Roundup: The cause, not the cure

The particular turmoil of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership is difficult to turn away from, particularly given that right now it’s grappling with a fairly fundamental point about what is ailing our Westminster parliamentary system, which is the way in which we choose our leaders. Andrew Coyne lays it out really well in his latest column, which notes that another leadership contest won’t solve the party’s problems precisely because it’s the cause of those problems. And Chris Selley notes that with the inclusion of Doug Ford in this new race, that system of leadership selection is just as likely to result in a civil war within the party as it will do for anything else. (On a side note, Selley’s piece notes how Ford is attracting the evangelical endorsements in such an eerily Trump-like way).

Another point that Coyne gets to is this particular fetishization of the membership figures that Brown was able to attract to the party, but it ignores the fact that most of those who are signing up memberships have little connection to the party itself, and are little more than tools to be used by the leadership winner who sold them those memberships. And the point that I would add is that these memberships don’t actually strengthen the party because they’re being used to justify central control by the leadership rather than being a vehicle by which the riding associations are interlocutors between the grassroots and the caucus. These “rented” memberships are meaningless and do little to enhance the party, the way the chatter would otherwise suggest. If anything, they weaken the meaning of what the grassroots is supposed to represent. That’s why we need to get back to the proper working of a Westminster system, and restore caucus selection, so that we can reinvigorate the meaning of the grassroots.

Good reads:

  • MPs agreed to fast-track Bill C-65 on workplace harassment to committee.
  • Chrystia Freeland hinted that Canada would drop its WTO challenge of American tariffs if the US agrees to a softwood lumber deal.
  • There optimistic notes from Freeland and her counterparts at the conclusion of round six of NAFTA talks.
  • Andrew Scheer says the allegations against Rick Dykstra are “disturbing,” and that if any candidate on his roster had sexual assault allegations, they would be dropped.
  • The Auditor General will be issuing a new fighter jets report in the fall, but won’t say which aspects of the procurement he’s looking at.
  • Bill Morneau’s office had 10,000 messages over the tax changes. I’d be curious to see how many of those were cut-and-paste responses championed by the CFIB.
  • The Senate’s Transportation committee released a report on autonomous cars in Canada, citing a lack of legislative readiness, especially related to privacy.
  • Here’s a look at how American exporters could face a bigger tariff burden if NAFTA were torn up than Canadian exporters would face given how they currently operate.
  • Changes made to the medical assistance in dying bill wound up causing problems for patients seeking to use it, and would have been better off under the original bill.
  • The Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance has come to an agreement with generic drug manufacturers about cutting prices up to 40 percent in a five-year deal.
  • Anonymous Liberals are grumbling about the many screw-ups of cabinet ministers.
  • Conservatives facing nomination battles are starting to snipe at their challengers.
  • The Green Party hired an outside investigator to look into the claims of workplace bullying by Elizabeth May. May reiterated that the charges are “groundless.”
  • Stephen Gordon looks at how the cryptocurrency rage is not only a bubble, but that those currencies are pretty much useless Ponzi schemes.
  • Jen Gerson says that it’s time that the Ontario PC party be led by a woman.

Odds and ends:

Kirsty Duncan was sworn in as minister of sport and disability to replace Kent Hehr, on top of her existing science portfolio.