Christmastime in the city

New York – Fifth Avenue is the heart of this great city, and it sparkles at Christmastime. There is the Christmas creche in Central Park; FAO Schwarz, the world’s toy headquarters; Tiffany’s, home of the extravagant little blue gift box; Saks department store with its lavishly decorated windows; and the great Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. At Christmas, it is the world’s most wonderful street. Continue reading

What is ‘responsible government’ anyway?

During the prorogation debate a few weeks back, one journalist said to me that, in essence, the Constitution is whatever the Governor-General will permit.

That’s true to a point in the Westminster system of constitutional conventions — the conventions only apply if the Sovereign and her first minister agree to abide by them.  That’s why responsible government — the signal achievement of British parliamentary democracy — requires leaders to act responsibly. Continue reading

The consensus of 1948

THE UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK – What was done 60 years ago could not be done today, and it was remarkable that it was accomplished even then. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was passed by the United Nations on Dec. 10, 1948. It was one of the UN’s first major achievements and it remains one of its most noble. Continue reading

Dion should have said no


If a week is a long time in politics, how about two years?  Considering the current gobsmacking circumstances in Ottawa, it would be unfair to drag out what a commentator said in 2006, and hold it against him.  I wouldn’t do that to my colleagues, but, in a spirit of penance, I will do it to myself.  Here is what I wrote in these pages almost exactly two years ago, days after Stephane Dion’s victory in the Liberal leadership race: Continue reading