I really think that Stephen Harper is reaching out past the 36% of voters that gave him a minority mandate on January 23rd. Those who know him say that he’s all about the long game and that while he’s a “policy wonk”, he calculates each move.
Ladies and Gentlemen, with this novel approach to appointing the Supreme Court, while Harper is not changing the process constitutionally, he is certainly adding more transparency to the process. This is the same kind of transparency that the Conservatives campaigned on during the brutally long winter election and it’s the same transparency that a recent poll described as the #1 issue of Canadians post-election.
Of course, I assume that our knee-jerk NDP friends will decry that we’re “spiraling towards an American system”. Whether it trends towards an American system, English system, French system or Japanese system, I don’t care because it seems that a system that encourages transparency would be very important to the NDP (especially since they campaigned on “Ed Broadbent’s 7 point plan for saving Parliament and making waffles”)
We’ll see if the NDP wants to “make Parliament work” for “working people” or will we see the NDP resist a change which would take the SCC appointments from a secretive elite process to one that all Canadians can access. If they resist against the process, we’ll know that it’s partisan because it certainly shouldn’t represent their principles. Hopefully we won’t be seeing a lot of NDP motions trying to block this novel transparent process.
The Liberals should be pretty much on board. I saw on clip on CPAC that interviewed the former Justice Minister by phone and he pretty much endorsed the whole process. It’ll be difficult for the Liberals to oppose the process. They aren’t even likely to oppose the nominee either since they drafted the short-list of nominees.
Hopefully this is one step of many where the Prime Minister makes the Parliamentary process (and PMO power) more transparent for all Canadians.
UPDATE: Here is the list of members on the ad-hoc committee:
Vic Toews – chair
Hon. Irwin Cotler
Hon. Stephen Owen