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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The price of democracy

Stephen Penney writes, disappointedley, in a letter to today’s Telegram:

Shame on The Telegram and Heffernan for putting a price tag on democracy. We don't have direct democracy so the next best thing is for people to be well represented.

I have to laugh at the irony of The Telegram's editor, Russell Wangersky, who otherwise constantly attacks the autocratic behaviour of Premier Danny Williams
Autocratic? Agreed!

Something we seem to be good at in this province is cost-cutting when it comes to such things as culture, education and democracy… We've seen it in practice with the Commission of Government, the reduction of the seats in the legislature.. Democracy is not something that should be put on the chopping block or downsized.

To which litany Messr. Penney could well have added:
  • the abandonment of important, centuries-old Parliamentary practices such as the Government actually deigning to answer written questions on the Order Paper (let alone Oral Questions);
  • the Amazing Atrophying Sitting Calendar of the House of Assembly under the leadership, such as it is, who considers the institution a waste of time, as discussed here, here, here, and here;
  • the compete transfiguration of the legislature into a rubber-stamp machine;
  • the appointment of recovering partisans to the traditionally non-partisan offices of Electoral Boundary Commisioners and, especially, of Chief Electoral Officer;
  • the utter abandonment of any pretence of Parliamentary decorum, as discussed here, here, and here;
  • the contemptuous attitude of the government towards court decisions, delegated authorities, judges, and commissions of enquiry, and their role in our system of government;
  • and, especially, the innovative development, almost certainly unique in the Westminster Parliamentary universe, of the electionless ballot, as discussed here, here, and here.
Democracy shouldn’t have a price tag. It shouldn’t be put on the chopping block.

But Penney’s criticism is not a little late, and an awful lot misplaced: none of those things are Wangerky's or Heffernan's fault.


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