Saturday, January 03, 2009

Historical parallels

Far too many retrospectives on 2008 have tried to paint the Cons' Afghanistan manipulations as a shining example of political cooperation to be emulated at budget time, rather than one of the most glaring cases of Harper arm-twisting and deception. So let's take some time to review exactly how it was that the Libs were pushed into giving Harper the extension he wanted - and how the result has turned out poorly for both the Libs and for Canadians in general.

Remember that in 2007, the opposition parties' position on Afghanistan was broadly in agreement to the effect that the combat mission shouldn't be extended past 2009. At the time, there was no actual vote in Parliament against an extension, as the parties couldn't agree on wording to take into account whether Canada's combat role should continue even until the existing end date. But the default position was that all three opposition parties would carry out the will of the general public by voting against any further extension.

That is, until Harper commissioned a clearly biased panel - featuring a single high-profile Lib to try to present the conclusions as "bipartisan" - to deliver an "expert" report on the mission. While it was obvious from the beginning that the report was aimed at doing little more than avoiding the actual will of Parliament, the Libs chose to keep their powder dry as to the legitimacy of the panel and to avoid making any strong noises against any extension.

Which meant that once the panel reported back with the inevitable conclusion in favour of an extension, the Libs claimed to have little choice but to go along with its conclusions.

Of course, the Libs claimed relative victory in the form of a 2011 end date and a few non-binding conditions which the Cons began ignoring within days. But one of the most potent issues against the Harper government was effectively taken off the table for the immediate future.

So where has that managed to get the Libs? Today, public opinion is still strongly against the elite-driven deal which the Libs got themselves roped into.

But while the public doesn't even want Canada to maintain its current Afghanistan mission for the length of time the Libs agreed to, the Cons are laying the groundwork to back out of the agreed mission end date of 2011. And as long as they're still in power to make the call, there's little reason to think they won't once again ignore what Canadians want.

In sum, the result of the supposed "compromise" is that the Cons got everything they wanted: not only were they able to maneuver the Libs into granting the extension, but they also managed to parlay their manipulations into an undeserved reputation for working across the aisle. And the Libs and their supporters are likely to wind up with absolutely nothing.

Having reviewed just what happened on the Afghanistan extension, let's turn to the obvious parallels to the current economic crisis. Once again, the Harper government is desperate to get somebody else to share the blame for its policies - and this time also fearful for its political survival.

As a result, the Cons have once again convened a panel hastily assembled to provide cover for the Cons' plans, and made noises about cooperation while refusing to even hint at relinquishing any control over the end result. And it's surely no surprise that once again, there's plenty of elite pressure on the Libs to give the Cons what they want and call it a compromise.

But fortunately, the budget vote will also present an obvious opportunity for the Libs to ensure that the Cons can't back out of the 2011 Afghanistan deadline, or otherwise continue to work contrary to Canadians' interests. And since all that will require is their follow-through on an actual cooperative agreement with other parties who don't carry the Cons' stench of bad-faith dealing, the choice should be clear as to what kind of cooperation is really best for both the Libs and the country at large.

Deep thought

If random tax cuts actually had any meaningful effect on consumer confidence, we wouldn't need a federal stimulus package in the first place.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A call to inaction

Red Tory is right to dismiss Lawrence Martin's musings about Stephen Harper leaving Canadian politics voluntarily within the next year. But the problem with Martin's theory goes far beyond mere wishful thinking.

Indeed, Harper could hardly ask for a greater gift than speculation like Martin's. After all, what better way to soften what should be a stark clash in values when Parliament reconvenes than by suggesting that if the opposition parties just leave Harper alone, he might get bored and wander off on his own?

The reality, of course, is that none of Harper's actions in power are those of somebody who's willing to exit gracefully. And one need not go back as far as RT does to find reason to doubt Martin's theory.

Surely nobody paying attention to Canadian politics has forgotten that Harper's main goal in the fiscal update was to cripple the opposition parties for the next election cycle, or that in the midst of the Harper-engineered prorogation crisis he and his party vowed to do whatever possible to cling to power.

Which should point to the more plausible conclusion that Harper will only leave 24 Sussex kicking and screaming. And given the damage he and his government continue to do while in power, there's no reason for the opposition parties to put off that result.

On destructive choices

Jan and Scott have already highlighted Monte Solberg's column bashing Employment Insurance as a "government mandated pyramid scheme".

But the discussion so far seems to have missed the most important point, as Solberg is no ordinary Con MP or cabinet minister. Instead, Solberg was precisely the Con chosen by Stephen Harper to be responsible for Employment Insurance in his role as the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. In that role, he both oversaw the process of putting a new board in charge of the EI's funding, and administered dozens of EI projects - all within what he apparently considered to be nothing more than a "pyramid scheme". Which seems to me to make for a strong statement on both Solberg's dedication to principle, and Harper's interest in having EI and other social measures run effectively.

And in case anybody wanted to theorize that Solberg's column might just be a one-off lapse in judgment, here's what else he had to say on the topic of EI recently:
I’ll go even further than that. Make me emperor for a day and Employment Insurance in it’s (sic) present soul destroying and hideous form would be violently and ironically tossed from the Peace Tower and smashed to bits on the steps below. I would then gather up the pieces, set them on fire in a way that would cause a large carbon footprint, and then toss the remains into into an improperly lined landfill site.
Which may well make for the most apt description yet of how the Cons have treated federal infrastructure in general since they took power. But the fact that Harper happily put EI and other programs in the hands of a minister with such a destructive outlook surely serves as an indication that it's long past time for a federal government which isn't so focused on the prospect of trashing Ottawa.

(Edit: fixed link.)

Out of proportion

It's always worth pointing out that it takes only a matter of hours into the new year for Canada's CEOs to make more money than the average worker makes in a year. But perhaps the most interesting part of this year's article is the sidebar as to just how much executive compensation increased in 2007:
• Average annual CEO earnings: $10,408,054
Increase over previous year: 22 per cent
Of course, the economic conditions of the time were far better than those today. But it's still striking how the percentage increase in executive pay dwarfed the rates of change in other seemingly related factors.

In 2007, GDP grew by 2.7%, wages by 4.9%, and corporate profits by 5.8%. And considering that the latter two numbers reflect both the work done by all other employees toward the same ends and the resulting corporate outcomes, it's particularly doubtful that executive pay could justifiably outpace both of these measures by as much as it did.

For the moment, it's an open question whether executive compensation will be reduced as much during the current recession as it was inflated during the earlier boom. But while the massive compensation increases would seem to offer an obvious place to start cutting back, the continued rise in income disparity leaves little reason for confidence.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Selective benefits

It shouldn't come as much surprise that at least some are looking to use the economic crisis as an excuse to funnel any effective benefits upward rather than to recognize the effect that a downturn can have on everybody. And the Sask Party has not surprisingly made its choice - with a stark, if thus far little-noticed, example to be found in its proposal (warning: PDF) to deal with pension funding obligations.

The starting point is the assumption that in defined-benefit pension plans, a market downturn which reduces the value of the assets held by a plan may lead to a significant increase in funding obligations just at a time when an employer is least able to assemble the cash required to provide the funding. Which reasonably enough gives rise to the two suggested courses of action to benefit employers - one to temporarily suspend the usual funding rules, the other to give employers more time to meet solvency requirements under the usual rules.

Assuming that an employer can reasonably be given some leeway in a downturn to temporarily trade off some measure of plan solvency for the immediate benefit of reduced funding obligations, then so far, so good. But then one arrives at the first condition which the province wants to impose as a requirement for any employer taking advantage of a relaxed funding requirement:
Although the relief may be subject to several requirements, there are three conditions that the SFSC would consider important:
1. The benefits provided by the plan cannot be improved on or after the date the notice of election has been filed with the Superintendent and during the course of the relief period, except where the benefit improvements have been previously established by contract or agreement. This condition is aimed at minimizing the risk of a plan worsening its solvency position during the course of the relief.
In other words, having reached the policy conclusion that the downturn may require relaxing the normal solvency rules for an employer's financial benefit, the province is simultaneously looking to prohibit any discussion of whether the same principle might apply when it comes to members - no matter how negatively any workers or retirees might be affected by the economic crisis.

What's more, the balance of the proposal suggests that it's up for discussion as to whether the rule could be triggered by an employer request alone with no input from the plan members affected - and indeed this isn't suggested as one of the province's preferred conditions. Which would provide an obvious loophole for employers to reduce their longer-term funding obligations by artifically limiting pension benefits even if they're perfectly capable of funding a plan under the current rules.

Now, the proposal is up for comment until January 31, and hopefully the end result will contain at least some recognition of the interests of pension plan members. But it still speaks volumes that the Sask Party's first inclination is to make zero benefit to workers a condition of its proposed help for employers.

From order, chaos

Plenty of others have commented on Rona Ambrose's order requiring the union representing Ottawa transit workers to vote on an offer to capitulate. But while one expects the Cons to decide on the result most damaging to workers regardless of the merits, it's worth noting that the Ambrose's order looks to have been a complete and avoidable failure even on her own assumptions as to how the dispute should play out:
Federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose took an unprecedented step Wednesday and intervened in the city’s labour dispute with its striking transit union when she ordered a membership vote on the city’s last contract offer no later than Jan. 9.

Ms. Ambrose made the order Wednesday at about 3:30 p.m. after the city requested that she do so...

In a statement, Ms. Ambrose said “the fastest way to resolve this matter is for the parties to get back to the table and reach an agreement,” but Mayor Larry O’Brien quashed that idea shortly after the minister made the order.

“I think now that the vote is on the table, there will be no bargaining,”
he said...

Union officials said they didn’t take the city last two offers to a vote because the offers contained the same scheduling and route assignment demands by the city that were rejected by 98 per cent of their membership in vote a week before the strike began on Dec. 10.
From the turn of events described, it would seem that Ambrose didn't bother going back to the city and even discussing whether it would be willing to talk to the union after she acceded to its request, or considering whether to set any conditions on a vote which might encourage talks in the meantime.

Instead, Ambrose apparently gave O'Brien the order he asked for without looking into how it would affect potential talks between the parties. Which led to O'Brien being able to summarily dismiss her public suggestion - and ensured that the city will have no motivation to work toward her supposedly preferred outcome (at least until after a vote takes place and rejects the offer).

Of course, it's difficult to tell whether Ambrose merely took a misleadingly soft public line while delivering the most employer-friendly result possible, or whether she was genuinely clueless about the likelihood that an order made without some conditions or assurances from the city would serve as an obstacle to further negotiations. But it surely can't be a good sign when the only explanations for a ministerial action are dishonesty or incompetence - which makes it a serious problem that the Cons are still leaving little room for any other conclusion.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tomorrow's headlines today

Jan 1, 2009:
Michael Ignatieff stops in at Canadian junior hockey team practice; Harper orders tournament cancelled

On good governance

Robert Silver makes an excellent point about the distinction between "spending lots of money" and "progressive governance" which has sometimes been forgotten in discussions about stimulus spending. Fortunately, the problem is far from universal, and indeed some influential progressives south of the border have highlighted the need for Barack Obama's administration to emphasize good government principles as an essential element of its stimulus strategy.

But the distinction is even more important in Canada, where there's every reason to doubt that Harper's regime has the slightest interest in a similar focus on good government.

For now, it seems safe to figure that the Cons' budget will include an eleven-figure stimulus package. But it seems equally likely that the Cons' actual governing philosophy will stay effectively the same, rather than becoming any less focused on pork-barrelling or any more interested in good use of public money. And it surely can't be taken as a win if the opposition parties manage only to force Harper to funnel billions of dollars toward his own political interests without doing anything to help the broader economy.

As a result, a large part of the opposition message for the next month needs to emphasize that a shiny headline number isn't going to be seen as either a progressive policy, or a solution to anything.

Instead, in order to have any hope of winning back the confidence of the House, the Cons need to make a convincing case that any promised stimulus money will be put to the best uses possible, with a detailed description of how the money will be spent along with a discussion of alternatives. And equally importantly, they need to offer legislative safeguards which can't be undone by executive decree to make sure Canadians can test what returns they've seen on the stimulus - whether or not the result is flattering to Harper personally.

Now, it's possible that the Cons would indeed meet those terms - which would seem to me the absolute bare minimum to justify leaving them in power for a second longer than can be avoided. But if (as expected) the Cons try to pretend that a single large number on paper should force the opposition parties to claim progressive victory and leave, then the response has to be that Canadians have a right to better government than the Cons intend to provide.

(Edit: fixed typos & wording.)

The reviews are in

Janet Bagnall:
Looking back from New Year's Eve, precious little of the Conservative high ground remains. In fact, there seems scant reason to assume that Harper means anything he says...

McGill professor Desmond Morton told the Toronto Star that the appointments - under the parliamentary circumstances - were a scandal. "He has the power to do it, but he shouldn't have the gall," said Morton.

True, but if 2008 has taught us anything about Stephen Harper it's that he has mastered the art of barrelling past his own contradictions, sanctimony to the fore.

This may get interesting

Well, that's one burning question answered, as Pamela Wallin is apparently claiming that appearing in Saskatchewan "monthly" is enough to qualify her as a resident entitled to be appointed to the Senate. But not surprisingly, that position seems to be coming under some serious fire. So let's take a look at the actual residency requirement, as well as how it figures to play out in Wallin's case.

The Constitution Act, 1867 includes the residency requirement for senators:
23. The Qualifications of a Senator shall be as follows:
(5) He shall be resident in the Province for which he is appointed:
As the article notes, there are numerous possible definitions of "resident". But whether one looks at spending the majority of one's time in a jurisdiction, spending the last 6 months there, or an "established habitation", it's awfully tough to see how Wallin can meet them regardless of how the Cons try to paper over a flawed appointment for the next month.

Which leads to the question: just who gets to decide whether or not the Con's senate appointments actually meet the constitutionally-required qualifications? There are two answers - and either figures to lead to some significant potential for dispute.

First, the initial appointment power is predicated on each senator being "qualified":
The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen's Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate; and, subject to the Provisions of this Act, every Person so summoned shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator.
Presumably, Michaelle Jean will have at least some ability to question whether any particular appointment is "qualified". And if she decides otherwise, the Constitution doesn't apparently provide for any way for Harper to override her judgment.

Mind you, I'd once again tend toward the view that Jean is best off not confronting Harper over matters short of his entitlement to hold office in the absence of the confidence of the House of Commons. But that doesn't mean that Harper's appointees will be off the hook, as the Senate may decide for itself whether or not any of its members are qualified:
33 If any Question arises respecting the Qualification of a Senator or a Vacancy in the Senate the same shall be heard and determined by the Senate.
So presumably it'll be open to the Senate as a whole to look into just what residency requirements apply to Wallin (along with Duffy and perhaps more to come). And to the extent the issue gets dealt with in the near future, there simply won't have been time for either Wallin or Duffy to meet the residency requirement: indeed, the section quoted above is clear in requiring that a senator "be resident" and not merely be in the process of acquiring residence in the province represented.

Of course, it's far from certain how much appetite the existing Senate will have for such a confrontation. But then, there could surely be little better way for the Senate to project insularity, ineffectiveness and disregard for its governing rules than to refuse to deal with possibly-unconstitutional appointments - whether out of fear that the same standards might be applied to the current members in the future, or out of a desire to appease the person driving the unconstitutional appointments in the first place.

All of which suggests that the controversy generated by Harper's trip to the trough is far from over. And it remains to be seen just who will take the worst damage resulting from the fight that Harper has set in motion.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Michael's post on how to adapt the 50-state strategy for the Ontario NDP is definitely worth a read.

But let's highlight as well what may be the most important lesson to be taken from the Dean/Obama experience. The time and money put into reaching every corner of the province (or indeed the country at the federal level) shouldn't be seen purely as a cost: instead, investment in uncharted territory tends to pay off in terms of reaching potential supporters and donors who can ultimately expand the pool of resources available to help in the obvious priority ridings as well.

The reviews are in

You know a right-wing politician is in trouble when he's managed to lose the support of CanWest editorial boards. So let's see what the Leader-Post has to say about Stephen Harper these days:
Harper has fast become the kind of governing politician he once professed to abhor -- one who routinely breaks his word.

Naming 18 Tory senators Monday -- the most ever in a single day -- is just the latest example of a promise made, a promise broken.

Wedge issues

When Rod Bruinooge went public with his anti-choice crusade this week, my first suspicion was that the Cons were merely trying to change the channel from their Senate appointments while trying to set up a false image of moderation for Harper by temporarily highlighting their own more extreme elements. But it's now looking very much like the move was indeed a trap - at least if the Cons planned for this type of storyline in hopes of moving their caucus closer to majority territory:
Fate unclear for Liberals backing anti-abortion cause

OTTAWA -- Federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is unwilling to say whether negative repercussions will befall members of his caucus who oppose legalized abortion...

Most of the Liberal MPs who survived the October election have previously voted against increased restrictions on the controversial procedure. But there is a small faction within the Liberal Party that has been openly supportive of laws that would curtail or ban abortions. Calls to several of those MPs were not returned yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ignatieff refused to say whether the new Liberal Leader will allow any of his members to continue to advocate openly for reduced access to publicly funded abortions.

"I don't think we are in a position to answer those questions today. I think they are speculative at this point," said Jill Fairbrother, adding that it is impossible to know if the committee mentioned by Mr. Bruinooge even exists and, if so, whether there are members from parties other than the Conservatives.
Now, it's understandable that Ignatieff doesn't want to jump the gun and send out any strong comments about abortion policy in general which he'll regret later.

But there's also some serious risk in trying to duck the issue as to how he'll deal with anti-abortion members of his caucus. It would seem likely that there are still at least a few paleo-Libs who might perceive a danger that their social views would limit their potential advancement within the party, making them far too likely to be open to Con entreaties to cross the floor. And an effort to bring all anti-abortion MPs under the Cons' tent based on that fear could well be enough to push Harper into a majority in the current Parliament.

Fortunately, Ignatieff doesn't have to look far for a template as to how to handle the situation:
Irene Mathyssen, an NDP MP from London, Ont., said she had not heard about the all-party committee and would be surprised if any of her fellow New Democrats were members.

"We are respectful of people within our caucus," she said, "but ultimately, when someone wishes to run for the NDP, they say they will support the grassroots. And our party policy, our grassroots, is [supportive of] a woman's right to choose."...

But no NDP MP would be expelled from caucus for holding anti-abortion views, Ms. Mathyssen said. "We have a policy where we talk things through," she said.
Naturally, the Libs may want to tweak exactly what their own grassroots position is. And starting with "no MP would be expelled" might not be enough if it's perceived that other punishments would be equally unacceptable within the Libs.

But whatever the Libs' precise message proves to be, the need to keep the Cons from splintering their caucus in advance of the impending confidence votes should be obvious. And hopefully Ignatieff will respond quickly to make sure that the Cons' attempts to divide and conquer prove to be nothing more than a waste of time.

Update: Kady has more, featuring this gem from the NDP's Karl Belanger:
(I)t is easy for Mr. Bruinooge to claim he has a secret club. I could also claim, for instance, that there is a secret club of Conservative MPs ready to support the coalition government.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A friendly reminder

It's understandable to a point that numerous Libs are eager to praise their new leader to the skies and credit him with singlehandedly knocking Deceivin' Stephen down a peg. But in deciding what comes next, let's not lose track of just who and what managed to throw Harper off his game and into panic mode.

Importantly, it wasn't any single leader, Lib, NDP or otherwise. Instead, it's the spectre of a coalition government taking office which forced the Cons onto the ropes - and the fact that Stephane Dion figured to be at the helm of the resulting government didn't affect the Cons' desperation one bit. Which is why it's a huge plus that Ignatieff is still making clear that the coalition is prepared to go forward if the Cons can't both deliver a budget that actually responds to the current economic crisis and rebuild three years worth of burnt bridges in Parliament over the next month.

But if the Libs do pass the Cons' budget, the all-too-likely result would be to take the possibility of a coalition off the table. And that's not just because a vote to prop up the Cons would create nothing but distrust among the other opposition parties: even if the opposition parties could again figure out a suitable arrangement on a future confidence vote, there's a serious danger that the Cons could far more credibly demand another election if they lose a confidence vote only after passing a major policy measure in the current Parliament and holding government for another couple of months.

Which means that if the Libs don't take their current opportunity to vote Harper down, then it's only a matter of time before Harper goes back to exactly the practices which the opposition parties otherwise seem so eager to put behind us: committees and the House of Commons alike shut down whenever they don't suit the Cons' purposes, constant confidence-vote brinksmanship, poison pills inserted into every vote to test the Libs' willingness to fight another election - and a multi-million dollar effort to brand the Libs' new leader with every show of weakness.

Of course, there's no doubt that the Libs will face plenty of pressure to go along with the Cons' budget regardless of what's included. But if the Libs have learned anything at all from the Cons' stay in power, it should be that they need to consider the consequences of their actions past the current media cycle. And if the Libs do decide to leave Harper in power based on the bare hope that Ignatieff's "attitude" is enough to overcome Harper, the Cons' message machine, and the weight of a federal government being used for nothing but partisan purposes, then both they and the country figure to suffer for the miscalculation.

Update: Jeff has more on how the current message from Ignatieff and Layton is exactly what's needed to place the coalition on the best possible footing next month.

(Edit: fixed wording.)

On priorities

There's no time like an economic crisis to highlight just what a government really stands for. And today, we have our answer as to what kind of industry the Cons want to encourage: the delayed delivery of goods from the U.S. military-industrial complex:
The Conservative government has decided that U.S. aerospace giant Sikorsky won't have to pay $36 million in late penalties even though the maritime helicopter it is building for the Canadian Forces is being delivered two years late...

Both Liberal and Conservative politicians, as well as Sikorsky officials, have in the past highlighted the penalties as evidence that there were severe consequences if the firm didn't deliver on time. The clause allowed the federal government to charge the company $100,000 a day for every day it was late. The maximum penalty was $36 million.
But for those worried that the Cons did nothing but to give away a late fee would have been owed to the federal government, have no fear. Instead, they can also be counted on to give away more money for supposed "improvements" that nobody's interested in discussing:
Under the new deal, Canadian taxpayers will now pay Sikorsky $117 million extra for improvements to be made to the Cyclone as well as changes to the long-term in-service support package for the aircraft.

However, the government is not discussing the exact nature of those improvements. The Defence Department and MacKay's office declined to comment, referring inquiries to Public Works and Government Services Canada.
So in total, Canadians will get to pay over $150 million above the original contract price - and all for the privilege of having the promised helicopters delivered two years later than agreed.

Of course, that result is entirely consistent with how the Cons apparently think public money should be used. But for those of us who think taxpayer money has better uses than to pay military contractors for breaking their commitments, today's news should serve as a serious warning signal about the dangers of having the Cons in power at the best of times...let alone when the federal government's direction will determine how quickly (if at all) our economy is able to recover from a downturn.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On meaningful options

Thanks to the better part of a month dominated by talk of Harper's trip to the Senate trough, public cynicism about the upper chamber figures to be as high as ever - with Cons riled up over the possibility of coalition appointments, and everybody else rightly pointing out the hypocrisy of Deceivin' Stephen making a record number of patronage appointments after promising to make none at all.

Which means that now may be just the time to decide whether voters would prefer to see the Senate abolished rather than preserved or turned into a source of additional gridlock. And without much fanfare so far, Lorne Calvert is offering up a means of doing just that (warning: PDF):
NDP Leader Lorne Calvert has announced he will be bringing forth an amendment to the Sask Party government's legislation regarding Senate elections.

Calvert believes an additional option should be provided to Saskatchewan voters on the issue: the abolition of the Senate altogether.

"The intention of the legislation seems to be to let Saskatchewan people have their say in the makeup of the Senate in the most democratic fashion possible", Calvert said. "The NDP believes that many people in Saskatchewan would rather see the Senate done away with altogether. Providing this option on a ballot is simply the most democratic thing to do."
Of course, the Sask Party will be able to shoot down the suggestion if it wants to limit the options available to voters in an effort to legitimize the Senate. But when even Wall's federal cousins/bosses are once again musing about abolition as one of their options in dealing with the Senate, it would take an awfully tone-deaf government to deny that possibility to Saskatchewan's voters.

So what effect would an abolition option have if included on the ballot? From my perspective, it would dovetail nicely with the current state of discussion about the Senate. There's been at least some talk to the effect that non-appointment might be the best way to get from the status quo to meaningful Senate reform of any kind. And one could hardly ask for stronger evidence that the public favours that path than an election result where "don't bother" wins out over the list of candidates.

All of which suggests that the amendment may set out an important first step toward the type of change long favoured by New Democrats. And if even the worst-case scenario is to force the Sask Party to publicly and deliberately limit the choices of the province's voters, then there's every reason to look forward to the results of Calvert's proposal.