Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Morning Links

This and that to end your week.

- Paul Wells comments on the NDP's new style of opposition:

When I used to ask the Liberals, when they were the Official Opposition, why they didn’t calm down a bit in QP, they would complain that gesticulating was the only way to get on the news. And indeed the calmer New Democrats are not getting a lot of space on the news. What is getting space is Bev Oda’s global OJ adventure, Stephen Harper’s 70-year digressions, and private members’ bills that seem inspired by the Danielle Smith playbook of political success. Which may explain why the NDP does not begrudge the government its time in the spotlight.

The sharply reduced tolerance at Langevin Block for Oda’s expense account, once it became public, and the clear signal of disapproval for Stephen Woodworth’s motion, suggests Harper is realizing he is no longer facing the ineffectual histrionics the Liberals threw at him for five years.
And it looks like there's ample reason for Harper to be worried.

- Lysiane Gagnon points out that Quebec's child care system - so often highlighted by the right as example of unsustainable spending that should be stopped through an end to interprovincial transfer payments - is in fact a smart use of resources which more than pays for itself. But that won't stop the Cons from trying to demlish it.

- Althia Raj reports on concerns that the Cons' tight time frame for comment on proposed electoral boundaries might shut Canadians out of the process. But I'd view the concern more as reason to be prepared than reason for panic - as it's still open to anybody to be heard as long as we recognize the limited opportunity to do so.

- Finally, Brian Topp cites Wildrose's campaign flop as an example of parties needing to rein in their candidates, and points to the leading precedent for the type of hypercentralization that's now seen as the default setting in Canadian politics:
Our political system tends towards hyper-centralization, and imposes a discipline on elected representatives that, at least some of them sometimes believe, disrespects and disempowers them. A “crisis of surplus consciousness” can result, in which the few at the top end up with too much to do (and therefore cannot do it well), which the vast majority of other team members end up with too little to do (and aren’t happy about it). This, to be precise, used to be said with reference to the hyper-centralized system in place in the Soviet Union. It could also be said of a number of poorly-led, hyper-centralized private corporations. It may be what parliamentary systems inherently drift into.
That said, I'd think it's worth distinguishing (as Topp does to some extent) between "bozo eruptions" that reflect poorly on a party primarily to the extent they call into question whether its candidates are fit to hold public office, and the use of respectful disagreement a political gotcha.

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