It came as a surprise the other day when the Toronto Star’s opinion writer for the new democratic party, Robin Sears, lauded the German government’s electoral system. While the German electoral system does confuse outsiders, it is basically an electoral system known as Mixed Member Proportional. (A similar electoral system was rejected by Ontario voters in a 2007 referendum.) The states in the German federation elect the 299 first-past-the-post members, according to their population and then party lists are used to expand the size of the house according to party vote. (There are 736 members in the current Bundestag.)
What would concern Mr. Sears is recognizing that the Bundestag is a surprisingly conservative organization. It has been under the leadership of either the Christian Democratic or Social Democratic parties for the past 50 years. The fact that no one party has had a majority creates a defferential parliament that caters to economic concerns first.
Instead of complimenting the Bundestag on its progressiveness, Mr. Sears should be aghast that they are only now proposing a minimum wage of the equivalent of $17 per hour. This country of about 80 million has the strongest economy in Europe and $20 per hour or more would be a more realistic level for its minimum wage.
Sears was impressed by the Bundestag version of our throne speech. He thinks the idea of giving all parties copies of the planned government program to study before voting on the specifics makes a lot of sense—and it does.
But what works for another country is not always the ideal solution to our needs. I find the scurrilous name calling and rudeness of our MPs detracts from the respect that our parliament deserves.
But that is a two-way street. I have come to the conclusion that neither Steven Harper nor Justin Trudeau have showed any respect for parliament and that is reflected in how the House behaves. It needs better leadership.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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