labradore

"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Parliamentary System

Bob Wakeham, his bio says, "has spent more than 30 years as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador".

Not much of those three decades has been spent learning about the niceties of the Westminster model and the Canadian constitution:

The Liberals then launched a decade-long reign of power (under Wells, his legacy dominated by a national issue, the scuttling of the Meech Lake Accord; then Brian Tobin, the mouth, and the most unabashedly ambitious politician this province has ever seen, Confederation Building a pad to launch himself upalong into politics and business; and then Roger Grimes, the winner of a nasty leadership race who'll always be remembered for manipulating the parliamentary system to stay in power much longer than he had a right to).
This corner is no great defender of Roger Grimes, but this is absolute hogwash on Wakeham's part.

Under "the parliamentary system", the Premier is the person who has the confidence of the House. In more manageable, real-world terms, that is the person who leads the majority, or at least largest, party caucus. After he won the leadership of his party, that person, the person with "the right" to be in power, was Roger Grimes. End of Chapter One.

Chapter Two: The Constitution Act, 1982, provides:

4. (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.

(2) In time of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, a House of Commons may be continued by Parliament and a legislative assembly may be continued by the legislature beyond five years if such continuation is not opposed by the votes of more than one-third of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be.
Roger Grimes had the "right", under the constitution, to stay in power until February 2004. Exceptionally for a "pallbearer" government, federal or provincial, of any stripe, he went to the polls earlier than he was constitutionally required to. Nothing in the parliamentary system was "manipulated".*

End of chapter. End of story.


----

* Well, not until the "fixed election date" bill came in, but that's another story altogether.

5 Comments:

At 5:59 PM, October 21, 2007 , Blogger Dennis said...

One of the major flaws, as I see it, of our parliamentary system is that it allows a leader to be selected from a small group to people to lead the whole.

Roger Grimes owed his entire tenure as premier to a victory won by Brian Tobin. The people selected Tobin as their leader, and was given Grimes by the Liberals (well, only some, as the constant whining ever since will tell you).

Clearly, the rules to which you refer allow such a situation, but I would suggest that common decency does not.

I think you know what he meant.

 
At 7:31 PM, October 21, 2007 , Blogger WJM said...

One of the major flaws, as I see it, of our parliamentary system is that it allows a leader to be selected from a small group to people to lead the whole.

How is that a flaw? In any system of partisan government, the choice of leader (candidate) is reserved to a small subset of the overall population.

In the case of two of the three party leaders in the last provincial election, they were effectively chosen by no one at all!

Roger Grimes owed his entire tenure as premier to a victory won by Brian Tobin.

And?

The people selected Tobin as their leader, and was given Grimes by the Liberals (well, only some, as the constant whining ever since will tell you).

And?

Clearly, the rules to which you refer allow such a situation, but I would suggest that common decency does not.

Where's the indecency?

 
At 7:32 PM, October 21, 2007 , Blogger Edward G. Hollett said...

One of the great flaws of our system is that people who should know how it works actually have absolutely no idea at all how it works.

Like for example, claiming that Brian Tobin won the victory enjoyed by Roger Grimes.

48 people won victories in the 1999 election, among them, Brian Tobin. Tobin happened to be the leader of the party which elected the most members.

When Tobin left, the party with the most members set about on a process to find a new leader. Far from being a process in which the leader for all is chosen from and by a select group, the process used to select a new leader was both open and broadly based.

It stands in stark contrast to the Westminister system itself, where, for example, the caucus can boot out a leader and install a new one on their own.

Both the rules and common democracy back the situation in 2001 and subsequently in 2004. common decency is in there two.

Wally and most readers who understand deomcracy understand exactly what Wakeham meant.

We also understand that Wakeham was wrong. Fundamentally, unalterably, completely and absolutely wrong.

There was nomanipulation involved whatsoever on Grimes' part.

 
At 8:11 PM, October 21, 2007 , Blogger Mark said...

Woah there just a minute, Dennis.

Two points. Firstly, "the people" elected 48 MHAs, of whom the individual (party leader) able to command a majority of their support in the House becomes the Premier, or "first among equals". It's hard to call that a "flaw" in the system. That IS the system. In the UK, for example, caucus can simply dispose of the PM as it chooses. Canada's (and the provinces') method of choosing a leader based on some form of popular support amongst party membership is a pretty good way of moving this power away from the members of a legislature.

Secondly, where's the outrage about Roger Grimes' predecessor? I;m not talking about Brian Tobin, I;m talking about Beaton Tulk. Premier Tulk, God bless him, was unilaterally chosen appointed and SWORN IN as Tobin's successor, not only as interim leader, but as de facto Premier of the province. AND NOBODY SAID A WORD!!!

I stand to be corrected, but this may have been the most blatant breach of Westminster protocol in Canada's history, and not one reporter or MHA even questioned it.

 
At 5:42 PM, October 22, 2007 , Blogger Mark said...

Another funny element of Wakeham's story. Sure Meech Lake dominated headlines, and Tobin's leadership ambitions may have piqued an interest in the columnists in and around St. John's, but I would suggest that the things that dominated those respective eras were more like:

- responding to the cod crisis
- the massive retraining of thousands of Newfoundlanders within skilled trades
- expansion and harmonization of the technical college system across the province
- the dawn of fiscal sanity as a virtue in budget-making
- the recognition of tourism as an economic force in the province
- the construction of the Hibernia platform, in NL, by NLers
- the long delayed creation of a truly public school system, devoid of outdated sectarian nonsense

Each and every one of these items had a far more reaching impact on the lives and communities of people in NL than the defeat of Meech Lake, or the Leadership ambitions of Mr. Tobin.

Maybe the fact that our esteemed columnist remembers otherwise says more about the state of our columnists than it does about the state of our political leaders.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home