How democratic are the Conservatives?

Tease the day: Government whip Gordon O’Connor claims his party is more democratic than the opposition.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

The irony dripped from The Globe and Mail‘s fourth page this morning. At the heart of it all was talk of democracy. The lead quote on a story about each federal party’s voting records—Conservatives break party ranks more often than the opposition, according to the Globe‘s analysis—wreaked of smugness and arrogance in equal measure. Gordon O’Connor, the government’s whip, spoke the following words in defence of his party’s record: “I guess in principle, we’re more democratic than the other parties, basically.” On the narrow basis of the Globe‘s analysis, O’Connor’s claim has merit. The Conservative policy on free votes has led to some measure of dissent from the party line, mostly with respect to private members’ business—when government MPs sided with their party just 76 per cent of the time, compared to, for example, the complete lack of dissent among NDP MPs. Whether or not that statistic makes a caucus more or less democratic than another is an argument to be had, for sure. But then there’s this memory, which deflates O’Connor’s argument.

On March 25, 2011, the House of Commons found the government in contempt. Remember that? The government was Conservative, its ranks in the House of Commons closely resembled its ranks to this day, and its take-no-prisoners approach to House business remains unmoved. The government was re-elected despite the finding of contempt, and that was surely, according to our voting system, a clean and democratic win. But to claim the party, generally speaking, is “more democratic” than anyone else is, “basically,” laughable.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with new Conservative legislation to punish criminals who harm children. The National Post fronts highly ranked Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic’s victory that led Canada to the quarter finals of the Davis Cup tournament. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Health Canada’s newest strategy to urge Canadians to report side effects of prescription drugs. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Senator Mike Duffy’s alleged request to expedite a Prince Edward Island health card for himself. iPolitics fronts a profile of Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Bergen. leads with a Canadian woman, accused of helping members of the Gadhafi family leave Libya during the country’s 2011 civil war, who says SNC-Lavalin still owes her money for the work. National Newswatch showcases .

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Organized crime. Montreal’s police chief is urging the federal government to renew funding for a 46-member “Eclipse squad” that fights organized crime in the city. 2. Quality of life. The Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada seventh, with a “B” mark, on a Livability Index that measured the quality of life in advanced nations.
3. Voter ID. Three men in B.C. are appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold federal voter ID laws, originally enacted in 2007, based on claims the laws impede the right to vote. 4. Foreign workers. Two unions who took a mining company to court to block the hiring of Chinese workers at a B.C. mine claim hundreds of Canadians qualified for the same jobs.

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