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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Stop the Lawyers Party in our Parliament

Its not often you will find me agreeing with a mad dog Conservative wing nut but, I think Garth Turner is onto something when he talks about electing a small slate of independents to the House of Commons.
I personally would take the idea of couple steps further and say, let's not only elect some independents, but lets make sure they are not lawyers, and lets elect more than just a few of them.
Think about it. Our current PM is a lawyer. The leader of the NDP is a lawyer. All four major candidates for the Liberal leadership are lawyers. More than half of our elected representatives, federally and provincially, are lawyers. Heck, even Garth Turner is a lawyer.
The idea of electing independents is a good one. The idea of electing independents who are not lawyers is an even better one.
Most of us folks out here are not lawyers. Heck, there's more nurses out here than lawyers, more plumbers, more carpenters, more janitors, more hair stylists, more cab drivers, more bus drivers, more engineers.
If our government is supposed to be a representation of a wide cross section of the general population, then why is so top heavy with lawyers?
Well, first there's tradition. Our first Prime Minister was a lawyer.
Second, there's subversion! Fact is, our parliament has been so full of lawyers for so long they've made it so anyone who is not a lawyer finds in nearly impossible to get into the house. There is one way to get into the house without being a lawyer, and this is if you have so much money you can afford to hire lawyers to help you get into the house.
Of course, there are ways to not be a lawyer and get elected to the house. Tommy Douglas did it. He was a preacher, but he had some very clever lawyer friends, and an idea the general population liked, healthcare. Chuck Cadman did it, he however had to experience a tragedy, the loss of a son, with which most people could empathize, even the lawyers. Sadly, these guys were the exception, not the rule.
Unfortunately, after so many years of lawyering, our parliament has become something of a post graduate frat house for lawyers, and even worse, so have the political parties.
Look at the top brass of all Canada's political parties. All of them are run by lawyers, even the Greens, and the NDP.
Our political parties today have more in common with university fraternities than they do with any sort of democracy orientated grassroots political movements. Folks, its not just the laws of this country that are written up so that you need a law degree to decipher them. The party platforms and mission statements are written the same way.
These lawyers have set up the parties in such a way that it really doesn't matter who the leader is or what that leader wants to do. If what the leader wants to do does not jive with the party establishment's view of what should be done, then the party can just get rid of the leader. Sadly, this leaves the voting public with little choice but to vote for a party rather than a person. It doesn't really matter who the person is, or what they stand for, what matters, thanks to the lawyers, is the party position. Unfortunately, that party position has been authored by a bunch of lawyers, who hang out with a bunch of other lawyers. In the end analysis, you wind up voting not for the person you think can best represent you, but for an ideal authored by a group of lawyers who may or may not even be aware that your constituency even exists.
Go downtown of Friday night. In one bar you'll find a bunch of people in working clothes drinking beer, in another you'll find a load of office workers with their ties loosened, in another you'll find the gays, in yet another you'll find half the law community. Walk into any one of those bars without the proper credentials, or clothing, and you'll find yourself feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Unfortunately, this is what our House of Commons has become. If you're not a lawyer, and you don't have a clear connection to any one party, then you stick out like a sore thumb, and chances are, unless you're prepared to give yourself a total make over, you're always going to be a square peg in a round hole.
Even more unfortunate, this has been going on for so long that most people just accept it as, "the way things are."
Well, it may be the way things are, but contrary to such popular notions, it is not the way it has to be. We can change it. And its not all that complicated, despite what the lawyers and their parties want us to believe. In one fell sweep we could take out both the lawyers and the parties!
Its quite simple really, just vote for the candidate in your riding who has neither party affiliation nor a law degree. It doesn't matter who he or she is, what they're politics are, or what they do for a living, as long as they are neither a lawyer nor a member of any party!

Garth Turner says we should elect 15 to 20 independents to the house, and asserts that such a group could potentially hold the balance of power. This is true. However, if we elect 15 to 20 independent lawyers, we may do some damage to the parties, but we will not break up the frat house stranglehold the lawyers have on our government. If we really want to change things in this country then we need to take it a step further and get rid of the lawyers as well.
No, I'm not suggesting we get rid of all the lawyers. They do after all make up about three percent of the national population, and should rightfully make up about the same percentage of our federal house, but it wouldn't hurt to get rid of the lot of them for an election cycle or two.
Think about it kids. Imagine if our government made up laws that average Canadians could understand. Imagine if our members of parliament were looking out for the hair dressers and plumbers as well as the lawyers! Imagine if our foreign policy was designed by people who have lived in places where our foreign policy makes a difference!
What if our tax laws were designed by the people most affected, rather than by well-to-do members of the upper income tax brackets, to wit - lawyers!
What about the idea of a military spouse having some say in the nation's military, or a labourer having say in labour law, or an artist in cultural policy?
What if our laws were to be written by the grandma up the street who has always shown a great deal of common sense in her approach to community relations?
What would our public transit system look like if it were designed by someone who actually rides a bus?

What would happen if we not only broke up the party's stranglehold on our electoral system, but got rid of the lawyers as well?
Methinks we might get a taste of what real democracy is all about!
Keep that in mind next time you go to the polls.


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