Little Fish in a Giant pond

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. Accountability strikes again!

I watched the news with great interest yesterday as Prime Minister Harper's choices for Senate nominations were announced. I was even more interested to hear that the Prime Minister has chosen to name Thomas Cromwell, a former Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge, to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Some of us Liberals are making more out of the senate appointments than they should. As much as I'd like to blast the PM for "abandoning" his pursuit of an elected senate, that is clearly not what has happened here. I think that all the appointments really mean is that for the time being, Harper has realized that Senate reform is not anywhere in the near future, and he must accept the senate as it is until it can be changed. In fact, an official senate reform would be impossible without the approval of the senate itself, so this may in fact be a means to an end.
I was one of the first people to criticize the PM when he named Fortier to the senate and then made him a cabinet minister, because that was about as hypocritical as he could have been, but in this particular case, I do not believe we can fairly accuse the PM of having betrayed his ideals (even if he has vowed never to name an unelected senator!).
What really bothers me is the nomination of Justice Chambers. From what I have read, he is an excellent choice, and is widely respected in the legal community, but my problem is not with the person Harper chose, merely the manner in which he was chosen. As I discussed in my May 4th 2008 post, Harper has had ample time to set up a selection process of his own to provide the accountability he has promised Canadians. At the very least, Harper could have done as he did for the nomination of Justice Rothstein, and simply kept the public hearing Paul Martin's government put in place. Instead, Harper has chosen to put the gears in reverse. His excuse is that the Supreme Court needed an Atlantic Canadian immediately, but as I mentioned before, he has had plenty of time.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

So much to do, so little time...

It's been a while since my last post.

As those of you who are more familiar with my blogging know, I am just getting my legal career off the ground right now, which makes it pretty hard to blog, but I haven't given up and don't plan on doing so anytime soon!

Unfortunately, my latest busy streak at work has come at a rather inopportune time, since things have been really hot in Ottawa lately!

I watched with great interest as Prime Minister Harper steered himself into the political crisis! I have to say that the most interesting part was watching each side try to justify itself. All sides seem pretty unanimous that the economic update didn't really seek to do much for Canadians, and in fact Harper's stance all throughout the elections was pretty much to stand around and wait for things to come crashing down around his ankles. Just the same, I'm pretty convinced that this had a lot more to do with Harper's attempt to cut off public funding of the parties than anything else.

The fact is that the public simply won't get behind the parties for fighting to save their own asses, but fighting to make sure the government protects Canadians during an economic crisis is a little more palatable to the public.

To be honest, I can't say that I blame the opposition parties for wanting to protect their public funding. As soon as the elections ended, the PM promised he would try to work with the other parties, and then immediately set about adopting measures that would bankrupt them! Our country has no one to blame for this political crisis, but the PM himself.

I can respect the PM for trying to get politicians to make cutbacks during these lean times, but if he really wanted to get the opposition parties to start surviving off of their grass roots donors, he could have chosen a more reasonable approach. At the very least, the government should have pledged to gradually phase out public funding by reducing it gradually over the years.

Sadly, by making a blatant attempt to cripple the opposition, the Tories proved that they simply couldn't be trusted, and the opposition parties had no choice but to take them down while they still can.

I was rather hoping that the Governor General would refuse to prorogue Parliament, but I can't say that I blame her for agreeing. I believe that even though Parliament had not had its chance to express it's lack of confidence in the Conservatives through a vote, it was still pretty clear that the PM was trying to avoid such a vote. Just the same, she is an unelected figurehead who has to be very careful about the APPEARANCE of illegitimacy. Let us not forget that she was named to her position by a Liberal PM, which may have prompted some to criticize her for being partisan. At least by granting the PM's request, she has given Canada's elected officials the time to work something out between themselves. I still disagree with her decision, but at least I can respect it.

It's a shame about Dion. I'll miss him as a leader, but at least the Liberal party will have some stability now that Ignatieff is both our interim and de facto new leader. I like Ignatieff, and I have to admit that we are already getting better press coverage with him as our leader. He deffinitely has no shortage of charisma. I look forward to him becoming PM!

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