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August 18, 2006


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Joe - you're right, we do have a different system. In our system the PM makes all the decisions and the MP's vote the way he tells them to. So, unfortunately, the health minister showing up carries about as much weight as you or I.

I'm exaggerating of course, but not much.

Scott Gilbreath

Excellent point, Joe. If the G-G attended, then the Canadian government was appropriately and adequately represented.

Besides that, Jean Chretien skipped the AIDS conference in Vancouver ten years ago.

But, please, not the "I am Canadian" beer commercial. Anything but that!


Guys, I hate to push the point... but I will.

I think we're talking about apples and oranges. If it was only about being "appropriately and adequately represented" at an international conference, then you're right--the government flew the flag. However, in my view its more about showing a commitment to the horrible pandemic that is HIV/AIDS.


Mike - I would have to respectfully disagree with your assessments of Harper's "no shows" at the conference, and agree with Scott in his comment that the G-G represents Canada at such a high level. That is, after all, part of the G-G's role in a parliamentary system.

I suggest that if all the attention is simply focused on the absence of Harper from such a conference, then all we are doing as a public is conferring more perception of power on the PM as an individual than our system is designed for. I tend to think we need to recall that our system has a "prime" minister among a cabinet of ministers. If we lose sight of the power of cabinet, or allow the influence belonging to cabinet to be usurped, then we have slid into a American style of governance without the so-called checks and balances.

I think we should ask the G-G (as a non-partisan) and the federal health minister for their opinions. In our system, any MP can bring in legislation to be voted upon - and surely the minister of health would be in a position to propose legislation on such an issue.


OK, Joseph, I hear you. I do think it's apples and oranges though. And quite frankly, Canadian politics has much more party discipline than the American system. The President may have a veto, but the Prime Minister doesn't need one.

Anyway, I've said my peace on this subject. Thanks for the dialogue.


Thanks for your input, Mike. To tell you the truth, part of what is behind my thinking is a post you made some time ago in which you compared Harper's decision-making with Bush's, on the subject of military deaths and photographs (back in May). One of the lines you used in the critique was "this is not how we do things in Canada".

That phrase has caused me to ask more than once what the differences are between American & Canadian styles of governance and our public perception of and treatment of the offices. I ask: how do we "do things in Canada?"

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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