Scandal as a catalyst for positive change

In 2009, the UK Parliament was rocked by a major scandal. The scandal was triggered by the leak and subsequent publication by one of the UK’s major newspapers, the Telegraph, of expense claims made by members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords over several years. These disclosures revealed widespread misuse of the Additional Cost Allowances (ACA) members were able to claim. The UK Parliament had been fighting disclosure of these expenses for years. Compared to the UK expenses scandal, the current Canadian Senate expenses scandal is relatively minor. The abuses uncovered in the UK were quite extensive. Alongside specific allegations of incorrect claims such as claims for the cost of mortgages which had already been […]

Worth following on Twitter

Twitter has “Follow Fridays” (#FF) where users can recommend to their followers other Twitter accounts worth following. I’ve decided to start promoting certain Twitter accounts here, since not everyone follows this blog on Twitter, and I can better explain why I think some people are worth following. Many people dismiss Twitter because of the 140 character limit; this makes it impossible to actually discuss or debate anything of substance. It is a challenge, but I have been surprised by how many fairly detailed discussions of complex subjects such as the royal prerogative and Canada’s succession laws actually occur – if you follow the right people. This brings me to my first round of Twitter follow recommendations. Canadian Constitutional/procedural expertise Philipe […]

Fix That House?

Two of the CBC’s politics programmes – CBC Radio’s The House and Newsworld’s Power and Politics – are exploring ways to “fix” Parliament. The series is called “Fix that House” and people are being invited to send in via email or Twitter their ideas to improve Parliament. I have been reading through the list of at least some of the suggestions submitted thus far and have found a few recurring themes, as well as an unfortunate lack of understanding concerning how Parliament works and why some things are done the way they are. Consequently, I thought I would comment on some of the suggestions put forward. First of all, there are a fair number of calls for electoral reform – […]

Voter gender bias towards female party leaders

“The reaction to being the first female prime minister does not explain everything about my prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime ministership. It explains some things and it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey.” – Julia Gillard, 26 June 2013, farewell press conference Australian elections expert Antony Green has written an extremely fascinating article exploring the gender bias behind support for the Australian Labor Party (ALP). As you may recall, the ALP recently underwent another leadership spill which resulted in Prime Minister and party leader Julia Gillard being dumped by her party in favour of former party leader and PM Kevin Rudd. During Gillard’s term as party […]

Australia General Election 2013

A federal election has been called for 7 September 2013. Below I will post links to sites which may be of some use to those following the parties and issues. This post will be updated as more interesting links come to my attention, so please check back often. And if you know of a site which should be listed here, please let me know in the comments, or by using the contact form. Vote Compass Australia 2013 Not certain which party to vote for? Vote Compass is an interactive electoral literacy application developed by Canadian political scientists and run during election campaigns. It offers an accessible framework for learning about party platforms, stimulates discussion on a wide variety of election issues, […]

Samara responds

In an earlier post, I looked at Samara’s recent report on Canadians’ political engagement. In that post, while I greatly appreciated the fact that the organization was attempting research in this area, I felt overall that it fell short of the detailed annual Audits of Political Engagement prepared by the UK Hansard Society. Samara read my post, and sent me the following detailed and thoughtful reply: Thank you for the extremely thoughtful blog. We’re delighted you found the idea of Samara’s report, “Lightweights? Political Participation Beyond the Ballot Box” compelling for a Canadian audience. Certainly this reflects a key part of our mandate as a nonpartisan charity – to shed light on how our politics is working and to seed more conversation about politics. Your blog […]