Roundup: Arnold Chan and his parliamentary legacy

News was delivered yesterday morning that Liberal MP Arnold Chan has succumbed to cancer and passed away earlier that morning. The news is a blow for Parliament, as Chan was a very decent and well-liked MP who was serious about the dignity of the institution. Back in June, he delivered a speech in Parliament that was viewed at the time as a bit of a farewell (which he insisted that it wasn’t), in which he implored that his fellow MPs not only demonstrate their love of Parliament, but that they demonstrate it by doing things like ending the reliance on talking points.

At the time that Chan made the speech, I wrote a column about its importance, and why more MPs should heed his words. Scripts and talking points have been suffocating our parliament and our very democracy, and it gets worse as time goes on. That Chan could see their inherent problems and try to break the cycle is encouraging, because it hopefully means that other MPs will too. It’s one of the reasons why I hope that as part of honouring Chan’s legacy, MPs will work to do away with the rules in the Commons that have led to the rise of canned speeches, and that we can get to a place where debate is no longer a series of speeches read into the record without actual exchanges, and where MPs actually become engaged in the material rather than just reading the points that their leaders’ offices handed their assistants to write up for them. Parliament should be more than that, and let’s hope that others follow Chan’s lead.

Here are some more remembrances of Chan by his colleagues.

Good reads:

  • From the NAFTA negotiations, we hear that the US is seeking a five-year sunset clause in the agreement that would have to be renewed constantly.
  • Here’s a look at the tenor of the health committee hearings on legalising marijuana.
  • The NDP are demanding a border agreement with the US to prevent lifetime bans on entry for using marijuana once it’s legal in Canada.
  • The deputy commander of NORAD says the current US policy is not to shoot down missiles headed for Canada. Stephen Saideman offers a great reality check here.
  • The Privacy Commissioner says that the RCMP used cellphone trackers unlawfully six times.
  • The latest tactic by doctors around the private corporation tax changes is to threaten that closing loopholes will affect provincial health budgets.
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould is raising the issue of HIV criminalisation with her provincial counterparts.
  • The search for a new RCMP commissioner has been extended in order to conduct a more pro-active search for candidates.
  • One of the gay Chechen refugees to Canada was involved in a confrontation with two other Chechens, prompting concerns about safety and integration.
  • Senator Beyak tried to defend her comments by mostly blaming the media. Her position in the Conservative senate caucus may be in question.
  • Tristin Hopper explains why joke candidates like that dog running for mayor of St. John’s are disqualified under Canadian law.
  • Paul Wells takes note of the many ways in which the Liberal government has been courting organised labour.
  • Robert Hiltz takes shots at Boeing for their disingenuous trade complaint against Bombardier.
  • Colby Cosh boggles at the spectacle of Canadians being more hysterical about legalised marijuana than Americans at the health committee.

Odds and ends:

PEI has a new Lieutenant Governor, Antoinette Perry, a former school teacher.

The Star has a lengthy look back at the legacy of Allan J. MacEachen.