How should politicians be selected? Some cynical sugestions?

First, let me level-set for new readers. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Thus I am subject to the whims of three levels of government. Even more complex, the Federal level has an elected house and an appointed Senate. And, the Ontario legislature has committees et cetera, as does the Toronto City Council with its mayor.

We elected Rob Ford to be our city Mayor based, at least in part, on his promise to end the gravy train and miraculously reduce gridlock without tax increases. The gravy train exercise involved at least one consulting firm billing a hundred thousand dollars to find, pretty much, no gravy. Rob Ford is pretty famous, perhaps internationally, the best-known Canadian politician of all time. The Toronto Star has had cartoons of him constantly, as have other papers around the country and around the world.

I suggest we have the Toronto newspaper cartoonists choose our next mayor. I have seen articles describing Rob Ford as, for them, the gift that keeps on giving.

Why this suggestion? Well, at least somebody could be happy with the result, and news coverage of Mr. Ford might be better if he owed something to his detractors/reporters.

Now for our provincial premier, Kathleen Wynne. Inheriting Dalton McGuinty’s two power plant scandals, you’d expect this expert negotiator to know better than to kowtow to a small group to save a seat or so. But no, our premier has thrown her weight behind a subway, nicknamed the stub-way, to Scarborough. Three stops. Very expensive. In this link you will find this quote: “Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong called the subway on Tuesday a “vote-buying exercise” and said the repercussions would be huge.” Incredibly, one Scarborough councillor voted against the subway, to have his area subsequently robocalled that same day.

The fact that light rail would work better is irrelevant. Scarborough voters must be propitiated. The fact that one councillor from Scarborough thinks, rationally, that light rail is actually better service, is irrelevant. Scarborough influencers seem to have a poor-me got-shafted attitude. Light rail was, in one estimate, likely to be at 50% capacity by something like 2025. And, it would have had nine stops. And, those stops would have been in higher density areas. And, we had it budgeted and paid for, and it was cheaper than a three-stop subway.

I suggest that every citizen of Ontario send Kathleen Wynne an eMail with suggestions for improvement of every conceivable area of government action. A professional concensus-builder, Wynne has fallen (imho) into the trap of trying to please everyone. (Most of us are aware of how unsuccesful Barak Obama’s attempts to achieve consensus were in his first term, and even now negotiation looks like a sure-loser tactic.)

Maybe if all of us suggested that, instead of reading our eMails, she came up with a defensible set of actions and simply implemented them, without listening to lobbyists, we’d be more impressed.

Normally I might suggest we vote only for provincial politicians who actually have platforms. Hopefully we could find one we could live with. Experience has shown, however, that expedience trumps stated goals.

That said, I come to the sad conclusion that it is irrelevant how we select our provincial premier. We should instead form groups, like those lobbying in Scarborough, and pay them to lobby for the few improvements that really matter to us, like properly planned, budgeted, and executed transit.

On to our Prime Minister and ‘his’ Senate. After ages of not doing many appointments, claiming intent to alter the Senate’s structure, in 2008 Harper appointed 18 senators on a single day. You can find the news here, and the summary of all of Harper’s appointments to date here.

If you are unaware of the scandal surrounding some of these appointees, you can catch up here.

How should senators be appointed? Should they be elected? Should the Senate have obvious party lines? How long is a decent term? Can a Senator be impeached?

What we have today is trial by newspaper. This is both a good and a bad thing: without news media searching for issues like this, we’d all be in the dark and the gravy train would continue and keep growing.

(I am reminded of an Englishman who was somehow put into the House of Lords there. Perhaps he inherited his post. He was immediately told, by existing members, of all the things to expense, claim, and do: it was important to old members that new ones use all the perks right from the start. I’ll bet our new Senators were all told how to charge for residences, for example.)

However, trial by news isn’t exactly an even-handed calling of witnesses.

I suggest that all standing Senators, including those under the cloud of apparently bogus expense claims, stand for election. I suggest that every area represented by a Senator have the opportunity to choose one or more candidates for each seat as well. I suggest that the area that a Senator represents should then vote for their Senator from the choices of old-senate and new-candidate lists.

I suggest a seven-year term with an age limit of seventy. Best I can do. Any better idea should prevail.

That only leaves, besides my MPP and MP, Stephen Harper.

I suggest that everyone who can think read up on our Prime Minister. His predilection for proroguing parliament is documented. Here you will find these words: “speculation that such use of the royal prerogative had been advised by the sitting prime minister for political purposes.” His predilection for wedge issues is well known. Now he is touting a trade deal, made in secret with the EU, of which essentially no details are known and apparently most are still being finalized. Compensation for damaged businesses is being promised; apparently in the NAFTA era, Brian Mulroney made similar promises and kept none.

So, how should we choose our next prime minister? Research. Read.

and then, vote.

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