Wednesday, 10 February 2010

We, Her Majesty's Petitioners...

At the urging of one of my most civically-conscientious partners in blogging, I have decided to go a-petitioning. I'm rather excited, actually: serving a petition upon the House is about to be only the second gesture of quaint Parliamentary militancy I shall have had the pleasure of making in my forty-one years—the first being a quixotic pursuit of an Ottawa riding in 2006 that saw me defeated right royally, but not before fully enjoying the thrill of calling Stephen Harper an "anti-Confederation plutocrat” and a “walking abortifacient unfit to serve week-old egg salad sandwiches at a soup kitchen" live on local television (I ran on the issues, you see).

Now, I expect this venture to be substantially more successful than the first, if only because a "successful" petition is merely one that actually gets read by its sponsoring Member of Parliament whilst the walls of the House dully vibrate to the yawns of drowsy hacks and the fingering of Blackberries. As much as I would love to see this petition lead to the meaningful change it urges, it is not the successful petition that brings change, unfortunately; only the miraculous petition does that. Although divine intervention is not completely out of the question here (I suppose I deserve it as much as the next sinner), I shall be happy enough just to see the document brought into the House and read into the record; if it sparks a sympathetic flame in someone who wields meaningful power or influence along the way, all the better.

The petition is inspired by our recent ruminations concerning the constitutionally absurd status of the Governor General's office. It proposes changes that seek to make the office something more than a laughable post-colonial excrescence. I'm soliciting opinions from you, my readers—stalwart yeomen of the realm, all—from whom I know to expect critiques both insightful and trenchant. Note that I have already been taken to task over two things—the provocative tone of the first "Whereas" and my attempt to work an electoral feature into the selection process. I'm still quite committed to both of those features, but I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise if my critic’s impressions are fortified by others.

And so, without further ado, here we go.


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WHEREAS Canadian prime ministers routinely violate constitutional conventions in pursuit of purely partisan objectives,

And

WHEREAS the impunity with which those violations are committed brings the authority, credibility and legitimacy of our entire constitutional system into question,

And

WHEREAS it is the responsibility of the office of the Governor General to sustain the integrity of our constitution and check prime ministerial attempts to violate its established and authoritative conventions,

And

WHEREAS our Governors General, being political appointees with little if any grounding in legal scholarship, lack the necessary executive legitimacy required to impose constitutionally legitimate checks upon our elected governments,


BE IT RESOLVED THAT

We the undersigned do desire that the Canadian Parliament establish by statute the following changes to the process by which our Governors General are appointed. We desire the statute to mandate that:

1) a committee of Parliament be struck six months before the end of the incumbent Governor General’s term with the authority to perform a candidate search and to formulate a short list of qualified candidates;

2) the shortlist be restricted to candidates who satisfy a set of specific criteria, including a demonstrated personal history free of overt or active partisanship and an objectively ascertainable expertise in constitutional scholarship (or a satisfyingly equivalent level of legal training);

3) the committee be required to select three names from their shortlist and offer those names on a national ballot in order that the candidates be subject to a national vote;

4) that the prime minister offer for the Crown’s approval the name of one of the three ballot candidates at the conclusion of the election, it being understood that the prime minister is expected to select the candidate who received a plurality of the national vote while not being absolutely required to do so.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Afghanistan Descending

Mere days after the Allies had rained nuclear catastrophe upon two of his cities, Emperor Hirohito announced to his subjects his decision to surrender not by saying that Japan had lost the war but that "the war situation [had] developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage".

Last week, NATO coalition forces announced their surrender to the Taliban not by saying that they had lost the war but by admitting that "when all is said and done, the Afghan jihadist movement—in one form or another—will be part of the government in Kabul". The Vietnam analogy so often applied to this lamentable enterprise has thus finally been vindicated, with our grovelling, abject request for quarter occurring after almost eight years of war (roughly equating to the time-span of major U.S. operations in Vietnam) and a mere two weeks after Kabul suffered its own humiliating Tet Offensive.

Canada has just lost its first war, after having dragged over a hundred of its bravest souls into futile slaughter, without having earned a single battle honour worthy of being affixed to any of our regimental colours, and without being able to promise those on whose behalf our fallen gave their lives a future measurably better than the one to which they were sadly resigned in the year 2000. It shall take us a while, I think, before we fully grasp the depth and magnitude of this catastrophe. Western military impotence has not been this luridly exhibited since Augustus lost three legions in a German forest.

If we Canadians had remaining to us even the smallest dregs of pride at the bottom of the tankards of self-loathing phlegm our √©lites have been serving us for generations—if our collective spinal column had not been sloppily extracted decades ago and chopped into a bloody pile of soggy toothpicks by the civic evisceration of continentalism and the nihilism of swinish consumerism—we would be taking the news of our utter rout with something slightly more engaged than the bored, unblinking catatonia that has marked our public reaction so far. In fact, if we had enough moral capacity to weigh rightly the full extent of the Afghan tragedy, our menfolk would this hour be joyfully parading down Sussex Street, in review order, brandishing the severed heads of our political and military leadership stuck high upon pikes, with our women dancing and throwing garlands before the throng.

But there shall be no bloodshed. Instead, we shall celebrate the conclusion of our shameful part in America's latest Third-World misadventure by self-conferring all the traditional sacraments of suburban banality whilst praying for the intercession of Saints Blockbuster and Facebook. For we are civilised.