Friday, January 31, 2014

Unintended consequences of unilateral political grandstanding

The bold move by Justin Trudeau to eject all Liberal senators from his caucus will have, as do all actions, consequences, some of which, in all likelihood, will harm the Liberal party in the long run.

Justin’s decision has all the markings of a typical Liberal party backroom deal cooked up by the innermost of inner circles advising/steering the leader of the Grits.

Wide ranging decisions made in secret with limited consultation—in this case none, apparently—with stakeholders will seldom escape unpleasant consequences. But these are Liberal specialties. Despite the fact Michael Ignatieff had obviously adopted, first the United Kingdom and later the United States, as his home for over 30 years, a small cadre of Liberal insiders sort out the professor to be the future prime minister of Canada.

The plan didn’t work. The Liberal insiders had not sought the opinion of enough ordinary Canadians to understand they would never accept a man for whom Canadians had become strangers with whom he had little in common and of whom he had little understanding.

Still Liberal insiders persisted in their folly—in secret meetings. After Prime Minister Stephen Harper formed his minority government in 2006, the Grits were desperate to dump their leader-by-miscalculation Stéphane Dion and crown Ignatieff. But first they tried a “bold” gambit: form a coalition with the Dippers and get the separatists support in writing. This was done—not through open debate—but through party backroom deals. And again it was roundly rejected by ordinary Canadians.

And again the Liberals resorted to secret backroom deals when they installed professor Ignatieff as their leader, forcing other candidates for the job to step aside.

Now we have this most recent bold move by a Liberal leader who made his decision with a minimum of stakeholder, let alone public, consultation. Something like five Liberals decided to drastically change the nature of half Canada’s parliament and the rest of us have to lump it or leave it.

Alberta Ardvark blog makes some interesting points, writing:

… with no elected Liberal MPs and now with no Liberal Senators, when the Liberal caucus gathers together to discuss issues or formulate policy etc, Albertans will no longer have anyone in the room to represent or speak for them.

And what of future senators elected in Alberta by Albertans? Will Justin’s new group of elites override the democratically elected with choices of its own? Think about the Order of Canada selection process which he seems to think so highly of: old politicians, party bagmen and other party “faithfuls,” journalists—have I missed anyone? Wait a minute, aren’t these the very type of folks we already have in the senate?

What hubris it must take to believe you—and only you—know best about how Canada’s political institutions are to be constituted. The Conservative notion of Triple-E or similar senate reform was develop in open forums, not by five or so Liberal party operatives in a backroom somewhere.

I’ll wait for the Supreme Court to give us some advice on how to make it so.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Russ.. with one mild proviso: the senate as it currently stands is a toothless (albeit somewhat expensive) old dog that really doesn't impact legislation in any meaningful way. To suggest (as the Dauphin seems to) that making the Senate less partisan (which, of course, won't be the case at all) is simply amateur-hour smoke and mirrors.

    Were Trudeau Junior to insist on a less partisan House of Commons, perhaps I'd be interested. This? Pure puffery.