2007-11-05

You're 7 years behind the times, Jack

Today Jack Layton called for a referendum on abolishing the Senate in the next federal election:

WINNIPEG -- NDP Leader Jack Layton is calling for a referendum on the abolition of the Senate, an institution he describes as "outdated and obsolete."

"It's a 19th-century institution that has no place in a modern democracy in the 21st century," Layton told party organizers Sunday in Winnipeg.
[unlike, say, 19th century insitutions like Communism, which apparently have huge places in Jack Layton's vision of a 21st century democracy? -ed]

It seems to me, though, that if Jack and his NDP cronies really wanted a referendum about the Senate, all they had to do was have Alexa McDonough throw her full unwavering support behind Stockwell Day and the Canadian Alliance in 2000:
The policies as outlined in the background document go considerably farther than either Mr. Day or his official election platform have been prepared to venture.

For example, the Alliance has proposed national referendums on contentious issues if there was sufficient public interest, without defining how that interest would be measured.

The policy overview, however, sets a specific target of "3 per cent of the total number of voters who cast ballots in the last election" as the minimum number of names needed on a petition to force a referendum on capital punishment or abortion.

Based on 1997 federal election returns, 395,244 signatures would be required to force a referendum under Alliance rules.

In 2006, 14,845,680 people voted in the General Election, meaning that 445,371 people would need to sign onto Jack Layton's scheme, and he could have his referendum before he could sneeze.

(Two caveat emptors on this one though: first, the largest petition in Canadian history was done in the late 90s by the Reform Party of Canada calling on tougher child pornography laws, and it barely broke 2 million. secondly, the infamous "Doris Day" petition wasn't a real petition, and if the NDP wanted to have a petition in that style brought before Parliament I would welcome it, just as I would have welcomed Stockwell Day advising Rick Mercer to bring his 'petition' before Parliament to check for illegalities such as repeat names, non-citizens, and the deceased).

But alas, the NDP didn't endorse Stockwell Day for Prime Minister, and as a result today Harper should be telling them point blank that next time a genuine conservative movement offers direct democracy they shouldn't be so quick to laugh about it.

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