And that position is that Chong’s bill is the equivalent of spraying a turd with gold paint.
Andrew Coyne lambasts those who don’t think Chong’s Reform Bill is the best thing since sliced bread and says that there are two groups who object to it.
Well. Broadly speaking, we can divide the opposition into two groups: the Sophisticated Yawners and the Unbridled Hysterics. The first hold, variously, that the bill is unnecessary, ineffective, or unlikely; the second are united by the belief that it is actively harmful, even if they cannot agree what those harms are
He then goes on to dismiss both groups. But what Chong’s bill doesn’t address is the corruption and criminality that not only is rife within the party system, but is an unavoidable outcome of gangs operating in an area where there is so much power, influence and money.
Anyone who has watched a documentary or even a drama show involving prisons will know exactly how the existence of gangs in the US prison system has been institutionalised. Now it is expected that you will join a gang on entering certain categories of prisons in the States and the uniforms use this system to control the establishment. If you are outside of these organisations you are at risk from all of them, inside you gain the protection of the group but are required to work towards the collective good. Do something to upset the collective and boom you are dealt with. Sounds familiar, no?
Now all Chong wants is to take away the right of the hierarchy to punt the undisciplined from the group and to metaphorically “shiv them in the showers.” He doesn’t want to do away with the power of being in a gang, he doesn’t want to do away with the ability to raise money collectively, he doesn’t want to put all contenders for seats on a level playing field economically and organisationally, he doesn’t want to do away with the idea of running an undefeatable majority government, he doesn’t want to do away with being able to stifle debate via omnibus legislation, use of closure and restricting the ability of MPs to propose amendments to legislation in the House. What he wants is the ability to keep on using the advantages that the party system gives him personally but without any personal accountability to the party bosses.
Somehow Chong and Coyne seem to think that the local party placemen are a greater reservoir of the democratic ideal than the cabinet. Did the local association’s response to Rathgeber’s belated, but somewhat groundbreaking “principled” actions not illustrate anything? Did the votes at the Conservative convention in Calgary just recently not show that the party is the leader and the leader is the party? What level of criminality would it take for the party loyalists to think twice about their leadership?
But let’s accept the rose tinted bleating of Coyne and Chong and assume that somehow the local associations might do otherwise than instructed. The proposed bill does nothing to address the fact that any party MP that is elected will not represent the vast majority of the voters in their constituency like they are supposed to. They will still only be beholding to at most a couple of hundred local chapter members of a nationwide gang.
Chong knows that he would not be in office if it wasn’t for the totally undemocratic party, that’s why he doesn’t want to tamper with that. All he wants to do is have the perks of gang membership with a fall back position to rely on if he blots his copybook.
I don’t know about you, but that is no great leap forward in terms of real democratic representation in Canada in my eyes – that’s painting a turd with gold paint.