Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting out of the democratic deficit

Lawrence Martin with a column worth a read today:
Sensing that democratic reform is becoming a top-drawer issue, Mr. Ignatieff – his Liberals are back to work despite the shutdown – promised this week to give more power to federal watchdogs who have been under attack by the Conservatives for not being toadies. That's fine, but bearing in mind what happened to Mr. Martin's high-minded intentions, he needs to come up with much more. He needs a wide-ranging reform plan that will substantially diminish a prime minister's powers.

He could start with measures to reverse what began 30 years ago, measures that strip away the authority of the unelected in the PMO and turn those functions over to elected members. The enormity of prime ministerial might is such that a downsizing would still leave the office as one of the strongest among Western democracies.

An effective leader has to establish firm control, but that control need be complemented by a wealth, not a paucity, of the democratic spirit. It's about humility in power as opposed to arrogance in power. Canadians would welcome it with open arms.
A "wide-ranging reform plan," a very good idea. Call it "Democracy 2.0." There's a long list and plenty of materials to work with these days.

A measure of the currency and importance of the topic, the Star also features a few prominent opinion pieces on the same subject today: "Time to address democratic deficit" and "PM wakes a slumbering electorate."