Friday, March 18, 2016

Sober Second Thought on The Canadian Senate

When we speak of the Senate in Canada, we used to conjure up visions of an august body giving all legislation from parliament some "sober second thought" as was originally planned.
The spending scandals, and the ineffectiveness of the Senate over the last few decades have now reached the point where they can be ignored no longer.

 In the unlikely event that  I was elected PM tomorrow, I would make Senate reform a top priority .

What else can you expect when you have a body composed of mostly party bag men, and water carriers? Seriously bag men.. accounting tricks and stretching the limits of the rules is  all they know. Bag man is as bag man does. Then there are the water carriers. People who have laboured tirelessly for a party, but yet have failed in bids to achieve elected office. The result is that we have Senators chosen -for the most part- on account of their loyalty to the party or Prime Minister who appointed them,, thus when the party in power also has a majority in the Senate, what you have is little more than a rubber stamp. It's no wonder Canadians hold the Senate in contempt, and why they themselves treat the office which though not elected are supposed to serve Canadians with the cavalier attitude we have too often seen.

So what is to be done?

Do we abolish it as the NDP has long wanted to do?  All that would accomplish is to remove what can be a check and balance against abuse of power, and pretty much give any majority government a free hand to advance any agenda they wish, with only token opposition.
Still, it is clear that in its current form, the Senate is not serving as much of a bulwark against absolute rule.

What about an elected Senate, one whose members serve set terms as opposed to lifetime sinecures until age 75, capped with a massive pension?

The Reform Party gained  of traction by running on the idea of a "Triple E Senate" which stood for Elected, Effective and Equal.   The biggest problem with that would be the need to open up the constitution and get 7 of 10 Provinces, comprising 50% of the population to sign on, which under today's landscape would be problematic , with a PQ government in Quebec, as such a scenario would require Quebec to relinquish some of their seats. The current arrangement guarantees Quebec 25% of the Senate seats in perpetuity, and was a condition Quebec demanded when it joined confederation in 1867. The irony is, that at that time, Quebec had the fastest growing population, and could eventually have gotten more Senate Seats, and wielded enormous clout, but since 1960, their population growth has plunged in comparison to the rest of the country, but they are still guaranteed that 25%.

There is, however , a way to give us two of the three E's without opening the constitution. First of all, it is the prerogative of the prime Minsister to appoint all senators... But what if he/she were to appoint ELECTED Senators?
There is precedent for this.  In 1990 Albert Premier Don Getty, as part of "The West Wants IN" movement, held a non-binding Senate election, which was won by the Reform party's Stan Watters.  When the anticipated vacancy came up, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative, astutely appointed Mr. Waters to fill that vacancy.

While initiating talks with the provinces to work out a new framework for Senate reform, I would begin immediately  with a policy of only appointing elected Senators.  This could be done by, when a vacancy comes up, asking the Premier of whatever province the vacancy is in to hold an election for the Senate seat. The Premier would then be able to state that the term for which the senator will be elected is 5 years, after which time the provincial election agency will issue a new writ. While not technically legally bound to observe it, since they would have agreed to  the term with their provincial authority they would be morally bound to observe it.
The prime Minister would then appoint the winner, regardless of what party won.
This would bring pressure to bear on the  appointed Senators who are currently riding the gravy train in exchange for their [past service and current  rubber stamp (in many cases) to resign when called on to do so and face the voters , or make way for the new.

If part of the goal of reform is to use the Senate as a check and balance against either abuse or monopoly of power, since it would be the premiers and their provincial election authorities  holding the Senate elections it would follow that it would be provincial parties putting up candidates to contest them, thus, you will have Senators from such diverse  parties as the BC Liberals, Wild rose, Saskatchewan party, Parti Liberal du Quebec, Coalition Avenir Quebec, Parti Quebecois and so on. The effect would be that non partisan agreement would need to be reached, and there would be less chance of legislation passing that favours one region over another, since they will be watching out for the interests of their provinces. It would also put a stop to the federal government encroaching on provincial jurisdictions. This would place limits on federal power, which serves the common good, as the government that governs least governs best.

While media and party loyalists turn the current Senatorial follies into a witch hunt for partisan political gain, let's look instead at ideas by which we can make the system work for the common good of the whole country so that situations such as we have seen over the years  prompting the cries for abolition or reform become the exception and not the rule.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Proportional Representation is a Bad Idea

I originally wrote this back in 1999, and dusted it off again, since , in light of the elections in Canada and the Liberals' plan to  disenfranchise Canadians by forcing proportional representation on us without public consultation via referendum. , i think it is good to get a jump start on the debate that will begin again here.

Why Proportional Representation is a Bad Idea

by Neal Ford,

Invariably after every election, party spin doctors, in an effort to put the best possible light on electoral defeat, trot out the idea of replacing the current "first past the post" electoral system with proportional representation. A chorus of voices, usually those belonging to fringe parties, then chimes in with their support.  The NDP Greens, and CHP have been longtime supporters of PR
When The Liberals inserted changing the electoral system into their platform, bear in mind hey were dead last in the polls, and only held 35 seats, so suddenly the idea became very appealing to them.

Canada has been served extremely well by the system that is currently in place.
An undesirable  by-product of proportional representation would be the firm entrenchment of party insiders and "elite" in positions of power. As it exists, the current system, allows parties to nominate local candidates at the riding level. Proportional representation would effectively end this form of local practice of democracy. The parties would then choose "slates" of candidates with little regard to where they come from or what they can offer. For example, Party "A" would have a list of 338 potential candidates, and if, by virtue of their popular vote they got 170 seats, the first 170 names on the list would become members of parliament, with the average voter having no say whatsoever in who represents them. People invariably complain when a party "parachutes " a candidate into a riding yet proportional representation would virtually institutionalize this practice. A voter would no longer have their local MP to consult with, or hold responsible. 
What we would end up with is a system where party hacks and bagmen would be rewarded with seats, just by virtue of belonging to a party that got the most votes. If you think that the trend towad centralizing power in the Prime Minister's Office is bad now, it will be much worse when MPs answer only to him ,and not to the people.
Under the current system, if people are dissatisfied with their MP, the MP can be challeneged for their nomination and replaced, and failing that, voters may choose an MP of another party. With PR,we the people will lose that power.

Many people believe that local members of parliament are nothing more than trained seals who must blindly carry out the will of the leadership of the party. On the surface, this would appear to be true, and indeed, enforced party discipline, especially on issues of conscience is something that needs to be addressed. However, behind the scenes, many members do stand up for their constituents while in committee where bills are drafted, and changes end up being made to proposed pieces of legislation, and new legislation introduced as a result of caucus & committee debate. Also, as I pointed out earlier

Proportional representation would also effectively end independent candidacies, as people would only be voting for parties. This is yet another aspect of disenfranchisement.

In spite of their constant clamouring for the idea, no fringe party garnered enough support to win even one seat. In the case of the Green Party, they actually built themselves up and start nominating candidates in all ridings, and began to be taken seriously as an option, and as a result have now won seats on their own account. The NDP, though not a fringe party, which had long agitated  for this type of reform, found in 2011 that FPTP worked out fine for them when they were able to win over 100 seats.

PR is just a way for losers to try and sneak though the back door. Parties that wish to have representation should concentrate on fielding enough candidates to be taken seriously and target ridings to win the support of enough people, and expand from there.

We should all step back for a moment and think about what kind of democracy we want, and we should all have  a say , and if PR is chosen, we the people should be consulted as to how we want it to work  The current system, with its flaws, but which allows local constituencies to choose the candidate they want, or a new system, where the parties choose who will sit in parliament on behalf of the citizens.

January 27th 1999, published in The Suburban . Updated Nov. 3d 2000: Updated March 15th 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

We Owe Donald Trump our Gratitude for His attack on Political Correctness

I know... Donald Trump is an obnoxious boor. He’s offensive. He’s brash. He’s undignified.  Whether you know it  or want to acknowledge it, Donald Trump has rendered a great service to America and  it’s body politic by taking on the greatest threat to our liberties we have ever faced. Political correctness.

You heard me. Political Correctness is the most dangerous enemy the republic has ever faced, and I take the view that unless the dragon of PC is slain now, once and for all, it may be too late to save the republic and the values on which it was founded.  Unless PC is put on trial, found guilty and immediately hanged, it will not be possible to take on the other pressing issues which must be addressed, and that is because PC is what has driven us to inertia.

Political Correctness, in addition to being an assault on the human spirit and human dignity, it is also the antithesis of reality.  When a society operates from political correctness it treats the world and its issues not as they ARE, but as how one might wish them to be.  When one’s opponents play by Realpolitik, while  one works from a world view that denies reality and lies to itself about what really is, that society commits suicide. 


Enter Donald J. Trump, a brash billionaire from New York whose mouth knows no limits.  No sooner had he entered the race he was dismissed by the “experts” and talking heads as “going nowhere”.  8 months later he has dominated almost every pol since he entered the race, and though these polls were dismissed along the way, he finds himself today the prohibitive favourite to win the Republican Presidential nomination.


The political establishment, understandably hates him, and has pulled out all the stops to derail his candidacy, and no matter what they have tried thus far, it has not only failed , but backfired.   Others in the traditional voting pool fear him as well and find his style and vocabulary disturbing and offensive.  There is no swaying the establishment, as they are under direct threat of having their comfortable inside-the-beltway world smashed into rubble.  They can’t bear the thought of the lavish lifestyles many enjoy at the expense of  lobbyists of K street and the oligarchs of Wall Street and Silicon Valley wining and dining them and contributing to their re-election funds in exchange for policies which do not always serve the best interests of the people and workers of the country.  they are already defeated. They’ve been exposed for what they are, and the emperor has no clothes.

It is to the latter group, the Republican voters who haven’t grasped the nature of what is going on out there,  who have to an extent been cowed by PC   that I address this.   I am not asking that you switch over from the candidates you are currently supporting, but to argue that Donald J. Trump has done all of us a great service,  and that should he win the nomination that there should be no hesitation in getting behind his candidacy.  For one thing, he has exposed the establishment as being exactly what they accuse him of: Swindlers and con artists.  They have, on behalf of the donor classes (in both parties) fleeced the American taxpayers of Trillions of dollars, and have , by their policies which benefit mainly the donor class, closed the door of opportunity to the youth. 
If America continues on the path this elite compact have put her on, the Baby boomer generation will have , for the first time left America much worse off than any other generation has left it for the next.
Donald Trump has also challenged political correctness  head-on.  We may wince at some of his words and references, but we should rejoice in the fact that he is getting away with it.  If almost anyone else said what he has been saying, and how he has been saying it,  we would be accused of “micro-aggressions” or even outright bigotry, and would face some very real consequences.  Many working Americans have been let go from their jobs, or perhaps worse, sent to “diversity and sensitivity training” where they are brainwashed, browbeaten or both into submission.  Their potential for advancement in the company or government department after that is nil.
Any other Republican candidate who would dare speak like that would have their career ended within the hour, with the establishment of their own party drumming them out and then abjectly apologizing to whatever organized special interest identity group whined about the “micro aggression”.
Donald Trump is the guy who gets away with saying these things.  In my life I have noticed, whether in my own home growing up, at school, or in the workplace (in the days before PC ruled)  that there are some people who can say anything, and pepper their language with some very colourful colloquialisms and no one says anything, while others will earn a death stare or worse if they drop one F-bomb.
He is succeeding because he reflects what many people have been thinking and are afraid to say, and his lashing out with salty language is quite often representative of the anger people feel toward the representatives who they elected to change things, specifically to stop Obama’s PC driven insanity, who instead have succumbed to the PC life of Washington.


Many Americans are watching as the government sits by idly as millions of illegal immigrants cross the border and settle in the land, while nothing is done about it, and precious little by the establishment politicians, who are afraid to say anything lest they be labelled bigots, xenophobes and racists.


Then there is CAIR (Council on American-Islamic relations) who skilfully beat us with the cudgel of political correctness, so that we sit in silence as the scourge of Sharia law takes hold gradually throughout western society.

Lets not forget the ACLU and the “Freedom From religion Foundation” who use PC and the courts (which have also been poisoned by PC themselves) to undermine Christians  constitutional rights to free speech.


Donald Trump has said things that have served these groups and their sympathizers notice that no more will they be allowed to push us around. Moreover he has not been afraid to NAME some of the outside enemies we face, specifically radical Islam,  and state clearly that their goal is to destroy us and that we need to defend ourselves against them by any means necessary, AND he has named the fact that CHRISTIANS are the prime victims of these Jihadis, and has pledged to protect Christians and their values both abroad and at home.

Some Christians here question his personal commitment to Christianity, and it is a legitimate concern given some of his lifestyle choices  and Biblical illiteracy.   That being said, we have plenty of politicians in Washington now who can quote scripture chapter and verse, and yet have done little more than talk.  I ask you to consider looking back in history, to the Roman Empire no less, when a man named Constantine rose to become Roman Emperor.  Constantine himself did not actually make a final conversion to Christianity until very late in is life, yet he was a constant defender of Christianity not because of his own personal commitment, as much as the example he had seen of Christians and the benefits their way of life brought society as a whole. It was under Constantine that the Church was able to fully come out from underground after centuries of persecution.   I want to ask you to consider this as a possible motivation for Donald Trump’s epiphany where Christianity is concerned.
There was never a time when most citizens were firmly rooted in the faith, and deeply committed. However until the last 50 years or so,  most people regardless of the depth of their commitment to Christ Himself and His Church, recognized and acknowledged the value of the Judeo-Christian heritage and the benefits of adhering to those principles, and the state supported , rather than attacked them.

Donald Trump, as President could set the example of a changed attitude toward Christian values that could bring improvement to society.

Moreover when Christian values were upheld and regarded as something to aspire to, we enjoyed greater freedom and security. Not because of the letter of the law, but the results of people voluntarily adhering to one degree or another to the very principles which guided the writing of the constitution, which was written by the way, by a group of men with differing commitments to Christianity, ranging from Christians to deists to Unitarians and even agnostics, but all of whom recognized that these were the principles under which a free society could flourish. A free society cannot co-exist with political correctness. A free society can only flourish where free expression of ideas takes place,  and where people are free to agree to disagree, even loudly and without what some see as decorum, without the threat of someone using force of law, or the courts to silence another person or group.

All this to say that if Donald Trump recognizes this, as I believe he does, I would take what many see as his cultural Christianity over someone who talks a god game, but whose actions and record show acquiescence to PC when the rubber meets the road.



We need to be thankful that Donald trump has put himself out there, and enabled us to have a debate that would have been silenced by the limits imposed by political correctness were he and his brash persona not here.   So let’s stop bashing Donald Trump on his manners, and let the voters speak and decide whether they are ready to throw off the yoke of political correctness that has been  and will continue to be the downfall of western civilization, unless it is stopped now.