There’s been a lot of talk among the grassroots at CAPP and among the opposition parties on how to prevent the kind of abuse to democracy that Stephen Harper calls “routine”. A lot of talk. Mostly pushing for new legislation, or even constitutional reform. The problem is that both of those approaches are like amputations to cure an infected paper cut–yes, the infection is dangerous and could kill you if left to fester, but drastic measures may not be necessary.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not an expert in parliamentary procedures and how they become official (other than by precedent), so maybe this won’t be do-able, but it seems to me that we can answer to the abuse and contempt of parliament by implementing a rule that a PM cannot ask the GG to prorogue the House

  1. Until he or she has passed a confidence motion in the House of Commons
  2. If there is a standing order to produce documents to a Parliamentary body (committee of either chamber, the Senate, the House of Commons), or to an oversight body (e.g. the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer)

A rule of this type would not impinge on the traditional privileges of the PM to actually be the one to ask for prorogation, but should prevent the most egregious abuses.

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A new blog and lots to say results in saying virtually nothing!

Ah well, there’s plenty of time to get into the habit and there’s always plenty to talk about. Just today I could have written entire blog posts on:

  • Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy being stripped of administration of a tourism funding programme for (wait for it…) funding tourism while Lisa Raitt continues to hold onto the sexy Chalk River file when she has handled it with nearly unmitigated disaster, risking the health and lives of not only Canadians but people around the world. The distinction? Not helping cancer patients is no big deal, but helping homosexuals is anathema.
  • On a related note, can right wing Yahoos refrain from using “pro-life” to mean anti-abortion-rights and “pro-family” to mean anti-gay-rights?
  • My thoughts relating to an ongoing debate about science journalism. The upshot? Science journalists have a great responsibility in reporting without sensationalism and with discretion. As things stand, it seems like every day a new study is reported saying that X might be beneficial or X might be detrimental. Without discrimination applied, much of science journalism fosters the impression that science is unreliable. It’s no wonder that many people find it difficult to distinguish scientific facts from religious faith.
  • On the post-Canada Day requiem for knowledge of Canada, Canadian history and Canadian institutions: perhaps Heritage Canada should revive those Heritage Minute ads—but with a difference: how about reviewing some basic facts about how our political system works (no, the PM is not the head of state and if we weren’t so ignorant or complacent about it, we would realise that his taking a military salute should be considered an extreme overstepping of his office, only one practical step away from usurpation; no we don’t elect a PM, we collectively elect a government & that government selects someone to recommend as PM; no, a coalition of elected MPs is not a perversion of democracy but a fulfillment of it), our geography (yes, there are 3 territories), and our history.
  • A couple of points raised by commenters on this post by Phil Plait on the Texas Board of Education: First, one that I commented on myself:

    @Rob Lee Says:@Petrolonfire #19 — “BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    Haha — Ok, you got me there. In all seriousness, though, the point does stand. I feel that on an academic level, it is a very valid comparison. I try to stray away from the Nazi references, but in this case there really is not a better or more effective comparison.
    [The comparison being discussed is between scientists who deny evolution and historians who deny the Holocaust. Allegedly, more historians fall into the second group than scientists who fall into the first. – Ibis]

    I’ve seen this “statistic” used as a comparison several times, but as an historian I have to question whether its factual. Where did it come from? I don’t know of any legitimate, trained historian that seriously questions the reality of the Holocaust. Professional historians, like professional scientists, rely on evidence to draw their conclusions and the evidence in both cases are so overwhelming no rational person would doubt either. I suspect that this statistical comparison was pulled out of someone’s…um… hat.

    Second, is this annoying assertion by atheists that agnosticism is (a) a cop-out position (b) doesn’t actually exist (c) a position on a spectrum with gnosticism, while atheism is on an entirely separate spectrum with theism (this last one has some merit, but not in the manner it is usually deployed). Maybe some day when I have a bit of time, I’ll set the record straight.

And all of that is just off the top of my head (and ignores the number of other posts I have sitting here as drafts). Well, I guess this blog writing is a habit just waiting to be formed.