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Simple answers to Complex Questions and Complex Answers to Simple Questions. In real life, I'm a Greater-Toronto (Canada) Realtor with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd, Brokerage. I first joined RE/MAX in 1983 and was first Registered to Trade in Real Estate in Ontario in 1974. Formerly known as "Two-Finger Ramblings of a Forensic Acuitant turned Community Synthesizer"

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

More on PR - the cotton candy of Parliamentary Reform

Dear Editors Opinion Canada,

I wish to refute the premise, arguments and conclusions of the article "Electoral system reform - still on the radar"on your Opinion Canada website.

Introducing PR as the 'be all and end all solution' to the 'democratic deficit' is like cutting spending and raising taxes enough to run annual operating budgets in the black WITHOUT addressing the principal of the debt or looking at how that principal is financed.

If you want real solutions, address the root problems!


The reason that voters are dissatisfied with the government system IS not the system or the government, it is the Parties that i) don't stand for anything (except election), ii) don't honestly declare their vested interest (and or ownership), iii) don't do what they campaigned on iv) have gerry-rigged the electoral financing system to favour incumbents & v) have gerry-rigged the 1867 written constitutional governance system to concentrate power that SHOULD be distributed and therefore 'checked & balanced'.

Therefore to suggest more parties (and more smaller parties) no matter (how well-represented in the assembly) as the solution is imperfect and off the point.

The 'problem' needing solving is not majority vs. minority vs. coalition parliaments it is the concentration of power in the Prime Ministers Office (This Federal problem has been "shared" by example with the various provinces, but I'll stick to Federal here).

The assemblies in Canada were granted "Responsible Government" in 1791-1840's, meaning the arbitrary and absolute power of each colony's Governor was checked - the Assembly had to pass the measures the Governor wishes implement.

Canada never moved past this point.

No matter what the non-history buffs in the media and politics say, Canada has never been proclaimed a 'democracy' (i.e. sovereignty flowing from the people), it was and is a limited-by-constitution Monarchy.

Nothing changed in 1982 - all we got then was a condition-ridden Charter, a polyglot of inter-related, impossible to utilize, amending formulae and oh yes, an end to the influence of the British Cabinet, House of Commons & House of Lords. The Queen is still the source of all Canadian sovereignty, the "owner" of all Canadian land and the "final veto-holder" on all legislation. Any Canadian office-holder is a mere "steward" of the Monarch's assets and power.

If you think this is guff, stop reading - you'll be too flabbergasted at the abuse the "real system" has suffered at the hands of the "stewards".

Bringing this back to Proportional Representation, the 'problem' the PR advocates 'solve' is in getting 'their' little party a seat or two in the assembly. Any of the PR models will do nothing to increase the efficacy of governing, nor anything to establish a government that holds an overarching set of principles and policies that is designed to benefit everyone i.e. for the governed vs. for the governors.

In short, Britain never entrusted us locals with much power. The Spnsorship scandal (and all the Mulroney/ Trudeau/ Pearson/St Laurent ones too) show us they were correct.

Power corrupts, absolute power ... often gets the better of just about anyone.

Here's the hierarchical system NOW in place but not followed:

1867
(s.17) There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.

Monarch-in-Council - Queen obligated to accept advice of Cabinet
- Can Disallow any Canadian Bill within 2 yrs


Governor General - (s. 55-57) assents/withholds assent/reserves all Bills in Monarch's name
- (s12) not obliged to accept Cabinet advice (except where term 'Governor-in- Council' is used in Constitution (s.13)
- can disallow "in Council" any provincial bill within 1 year (s.90)

Privy Council - (s.11)independent advisors to GovGen (some as ex officio members)
-ex officio (by right of their office) members have sworn loyalty and secrecy upon accepting cabinet post but non-cabinet members may also be chosen by GovGen as Privy Councillors
-sub-committees (treasury board etc) supervise and manage the Cabinet's
activities

Upper House(Senate) -must satisfy property ownership & net worth qualifications
- lose office if they lose property or net worth
-chosen to balance population inequality in lower house
-chosen to represent the 'regional' interests
-chosen to represent the propertied class ('oppose the democratic element')
-appointed to be free of "buy-em with their own money" crassness
-must approve all bills
-may initiate any bill except a money bill

Lower House (Commons)-any voter can be elected
-selects a Speaker to Chair the meetings
-selects a member (who commands the respect of the assembly or a portion
thereof) to form a 'government', (aka. a ministry, aka a governing council
or aka a Cabinet) and to become First Minister aka Prime Minister of that
Cabinet and to be spokesman of the Assembly when requesting
assent to a Bill from the GovGen as Crown.





Wm Lyon Mackenzie was refused a dissolution of Parliament in 1926 and set out to 'fix that' problem.

In 1940 he merged the office of Clerk of the Privy Council with the Secretary to the Cabinet's post, thereby merging the Privy Council Office with the Cabinet and usurping the "advisory & supervisory" power of the Privy Council and its committees.


King led a campaign to have "a Canadian" appointed as GovGen, once accomplished the Prime Minister's office had usurped the powers of the Governor General, and kept it that way by subsequently placing drones as GG, who would dare not defy the Prime Minister again

1982

Queen (& Canada) - no longer bound by decisions of British Cabinet, Commons and Lords (Canada Act UK 1982)


GovGen - powers a la 1867 restated in Letter Patent of 1947

Senate - inflation has undermined property & net worth qualification
- $4,000 no longer denotes "wealth"
- PM installs party drones to pre-determine results in Upper House,
- supervisory nature & "higher" order of gov't essence is lost
- all other rules the same except appointed til age 75 not for life

House of Commons
- a person in charge of a party (i.e. a privately-held, tax-subsidized organization in the fool- enough-of-the-people business) who with as little as 37-40% of popular votes, but managing to squeak out 50%+1 members in this house, is in charge of the country with no meaningful opposition or check or balance.
- this is true in practice, but not in the constitution.



Twas never meant this way.

But to try to address the usurpation of the checks and balances power by the PM, by introducing PR as the 'be all and end all solution' to the democratic deficit, is like cutting spending and raising taxes enough to run annual operating budgets in the black, WITHOUT addressing the principal of the debt or looking at how that principal is financed.


Oh, I see that's where we are on that file too .... no wonder so many scholars are wasting time on PR.


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