TORONTO — 'Que sera, sera.'
Can a popular referendum force Stockwell Day to change his first name to Doris?
As Mr. Day, head of the conservative Canadian Alliance, began pushing for more use of referendums in Canada, a hugely popular TV show has given him a dose of his own medicine.
Last week, the political satire program, "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," which almost counts as a fifth branch of government here, posted an electronic petition on its Web site: "We demand that the government of Canada force Stockwell Day to change his name to Doris," after the singer-actress.
The site (www.22minutes.com) was swamped with over 1 million visitors. That's more than twice the 400,000 - or 3 percent of voters' signatures - the Alliance has been saying should be enough to force a national referendum in Canada.
More recently Day has called for an unspecified higher number to trigger a referendum. Over the weekend, he muddied the policy waters further by saying referendums would not necessarily be binding on an Alliance government.
Referendums have some "power to the people" appeal here in this land of top-down political power. But for others, the prospect of putting difficult social-policy issues such as abortion rights or immigration up to a popular vote is cause for concy. In modern Canada, the word "referendum" is tied up with "Quebec."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society