Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your afternoon reading.

- Alison Loat offers some suggestions to make political parties more responsive to Canadian voters:
(H)ow can parties reorient spending to encourage a more balanced focus across their responsibilities? Political parties serve at least four critical functions: engaging citizens in politics, selecting candidates for office, aggregating policy perspectives and contesting elections.

Today, most funds are directed toward elections at the expense of engaging citizens or developing policy ideas. Party financing should be structured to encourage volunteers and facilitate ways for the voices of these volunteers to be heard.
(H)ow do political parties encourage more citizen engagement between elections, particularly in policy development? The Study of Canadian Political Party Members revealed that fewer than half of party members engage in ongoing party activity. Six in 10 respondents said they spent less than one hour on party activity per month.

One way to address this is to establish political party policy foundations. These organizations, common in Europe, provide mechanisms for party supporters and experts to participate in developing policies that address a country’s longer-term challenges.
Political parties have the potential to touch Canadians in most communities across the country. More should be done to ensure they play a part in reinvigorating the connection between citizens and government.
- Of course, it doesn't help that the Harper Cons are indeed forging ahead with their efforts to render government as useless as possible. And if anything, Stephen Gordon is too generous in describing their impact, as they've done plenty to make sure that revenues don't rise to the level of current expenses.

- And Peter Van Loan makes it abundantly clear that listening to anybody else isn't going to be on the agenda as long as his party is in power:
Opposition parties have also complained the Tories are mechanically voting down every one of their amendments without paying attention to the substance.

In a much discussed incident this fall, the Tories refused to accept amendments to their crime bill from Liberal MP and legal scholar Irwin Cotler, only to later try — unsuccessfully — to re-introduce nearly identical amendments themselves. Cotler had sought to make it easier for victims of terrorism and their families to successfully sue the perpetrators.

Van Loan refused to say during the interview whether he thinks it is possible for an opposition party to have a good idea. He acknowledged, however, that the government had not accepted one amendment from the opposition.
- But there's some reason for hope in the latest on the NDP's leadership candidates, including Tobi Cohen's profiles of Nathan Cullen and Romeo Saganash along with Charlie Smith's feature on Peggy Nash.

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