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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post-Election New Rules

After every election, I like to take stock and outline briefly some of my thoughts and opinions about the spectacle we all just witnessed. To facilitate the organization of thought, and to inject a little humour, I take a page from the book of Bill Maher, literally...

...and come up with some New Rules of my own.

New Rule: Danny Williams has to be the new leader of the Liberal Party.
- Granted he's currently the Progressive Conservative Premier of Newfoundland, but the idea of prominent party leaders crossing the floor is not unheard of - ask Jean Charet. Williams, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, effectively cock-blocked Harper from getting a seat in NFLD. First he denounced Harper for backing out of the Atlantic Accords, then he started the "Anyone But Conservative" campaign and then he told the fundraisers in his province that if they wanted to keep doing business with him, they won't do business with Harper. The only thing left for Williams to do is take this thing 'cross Canada.

New Rule: If you say you're going to co-operate in Parliament, you have to mean it. - This is the third minority government we've sent to Ottawa, and for the third time, all the party leaders came out afterward saying, "We are going to work together to make Parliament work." But instead of a collegial atmosphere of dialogue and hard work, we've gotten this:

New Rule: Alberta has to get over it.
- Remember: "The West wants in." Well, the west is in now. The party they back is the party in power. The oil sands of Alberta power our economy. So why, oh why, is that province still all coloured blue. I know that Canadians have an inferiority complex, but come on!

New Rule: Ignatieff supporters can't say I told you so to Stéphane Dion. - I know a lot of you out there are saying that this wouldn't have happened if Iggy was running the boat. But the fact of the matter is he's just as professorial as Dion, and he has the notable demerit of having only returned to Canada 2 years ago after some 30 years abroad and only came back after practically being begged by Ian Davey and Daniel Brock. Harper may have called Canada a "northern European welfare state," but at least he was here when he said it.

New Rule: Don't break you're own fixed election rule.
- $300 million is a lot of money to spend in order to realize that most of the people in this country, still don't really like you that much.

New Rule: John Turmel has to keep running.
- With the long list of candidates, the rules at many of the debates were kind of stringent. But Turmel's off the cuff and brutally honest debate responses kept things lively, no matter where you sat on the issue of LETS or professional gambling.

New Rule: Dalton McGuinty should get off the pot.
- He didn't endorse his own party, saying that he was just looking out for the best interest of Ontarians because he was going to have to work with the person that formed the government, whoever they may be. I recognize the political tact of hedging your bets, but does the Premier really think that his relationship with the Conservative government can get any worse?

New Rule: Manuel Couto has to reveal himself so that we know he's real.
- To my knowledge, the Marxist-Leninist candidate didn't give one interview, make a single public appearance or participate in any all-candidate forum or debate. You've gotta play to win and for me the biggest surprise of the evening was that 29 people knew enough about Couto to want to vote for him.

New Rule: Jack Layton has to stop comparing himself to Barack Obama.
- Okay, he never said it out right, but we all saw the little wink when he said, "Vote for the New Democrats." Because we all know who else is a Democrat...

New Rule: We need to have a serious conversation about reforming our democracy.
- Now, I've never been a fan of proportional representation. And the form of mixed-member proportional representation proposed by the Ontario government last year never explained where the proportional members would come from, which is one of many reasons why it failed.

But when a party nearly gets majority status with less than 40 per cent of the vote, it's time to look at how and why we elect our government. The fact that the Bloc Quebecois got 50 seats with 10 per cent of the vote, while the Greens got zero with 7 per cent really says a lot about why people might think their vote doesn't count.

Beyond simple numbers though, look at the geography. If NDP or Green voters in Guelph really think their voices aren't heard hear in Ontario, imagine what's like for your colleagues out in Alberta.

In Quebec, it looked like the fortunes of the Bloc were going down until the Conservatives imploded in the fallout of the arts cuts, and went on to win two-thirds of the seats in Quebec. This despite the fact that in Quebec, the Parti Quebecois has become the third ranked party, suggesting that separation isn't the hot topic it once was. But now Quebecers find their fortunes represented by what is essentially a special interest party, and you've got to figure that there a lot of voters displeased. Look at the numbers in Quebec and it's practically a reflection of those nationwide with the Bloc getting only 38 per cent support.

So what to do? Well, Harper's such a big supporter of Senate reform, why not let the Upper House be elected, and elected through proportionality, along with the other proposed changes. Let the Senate have greater influence on policy, by making it more reflective of proper party support, and their policies there in, while the House members remain chosen as the representatives of their riding in the Parliament by being elected by majority.

Now I admit, I haven't thoroughly thought out the details of this plan, and it might not work, but let's at least start the discussion. Otherwise, I fear we're going to do this again and again till either a majority like Harper or the Liberals get smarter. In other words: forever.

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