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 […]

On Speeches from the Throne and Prorogation

As is often the case – if you follow the right people! – a very interesting discussion transpired on Twitter over the matter of Speeches from the Throne and prorogation. For the uninitiated, prorogation is, normally, a very mundane parliamentary procedure used to bring to an end one session of a Parliament so that a new session can begin. If you read my post explaining the differences between a parliament, a session and a sitting, you will recall that a parliament lasts from one election until it is dissolved for a new election. In Canada, this tends to be about four years, with a constitutional maximum duration of five years. After an election, the new parliament begins with a Speech from […]

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 – […]

E-petition misconceptions persist

From the BBC, we learn that 99.9% of e-petitions on the UK Government’s e-petitions website fail to reach the magic 1000,000 signatures target needed to have the petition referred to the Backbench Business Committee, according to a research team from Oxford University: Nearly all e-petitions are doomed to become “digital dust”, they write. “After 24 hours, a petition’s fate is virtually set,” the team concludes. While the article itself is interesting as it explains the research’s team methodology, I did spot a few errors. I have written a number of posts trying to clarify certain misconceptions surrounding how the UK e-petitions scheme works. The biggest misconception that persists to this day is that if a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it […]