Sunday, May 2, 2010

Milliken is the man

Ever since the news emerged that the Governor General is on her way out, people and pundits have been lining up to suggest successors. Some of these ideas amaze me -- such as William Shatner. I have nothing against the man at all, but what on Earth qualifies him for GG? Is he a student of democracy, or just a former starship captain?
He wouldn't be the first actor to take on some kind of public or political role, and I like him much better than Ronald Reagan -- plus, Shatner is bilingual, by all accounts -- but still...
Some other reasonable suggestions include Wayne Gretzky, hockey hero; Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; and former General John de Chastelain. I wonder if people are actually serious when they suggest Don Cherry.
I would recommend Speaker of the House Peter Milliken, except that he is doing a remarkable, thoughtful, even brilliant job in his present role.
Last week, Milliken defended democracy by proclaiming that Parliament is supreme over any sitting government. (Might I point out that this only makes sense. All of these MPs were elected by Canadians, not just the government MPs. Ergo, share the power.)
Standing in the House of Commons, Milliken gave a short history of Canadian democracy in a well-researched and beautifully-worded 45 minute address. Essentially, he insisted that Parliament find a way to compromise on the redacted documents that have been provided to a committee struck to investigate the Afghan detainee case. He gave the government two weeks to find a way for the opposition to view the documents without hurting national security, if indeed that is an issue.
I don't know how concerned most Canadians are about the government's apparent secrecy on this file, but turning over prisoners with the knowledge that torture is possible -- if that is the case -- is horrific. The government must tell Canadians the truth on this issue. If it's happening, Canadians must tell the government the practice has to stop.
The first step is contained in Milliken's direction to Parliament. It seems that the parties are in discussions and trying to make this happen; they better. There have been too many detours from democracy in the past couple of years.
At the risk of sounding flippant (I hope not; I admire him too much) I suppose I would prefer to clone Milliken, who would be a fantastic GG; but he is also one of the best speakers Canada has ever had, by all accounts.
On second thought, perhaps I should be pressing for Milliken for prime minister. The current leadership landscape is a little thin. At least Milliken has a grip on what has made this country functionally democratic...and is standing up for it.

1 comment:

  1. Somehow David Milliken's speech last week slipped right by me, and I am so glad you wrote about it! What an amazing man!