Tuesday, June 05, 2012

If you subscribed...


... to the Literary Review of Canada, you would have my review of William Cross and AndrĂ© Blais's Politics and the Centre: The Selection and Removal of Party Leaders in the Anglo Parliamentary Democracies in your mailbox any day now.

Cross and Blais provide an exhaustive quantitative comparison of Canadian leadership selection processes 1965-2007 with those prevailing in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.  
Every time Cross and Blais compare leadership details across their five countries, they are obliged to distinguish the Canadian way: “everywhere except Canada” (page 35), “Canadian parties were the clear outliers” (36), "the norm everywhere except in Canada" (77), "the Canadian...parties are the exception" (83), "with the exception of the Canadian parties" (85), “the exceptions here are the Canadian campaigns” (138), "the situation has been dramatically different in Canada" (141), and so on. Their data sets reveal the Thatcher-Gillard rules as having been the norm around the world: citizens elect MPs, and their MPs not only influence policies but hire and fire leaders to implement them. What Canadians call coups, parliamentary democracies around the world have long endorsed as a vital chain of political accountability.
The last lines, I should say, do not follow Cross and Blais's own interpretation of their own data. They doggedly follow the Canadian political consensus: that Canada's system of non-accountable leaders is the right one and all the rest of the parliamentary world needs to catch up to us.

The LRC has not YET included this essay (or Mark Starowicz's review of Douglas Hunter's new book on Cabot and Columbus) in the online edition, so to get the whole thing you either have to purchase access, or wait until I get it up on my own website.  Update: it's up there now.