Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rural Separatist Has Plan B: An Elected Ontario Senate

Conservative MPP Randy Hillier, who has in earlier times advocated that rural Ontario should separate from the rest of the province, now wants to achieve the same end through a back door:

What we need is a bicameral provincial government with a Senate of 50 elected representatives, one from each county, regional Municipality, and (in the north) district, to lessen this growing urban-rural chasm by tempering urban priorities that cause damage and harm to rural Ontario. Much like the federal Senate, this upper chamber ought to be able to amend or defeat most bills passed by the lower house, but be unable to introduce, alter, or defeat money bills. However, to ensure that they have a greater regard for their communities than for party discipline, provincial Senators ought to be excluded from cabinet posts.

Note that the point of all this is, quite simply, to avoid majority rule, for representation in any elected Ontario Senate is to be "based on communities of interest, not population". This deviation from the "one man, one vote standard" is apparently needed to free Ontario's rural minority from the yoke of the Urban elite, who are apparently responsible for everything that has ever gone wrong in the Province:

The priorities of Ontario's urban politicians and bureaucracy are bans and restrictions, and they are out of sync with the people of rural Ontario. This has resulted in Ontario going from first to worst in economic performance, a painfully dismal record in health care, high taxes, a ballooning bureaucracy, deficits, reduced individual responsibility and freedoms, and have-not status. This dismal performance is a reflection not of coincidence, bad luck, or external factors, but of the wrong priorities. In a democracy, people, politicians, and governments are the authors of their fortunes, good or bad. But institutions matter as well as personalities. An improved bicameral political structure is needed so that the urban drum is not always the loudest.

A bit of an eye-roller of an idea to begin with, as it would require the province to

... give constitutional recognition to the boundaries and legitimate jurisdictions of municipalities, counties and districts, just as the federal government does to the provinces.

And this will not happen.

More importantly, however, outside of a few rabble rousers at the OLA, I don't sense any vast discontent out in Ontario's rural communities, even those that typically vote Conservative.

Another interesting question for Mr. Tory when he's out on the campaign trail. Does he support a bicameral provincial government?


Skinny Dipper said...

Hillier is sneaky.

I thought Hillier like others opposed MMP because there would be more politicians added to the legislature. Now he wants 50 extra politicians to sit in an Ontario senate.

Jennifer Smith said...

I can't figure out how these people manage to draw a solid line between 'urban' and 'rural'. How big does a town have to be to be considered 'urban' in the ideological, 'us-against-them' sense they seem to be promoting? Is Milton urban? Is Sudbury? How about Barrie? North Bay?

Maybe Huntsville can be rural during the off season and urban when it's invaded by cottagers and tourists from the south.

Rural said...

As one of those on the “rural” side of the line I must agree that this guy is full of that stuff we pile up outside the barn! The line between rural and urban is indeed difficult to draw as I have outlined here
However even those of us who recognize the need for more proportional representation must realize that minorities of all sorts cannot be left by the wayside by such changes. Make no mistake our “rural” population is a minority and one largely ignored and forgotten by government who for the most part are focused upon larger centers of population. It’s a difficult and complicated issue and “separating” is not the answer for us any more than it is the answer for any other area or minority in Canada.
A good read regarding some of the issues can be found in the senate report linked to in this article I wrote some time ago.