Time to Bring in Electoral Reform

Hi there from the Speaker's chair
As one of the sixty percenters, those people who didn’t vote for the blue meanies, I couldn’t help to notice that while the big parties have been quick to defend our undemocratic first past the post electoral system when it comes to General Elections, they recognize how flawed the system is when the time comes to elect the Speaker of the House.

It took six ballots before Andrew Scheer got the keys to that lovely old residence in the Gatineau’s. If the House of Commons used the system, which they think is good enough for the rest of us; the Speaker would most likely be a New Democrat.

It is well past time for this country to talk about serious electoral reform and to join the majority of world democracies in embracing proportional representation.


Regina Leader Post's New Coat of Paint

To much self-congratulation the Regina Leader Post unveiled their new format to readers this week.

Rob McLaughlin, the editor in chief of the Leader-Post tells us it is “...a thrilling opportunity to try new things, to meet new people and to go new places. Redesigned and refreshed from front to back, the new look of the Leader-Post is the first of many steps we're taking to better represent a city and a province in the middle of a significant transformation.

Brighter, bolder and easier to navigate from section to section, it's the first major overhaul of the paper in just under a decade. Our new look starts with a revised masthead on page one and extends through the paper with cleaner page tops, improved readability and better spacing of our columns and lines of type. And while we're preserving many of the existing features you've come to expect, we've also added a few new elements.

We hope it better reflects how we now connect with each other to express our opinions and debate the challenges facing our communities.”

Well, I’d say, it will take more than a fresh coat of paint to fix the old LP and based on the comments I’ve seen so far most readers agree with me. They find it disjointed and confusing and the new format uses too many conflicting fonts. The most common refrain is “Go back, go back.”

Format, shormat, I judge a paper by its content, the weight it gives to stories, its political biases and what it puts on the front page.

Anderson Clipping
Yesterday the northern Saskatchewan community of Wollaston Lake was served with an evacuation order because of threatening forest fires. There is no summer road in and out. Using small planes the town’s people were being airlifted out until smoke closed the airport. Now the only hope is that the still frozen lake has enough open water along the shore to boat the folks out.

Pretty dramatic front page news if you ask me but the editors stuck the story on the bottom of page two and it appears the LP couldn't even bother to send in a photographer. If Wollaston goes the way of Slave Lake perhaps the Leader Post can buy something from Reuters later.

This morning the Leader Post front page featured a large, poorly printed colour photograph of U2’s Bono and The Edge along with a story about a Regina woman who plans to attend eleven U2 concerts while they are on this tour. I have to ask why anyone might be interested in anyone who is dumb enough to do that and who at 34 should know better.

Next there is a story about the fact that veteran football player Chris Szarka has been cut by the Riders. Whoop de do. Why should I care? Szarka has already moved on and last year was elected to Regina’s City Council.

Next there is a story about a hockey player being charged as a result of a fatal accident outside Calgary.

So here are a couple of hints for publisher Marty Kline. Start with hiring some more reporters, assign more reporters to beats, so news isn’t reported by journalists who start each day with a blank slate, use less wire copy and if you have to use it at all rewrite it to give it a local slant and use a few op-ed pieces from people who actually know how to write.

If the LP wants to become relevant, it needs more than a new coat of paint


Blue Man Group Ready to Shake up Canada

The Blue Man Group with Governor General David Johnston
I guess for a lot of us are waiting to see how our new Parliament will function as it starts the spring session June 2nd the next while should be interesting. There have been some changes since it last sat.

New opposition Leader Jack Layton says he will push for a new level of decorum insisting that the NDP will not heckle the blue meanies on the other side of the house. The new Conservative MPs in the running to be Speaker of the House all claim they want to put steps in to improve things, to make it more civil. It will be tough though considering the quality of the people lined up for the job. Andrew Scheer? Spare me.

The head of the blue man group has no love for the socialists and considering what Harper once said about the New Democrats, I don't think any new approach will last long.

A few years ago Harper told a U.S right wing think tank, "Let’s take the New Democratic Party, the NDP The NDP could be described as basically a party of liberal Democrats, but it’s actually worse than that, I have to say. And forgive me jesting again, but the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men.

This party believes not just in large government and in massive redistributive programs, it’s explicitly socialist. On social value issues, it believes the opposite on just about everything that anybody in this room believes. I think that’s a pretty safe bet on all social-value kinds of questions.

Some people point out that there is a small element of clergy in the NDP. Yes, this is true. But these are clergy who, while very committed to the church, believe that it made a historic error in adopting Christian theology.

The NDP is also explicitly a branch of the Canadian Labour Congress, which is by far our largest labour group, and explicitly radical. "

Considering that June 2nd the NDP will be trying out their new role as the Official Opposition. Pushing their new found weight around. The Liberals, in their new role as also rans, will be working hard to punch above their weight. Harper will have to get used to the fact that he has be civil to them from time to time. It will be tough for him.

Potentially this next session will be a spectator sport like we've never seen before. So, hold on to your hats Canada.