Today in Ottawa

What a mess we have in Ottawa with both sides of the House of Commons behaving unconscionably.  The Grits and the NDP are welcome to attempt a coalition but to accept and allow themselves to depend upon the support of the Bloc Quebecois, whose sole reason for existence remains to break our country apart, stands as pernicious opportunism.  This dangerously unstable coalition deserves electoral punishment come an election.  The Tory government's decision to prorogue the House in order to avoid a vote of confidence sets an equally dangerous precedent, an abuse of Parliament that must not go unpunished for our parliamentary system to persist.  I feel at a loss!


I Really Should Let the Birds Have Their Part

House Finches on our deck bird feeder last winter; these guys are constant companions all year round.  I love the male's long and melodious song from high in the trees around us.
American Kestrel in one of our birch trees last winter; a pair showed up late last summer, stayed all winter and into the spring, then left early this summer.

This female Black Headed Gross Beak gave us a surprise visit last spring.  I had to photograph through a window to avoid disturbing her.

Chickadee with Pine Siskins at our feeder last spring; Chickadees are also constant year-round cheerful companions while Siskins arrive very intermittently and unpredictably.  When they are here, Siskins assertively boss the bigger House Finches but seem to get along quite peacefully with the Goldfinches.

Sometimes the House Finches just mob the feeder as last spring when they all seemed to have had very successful nesting and lots of kids.
Goldfinches visit all year round as well, though in smaller numbers and less frequently.  This pair joined the two adult and juvenile House Finches last spring.  I had not really noticed before but male Goldfinches are very variable in changing into their summer finery.  The first males in summer duds showed up in April last spring, yet others only just started changing in June.  I noticed some males in winter drabs in August, while others have only just now finished changing.


Brief Reflections On the Recent Canadian Election

I am satisfied with the result of the federal election last Tuesday.  Why should I find such a lack-luster result satisfying?  We have a minority parliament, anathema to many politicians as dysfunctional and obstructive to government agendas.  In reality a minority parliament necessarily shifts the onus of governmental authority to the one place it rightly belongs in a parliamentary democracy, away from the cabinet and right back into parliament.  I grew into political awareness with the Diefenbaker/Pearson minorities and remember the hard fought battles on the floor of the House of Commons.  In spite of acrimonious, even bitter, debate, parliamentary compromises and accommodations produced legislation that both defines us as distinctly Canadian and reflects Canada back on us as we are pleased to perceive ourselves with far more accuracy than any majority government's legislation afterwards has produced.  Recent decades of mostly majority governments have seen gradual but steady devolution of power out of parliament through the cabinet and into the Prime Minister's Office.  This serves as a steady evolution towards episodic dictatorship which a series of minority parliaments can correct.  At the heart of parliamentary democracy lies the concept of responsibility: the government is responsible to parliament and parliament, in turn, is responsible to the electorate.  Yet too often lately we have seen majority governments use their members to represent their intent to the people, reversing the proper representation flow.  Surely, a second minority government will have to listen more closely to parliament and work more effectively with the opposition to produce legislative results more truly of parliament's will than just of the cabinet's intent. The current election result can only serve to strengthen parliament as our authority over the cabinet and the PMO.