On “Against Reform”

Now that my ostensible vacation is over, I should probably tell you about some of the things I read over the course of it. While I will heartily recommend the book Federalism and the Constitution of Canada as a fantastic and fascinating read (no, I’m totally serious), the book I think that everybody should be spending their Christmas money on is Against Reform.

The book basically takes all of those much touted ideas of “democratic reform,” be it electoral reform, or more free votes in the House of Commons, or Senate reform, or any of those notions, and debunks them. Basically, Pepall’s thesis is that we as Canadians have forgotten the way our system of government works, and we have confused a lot of different notions (for example – Parliament and government are not one and the same), and many of the ideas for reform stem from that confusion or indeed ignorance. And he takes us through the reasons for that confusion and shows why the particular reform idea wouldn’t address the problem, or would in fact make it worse. (Example – proportional representation would produce even less accountable governments, because people can’t vote for the coalition choices that would result, and you couldn’t necessarily vote out an unpopular government if they just wound up in yet another coalition).

The book isn’t perfect – for all its plainspoken language, it does gloss over a few things here and there, but the ideas remain the same. All of these reform ideas add up to a less accountable government, where power is diffused, where there is less accountability and not more, and will cause more harm than good. But what is also most instructional is that our educational system is failing us when it comes to our basic civics education even worse than perhaps any of us had previously realised – and that should worry everyone.

Elsewhere, Liberal MP Mark Holland will have a motion on the Order Paper in early February, about getting an independent review of the decision to close the prison farms, and he’s pretty sure the other opposition parties will support him (for all it’s worth, because I’m not sure whether or not it’ll be binding). Oh, and Corrections Canada hasn’t said what kind of job training they’re implementing to replace the farms – surprise, surprise.

It looks like four of the crewmembers of the MV Sun Sea might be Tamil Tigers. Still no sign that any of the passengers were, mind you, or that this was just one big human trafficking operation like the Conservatives alleged at the time.

Here is an interesting bit of polling data, which shows the word clouds of word associations with the three main federal parties. Interesting to see what the differences are between them.

And Julian Fantino doesn’t exactly succeed at explaining away his Hitler reference.

Up today – Harper’s latest cabinet shuffle is expected.
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