Roundup: Recall legislation nonsense

Over at Loonie Politics, fellow columnist Jonathan Scott wonders if recall legislation might not be a good thing for ethical violations, and cites the examples of Senators Don Meredith, Lynn Beyak, and a York Region school trustee who used a racial slur against a Black parent. While I’m suspicious about recall legislation to begin with, two of the examples are completely inappropriate, while the third was an example of someone who resigned a few days later, making the need for such legislation unnecessary in the first place.

Recall legislation for senators is a bit boggling, first of all, because they weren’t elected to the position, and they have institutional independence so that they can speak truth to power and have the ability to stop a government with a majority precisely so that they can hit the brakes on runaway populism if need be. Recall legislation would be fed by that similar populist sentiment, which is a problem. I’m also baffled, frankly, how anyone could conceivably consider Meredith and Beyak in the same sentence. Meredith abused his position to sexually lure a minor, while Beyak said some stupid and odious things under the rubric of religious sentiment (i.e. at least some residential school survivors stayed Christians, so that apparently justifies everything). The two are not comparable, nor is Beyak’s example any kind of an ethical violation, nor am I convinced that it’s an offence worthy of resignation because at least there’s the possibility that she can learn more about why what she said was so wrong-headed. Sure, people are upset with it, while others are performing outrage over social media because that’s what we do these days, but trying to channel that sentiment into recall legislation raises all kinds of alarm bells because even if you had a fairly high bar or findings from an ethics officer to trigger these kinds of recall elections (and the suggested 2500 signatures of constituents is too low of an added bar), temporary performed outrage demanding action this instant would be constantly triggering these kinds of fights. If you think there are too many distractions in politics to the issues of the day, this would make it all the worse.

As for Meredith, while he is too shameless to resign of his own accord, the rest of the Senate is not likely to let this issue slide for too long. The only question is really how effectively they can implement a system of due process by which Meredith can plead his case before them and respect the rules of natural justice before they hold a vote to vacate his seat based on the findings of the Senate Ethics Officer. Demanding recall legislation after a story is only a couple of days old is the height of foolishness. The Senate doesn’t sit for another two weeks, which is time that frankly they’ll need to get their ducks in a row so that they don’t come back half-cocked and try and ham-fist the process like they did with Duffy/Wallin/Brazeau back in the day. Meredith will get his due, and we won’t need the threat of ridiculous legislation to try and keep politicians in line.

Good reads:

  • The Senate is exploring options for expelling Senator Don Meredith now that the damning ethics report is out.
  • StatsCan’s website was also shut down over the weekend because they identified a security vulnerability in its servers.
  • Manitoba premier Brian Pallister says he’ll go it alone on opposing the healthcare accords (like he has been with the carbon pricing issue as well).
  • RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson is looking for a six percent raise for Mounties to keep their salaries competitive; the government is offering far less.
  • Here’s a look at why the government may be using gender-based analysis as part of the upcoming budget.
  • The Canadian Forces will review all sexual assault complaints deemed “unfounded” going back to 2010.
  • Liberal MP Scott Simms wants to expedite the Commons modernization process. (Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!)
  • Members of the PM’s youth council want their work to be more transparent than it has been so far.
  • Iqra Khalid talks about pressing on despite the death threats around M-103.
  • There remain questions about how the Liberals handled the nominations in this most recent round of by-elections, and their green-light process overall.
  • Lisa Raitt make the case for why it would be a good thing for the Conservatives to have a woman (and more specifically her) leading the party.
  • There are rumours that Kevin O’Leary might run for a seat in Dufferin–Caledon to replace David Tilson, one of the oldest sitting MPs.
  • Aaron Wherry notes how Jack Layton’s name was brought up, but not Thomas Mulcair’s, during Sunday’s NDP debate.
  • Chantal Hébert contrasts the Conservative and NDP leadership contests to date.
  • Kady O’Malley warns against changing the Commons’ rules to make things more “efficient.”
  • Andrew Coyne (rightly) rails about the problem with perception-based policy-making.
  • Chris Selley pours some perspective sauce on the polls saying Canadians favour values screening.

Odds and ends:

The head of CSIS is planning to step down in May, leaving yet another top vacancy for this government to (eventually) fill.