Archive for August, 2009

A Fine Blend of Patronage

This is just how governments work.

If ever I find myself with too little faith in the structures of our government, I take a read of one of the comment threads over at the Globe and Mail (the worst place on earth – sorry 4chan), or, in this case the Toronto Star.

Governments make appointments to boards. They make these appointments with an eye to futher their philosophical agenda, the agenda that the promised that they would fulfill if they were elected.

What makes this annoying to both governments and people is the fact that sometimes parties make promises about patronage itself. Sure, this seems reasonable enough, if it is a problem, but this is not really the case. We’re not PEI, and we don’t have the same type of retrenched political patronage that goes down to the snowplow driver level. We’re not at the same level of Brian Mulroney, who really perfected the art of patronage. We are not Tammany Hall.

However, we do have a number of positions that need filling, and I don’t think that appointing qualified people to the boards is a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of the job of the government. I would be more miffed if the whole Public Appointments Board hadn’t been torpedoed by the Liberals and NDP, or a province had actually made any kind of move to hold a Senatorial election of some kind. So, Harper did what he had to do (I think I just threw up a little).

Patronage in general is a touchy subject. I don’t neccecarily disagree with the idea that if you have two qualified candidates (and what exactly qualifies you to sit in the Senate – I think it’s a pulse), and one of them is a Tory loyalist who believes in your vision for the country, has worked hard and paid in blood sweat and tears to make your party a government and your agenda a reality, and the other is an equally competent but ideologically uncommitted guy, I would, for any position outside Elections Canada, choose the volunteer. I would also be inclined to hire someone who I know I can trust – and the recommendation of someone in the party to that end is going to go a long way in achieving that.

They will be passionate about what they are doing, and passion motivates results. We might not agree with those results, but a plurality of the voters did.


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