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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Will You Resign?

About 80% of politics is street theatre.

There's no shocking revelation in this - it's pretty much accepted wisdom that politicians will chest-thump with over-the-top rhetoric to get attention or to make their opponents look egregiously bad.  "Worse scandal ever" or "most incompetent leadership ever" is the kind of hyperbole we expect from our elected officials - which is in no small part why we pay little attention to politics (and why they need to go loud in the first place).

Part of the problem is, especially in cases of majority governments, there's no risk for Opposition Parties in playing white-hat/black-hat.  If they say a certain Prime Minister/Premier/Minister should resign for incompetence, they know there's nothing they can do to enforce a resignation - instead, it's a punch-line delivered more for the media and the regularly-donating base.

But what if that wasn't the case?  What if Opposition Parties had to walk the talk and were held accountable for being over the top?

There's interest in policy/government accountability ideas these days, so here's one:

If 60% of the Opposition, including the Leaders says that a Member of Parliament (federal or provincial) is corrupt, it should trigger an automatic investigation by the appropriate level of police into the claim.  If 60% of the Opposition,k including the Leaders says a Minister or PM/Premier should resign, they have to do so, full stop, and can never be returned to Cabinet.

They could do it as a vote-recorded motion which would be triggered automatically should any Member use the words "corrupt" or "resign" while speaking in the House.

It fosters some accountability.  It empowers individual Members.  It also puts Opposition Leaders in the hot seat; either they support calls for resignation or they don't - and will have to justify their response and support/lack of support for their Caucus to the media.  

More to the point, it's a what comes around, goes around thing.  It's presently far too easy for Opposition Parties to decry the same practices they inevitably fall into if and when they form government.

This way, Leaders and their teams are forced to think about longer-term consequences before they speak - something we could use a lot more of at every level of politics.

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