On Friday, 20 October 2017, CBC journalist Jacques Poitras reported on a strange, ambiguous press release from the Liberal Premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant, and speculated what it might mean. The original press release said that the Premier would meet with the Lieutenant Governor on Monday. This coy phrasing kicked off speculation that the Premier might intend to advise an early dissolution. However, Poitras correctly surmised that the cryptic wording alluded to an upcoming prorogation, short intersession, and new Speech from the Throne.
Public Records Must Be Freely Available
I discovered by attempting to research New Brunswick’s fixed-date election law that the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick has not uploaded its Debates, Journals, or committee transcripts online. All the other provincial and territorial legislative assemblies make these records freely and publicly available online. Worse still, the Legislative Library of New Brunswick has failed even to send hard copies of its Journals to university libraries since 2005, and it hasn’t sent copies of the Debates since long before then. In other words, New Brunswickers cannot access basic information that would allow them to hold their government and legislative assembly to account. I e-mailed the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick and requested all records pertaining to the province’s fixed-date election law, which entered into force in 2007. The library did indeed send me all this information promptly. Consequently, Speaker Chris Collins took to Twitter in a vain attempt to shame me publicly for my earlier jokes about the inadequacies of New Brunswick’s record-keeping. He said:
The issue is not whether the Legislative Library responds quickly to requests; the issue is that the library has failed to publish these records so that all New Brunswickers and Canada, or anyone, can access them freely. I should have been able to access all those records myself at 12:07 am or any other time of day that I damn well please. I would go as far as to argue that legislative bodies have a fiduciary duty to publish all records of all proceedings not conducted in camera or in secret sittings. All the other provinces and territories have done their duty; only New Brunswick has not. And the fact that the legislative library sent me these records so quickly — in the form of clean, searchable PDFs, by the way — means that they exist in-house and that the Legislative Library has properly indexed them. It should now simply publish them online. Publishing these records online promotes accountability and neutrality, and it would also unburden the staff at the Legislative Library from carrying out these requests themselves. Furthermore, journalists in New Brunswick ought to care more about this issue and should champion the freedom of information, since their trade depends on it.
Only an informed citizenry can sustain a liberal democracy.
What Is the Significance of Being a Bad Apple?
Over the last three years or so, I’ve noticed a strange quirk in the debates over police brutality in the United States. Proponents of the police often couch their support in an analogy, which they intend to mean, “Some police officers do bad things, but in general, they are good and do good and shouldn’t all be dismissed as bad simply because some of them are bad.” They mention something about “a few bad apples,” normally without completing the sentence, which makes evaluating the origin of the analogy more difficult.
We should speak not of one O Canada but of the two O Canadas, which represent the two solitudes of English and French Canada. The original French lyrics of Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and the English lyrics of Robert Stanley Weir bear no resemblance to each other. The French lyrics celebrate the French Fact and commemorate a glorious crusade to Christianize North America with lines like “he knows to carry the sword; he knows to carry the cross” and “valour steeped in faith”; in contrast, the English lyrics appeal to a Loyalist patriotism, where the “true” in “True North” suggests the virtues of steadfastness and loyalty. Parliament adopted Routhier’s original French text of O Canada and a modified version of Weir’s English version of O Canada as the official national anthem through the National Anthem Act of 1980. The English lyrics derived from the modifications that a Special Joint Committee of the House of Commons and Senate had recommended to Weir’s poem in 1967. The two O Canadas, and the English translation of the French lyrics, are as follows: Continue reading
Peter Baelish infamously described chaos as a ladder which he will climb; in reality, Baelish is not worthy of breaking the wheel, and he’s merely going around in circles. He will soon meet the bad end of fortuna.
George R.R. Martin confirms in this BBC documentary, “Who’s Afraid of Machiavelli?” that The Prince heavily influenced his writing of A Song of Ice and Fire and the general depiction of political intrigue amongst the lords of Westeros.
Some of Machiavelli’s most important and famous lessons on governing come from chapters 15 to 19 of The Prince; they cover those things for which men and especially princes are praised or blamed, of generousness and parsimony, whether it is better to be loved than feared, how the Prince should keep faith, and how to avoid being hated. The quotes below come from Mansfield’s English-language translation of The Prince).