Monthly Archives: November 2009

A check on the prime minister’s power

Last Saturday I spent the day trying to organize a chant of “It is no act of Parliament, unless it be made by the King, the Lords and Commons.” It didn’t go very well. But I’m not easily discouraged.

It doesn’t help that, in Canada, you have to substitute Senate for Lords. But on a panel at St. Paul’s University discussing “Can the Senate act as a catalyst for informed public engagement in ethical policy making?” I said it was certainly worth a try. We’re not overloaded with public engagement or ethical policymaking these days. The great obstacle to the Senate playing this role, I noted with regret, is the same one it faces whenever it tries to do anything worthwhile: Widespread public conviction that Senators are illegitimate participants in government because they are not elected.

This objection overlooks that democracy is a means toward good government, not an end in itself. A pedantic quibble? Well, few people mind that we don’t vote for judges, who comprise one of three branches of government. I never heard anyone complain that public servants aren’t elected even though they now generate much of the policy rubber-stamped by MPs. And today, when the ship of state is all sail and no anchor, a good case can be made that an unelected upper house is good for parliamentary government. Continue reading

Free speech and liberty symposium, December 7 in Ottawa

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Freedom of speech is not just important – it is, in fact, the foundation of an open and free society. In Canada, however, as in other countries in the Western World, this and other basic freedoms are under attack under the pretext of protecting and promoting human rights.

Join us in Ottawa December 7 as we survey Canada’s historic commitment to individual liberty and how current government practices conflict with that proud tradition. Learn how, by suppressing free speech, human rights laws are actually undermining human rights in Canada and abroad. Examine the prospects for reversing the tide and learn from the experts what you can do to help.

Speakers include:

Brian Lee Crowley – Past President and Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and author of the new book Fearful Symmetry – The Rise and Fall of Canada’s Founding Values
Barbara KayNational Post columnist
Peter Stockland – Former editor of the Montreal Gazette and currently Executive Director of the Centre for Cultural Renewal
Karen Selick – Senior Counsel at the Canadian Constitution Foundation
Joseph C. Ben-Ami – President of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies
Bjorn Larsen – President of the International Free Press Society – Canada
John Robson – Radio commentator and Ottawa Citizen columnist
Richard Bastien – Director of the National Capital chapter of the Catholic Civil Rights League and member of the board of CIVITAS
Gerry Nicholls – Former Senior Executive with the National Citizens Coalition and publisher of

and many more distinguished panelists – including MPs and policy-makers…