Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Bowells of the Internet

Since I started this blog, more than twenty people have found their way here seeking information about Sir MacKenzie Bowell, Canada's (politically) short-lived fifth Prime Minister, and widely considered its worst (though definitely the one with the best facial hair). Ignoring the question of why this many people *want* to know about MacKenzie Bowell, I say to them: Welcome, friends. You won't fine what you seek here.

(Actually, if you have any questions about MacKenzie Bowell that you urgently need answered, feel free to e-mail me at sarcasticidealist@gmail.com. Chances are I'll be able to get the answer for you.)


Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Professional Self-Regulation

So the execution of convicted rapist/murderer Michael Morales in California has been delayed because the prison responsible for conducting the execution was unable to comply with a court order requiring an anaesthesiologist to be present. The reason? Apparently, doctors feel that assisting in an execution would be a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which, among other things, require its swearers to "prescribe regimens for the good of [their] patients according to [their] ability and [their] judgment and never do harm to anyone".

Now, it should come as a surprise to nobody that I view this as good news. The death penalty is barbaric, and ineffective in any case (there is little evidence that it serves any real purpose as a deterrant, it does no more to protect society than life imprisonment does, and it obviously does nothing to rehabilitate offenders; I do not accept the existence of any other role for the criminal justice system). However, an element of this bothers me: specifically, the ability of professional associations to effectively circumvent judgments of the state.

Because a majority of my readership seems to fall on approximately the same side of the political spectrum as I do, let me turn the tables for a moment: it would certainly appear that the above clause prohibits euthanasia as well. A different clause of the Oath quite explicitly prohibits abortion. This means that, we the various medical professional associations to actually enforce the Hippocratic Oath on their members, abortion would be effectively outlawed. . . notwithstanding what the state might have to say. It would also render the debate over euthanasia moot since, even if the state were to decide (as it should) that doctor-assisted suicide is okay, any doctor who participated in one would cease in very short order to be a doctor.

This is the disconnect that can result when an entity other than the state regulates professions - something that the broader society views as acceptable can continue to be blocked by an elite professional association.

I believe that doctors should be permitted to decide for themselves whether their morals permit their participation in abortions or euthanasia - just as, so long as it remains legal, a doctor who supports capital punishment should be permitted to participate in it without fear of losing his/her license.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

The World According to Garth

Garth Turner is a loose cannon and a man with whom I disagree on most issues (including, to an extent, democratic reform). That said, the greatest scandal of this young Conservative government is that there aren't any other Conservative MPs behaving as he is.

(Also, check out his his website - there are probably 307 or so other MPs who could learn a thing or two from his web designers.)

UPDATE: I just tried to send him an e-mail, but his mailbox is full. Apparently "garth@garth.ca" is just a forwarding address to his real one: garthturnr@aol.com. Come on, Garth, get a real address. Surely such a thing could come out of your Parliamentarian budget somewhere.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Musings on the Cabinet

I'll compile the results of the pool sometime in the next couple of days, when my cold is kicking my ass less than it is right now. For now, some scattered observations:

1. David Emerson. Wow. I'm not sure about this, but this might be the first time in modern Canadian parliamentary history that a candidate has crossed the floor before the new Parliament even sat (crossing the floor before setting foot on the floor, really). But yeah: wow.

2. I don't know all that much about Michael Fortier, so I'm not sure what I'll think of his performance as International Trade Minister. People who are familiar my political philosophy, though, will be unsurprised to learn that I at least give Harper marks for being willing to look outside of his caucus for cabinet ministers.

3. As of right now, Fortier's bio on the Government of Canada page states "He was president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in the 1990s, and ran for the leadership of the Party in 1988." This must have come as a great shock to Brian Mulroney, who was busy leading the party into one of the most pivotal elections in Canadian history at the time.

4. If anybody's counting, Cannon's the second consecutive Transport Minister to double as Québec lieutenant. At least Cannon's a federalist, though.

5. Of all the positions that were speculated to be going to Rona Ambrose, I'm not sure I heard environment mentioned even once.

6. There's much commotion being heard about the omission of a Deputy PM, but a far more striking omission seems to me to be an Intergovernmental Affairs Minister. I'm extremely curious to see how this will play out - presumably, Harper will be taking the lead on these things personally.

7. I still don't like the concept of a Minister of Democratic Reform. At least Harper only named one such minister, though.

8. If anybody's counting, Conservatives + New Democrats + Independents now make up exactly half the House of Commons. This is unlikely to matter, but I thought it was kind of cool.

9. Chuck Strahl strikes me as an odd choice for Agriculture. But his appointment to cabinet at least means that the speculation for Speaker can start now.

AMUSING QUOTE UPDATE: "I'm going to be Stephen Harper's worst enemy."
- David Emerson, January 24 2006

I'M AN IDIOT UPDATE: Apparently intervgovernmental affairs went to a chap named Michael Chong, who's also President of the Queen's Privy Council and Minister for Sport. Huh.

AND I CAN'T ADD EITHER UPDATE: Conservatives + NDP make up half the House. Conservatives + New Democrats + André Arthur make up a majority. Not that this matters, since M. Arthur appears to plan on abstaining on everything except constituency specific issues (of which precious few come up before the House) and on issues on which he purports to know how his constituents want him to vote.

I BASICALLY JUST FORGOT TO MENTION THIS THE FIRST TIME AROUND UPDATE: You know, I figured that if any cabinet position got cut, it would be the Minister for International Co-operation. I could be missing out on some subtle nuance, but it seems to me that if we have such a minister, all that's left for the Foreign Affairs Minister is war and isolationism.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

I hope there's still room on the bandwagon

There's been a bit of a draft Stephane Dion movement in the Canadian blogosphere of late. If I had the contrarian cred that I like to think I do, I'd use this post to explain why that's a terrible idea. Unfortunately, I'm forced to agree: Stephane Dion would make the best Liberal Prime Minister since Pierre Trudeau. And that's not intended as damnation with faint praise.


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