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Canada Votes October 2015

This blog has been getting quite a few hits lately from people looking for information about the platforms of the federal parties contesting the October 19 2015 Canadian general election. During past election campaigns, one or more media sources have, at some point, produced a handy comparative chart outlining each party’s stance on various issues. I expect that once the parties have released their manifestos, someone out there will produce a comparative chart. I will also provide links to other useful resources. This post will be updated throughout the campaign period, whenever something useful comes to my attention. Platform Comparisons From the National Post: Everything you need to know about the parties’ platforms The Toronto Sun compares party stances on […]

What we have today is a grubby piece of schoolboy intrigue that Michael Dobbs would have been ashamed to have dreamt up for one of his novels. These are matters for the House to deliberate on properly and initiate, not the Executive. These are matters of due process and due thought.

Mr Gordon Marsden, MP

Procedural Passion

In a 2010 speech to the Oxford Union Society, UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow stated: “I appreciate that the words “parliamentary procedure” are not necessarily the most exciting in the English language. Yet, as I have indicated, parliamentary procedure matters.” Speaker Bercow is not the only Member of the House of Commons who feels that way; two of the most passionate debates in the UK Commons in recent months occurred over proposed changes to the House’s Standing Orders. Contrary to what one British journalist believes, the Standing Orders are not “an obscure parliamentary procedure“, rather, the Standing Orders are the rules which guide procedure in parliament. And on two occasions recently, the first on the very last sitting day […]

RrankedBallot

Ranked ballots won’t elect “grey” candidates

I have written a large number of posts about preferential voting (aka ranked ballots or the Alternative Vote) over the course of this blog’s existence. During the UK campaign leading up to the referendum on AV back in 2011, I tried my best to clarify some of the misconceptions surrounding AV. One of the most common objections to AV (other than the fact that it’s not a proportional system) is that it results in the election of bland, middle-of-the-road, “grey” candidates. The argument is that first preference votes will be split between two more polarizing candidates, for example, a right-wing candidate and left-wing candidate, and so voters’ second and third preferences would go to more moderate (i.e. bland) candidates since […]

CanadianHouseCommons

Baby steps on parliamentary reform

The Liberal Party of Canada released a plan for political and parliamentary reform this week and many, if not most political commentators seemed quite enthusiastic about much of what the party proposed. I must admit that I was somewhat underwhelmed. The proposals for parliamentary reform were at best minor tinkering. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry provides a much more comprehensive overview of parliamentary and political reforms that have been, or could be, proposed. It’s much more interesting. The Liberals’ proposals for parliamentary reform address Question Period, Committees, prorogation and omnibus bills, free votes and changes to financial procedures. I’m going to focus on only on the first four. Question Period The Liberals propose to restore relevance to Question Period by establishing a […]

OMOV can co-exist with stronger caucus control over the party leadership; the two are not mutually exclusive. What is being proposed in the much-watered down Reform Act does not go anywhere near as far as what either Labour or the Lib Dems do; indeed, it isn't even mandatory for parties to adopt any of its proposals. Would Canadian parties be willing to move in this direction? That, sadly, is doubtful, despite all of the extremely good reasons for why they should.

Some thoughts on party leadership

Is the use of One-member-one-vote (OMOV) incompatible with a parliamentary party’s caucus having a degree of control over the party leadership? This is a question that surfaced as MP Michael Chong’s Reform Act faced opposition in the Canadian Senate. One Senator explained his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would (potentially) give sitting MPs the right to ditch the party leader, which would upset the party membership which had elected said leader. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry has an excellent piece dissecting this point. On Twitter, Will Murray (@Will_Murray) tweeted the following: 1. Whether people like it or not, the Canadian political/parliamentary system has moved beyond the idea the caucus picks the leader. (link) 2. Each party now uses […]

ApplaudingLeader

On clapping in the Chamber

During an address to the UK House of Commons, parliamentary leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) Angus Robertson, in reply to an intervention by a Labour MP, stated: Obviously, the hon. Gentleman has difficulty reconciling the conscience of him and his colleagues who trooped through the Lobbies shamefully unaware that support for the austerity agenda. This pronouncement was applauded by his fellow SNP members. Speaker Bercow immediately called the House to order and reminded the SNP that clapping was not part of the House of Commons’ traditions: Order. May I say at the start of the Parliament that the convention that we do not clap in this Chamber is very, very long established and widely respected, and it would […]