Monday, April 09, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 15: Paging Stockwell Smith


Like Stephen Harper in 2006, Danielle Smith now has 5 priorities, highlighted by an Accountability Act.

However, in proposing citizen-initiated referendum, Smith evoked memories of an equally photogenic Albertan leading an upstart party. Remember this?



Smith's referendum idea has a higher threshold than Stockwell's, but is equally wreckless. After all, she has left the door open for a referendum on issues such as abortion funding:
CALGARY - Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith left open the possibility Friday that the issue of abortion funding could come forward through a citizen-initiated vote.

Smith, who has previously expressed support for the idea of delisting abortion as a provincially funded procedure, dodged questions about whether she still holds that view.

Anyone who takes cues from Stockwell Day deserves to be ridiculed for it. I therefore urge everyone to sign this online petition, urging Danielle Smith to change her name to "Stockwell Smith", so that she can properly honour her mentor.

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13 Comments:

  • Not sure that scaremongering about giving citizens a say works too well in Wild Rose country: didn’t Stock’s team win about 88% of the Alberta seats in that election?

    By Blogger Herbert B. Patrotage, at 3:00 PM  

  • Hear Hear! All I see is scare-mongering from Mason and the NDP's yet are they actually going to come to my riding to greet the workers they so champion and wish to govern? If their attitude is anything like their federal counterparts in last May's election, we won't hold our breathe.

    The truth is that the Wildrose will form government here. All the other leaders know that. Scare-mongering is a sure sign the other parties have nothing new to offer Albertans.

    By Blogger Way Way Up, at 3:16 PM  

  • I never even considered voting for the guy, but was disgusted at how the media treated Stockwell Day.

    This particular case was one example - the focus of their attack was a derisive sneer that the average person could put ideas directly on the agenda without having to go through the old boy's network.

    Say what you will about the guy's politics, but he took everything in stride, and continued to serve his constituency.

    As unfortunate as it would be if Danielle Smith took her lead from Stockwell Day, it would be equally unfortunate if we took our lead from his media coverage.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 3:38 PM  

  • BC has had citizen initiated referendum for ages now and the sky hasn't fallen. IIRC, the only referendum that has so far passed was repealing the HST. (Personally, I wanted to keep the HST, but what do I know ...)

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 4:01 PM  

  • Should also add that then premiere Campbell lowered the pass threshold for this particular referendum to 50%+1, and if we had gone by the original rules I think it would not have passed.

    [BC HST - full fledged cluster-**** from start to end]

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 4:08 PM  

  • Are they holding themselves accountable to their own Accountability Act? We know how well that has worked before - not.

    They'll be accountable as long as it suits their purposes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:09 PM  

  • In any era of an over-extended Medicare system, I don't see why it's a sacred cow that non-medicallly necessary abortions must be paid for from the pockets of taxpayers.

    Bring on the referendum!

    Steve

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 PM  

  • I suggest a different petition demand: that Danielle adopt both the name and hairstyle of Robert Smith (of the Cure).

    By Blogger saphorr, at 3:26 AM  

  • Not sure what the argument is against letting the voters submit their ideas for legislation.

    Do you actually have an argument against this or are you just trotting out Rick's tired old joke.

    If you seriously believe that this is bad policy, then explain why.

    Danielle and the Wildrose can discuss policy at length, and their opponents are also going to have to learn this skill if they hope to be a credible opposition.

    Additionally, the Wildrose will defund non-medically necessary abortions. Not sure what the argument for funding those is either, but we'd all be curious to hear it.

    By Anonymous trainman, at 10:55 AM  

  • It all depends on how the referendum policy is being attacked.

    If it's a derisive sneer that the average joe should have such a powerful say, that's bad.

    But if it's an acknowledgement that a poorly implemented version of this idea can lead to the majority monopolizing the agenda with ideas not in the greater interests of everyone, then that's another story.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:08 AM  

  • Government by referendum is a terrible, terrible idea. It pretty much singlehandedly made California ungovernable.

    By Blogger Sean C, at 11:48 AM  

  • Sean C, the devil is in the details. Like I said above, BC has had citizen initiated referendum for ages now (I believe it was brought in by the NDP) and the province is still quite governable.

    If the threshold for getting a proposal on a ballot is low, then you end up with the California situation. If it's high, you end up with what we have here in BC in which a significant percentage of people have to feel quite ticked off about something to even get it on a ballot.

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 11:17 PM  

  • There are a few problems with citizen-initiated referenda is that governance rarely involves independent decisions. Rather, laws affect other laws. Poll people on whether they like cheese and then Chinese food - they'll say yes. But they don't go very well together.

    In California, for instance, the result has been laws pushing the government to spend more, while restricting its ability to raise taxes.

    The other big challenge is that referenda on low-to-medium priority issues tend to produce low voter turnout. Well organized and highly motivated special interest groups can fare well in that kind of situation. That goes double for which issues make it to referendum and which don't.

    Finally, I think it is useful for governments to be able to do unpopular things without those things being overturned by the public. Free trade, the GST, the spending cuts of the 90's - all of these would probably have been overturned if open to a referendum. Yet with time, the public came to accept each of those moves.

    I think referenda are useful tools for addressing contentious issues, and enabling coalitions to form across party lines without compromising strong majority governments. But I'd prefer if the power to call them remained in the hands of parliament.

    PS: I agree completely on the media's treatment of Stockwell Day.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 12:34 AM  

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