Across The Aisle: Opposition in Canadian Politics by David E. Smith

By David E. Smith

How do events with legit competition prestige effect Canadian politics? around the Aisle is an leading edge exam of the idea and perform of competition in Canada, either in Parliament and in provincial legislatures. Extending from the pre-Confederation period to the current day, it specializes in even if Canada has built a coherent culture of parliamentary opposition.

David E. Smith argues that Canada has in reality did not advance this type of culture. He investigates a number of attainable purposes for this failure, together with the lengthy dominance of the Liberal celebration, which arrested the culture of viewing the competition instead govt; classes of minority executive brought on via the proliferation of events; the position of the inside track media, that have principally displaced Parliament as a discussion board for observation on govt coverage; and, ultimately, the expanding acclaim for demands direct motion in politics.

Readers of around the Aisle will achieve a renewed realizing of legitimate competition that is going past Stornoway and shadow cupboards, illuminating either the old evolution and up to date advancements of competition politics in Canada.

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Laurier, who is often treated as the Liberal counterpart in assessments of early great prime ministers, shared much with Macdonald, but not in this respect. Laurier was an intellectual admirer of Parliament, but much more the remote orator and executive who left the House to others. 20 Such intensity was an irritant to his ministers and supporters and proved a far greater obstacle to the development of a parliamentary opposition in Canada. Sir Richard Cartwright, a Conservative supporter of Macdonald before and after Confederation, and then a Liberal after 1869 and minister of finance in the Mackenzie government after 1874, said of the two: [They] stood almost at the very opposite poles in every way.

This offers one explanation for the following comment on ‘the deplorable state of critical debate and scrutiny in the Commons itself’: Never has the Commons opposition been so divided, so weak and so totally ineffective. Never has the legislation and oversight role been so sloppy and maladroit. 46 It is not immediately clear what the reference to checks and balances implies. It is clear, however, that from the viewpoint of this former senator (Jerry Grafstein), a signal role of the Senate is to do what the opposition in the Commons ought to be doing better: improving poorly drafted legislation.

19 The measure of the first success is seats, of the second support in the House. John A. Macdonald set the bar for both. He won a clear majority of seats and votes in five of the seven elections he fought (no subsequent prime minister would match this record), as well as more seats than the Liberals won in 1872. In the chamber, he was a ‘House of Commons man’ who understood and loved Parliament. This affection permeated his relationship with the party, the cabinet, the caucus, the press, the provincial parties, and the public.

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