Canada is allegedly facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude because our Prime Minister, some 18 years ago, attended a costume party at a private school where he taught, which had the theme Arabian Nights. Also known as One Thousand and One Nights, Arabian Nights embraces stories told by Scheherazade, one of the Sultan’s concubines. The Sultan, after enjoying a woman, would have her killed. To save her life, Scheherazade decided to tell the Sultan a story, without revealing the ending – until the next night. The result was what became known as One Thousand and One Nights.
The seemingly endless SNC-Lavalin scandal threatens to dominate discussions in the federal election campaign now underway, with various commentators arguing that the RCMP should revive and continue their investigation into the Lavalin Affair rather than pausing it until the election is over. What if we re-elect the Liberals and then find that they are guilty of obstruction of justice or other crimes is a question raised by some. To which I reply, what if we defeat the Liberals and then find they were not guilty of any crimes?
With Boris Johnson attempting to rival Donald Trump for impetuous, ill-considered decisions, there are frequent references to disruptions in Britain’s Parliament. There was also extensive media coverage when Premier Ford announced, back in early June, that the Ontario Legislature would break for the summer and not reconvene until the end of October. You may also recall quite an uproar back in 2008 when Prime Minister Harper twice disrupted the operation of the Canadian Parliament. Coverage of this topic has not always been particularly precise or accurate in the terms used to describe the various breaks in the proceedings. This has prompted the old Professor in me to offer the basics on the three ways (through adjournment, prorogation, or dissolution) in which a parliament may be paused in its deliberations – even though I realize that this is scarcely a riveting topic for most folks.
The provincial government has been recording substantial annual deficits. This means it is spending more than it is collecting in revenues. We need to find a way to move to a balanced budget without any increase in taxes (even though Alberta has the lowest per capital tax revenue of any province).
In 1995 a Conservative Government headed by Mike Harris was elected in Ontario on the basis of a “Common Sense Revolution” and a promise to address the annual deficits and growing public debt that had built up under the previous NDP Government. In 2018 a Conservative Government headed by Doug Ford was elected in Ontario on a platform of “a government for all the people,” and a promise to restore fiscal responsibility after 15 years of “reckless spending” under the preceding Liberal Governments. In both instances, what we have seen is draconian measures, followed by a partial retreat when the harmful impact becomes clear, and tax cuts that make it more difficult to restore fiscal solvency even with reduced expenditures.
American humourist Will Rogers once said: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” But I’m not sure that even Rogers could find much amusing in recent political behaviour on both sides of the border.
In Beloeil, a suburb east of Montreal, a radical initiative has led to the shocking activity of children playing in the streets. When I started to read about this initiative, I was reminded of the then controversial views put forward by Jane Jacobs some 60 years ago.
Pleased to report that Municipal World has just published a second edition of Guide to Good Municipal Governance, co-authored with my wife Susan.
This completely revised Second Edition provides expanded and more recent examples of good governance initiatives.
Subjects addressed include:
As one who has spent his adult life teaching and writing about government, and attempting to persuade cynical friends and acquaintances that most politicians are decent folks trying to do an honourable job, events over the past few days have been deeply discouraging.
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.