suggested reforms to avoid this mess again (Mugabe-proof Canada)

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djelimon
suggested reforms to avoid this mess again (Mugabe-proof Canada)

Let me state up front that defeating the government and establishing a coalition would be my preferred outcome.

That said, I think it is a treatment of symptom and not cause. Yes, we can look at Harper and say he is exceptionally arseholish, but nevertheless this situation highlights a danger that I think is built in to our parialmentary system, in it's most extreme cases apparent in Zimbabwe, and to some extent (insofar as you can compare their system to ours) Russia's Putin. The capacity exists for the people in government to use instruments and resources of government for partisan political ends. This is not what I pay taxes for.

Dion spoke of maybe Harper giving a "pledge" not to do this sort of thing anymore, but speaking as a guy who works in a corporate culture much like Harper admires, I know that pledges and promises mean nothing without legal consequences, and of course that doesn't stop the next guy/gal from coming in and doing the same thing. It's not just about Harper, it's about any thug. We need anti-thug legislation. We need to stop the Mugabes before they start.

Therefor I propose 2 pieces of legislation that might fix this:

1) Election reform again to establish an absolute cap on total private monies a party can take. This safeguards against the rich buying elections, and still allows new political parties to form. How much is up for debate of course. But the bulk of money should come from the per-voter payout. This ensures that all parties are committed to getting votes over catering to special interests.

2) All government-funded communications should be devoid of political rhetoric. I'm not just talking about "Dion is a weenie", but, for example, Harper's adds against teacher's unions, or even "Isn't your government just great?" type stuff. The only thing I wnt the goernment telling me on my tax dime plus gst is what services they provide and how I can access them. And public service announcements. Just the facts, thanks. They want to convince me to vote for them, let them do it out of party coffers, or better yet, with the good results of their legislation.

This I think will Mugabe-proof our democracy. Legislation aimed at crippling your opponents supporters financially will be irrelevant because proposal 1) would render that pretty much ineffective - they don't give that much of an edge anyway.

Proposal 2) would avoid the country getting surrounded by a propaganda bubble a la Putin's Russia, or Harper's Ontario.

 

What say you babblers?

 

djelimon

My bad, I meant Harris for Ontario, not Harper

chele

Those are fine, but I think we need a bit more to thug-proof democracy. 

Assuming we stick with the basic structure of our electoral system, there is one very important change we can make to prevent thugs from taking over.

1) Remove the power to prorogue or disolve parliament from the PM-GG. Give that power directly to our elected MP's. Only through a majority vote in the House of Commons can parliament be prorogued or dissolved.

As someone pointed out elsewhere, between September 8 2008 to January 24, 2009, parliament will been in session only 13 days out of 136 . Meanwhile, the Prime Ministers Office has governed the country as Harper sees fit, exercising all the extra-ordinary powers that that office has grabbed for itself.

Which brings us to

2) Introduce legislation which greatly reduces the power of the Prime Minister and his Office. This can be called the "Gomery was Right" law.

 

Beyond that, assuming we stick with some sort of party system, we need proportional representation.  

 

 

 

Aristotleded24

djelimon wrote:
1) Election reform again to establish an absolute cap on total private monies a party can take. This safeguards against the rich buying elections, and still allows new political parties to form. How much is up for debate of course. But the bulk of money should come from the per-voter payout. This ensures that all parties are committed to getting votes over catering to special interests.

While I support the ban on corporate and union donations and restrictions on how much individuals can donate, I think public funding of parties can cause another problem. If the parties receive funding automatically, it reduces the political process to the parties competing with one another to sell a particular brand, something people find frustrating. If they had to rely more on their supporters, they would be in a better position to engate the public.

Having said that, I don't think you can thug-proof anything because it all depends on the people running it. The US, born out of an armed revolution against tyranny, has more explicit checks and balances in its constitution than we do. Unfortunately, the people running the government allowed the Bush administration to run roughshod over them, even though there are clear procedures in place to stop what happened.