Media commentator, businessman and policy analyst Brian Flemming is one of the country’s leading voices on the future of government regulation in the age of the new economy, the Internet, globalization and consumer empowerment. Below you will find a continuing series of articles that touch on all aspects of regulation, how it affects our lives, the forms that it is likely to take in the future, and the forces shaping regulatory reform in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere
The financial conflicts of interest that politicians occasionally find themselves in, and that so entertain the press, are minor compared to the conflicts their departments enter into by routinely both regulating and financing, insuring and promoting industry. From the Westray mine disaster, through aquaculture, to genetically-modified foods, this conflict in roles only leads to trouble. If governments want to regulate, they should only regulate. If they want to do more, they should hand over the regulatory job to some other agency.
“These and other issues, must be thrashed out in an open and transparent way within the current regulatory framework if Canada is to avoid the demagogic fear-mongering Europe has been wallowing in for years. The objective must be to give intelligent consumers enough balanced information to allow them, not the government, to make basic choices.
“One anonymous scientist said, ‘Health should never be put in the hands of a department that is supposed to be looking after the producers' interests. Britain recognized that only after mad-cow disease.’ “Unfortunately recent regulatory reform efforts have concentrated more on the ‘paper burden’ or regulatory costs than the more fundamental flaw of governmental conflicts of interest.”
“The greatest coming challenge for political institutions -in Canada and elsewhere - will be to transform the very nature of democracy itself. Indeed, creating a new means for citizens to be involved in decision-making may be the only way to stem voter cynicism and the meaningless changing of political guards. “Edmund Burke reincarnated might then say: "I owe you not just my diligence, but decisions that are based both on my opinions and upon your properly - and scientifically - collected views. You are owed nothing less than a true, transparent and direct democracy ‘Cybergovernment of the people, by the people and for the people is here at last.’"
Media commentator, businessman and policy analyst Brian Flemming is one of the country’s leading voices on the future of government regulation in the age of the new economy, the Internet, globalization and consumer empowerment. In an series of commentary, Mr. Flemming agreed to share with AIMS his reflections on the future of regulation.