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We Live in a Liberal Dynasty, So Adapt

For Canadians watching this week’s Parliament Hill meltdown with all its competing claims of procedural skulduggery, sorting out the House of Commons rules can feel like watching a game of Calvinball.

But unlike cartoonist Bill Watterson’s quirky world where Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes play a never-ending game in which the only rule is that the same rules can’t be used twice, parliamentary procedure is based on a 400-year-old playbook that even most political reporters find bewildering.

“Parliamentary government is war by other means,” Ned Franks, the indispensable dean of Canadian parliamentary procedure, said in an interview Thursday from his home in Kingston, Ont…” excerpt from the article.

Yes, they did make a promise ‘to do politics differently’ during an election campaign. Now in power, they discover how difficult it is. No politician, even Trudeau, on his (or her) best day can ‘change the way politics is done in Ottawa.’

Politics is an amoral enterprise. It is the unbridled pursuit of power. Politics is doing what is possible in a spirit of compromise, expediency, and a backroom deal. It isn’t polite or nice. In fact, politics is downright nasty.

When Justin first appeared on the scene, I wondered if he possessed the stuffing for it. He is charming, affable, and intelligent.  He is earnest to a fault. Maybe he is a ‘bit thick’ too which could be a good thing in a politician, if people don’t take much notice of it.  He is genuinely trying to ‘do the right thing’ which is a trap of it’s own.

I didn’t vote for Trudeau. I am a Red Tory Monarchist but I like the ‘cut of his jib.’

He is doing a fine job, certainly no worse than Harper, and he shows an ability to toss these setbacks off rather than carry personal animosity, the way Harper might have done, in a similar situation.

This country has a Liberal dynasty likely to last a long time. We need to adapt to it. There will be more mistakes, even scandals because politics in the big leagues is messy but Trudeau is the ‘real thing,’ to quote Brian Mulroney, and he should know.

The duty of the Queen’s loyal opposition is power; take it from the Liberals any way they can. If they can embarrass the government by winning a vote and tarnish the image of a new administration, they will do it.  That is just what they are supposed to do.

It isn’t the politicians who need to change, rather voters need to ‘grow up.’ Politics at the national level is major league stuff. Politeness, honour, ethics are just thin veneer.  Yes, ‘Parliamentary government is war by other means.’  Holding the government to account, questioning ministers, heated debates in committees are weapons in a perennial fight and it is time for people to become less naive about it.

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

1 reply

  1. Hi,

    Nice piece.

    I do think that Trudeau, having been galavanting around the globe since his election, simply woke up and forgot that he was actually at work, in Parliament, and not at a boxing ring public relations stunt in New York City. These things happen. Perhaps we can forgive him as he was quick to apologize to everyone.

    Keep writing Geof…it keeps me thinking…

    Hugs, Dawn:)



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