Walk a Kb or Two in my Moccasins- Nobody 'splained it to me like that!

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"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mercer's Priority 6 - An inadvertent Epiphany

Dear Rick,

Your outline (blog Apr 25/06) of the policy on flag-lowering touched on the role of the Privy Council.

As a point of information for you and others who have never needed to know the intricacies of the (pushed-aside) checks-and-balances system of the Canadian governance system, understanding the Privy Council is vital to understanding "what's gone wrong" with Canada's system - and also fixing it.

Believe it or not Canada is NOT:
-a democracy i.e. the citizens all vote and the will of the majority prevails;
-a country with "popular sovereignty" (like France & USA) - the sovereignty of Canada rests in the Crown;
-a place where citizens/residents can OWN land (allodial title) - we have a transferable "interest in land" called fee simple, ownership rests with the Crown;
-a country where the elected politicians can "do whatever they want once elected" -in Canada they must get Assent on every Act and act from the Crown;
-a country where the Office-Holder of Crown actually resides - instead the full powers of the Crown was placed in the Office of Governor General (in 1867 and then restated in 1947)

BUT ... in a country where the whole responsibility for deciding yea/nay on EVERYTHING was/is placed in the hands/mind of one person (the GG), the framers of the BNA Act decided to build-into the system a set of advisors FOR THE GG (s.11), quite separate and apart from the advisors that would be proffering recommendations that had come up through the "democratic element" of the tri-partite 'One Parliament' mentioned in S.17.

The Privy Counsellors/Councillors take an oath of allegiance & secrecy and are then welcomed into the inner sanctum of political knowledge.

Anyone CAN BE a Privy Councillor/Counsellor (provided they are recommended/approved/take the oath) and some get to be in the Privy Council by co-incident right of being sworn to the Privy Council oath when they take up an office as Cabinet Minister (ex-officio members).

The Privy Council had/has a series of Committees and sub-committees that supervise(d) the workings of the public service and government of the day - i.e. Treasury Board's purpose was/is to control the Crown's Purse and the departments made/make proposals to them for approval.

THEN ... Wm L.M. King got so frosted at Lord Byng the GG in 1926, that when King had an opportunity (under cover of efficiency of the WW2 war effort) he merged the office of Clerk of the Privy Council with the (now-called) Secretary to the Cabinet post.

Soon, the Committees of the Privy Council were populated exclusively by the same folks who were in Cabinet and the GG had no independent advisors - only the crew in the Gov't of the Day's cabinet.

Mackenzie King then lobbied the Crown-in-Council (British Cabinet) to let Canadians recommend a Canadian to be GG - once that was agreed, King knew he would never be over-ruled by another GG(notwithstanding the totally legal, constitutionally-superior power that remained intact, granted to the GG's office)

The Privy Council is one part of the intentionally placed checks and balances that are superior in power and authority to the "anyone can get elected by promising bread & circuses" Commons.

But Wm L M King turned it all on its head - a couple of generations of public/gov't education later, nobody knows the difference between 'common practise' and the as-written law.

"History, Civics... -bah, who needs it, the government's taking care of everything"

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