2 min

Reflections on leader-centric politics

In an exit interview with CBC Radio (and you really do need to listen to the whole thing), retiring Commons Speaker Peter Milliken shared some interesting thoughts about the way that parties – and especially party leaders – are gaining too much power, to the detriment of our parliamentary democracy. Leaders now have the power to sign off on nominations, determine who can ask questions and select who can sit on which committee. Because they’re no longer elected by caucus (as was done in the UK and most recently demonstrated in Australia when the caucus dumped the PM in a revolt), but rather by the party membership, they seem to have the notion that they have a mandate beyond said caucus and yield it like a blunt instrument. As Milliken indicates, these developments are troubling. It also gives us an indication as to where reforms need to happen to be meaningful within the context of our system and is definite fodder for discussion as part of the Liberal rebuilding process.

Two Supreme Court justices have decided to retire by the end of August. This, combined with three more retirements before 2015, means that Harper will have appointed more than half the Court by the time of the next election. The Globe and Mail has a smart look at what this could mean here.

The Supreme Court has also ruled that under the current rules, the public does not have the right to access certain kinds of files (like agendas) from the Prime Minister's Office and ministers’ offices. It should also be pointed out that it’s up to the government to legislate changes to those rules. As David McKie notes, much of this fight was started by the Reform Party, so it’s curious that their current incarnation (the Conservative Party) doesn't seem keen on changing those access rules.

Even though more than half his caucus is from Quebec, Jack Layton says that Quebec concerns won’t dominate his party.

Niki Ashton’s advice to new NDP MPs: if they don’t pay any attention to you, yell louder. Oh boy…

Here’s a glimpse at what those 400 newly unemployed staffers are going through.

Alan Williams continues to take Laurie Hawn to task about the true cost of the F-35 fighter jets and their purchasing process (which he was in charge of until his retirement).

And today in WikiLeaks, it seems that although we did not publicly support the Iraq war, we were prepared to offer quiet naval and air-force assistance – until reality set in and it didn't end up happening. Not that it would have mattered, as the Americans were looking for a political endorsement to legitimize their invasion, which we didn't give, rather than military assistance.
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