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3 min

That urge to tinker

Jack Layton hopes his motion on curtailing prorogation will help get Canadians interested in politics, and maybe even interested in things like reforming the Senate. Really?

Tinkering with the systems isn’t going to help engagement or voter turnout. It hasn’t helped anywhere else in the world, no matter how many times governments rejig their electoral systems. In fact, oftentimes they just end up making things worse. And messages like these just tell people it’s okay for them to be disengaged because it’s the system’s fault, not theirs. And that’s wrong.

The system can work just fine if people know how to use it. But messages like these, and those put out by groups like Fair Vote Canada, just reinforce this notion that because people forgot how to use the system, it’s the system’s fault. It’s not. If we want the system to work, we need to engage with it the way it was meant to be engaged with. That means party organizing on the grassroots, and people actually joining parties and making their voices heard within the process. It means getting organized to get the candidates they want to see running nominated – and raising hell if the party tries to circumvent it. It means caring enough to be informed about what’s going on, that your civic duties don’t stop at marking your x on the paper at the ballot box. It means being engaged in between elections, so you can actually hold your government to account.

But people are “too busy” to get involved, so they blame the system instead. Blaming the system won’t solve the problems with democracy in this country, and tinkering with the voting system won’t either. It’s time for people to get involved and to actually care about what’s going on. And that’s not the message that Layton is sending.

During Members’ Statements on Friday, Scott Brison rose to speak about the New England Planters conference:

Mr. Speaker, 2010 marks the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the New England Planters in Nova Scotia. In 1760, the first of about 8,000 planters settled in the province. Many planter descendants still live on the original land grants, in some cases still farming the land.
The Planter Studies Centre of Acadia University, which supports and promotes research on the New England Planters, will host the fifth conference on the New England Planters in Wolfville, from June 17 to 20. The conference theme is “the next generation”, and will explore the development of communities, religious and social institutions, family networks, economic activity, politics and warfare and planter relations with other ethnocultural groups subsequent to their arrival in the 1760s.
We look forward to the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the arrival of New England Planters and their contribution to helping build a better Nova Scotia and a better Canada.

Rob Oliphant got the second question in Question Period, and he too referenced the Blackburn tequila incident. And while John Baird got up repeatedly to say that Blackburn had apologized for the incident, Oliphant, in his supplemental, pointed out that he had not yet heard the apology in public. And then he dropped this: “If the minister of veterans affairs does respect those dedicated people in uniform, how do we know he respects the men and women who wear Canadian Forces uniforms?” Oliphant, as we know, is the Veterans Affairs critic. A bit of a tenuous link, but nevertheless, enough of one for Question Period. Funnily enough, not 20 minutes later a copy of Blackburn’s “apology” appeared in our Press Gallery inboxes.

Elsewhere, the CBC takes a look at the government’s job creation numbers and finds the math a little wanting.

The Foreign Affairs committee’s attempt to look into the Rights and Democracy debacle has hit a snag. The widow of the agency’s former head was asked to testify before the committee – but the Conservatives are filibustering rather than allowing a vote on her attendance. Apparently they don’t want the truth about what’s been going on to get out.

It seems that a panel of experts who know about these things says a security-cleared Parliamentary committee should be able to view those documents, no problem. And look, they do it in Britain and the United States with no problem. So why not here? Indeed – why not? Does it not begin to look more and more like the government has something to hide?

The Bloc now likens themselves to a resistance movement. Charming.

And the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt recaps the political reversals of the year to date.

Up today – Liberal Alexandra Mendes is hosting a special “roundtable on the social economy.”
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