the disease is right there in front of our faces so to speak. And, I really like the ‘pony for every girl’ idea.

    • Riley says:

      Ironically the NDP has the best fiscal record of any party that has held power provincially or federally. They have delivered more balanced budgets as a percentage of budgets tabled. That is a cold hard fact. The conservatives have the worst record followed closely by the liberals. The reason is simple: the NDP knows that in order to deliver popular progeria you need adequate tax rates. They know from commonsense and practical evidence that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Canadians don’t want low taxes and no services. They want low taxes and lots of services which leads to deficits. Tommy Douglas delivered 17 straight balanced budgets and invented Medicare at the same time: need I say more? Stephen Harper spouts ductums from his Econ 101 text and calls himself an economist then proceeds to cut taxes and increase spending. Conservative deficits all over again.

  18. jon evan says:

    The disease is only the neurotic drive for a maj. by party leaders who want power. I think PM Harper has already concluded that min. govt’s are the new long term norm in Canada which is a good thing because it calls for pragmatic leadership for the interests of the country rather than the party.

    What is structurally flawed in Canada is the power concentrated at the PMO especially evident in maj. govt’s. The present coalition bet. the LPC and the CPC is working for the best of the nation and I like that there isn’t the threat of an election all the time and that right things are being done for the country. The polls appear to bear out that people are happy with this direction and don’t what a change presently.

  19. orval says:

    Gord: Agreed. I never believed Maxime Bernier had somehow gone “rogue” – he is preparing the ground for the coming change in Quebec. The Conservatives will benefit when the Bloc fades.

    For whatever reason, the whole country – urban/rural, east-west, old stock/new immigrant, etc, is tending centre-right in political outlook. The Conservatives, being grass-roots oriented, are more apt to detect this shift and to tailor their policies (and politics) to suit. Hence we get policies like child care tax credit (in lieu of universal day care), pension income splitting (in lieu of income trusts) and the home reno tax credit. These policies appeal to the centre-right approach of enabling individuals and families to improve their lives, instead of waiting for some bureaucratic social program solution.

    The Liberals risk missing the boat on this. They have to get over themselves, this “only a Bonaparte can be Emperor – only a Liberal can be Prime Minister” attitude will lead to their extinction. They are far better off to become part of what is happening across the country and be part of a de facto Conservative-Liberal coalition (or even a formal power-sharing Conservative-Liberal coalition like in UK). Yes they will be for a time in the shadow of Conservatives, perhaps for a very long time, but when the Conservatives fade or suffer through some ethics scandal of their own, the Liberal centre-right alternative will be an acceptable substitute. And if it is a minority situation, then the Conservatives will support the new Government, in the shadow of the Liberals, while they re-build themselves.

    But this will not happen if the Liberals continue to refuse to re-build to match the needs of Canada now and into the future. This is bad for Canada. For our Parliamentary democracy to operate correctly and well, we need two strong and viable centre-right parties, one to be Government and the other to be Opposition (which supports the Government when it does good, and opposes it when it does bad). This is the most glorious feature of the British parliamentary system: the loyal opposition. The Opposition is an important and crucial part of our system of government. There is no shame in being in opposition! Use that time patiently and to re-tool and to get ready to govern again.

    • Warren says:

      Jesus, Gord, do you ever – ever – apply your critical faculties to the CPC? Ever?

    • James Curran says:

      Bullshit! The Progressive Conservative faction is now officially dead in the CPC. With Prentice gone and McKay fading fast it is the final nail in the coffin David Orchard warned everyone in that party about. There’s no grassroots in that party Gord. You either march lockstep or you’re eliminated. You’re so full of shit I swear.

  20. eattv says:

    Leadership is the cure. Someone who’s a *real* small l-liberal and who’s not afraid to kick the other guy in the nuts. And keep on kicking when he’s down. And not apologize for it. We ain’t got that in Canada’s Natural Ruling Party right now.

  21. Fraternite says:

    The beginnings to a solution would be a new party with a new brand that would cleave a bit of support from each of Mr. Simpson’s “blocks”. What’s needed is fundamental realignment, and that will never happen with the current scene being divided by the current players into the current blocks of support.

    There’s just too much baggage for anyone to breakthrough as it stands, and people need to realise that things like “Conservative” and “Liberal” and “New Democrat” are brand liabilities that prevent majorities (though they undoubtedly secure bases!), not useful tools that enable them.

    • Riley says:

      That party already exists. It’s called the green party. I used to be a member an on an EDA and I know that the biggest proportion of GP supports are former Liberals followed by no former affiliation. Lots of former PCs there too. They poll 10 percent because people are sick of the other brands as well as a generation of voters who view the world according to different frames of reference … Both economically and socially. Unfortunately they have no organization.

      • James Curran says:

        No Riley that party does not exist. Certainly not in the form of the Green Party. Theyve had years -and lots of money – to get their “organizational” issues together. It is just not going to happen. As I said above. You need tough. While Lizzy is tough, most people still don’t take her seriously because she tends to come off as nuts at times.

        The United Party is on the right track but needs a lot of help getting there. If this bullshit continues, they just might get it too.

        • smelter rat says:

          “While Lizzy is tough, most people still don’t take her seriously because she tends to come off as nuts at times.” – unlike Mr. Harper?

  22. Rome says:

    Three things need to happen for a cure. And, because personnel changes, the cure is never permanent.

    First. Politicians need to lose their old ways of thinking. They have no clue on how to engage young Canadians, new Canadians, or modern Canadians. No, being on Twitter doesn’t count. No, you can’t try to make politics this great and wonderful thing. It just has to become part of people lives. People who don’t vote consider it an issue of us and them. They don’t care about us, so I will ignore them. Politicians are a stiff bunch, and that turns people off. And, their solutions are horrible…….like Stockwell Day riding to a press conference on a Sea-Doo…………barf.

    Second. We need a savvy, idea-laden, well-spoken leader. One who is dynamic and GENUINE. One who isn’t a 24/7 politician. People will follow. Trudeau was a master at this. When we see a picture of him paddling a canoe, it’s genuine. Almost like he said, “I’m going paddling. Mr. Reporter, grab your camera and come.” As opposed to today’s politicians, who are all about pre-determined photo ops. Where’s the reality? People now hate David Miller, but he was at this summer’s Toronto Waterfront Marathon holding the tape for the racers to break. Not just the winners, but for lots of people to break. No suit. No entourage. No throng of reporters. He was out enjoying a great Toronto event, cheering people on. Being himself.

    Third. Some parties must die. The Bloc most importantly. They do nothing, but get in the way. Canada is not going to break up, so go away. The rest of us would like to get on with our lives. I love Quebec and Quebecers, but their voting habits must grow up. The Bloc is a socialist party, but when they change vote, they go CP? Huh?!? Why NDP? They’ll push the programs you want. Except for nationalism, which is a ridiculous goal, anyway.

    Open eyes, modern attitudes, and being genuine. That’s what will change the future.

    • Student501 says:

      The Bloc die.
      Highly unlikely, their demise has been predicted over and over again.
      The lowest number of seats won by the Bloc was in 2000 (38).
      They have consistently done better than the NDP since 1993.

  23. Riley says:

    Then how do you explain the fact that a solid majority of voters in western Canada vote for progressive parties and if we elected MPs based on proportional representation the conservative party would lose control of western Canada — and government — literally overnight? And the media wouldn’t have a foggy clue about how to report on it or what to do with all the phony east/west mythology they have used to help divide Canadians all these years?

    • James Curran says:

      And I can assure you Gord that you and your friends can debate policy all you want cause nobody in Ottawa cares what you debate. They’ll do what they damn well please.

      Tell me. Did you debate such fbulous policies as reopening same sex marriage debates? reopening the abortion debate? reopening the long gun debate? appointing a million more senators? fiscal responsibility? the environment? carbon tax? HST? Selling off national companies? The tar sands? Government secrecy? How to kill a government watchdog? How to defund ALL women’s programs? Was there an all you can eat buffet?

      • JH says:

        You guys can dribble on forever over this. But – guess who’s in power ( and looks like they are staying there) and guess who’s not? end of argument I’d say. You can rant and rave all you want about the injustice of it all- it does not change the facts – Jack!

  24. Namesake says:

    Altho’ it’s unlikely to happen before the next fed. election, this would be a game changer: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/11/19/what-if-the-united-states-ends-up-with-a-carbon-tax/

    If the U.S. — whom Harper’s been waiting on, to stall dropping the oil co. subsidies & doing anything about climate change — actually ends up adopting some sort of Green Shift of their own, and maybe even exerts its influence as a large GM shareholder to speed up the production of electric cars, that could change a lot of people’s votes, both:

    – if Harper followed suit (as he does on ‘most everything the US gov’t wants him to do), and people realize what a hypocrite &/or BS’er he is/was for demonizing this for years but ends up doing it anyway; or,

    – if Harper still digs in his heels & insists we need a ‘made in Canada solution’ & continues to do nothing, then it will be apparent to all but the Gord’s how out of step he is, & that he doesn’t really have the long-term interests of Canada & indeed the world at heart.

    The thing is, because of Dion’s tactical error in being too honest & ambitious about this in ’08 (they over-reached: they should have just concentrated on the mea culpa’s & defeating Harper, then), the Lib’s have been saddled with a mortgage on this ever since:

    the perception that they’ll introduce a whole bunch of new taxes on gas & home heating is likely preventing a lot of people from switching or coming back to them.

    But once it’s clear that the Cons’ either will — or should — have to introduce those types of carbon taxes, too, and that all parties could help foster alternative technologies which would both reduce the need for those more destructive fuels AND replace the jobs associated with them…

    well, then the Cons. will lose the die-hard fossil fuel guzzlers & climate-change deniers’ votes, too, and the voter participation will drop another 10%, and: a minority Liberal gov’t WILL be within reach.

  25. Ottlib says:

    Mr. Simpson’s argument is premised on one big false assumption, which is, the current political situation will be with us into the forseeable future. Life does not work that way.

    Let’s take the assumption that the Bloc will be around for a long time. In 2000, Jean Chretien surprised the political establishment by taking around 35 seats in Quebec, to the detriment of the Bloc. No pundit expected that. By 2002 the Bloc was trailing the Liberals in Quebec by a wide margin and every pundit, in both official language, believed that once Paul Martin took over the Bloc would be reduced to a small rump in any subsequent election. Then the Sponsorship Scandal broke in 2003 and Quebecers rejected the Liberals in droves, moving back to the Bloc.

    Then in 2008 it looked like the Conservatives were going to have a breakthrough in Quebec as they were neck-and-neck with the Bloc only to squander the opportunity by attacking the Arts and Culture and promising to lock-up 14 year olds.

    So, just in the last 10 years the Bloc has found itself in the position of being markedly reduced in stature in the Canadian political scene only to have new life breathed into it by the stupidity of the two major federalist parties in this country.

    Then look at the Potash decision. The Conservative decision on that issue should demonstrate that they do not believe they are the default choice for the Prairie Provinces.

    That tired old axiom in politics that ” a week is a life time in politics” is very true. The current logjam that we see in our politics will break, with or without any actions of the different political parties, it is just a matter of time and I would wager a rather short time at that.

  26. Former US Sen Alan Simpson said something interesting in an NPR interview this week. Talking about their deficit reduction committee he said it’s his experience that not much gets done in Washington without an appeal to a ‘death blend of emotion, fear, guilt or racism.’

    http://www.npr.org/2010/11/17/131392588/debt-commission-co-chairs-won-t-bow-to-criticism?ft=1&f=1003

    I like to think that we’re different up here, but maybe not so much. So I say the only way to hold politicians to a higher standard of any form is for voters to demand that facts rule the day.

    Why can’t we get something as simple as a taxpayer’s receipt for the hard-earned dollars we send to provincial and federal coffers? Let that start the policy discussions and provide the lens to focus on the issues of the day.

    And let’s admit the ‘Action Plan’ is really not what we’re talking about here. It doesn’t relate those vast expenditures to the overall federal budget in any meaningful form. Plus it has no follow up mechanism to report on the effectiveness of the expenditures. The reports talk about billions spend on forestry, agriculture, industry etc. but details are incomplete and only highlights are made available. The reports appeal to emotion but do little to explain economic logic or fiscal accountability in a comprehensive way. In other words, how much pork or waste are really in there??

    We don’t need to create a new political system, let’s start with a taxpayer receipt maybe like the report from your investment dealer but in this case it tracks expenditures and performance for each tax dollar. If we can get a receipt for the smallest item we purchase at Canadian Tire then I think our government can do a lot better. Give us a web site with a pie chart for revenues and expenditures. Let us see how the money come in and where it goes. Give us the ability to click on an expenditure and see what that investment is doing today because we want to know in real time what the leaders entrusted with running government are doing with our money. And if we had that then the current miniscule staff for the parliamentary budget officer would be just about right.

    Like Sen Simpson said, the only way to beat a leadership culture of emotion, fear, guilt and racism is with facts.

  27. S. Peterson says:

    Rep by pop would not highlight further divisions. That’s just another of the phoney reasons thrown around for not considering it. Those in power use any scare tactic they can. All those almost 70 and more democracies who have it do not complain about this. If any should it would be Switzerland and not a peep about wanting to change to our ridiculous system.

  28. hugger says:

    Everything you wrote from your opinion on proportional representation through using Max Bernier as an example of a true fiscal conservative is limited in scope and of no real value. That includes your grandiose projections of the march of Reform popularity sweeping the country. The polls don’t support your contentions / dream-state. Frankly your offerings are not worthy of an in depth response so I will use a quote that comes to mind;

    “He’s thin boys. He’s thin as piss on a rock”

    Senator William E. Jenner

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