TORONTO - I enjoy reading the Corriere Canadese. In fact, I read it every day.
Unfortunately, I do not [participate in the debates it generates] as often as I would wish to. But sometimes I am compelled on occasions like the one on “electoral reform”, to put other matters aside and weigh in.
I write because, as a constitutional lawyer, I have been inundated with questions and requests to be retained on the issue of the “constitutional right” to “proportional representation”, and like reform.
The CC, along with the mainstream media, has been wasting its time bantering about the “electoral reform” issue promised by the Liberals during the election, and quickly abandoned by them.
The Federal government CANNOT change the first at the post (riding) electoral system because it is entrenched and set out in the Constitution Act, 1867.
To change it, in my professional view, constitutional amendment, with the consent of the Provinces, would be required.
As a citizen, I view the election promise of electoral reform, on the scale promised, as nothing more than an election snow job. If this government had one competent constitutional advisor, they would have been told that the Feds could not go it alone. This should have been publicly put on the table, day one.
So why is the issue not framed as a constitutional amendment issue? Because most citizens attached to a political party, would rather take on a high ratio mortgage, and the government itself triple the national debt, than go down the road of constitutional amendment.
Why? Not primarily because it is too difficult and does not make sense to improve the system, but because none of the parties want true proportional representation, which would guarantee Italian or Israeli- Coalition type governments forever, and because this would require the difficulties of compromise and consensus.
Rocco Galati is a Constitutional lawyer. The text of this
TORONTO - Language and identity; experiences of the past and expectations of the future; a sense of belonging, and a need to ensure a legacy for future generations.
These form the parameters of new debate/controversy developing within the Italian-Canadian community. It was launched by the Executive Director or the ICCO, Corrado Paina on his FB. He embarked on an “edgy” and penetrating critique on the health of the Community: its survival, its growth, or its assimilation and disappearance in the not too distant future.
Paina does not mask his “concern” that the community will continue to lose “its language and its identity”.
In a rather long posting for FB, he expresses worry that we become “only members of Canadian society, but not builders of a nation.” He regrets that the community, which reacts positively in response to calamitous events, may have “built a reactive attitude empty of any strategy and vision.”
He appears to condemn current community organizations for their perpetuation of “a historical and anthropological trait” of squandering opportunities to construct a ’legacy” – an egregious example being the Galleria Italia at the Art Gallery of Ontario, now a glorified coffee bar.
His criticisms are severe. But, Paina offers that alternatives are there. “I think about the creation of national archives, of Italian and Canadian museums, on places where Italy could be the landmark, on the many Casa Italia…” he adds.
To date, he says, the absence of such things, “shows a community that is not mature” … it is [also] important that our community develops its own vision, and its own way to participate.”
After numerous consultations “with [unnamed] leaders of the community, the entrepreneurs and the intellectuals and the professionals”, he concludes that we need “a locus, a building, a landmark, a monument that houses the Italian Canadian experience. We need a place that has a permanent art gallery to showcase the excellence of art in Italy and in Canada. A theatre that stages Italian and Canadian companies. A building where Italian regions can display their products, from food to aerospace. An entity where the Italian organizations are united under the same roof…”
There is no indication of the location of such a site. Nonetheless, he announces the existence of two groups [presumably well on their way to making this happen]: “The Memory group - a group that works on the creation of a site that will feature interviews and oral history of Italian people, and, the Legacy group - a group that is working on the organization of the first forum of Italian Canadians in Toronto on the future of the community”.
He laments the…”young entrepreneurs and professionals who don’t want to be involved in the community because they don’t believe in the history of the community.” But he urges involvement, “because when we talk about our community, we are really talking about the weight of the past and the legacy that we will leave for our sons.”
TORONTO - Despite the best efforts of Canada’s major Media outlets, the Trudeau’s abandonment of the Electoral Reform initiative is as stimulating and exciting as a bottle of sleeping pills for insomniacs.
Was he – or anyone else, for that matter - ever sincere about changing the way we govern ourselves? Probably. There is no shortage of examples inefficient, dysfunctional even, crying out for adjustment or outright abandonment if one wanted to point them out in Canada’s governance structure.
Except for the odd tinkering with constituency boundaries to accommodate demographic dislocation and population growth, the structure of Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1867.
Some think the model has served Canada well. They demand “reverence” for Governance institutions that have guided us to where we are today – one of the premier countries in the world, economic ally and social.
Others, think we could always do better. It is unlikely that we would find them among the ranks of the 144 first-time elected MPs in the government ranks. We might find some among the remnants of the Opposition parties who are casting about for a raison d’etre (as they should) or for issues upon which to impale the government.
The ever-ubiquitous Trump is for them a daily reminder that in a perfect electoral system, not one that was “rigged” from the get go, the Donald might well have been relegated to the dustbin reserved for electoral casualties.
He lost the popular vote by a wide margin – 3 million votes – but triumphed in the Electoral College, a body of 538 members whose majority determines who will be President. “Rep by pop” is not necessarily the ultimate model of democratic expression favoured by Americans.
Nor is it the choice sanctioned by the British Supreme Court which last month confirmed an earlier court decision essentially invalidating the results of the Brexit vote. While the popular vote in the Referendum to leave the European Union favoured a withdrawal, The Court determined that only Parliament can make that decision. The referendum is a mere guide, not a binding instruction by the public, for parliamentarians.
In Italy, where Constitutions are a “living document” (subject to change with the times), and electoral structures last as long as a chameleon’s disguise, experiments with Electoral Reform are as frequent as those applied to the Scientific Method.
Italians have tried “first past the post”, “proportional representation”, “a perfect bi-cameral system” that combines elements of both, a run-off system between the top two, and a proportional system that guarantees a majority to whichever party achieves the 40% popular vote threshold.
The latest model to bite the dust, as it were, was a Constitutional re-structuring of its bi-cameral system combined with a direct election of MPs. This proposal was voted, and approved, on six separate occasions in both Houses.
When put to the public for approval in a binding Referendum, as is required for [all] Constitutional changes, the public said “no thanks, try something else!”
What proposal did Justin Trudeau’s Ministers for Democratic Institutions (Reform) put forward? On what model(s) did the MPs on the Parliamentary Committee entrusted with providing the House of Commons with advice stake their political career(s)?
What models did the Kindergarten graduates who designed the on-line model for public input consult?
Back to sincerity. I would like to reform the system. But It would be foolish to do it for the sake of just doing it. Canada collectively has made a decision to opt for a system that comes close to guaranteeing “governability” with some semblance of authority.
When our political leaders, Academics and Media put some skin in the game to address how their proposal for Electoral reform will buttress our sovereignty against the persistent and creeping threats of parochialism and globalization, the discussion can take on a more serious tone.
TORONTO - Two weeks into his Presidency and the Donald is still befuddling his critics. It seems that they are only now beginning to discover who he is and what he represents. Too late. The election took place last November.
Since then, despite protests and the remonstrations of experts and “leaders” everywhere, he has repeatedly reinforced one theme: heck with the rules, we’re doing it my way!
Political insiders and communications professionals are developing a new industry trying to figure him out. Meanwhile, as people and the Media get “comfortable” combatting one flare-up, he starts another fire.
There is nothing he is unwilling to “offend”. He boasts about his proven business acumen (a euphuism for cutthroat, unscrupulous business practices) as he muses about or threatens trade deals. Countries – ours included – scramble to prepare for some revision or accommodation to placate his demands. Experts emerge out of the woodwork with advice on the “whys and hows”.
There is nothing to figure out. His approach is simple: “if you have what I want, I am taking It”. No ethics, no moral code, no guiding principle, no sense of collective responsibility to mitigate his approach other than the goal to “Make America Great Again”.
Everything is justified by in the context of that “ideology”, that “movement”. We’ll give power back to the people who rightly own that power, he and his surrogates repeat.
A renowned mid-twentieth century thinker and historian, Christopher Dawson, whose views were shaped by the European/World experiences pre and post two World wars, in his The Movement of World Revolution (1959), observed that those “who come to the top in revolutionary movements are never the wisest or the most farsighted of men”.
Do not expect too much, in other words. For those who followed his rise to the Presidency, Trump’s wife, Melania, made equally insightful observations: I have two boys at home, one is eleven, the other just happens to be seventy years old.
Observers are at a loss to find a rationale in his Cabinet-making, his intemperate public musings, his seemingly irrational Presidential Orders…and so on. He does not appear to distinguish between policy and process or the inter-relationship between them.
People are “piling on” with their criticism. The “ideology” and “philosophy” that served as the underpinnings for the structures that sustained social order domestically and maintained a semblance of international co-operation in foreign affairs are being challenged by the Trump Doctrine.
There are no rules but his rules. Since he has, to date, proven himself to be the most amoral of private/public figures in recent memory – at least in Democratic societies – we can expect to live under the aegis of “alternative facts”; no matter the circumstances.
His supporters (and he has many) trumpet their victory in this “war of ideas” on America’s future – and ours. In such a “war”, Professor Dawson observed that “it is the crudest and most simplified ideology that wins”. In other words, “we’re good, they are evil”, therefore all should unite behind me to right all wrongs.
If people, like the millions of women who braved great odds to march against “Trumpism” immediately after The Donald’s inauguration, are concerned, professor Dawson would remind them that history is not very comforting.
He says, the world has “seen great and highly civilized countries [become] infected by epidemics of ideological insanity, and whole populations … destroyed for the sake of some irrational slogan”.
TORONTO - It turns out that Alexandre Bissonnette is not a Muslim terrorist. Just a misguided murderer - by early indicators, a troubled right wing extremist sympathizer.
His mind was not clouded by some religious, “superstitious thoughts” or dated rituals. But, his victims are just as dead as if their assassin were a fundamentalist executioner. Their families, just as innocent, and their lives just as destroyed.
At least he surrendered himself and the public did not have to be subjected to further negative speculation of who would commit such a heinous and hateful crime.
In the context of the “Trump-liberated” climate of religious/racial suspicion, the finger-pointing was all too convenient, and troubling.
Now we know who was the trigger man. We do not have to rely on the investigative practices of the Suretè de Quebec, which is ill equipped to delve into these types of criminal behaviour.
A very humbled and grieving Premier, Philip Couillard, sorrowfully and regretfully acknowledged that the society he heads also has “its devils, like xenophobia, exclusion and intolerance”.
It is a powerful admission coming from the leader of one of the most secular yet most inward-looking cultures in the Western World.
He should be complimented for the admission. It renders his expressions of condolences to and solidarity with “ relative newcomers” a little more sincere.
The Corriere Canadese extends its heartfelt condolences and offers its prayers for the families of the killed and injured.
Theirs is an involuntary sacrifice no one should ever have to make in a civilized society.