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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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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Responsible Gov't vs 'democracy' --Top Down or Bottom Up?

more Proportional Representation, Party Lists & Mixed-Voting systems
- the diversionary pablum of Governance Reform in Canada



Go ahead, have Proportional Representation if you want, fiddle with the terms of office or fix them on given dates or ban parties or ban party discipline or have 25 parties in the House or raise the decisional-majority in the House to 66.66% or .... anything you think makes the Commons, the vital but tertiary, order of governance an "assembly of the popular will".

But first (and nothing will change until this is done), inculcate within the general public a knowledge of, and a respect for the as-written governance system, re-instate the vice-regal nobility of the Governor General, re-instate the property-class mandate of the Senate (adjust-for-inflation the $4,000 qualification) and sever the Privy Council from the PMO.

In other words, go back to First Principles.

I only wish the Queen would disallow a Bill, just to get the ball rolling.

My only advice to a nescient Canada - READ THE RULE BOOK, and decide for yourself from knowledge, not assumption or popular mis/dis-conception.




My Bias:

-I believe Canada's 1867 Constitutional set-up is perfect for Canada then & now. We're just NOT following the written provisions.

-1867 had a democratic 'element' the House of Commons with 3 'higher order' checks & balances built in to prevent 'bad ideas from the plebeians' from becoming law.(i.a Senate representing the propertied class, ii. a local Governor General who can deny assent (s.12), or reserve assent (s.55) and iii. the Mother government's Monarch-in-Council that can disallow any bill within 2yrs (s.56) or allow a reserved bill to expire (s.57) without assent.)

-No aspect of these written aspects of 1867 has changed except the Monarch of Canada no longer needs to be bound by the recommendations of Her/His British 'in-Counsellors' (Canada Act 1982, (U.K.) 1982, c. 11 -see footnote #79.




This said, I believe the House of Commons was designed to be of vital, but tertiary importance in governing Canada, and was never designed to be THE Authoritative Chamber of governance (i.e. the inmates were not intentionally placed in charge of the asylum), albeit IT WAS the chamber that the Governor had to be 'responsible to' in money matters (no tax measures can be passed by order-in-council).

I believe 'the key' to explaining my position is in understanding:

1)the s.11 role of the Privy Council (and its committees - Treasury Board et al) as independent advisors to the Governor General;

2)the s.12 'independent' of 'advice' or 'advice and consent', Executive Powers of the Governor General vis a vis s.13, (similarly s.65 vis a vis s.66 provincially) ;

3)the significance of the property ownership & net worth qualifications/disqualifications (s.23(3)(4) and 31(3)(5) of the Upper House members (sadly lost to inflation).

4)the Office of Clerk of the Privy Council was only subsumed by the Prime Minister's Office in 1940. Prior to that the Privy Council's committees oversaw the operations of the Cabinet with key Cabinet members being ON the committees - but not totally in charge as now, running these committees as an 'inner cabinet'.



If this makes no sense to you - take heart, the sly usurpation of the Governor General's powers, the Privy Council's powers and the Senate's rightful place BY the PMO, IN THE NAME OF DEMOCRACY took place gradually, under cover of war urgency (WW2), in times of reconstruction (1950's) and plenty (1960's), with the benign neglect of the Crown, the British Crown-in-Council and the Canadian people.

Everybody was too busy living their own life (and trusting that 'the government' was dutifully and earnestly doing the 'right thing') to notice, that the owners of the Party that controlled the Commons were taking over the country.

They weren't overtly evil people - they just saw a 'business opportunity' and took advantage of it (being in government then, meant lots of Public service jobs and contracts for 'the faithful')


If Canada was to BE a democracy (it wasn't) ruled by the vagaries of popular will (it wasn't, isn't and should not be, IMHO) the 1867 set-up would never have been devised with so many senior powers to be a "bulwark against the clamour and caprice of the mob" -Sir James Lougheed.

Remember this set-up was devised AFTER the Glorious Revolution of 1688, AFTER the French & American revolutions, AFTER the second (and now current) American constitution had been in place for 80 years, AFTER the "Responsible Government" liberties of 1791 were extended to British North America, and AFTER the 1840 Act of Union shambles in Canada East & West.

All these events and constitutional models were much more top-of-mind in 1867. The division of powers is almost word for word from the USA's constitution, the Governor General, GG's independent advisors, appointed Upper House & elected Lower House are all parts of 1791-1840 colonial governance - just another like-minded layer atop the existing provincial models.

Canada was intended to be governed from Top Down.


Wm.L.M.King knew this. But he didn't like it - so he changed it, to eliminate any viable opposition/ overseer.

Now though, so much of this is 'before our time' and totally opposite to how 'business is conducted' in Ottawa, that we don't think in these terms.

The question is - what's best for now & the future?

A return to first principles or continuing to patch and fix and add and squabble over the botched-up, derivative, not-as-written way that we're doing things now?

Dear Ol' Minority PM Harper is just following the botched-up rules (apparently with the Rt.Hon. B.Mulroney helping). How can the Liberals complain - they made the mess.

Strange thing is, Canada has such plentiful wealth and such 'forgiving' people that we always muddle through ... but is that the best we can do?

So have Proportional Representation if you want, fiddle with the terms of office or fix them or ban parties or ban party discipline or have 25 parties in the House or raise the decisional-majority in the House to 66.66% or .... anything you think makes the vital, but tertiary order of governance an "assembly of the popular will".

BUT FIRST, inculcate within the general public a knowledge of, and a respect for the as-written governance system, re-instate the vice-regal nobility of the Governor General, re-instate the property-class mandate of the Senate (adjust-for-inflation the $4,000 qualification) and sever the Privy Council from the PMO.

I only wish the Queen would disallow a Bill, just to get the ball rolling.

My only advice - READ THE RULE BOOK, and decide for yourself from knowledge, not assumption or popular mis/dis-conception.

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