Thursday, 24 May 2012

Voting according to conscience vs being whipped to vote (in the Canadian Parliament)

I saw yesterday an very interesting video shown on Youtube of this BC conservative MP talking to his constituents about the conservative budget implementation omnibus bill, about how his hands are pretty much tied by party ideology to vote a certain way though his conscience would tell him otherwise.

I'm reading Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791) - his response to a Mr. Burke's pamphlet criticising France's newly minted National Assembly (contrasting it to Britian's then-government system):

They have not to hold out a language which they do not themselves believe, for the fraudulent purpose of making others believe it. Their station requires no artifice to support it, and can only be maintained by enlightened mankind. It is not their interest to cherish ignorance, but to dispel it. They are not in the case of a ministrial or an opposition party in England, who, though they are opposed, are still united to keep up the common mystery. The National Assembly must throw open a magazine of light. It must shew man proper character of man; and the nearer it can bring him to that standard, the stronger the National Assembly becomes.

In comtemplating the French constitution, we see in it a rational order of things. The principles harmonise with the forms, and both with their origin. It may perhaps be said as an excuse for bad forms, that they are nothing more than forms; but this is a mistake. Forms grow out of principles, and operate to continue the principles they grow from. It is impossible to practice bad form on anything but a bad principle. It cannot be ingrafted on a good one; and wherever the forms in any government are bad, it is a certain indication that the principles are bad also. (Rights of Man; Common Sense and other political writings, Oxford World's Classics, pp. 143-144)

The concentration of power into ministrial hands (ie, Harper's) and their ability to effectively bypass parliamentary oversight by having the power to change regulations is most definitely "bad form". No amount of couching and massaging "language which they do not themselves believe" will ever change that.

Pray for mercy, hope for something less.


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