22 September 2008

Family Feud Surreality Check, Part Deux

Wayne Bennett is a candidate for the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party.

He is running against incumbent Gerry Byrne, a Liberal.

Mr. Bennett is also a director of the Humber Valley Provincial Conservative association.

He is campaigning on the argument that in the existing system, according to the weekly in the riding:

MPs elected to the governing party hide behind that party's decisions. ...Meanwhile, he says, MPs elected to political parties not holding the reins of government don't have the power to make demands for Newfoundland.

Mr. Bennett talks about the importance of electing five NL Firsters to allow for some tough bargaining in a minority parliament.

A few things come to mind:

First, Mr. Bennett should know that there are seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador, not five as he kept mentioning during his interview.

Second, the province includes Labrador, so that "and Labrador" thingy in the party name is important.

Third, minority parliaments have been a rarity in Canadian federal politics in recent times.  A plan built for a double rarity - minority parliament and one where five votes going as a block have some value - is pretty much useless.

Fourth, the Blochead concept is pretty much defunct.  The gommels elected for the past 18 years from Quebec - essentially working like the Creditistes of old - haven't accomplished much more, even in minority parliaments, than fatten up their individual pension plans.

Fifth, there are only two NL First candidates in the current election.  That pretty much shoots the whole campaign theory to heck. "But I'm courting four more candidates,"  Mr. Bennett told the Northern Pen.

Sixth, if the problem with the current system is that members of parliament elected to represent their constituents fall under the control of an organized political party and that party's leader and act in the party and leader's interests instead of that of their constituents, then a guy who is running who also sits on a Provincial Conservative district association is pretty much already committed to a partisan course, rather than the course desired by the constituents.