Saturday, July 25, 2015

On leadership failures

Among the many responses to the Cons' latest Senate shenanigans, one (from someone who's not exactly known for his recent NDP ties) stands out as being worthy of mention:
That obviously represents an important rebuttal to the Cons' claim that they've done everything they could - or indeed anything at all - to keep their past promises. But it seems to me an equally powerful argument against the view that we should take the current stance of a few provinces as a final barrier to abolition.

Simply put, the Harper Cons have done effectively nothing to work cooperatively with the provinces - either on Senate abolition or on any other issue.

But for those of us who think it's possible for a Prime Minister to be more effective than Harper in achieving his goals, that reflects a failure of leadership in pursuing a worthy end, not the impossibility of reaching that end. And particularly if a Senate dominated by Harper's cronies stands in the way of action which an NDP government and the provinces agree on, the argument to have the provinces join in the effort to make the federal government more functional figures to be extremely compelling.

In effect, the parties' positions on the Senate now boil down to the following:

Libs: Let us tell you it can't be done. And don't even bother trying.
Cons: Maybe it can be done. But we're not going to lift a finger to make it happen.
NDP: Don't let them tell you it can't be done. And we'll actually work on it.

Of course, the NDP's position isn't a guarantee of success. But it actually reflects the concepts of hope and hard work which the Libs seem to have abandoned in favour of increasingly-desperate attacks - and it represents the only positive option on offer from any of the parties in Parliament.

[Edit: fixed wording.]


  1. I've (likely) abandoned Justin over C51 & Bill Blair but his Senate plan is the only one that makes any sense, imho.

    1. I'd have to disagree there. At best Trudeau would keep a relatively useless institution running at increased expense for no apparent reason. And at worst, his plan would outright encourage the overruling of elected representatives in matters of legislative governance by unelected (if differently appointed) individuals.

    2. Everything you say may be true but ....
      Its the only plan that avoids a multi-year, divisive constitutional battle that will distract from repairing the Harper damage. (Assuming the unlikely possibility that Harper loses in Oct.)
      Tom knows this btw, as he is not a dummy. It makes for excellent election fodder.
      And I'd prefer that Canadian buys his Senate hogwash as opposed to Harpers.
      If we get PM Mulcair don't hold your breath waiting for abolition. I'm sure things like repealing C51 and nat. daycare will take priority.

    3. I have no doubt that substantive policy will be the top priority (as it should be). But if the Con-dominated Senate stands in the way of Mulcair's efforts to implement it, abolition could be in play fairly quickly out of necessity.

    4. "abolition could be in play fairly quickly out of necessity."

      Abolition is a pipe dream or rather an "aspirational" goal. (Or a major constitutional crisis, and Tom is no dummy, he has more important things to do.)
      If it helps get him elected (he obviously has you and others convinced) I'll live with the deception...of pretending an aspirational goal is something you can deliver. (But note, that's Harper's tactic.)
      Read E. Mendez piece in the SUN today.

  2. There is a must-read for you today at NNW .... teaser:
    "Let’s speak frankly here: Mulcair’s sunny optimism about bringing Couillard on side through “hard work” is a sop to the cameras. He is a seasoned Quebec politician who must know the Quebec government will never support simple abolition."

    I think the NDP abolition stridency backfires outside Quebec, Lenihan thinks it could kill him inside Quebec. You think it is a winning issue.

    Time will tell - but if it gets us another Harper gov't, we'll be pissed at the NDP.
    On the other hand Justin's modest proposal for Senate reform (and if he can then pivot to substantive issues as he is currently doing) could turn into an election winner if Quebec leadership goes bug-f*ck as Lenihan suggests.