2 min

Timely reflections on democracy

Alex Himelfarb, a former clerk of the Privy Council, reflects in his blog about the need for institutional reform in Canada, given that our political cynicism has turned into paralysis. It’s interesting reading, but what struck me most was his reminder that populism by its very nature is undemocratic. And that’s what we’re seeing an increasing amount of, all of it wrapped up in this veneer of “democracy,” even though it isn’t. Thought-provoking at the very least.

On the topic of democracy, Susan Delacourt takes a look at the way the House of Commons is being sidelined in Stephen Harper’s government, and the way it’s being turned into an echo chamber for partisan spin that bears little relation to reality. It’s disturbing stuff, but I should remind people that all this talk about the Senate in the past week is a distraction from the bigger problems, and this notion that somehow “democratizing” the Upper Chamber (again, abusing the term democracy) will fix anything is nonsense. It will only create power struggles and logjams and give more power to the PMO in the end.

The Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted to remove sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Is this going to motivate Canada to condemn the move? We’ll see.

During Friday’s question period, the Conservatives came out with an incredulous new assertion: granting Emirates Airlines a couple of extra landing slots would have cost the country “literally tens of thousands of jobs.” Hardly, many say, and it pretty much confirmed that Air Canada got to dictate Canadian foreign policy, including the loss of our military base at Camp Mirage.

Also during Friday’s QP, Mario Silva asked about the Haitian cholera outbreak, to which Bev Oda replied by announcing an additional $4 million in aid for the outbreak.

The government’s decision to mothball the MAPLE isotope reactors – despite a great deal of testimony that they can be salvaged in one capacity or another – is costing taxpayers some $100 million. Could we not have built a new reactor for that much money? Probably.

A conference in Ottawa over the weekend looked at our space industry – where there’s tremendous potential – and the fact that our government still doesn’t have a coherent space policy like we should. Not that this should really surprise anyone.

And starting today, a BC court will look at the question of Canada’s polygamy laws.
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