Thursday, April 27, 2006


Tories offer plan to fix election dates. Excellent. Now here's an idea whose time is well overdue.

I would hope that our MPs can make this a truly non-partisan affair, and I would particularly like to see some of the Liberal leadership candidates come out unequivocally in favour.

But the article wouldn't be complete without a little trumped up righteousness from the NDP, far and away that party's (one I voted for in 2006, mind you) most nauseating quality:
NDP House Leader Libby Davies said her caucus agreed yesterday to support the proposed bill. Ms. Davies said the law would stop what she called the abuses of Mr. Chr├ętien. "He was toying with the idea and calling people to the polls when he didn't need to, when it suited the Liberals to do so, and I think people got quite upset with it and this would remove that element," she said.

Oh sure. Because when NDP Premiers Clark, Dosanjh, and Rae held off calling the election until the last hour of their constitutionally-allowed 5th year, they were acting out impartially out of the interests of the people. Or, for example, when Conservative Premiers in Nova Scotia trigger elections in the summer so as to avoid the student vote in key ridings, they are not doing it to suit their own fortunes at the expense of a properly run democratic system.

These people are politicians, so of course we expect them to take every advantage available to them under the structure. The problem lies not with certain players, but in the rules themselves. Change them to make the governments of the day more accountable and less subject to the whim of the moment, and let's move on. This is exactly the kind of initiative that I hoped might happen under Harper. He has, thus far, dropped the ball on floor-crossing, the Senate, appointment of Cabinet Committee Chairs, and the muzzling of his Cabinet. Let's hope he follows through here.


Anonymous jamesbow said...

Well, to be fair, Dossanjh and Rae are no longer NDPers.

1:45 PM  
Blogger James MacDuff said...

Of course. But the larger point still applies, that all parties have been guilty of attempting to use all mechanisms of power to their advantage. It is rather frustrating to listen to the moral indignation of the federal NDP in matters like these, when it is all too obvious that if ever given the chance at power, they would almost surely act as cynically in the face of a year and a half window within which to drop the writ.

3:12 PM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

I've been re-learning the age-old bit of wisdom that politicians are forever politicians. We can only really know their worth in retrospect.

I used to think that fixed election dates were silly. But this may be a way of re-imposing a sort of constitutional convention on such things (given the ease of repealing such a measure for a majority government), and so I'm coming around to it...

10:28 PM  
Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Most shocking revelation of this post: Jim MacDuff voted NDP in '06. . .

I support fixed elections dates 100%. It was a bit of a contentious issue at the march 2005 CPC policy conference. obviously there are going to be situations (minorities etc) that require that "plan b," but all in all I still think the certainty is worth it.

On Nova Scotians calling summer elections . . . In at least one of the "key ridings" I suspect you're talking about (Halifax Citadel), the re have been oodles of elections and by-elections since the mid 1990s and the departure of Terry Donahoe. . . Lotsa university vote there. Always found it strange when the rules allowed a newfoundlander like me to vote sometimes. . . Always found it sad that, even if I knew most didn't vote the same way I did, that young people generally don't vote.

Time to bring back civics in a big way. It's eveyr bit as important as any other subject in school. Students shouldn't be able to avoid it. It should be mandatory in every year in some form from elementary to grade 12.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I agree that for short-term democratic purposes, fixed election dates would appear to be fairer, but I detest the seemingly multi-year election campaigns they get in the US, and I think a bit of surprise, while it often unduly benefits the party in power, can serve to shorten campaigns to a more reasonable length.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

James, this is NDP policy federally, so no big surprise here. The rumours going around say this is a CPC sop to the NDP in advance of the budget, next week.

3:49 PM  

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