Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Les Leopold takes a look at the underpinnings of Bernie Sanders' unexpectedly strong run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And Sean McElwee discusses the type of politics U.S. voters are rightly motivated to change, as big donors have been successful in dictating policy to both major parties.

- The Edmonton Journal comments on the unfairness of first-past-the-post electoral politics both in allocating power across a political system, and in determining regional representation within it.

- Murray Mandryk calls out the Wall government for its contempt for public money when it comes to handing over billions of dollars to P3 operators.

- Finally, Stuart Trew offers his take on the meaning of Canada's federal election. And Doug Saunders offers his take as to how the Libs are likely to exercise authority through new "delivery units" - which serves as a warning as to the need to identify and advocate to non-traditional power structures:
Members of Mr. Trudeau’s staff say they are drawing on a set of ideas that emerged in Britain more than a decade ago under Tony Blair’s prime ministership and applied in a different version in Ontario under the Dalton McGuinty government, with results that pleased insiders but have left a questionable legacy. (It is no coincidence that Mr. Trudeau’s two top aides, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, were products of the top-level machinery of that Ontario government.)

It is a system which, in its most complete form, uses high-level “delivery units” to push key goals across the entire public service, sometimes bypassing the hierarchy of cabinets, departments and administrations, putting multiple government departments under the watchful eye (and sometimes forceful hand) of new organizations that report straight to the prime minister and impose their own goals and measures on the workings of government.

Their plans are likely to disappoint officials hoping to see a return to the sort of cabinet-driven government of the Lester B. Pearson years, where powerful ministers were given the autonomy and trust to shape their departments and legacies on their own. It is also likely to disappoint those who wish for a complete turn away from the top-down, prime minister-centred approach of Stephen Harper. 
(T)he delivery approach has its skeptics. They include Prof. Savoie, who sees them as yet another level of complication for public servants who already have far too many layers of oversight.

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