Gov’t structure doesn’t fit

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s, um, indiscretions, seem to have diverted attention from the Senate brouhaha.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s, um, indiscretions, seem to have diverted attention from the Senate brouhaha.

Pity.

Mr. Ford  is Toronto’s problem, the Senate scandal is a different matter entirely.

It not only involves the Prime Minister’s office and casts shadows on the PM himself, it’s a terrific lesson on how our governance structure doesn’t fit today’s reality.

It was set up for a two party system, when the winning party actually won the majority of the votes cast in an election.

In today’s  multi-party system, we’ve given unlimited power to the Harper Conservatives who garnered only 40 per cent of the votes cast by 61 per cent of the eligible voters.

With a majority government the PM has absolute power as long as his caucus toes the line.

Unfortunately Mr. Harper seems to have forgotten he promised an open and  accountable government that would keep its promises.

Whatever, with the three renegade senators gone (36 Harper appointees left) maybe now we’ll find out if CETA (the trade deal with Europe) is a bonanza for Canada or a sell out. We have some political power plays closer to home that need some openness and even sober second thought. The Clark government must ensure B.C. doesn’t come out on the short end of the two pipeline proposals, and the new Sustainable Water Act isn’t as sustainable as the name claims.

It’s scary even thinking about giving the energy industries more say on agricultural land decisions. Then there are all the questions about BC Hydro’s finances and the perceived need for the proposed Site C dam.

Whatever happens with these issues, the outcomes will have serious impacts on the future  of this province.

We put a lot of faith in our political leaders.

We have to, because they are what we’ve got. When they have one-track minds all we can do is hope they are on the right track.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.