Tag Archives: Canadian constitution

Monarchy: A Body That Should Be Put to Rest

You might gather from that title that I’m anti-monarchist, and you’d be right. Today, Canada swore in its new Governor-General. What is the governor-general? It is the person who stands in for the queen of England for Canada. The person with that title wields a vast amount of power. He/she is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and also convenes parliament, or in the case of proroguing parliament (something that Prime Minister Harper is fond of using to evade the tough questions) must agree to it. In practice, it is a symbolic figurehead position where the governor-general dances to the tune of the prime minister.

There are many Canadians who love the monarchy and many who don’t or don’t even know the queen of England is still sovereign over our nation. I think England is called a constitutional monarchy, and Canada is a sovereign nation, independent…yet…kinda not. I’ve been told that having this figurehead protects our democracy, that it limits the power of the prime minister, which is not as all sweeping as a president’s but I don’t know. I get rankled that someone from some other country, who is called the “Queen of England and the commonwealth, defender of the faith,” etc. is really the true ruler of our country.

Should she, or  her commander on Canadian soil, ever exercise true power over Canada we would see people suddenly not that for the monarchy. There would be wholesale rebellion if England told us what to do. So, why do we have a queen or king? I don’t like paying lip service to this ruler (even nominal) of another nation.

On top of that, monarchies are really a thing of the past, of the feudal era, and in most cases we’re past that style of culture. Sure, there are various cultures that still have kings and queens, some of them like Britain’s queen (the king of Thailand for example), but to what purpose? A democratic (or communist country) has other ways of governing.Go ahead and call yourself king, grand potentate, god or emperor if you rule a tyranny or dictatorship because there, the will of the people is definitely suppressed.

People were made king or queen in past eras because they killed everyone else, had the strongest arm or the biggest army. Then their descendants, who raked in the tithes and taxes and gifts, got to rule, or someone overthrew them. So who is royal? Anyone who gets to the top. There isn’t different blood that runs through their veins, they are not dropped onto the planet by some god, and they are not born more perfect, intelligent and wise than you or me. It is only by dint of their privileged status and money that they get to be humanitarians, travel in style, hobnob with the creme de la creme and get the best of everything. With that upbringing I too could be a goodwill ambassador for whatever I chose.

I do not object to being rich and I do not object to people rising to the top but I think they should earn it or inherit from their family. Sure that’s happened to the monarchs of various kingdoms but right of inheritance doesn’t really give you the means to be a good ruler. And gosh, everyone gets to vote in their rulers in the commonwealth countries.

So, although I think Canada should stop knuckling under to an outmoded form of government where the queen and god get to rule, I guess it’s up to each country to decide if they want to keep their monarchs. Canada should stand on its own two feet. We should vote on it and hey, maybe I can be governor-general sometime and stage a coup against the prime minister. I wonder what would happen then. Would the armed forces (as they’re sworn to do) follow such a coup, and would the Queen step in? It would make it interesting and probably get our constitution re-evaluated. Ah, for the colonial days. Time to get rid of monarchies the world over.

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Coalition Calamity?

Well, yes, it was inevitable that I might have an opinion on the proposed coalition of the opposition parties in an overthrow of Canada’s minority government.

Minority governments always walk a tightrope. Stephen Harper tried to set the stage for the best time to hold our election. But that’s not unusual. Politicians and all people really try to work things to their advantage. But it didn’t work quite the way the Conservatives hoped. Yet again, another minority government.

This is not a good time for anyone moving into a position of government. Obama has his work cut out for him, picking up George Bush’s mess and the plummeting economy. But it’s the same here. Economy has moved to the forefront and Harper, with a minority government has a had lot. Yet, he has come across already as totalitarian and keeping such a tight leash on his MPs that they’re often crippled in making their decisions.

Then the new budget came, the tightening of the belt and the Conservatives seem to have made a fatal mistake. Many donations by companies to political parties have been severely limited. It makes sense because these factors could unfairly influence (bribe) a party in power to consider their wishes. When the Conservatives said they would cut public funding to the parties, it seemed the last straw. Here are the pertinent bits about funding from the Elections Canada website: http://www.elections.ca/content

The legislation was rooted in the belief that the primary source for contributions to political parties and candidates should be individuals giving relatively small amounts, as opposed to larger donations. The new regulations, therefore, stipulated that each elector could contribute up to a total of $5,000 a year to the electoral district associations, nomination contestants and candidates of a registered political party, while donations to these entities from corporations and trade unions were limited to $1,000. Furthermore, while individuals could contribute directly to the registered party, corporations and unions could not. To police the new rules, the act also stipulated that candidates and parties should disclose contribution information within a set period of time after an election, and leadership contestants should do so during and after a leadership contest.

As a counterbalance to the new contribution limits, however, Bill C-24 also introduced significant ongoing public financing for political parties. These provisions entitled any party receiving a minimum percentage of the popular vote in a general election to an annual public allowance proportional to its share of votes. The concept was not new – both the Barbeau Committee in 1966 and the Lortie Commission in 1992 acknowledged that funding for political parties through direct public subsidies was a good idea. Bill C-24 introduced annual allowances, recognizing that parties should be compensated for the loss of their customary funding stream from large corporate and union donations – and that the political party is arguably the focal point of a vibrant and viable democratic system.

Oops, the parties really didn’t like that. But there was some fast backtracking by the Conservatives and they said they would not lower public funding. But since the Liberals and NDP have tossed in their lot, they’re now steaming ahead saying there wasn’t a good economic package. And we’re off to the races.

Now the Bloc has thrown in with the Liberals and NDP to form a coalition government. But compare the Bloc to Judas or any other turncoat. They’re in it for themselves, not for the good of Canada. It’s the one biggest flaw in the coalition package. I think there should be a bill against allowing a party to run that has no federal or countrywide interests because the Bloc doesn’t care about any province but Quebec and they’re happy to use everything to their own advantage. Splitting up Canada doesn’t bother them because they think it will make Quebec stronger, not seeing the big shark that waits south of the border to gobble up the pieces of a dismembered nation.

They can be trusted to support a coalition as long as it serves them. Harper and the Conservatives are now taking out ads saying the other parties are conniving, stealing the leadership of the country, undermining our democracy. Though these moves are far from common, there is room in our constitution for such a coalition. I’m willing to see what happens. After all, Italy has had to function this way quite a few times. What I’m not for is public tax dollars going to any campaign for or against the coalition. The ads coming out that I couldn’t care less about better not be using public money but then if the parties are publicly funded, I guess it is, one way or the other.

The one thing all the political parties know is that if we went to another election we would make two records, The most federal elections in the shortest number of years, and the lowest voter turnout in Canada’s history. I for one don’t want to see more campaigning. I’m sick of it and campaigning for/against the coalition is not going to endear me to any party.

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