Friday, October 17, 2014

Irresponsible Government


                                             http://thechronicleherald.ca/

Brent Rathgeber's book, The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada is seminal. Frances Russell writes:

Canada’s parliament is now a damp squib, a meek handmaid to power. Parliament is ruled by the prime minister and the cabinet , not the other way around. Conservative MPs see themselves as obedient servants of the party, cabinet and prime minister, not representatives of their constituents.
You could call it “executive or presidential democracy.” It certainly is the polar opposite of parliamentary democracy.

Certainly, Rathgeber has witnessed that decline -- particularly in the last eight years. He writes:

“The current government prefers to govern by order-in-council and executive edict as opposed to having to answer to an occasionally meddlesome Parliament,” Rathgeber writes. “As a result, the executive has so neutered the institutions of Parliament as to render them nearly impotent, practically unable to fulfill their constitutional duty to hold the executive to account…(T)o the greatest extent possible, it prefers to run all aspects of Parliament rather than be accountable to it.”

Living next door to the United States, we have adopted a presidential model of leadership:

The most corrosive and dangerous development in Canada’s fully Americanized parliamentary system is the highly centralized power of the PMO and cabinet with a majority government. Add the now-complete stifling of the rights of ordinary MPs to say or do anything on their own, and Canada has degenerated into a virtual dictatorship.

And that’s without including the ability of the prime minister to prorogue, recess and dissolve parliament at whim.

And no one can claim that the trend is present in all parliamentary democracies:

Compare this sorry state of affairs to the parliamentary system in place in Britain and Australia, Canada’s sister parliamentary democracies. “(British Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher was deposed by her own caucus, and twice in the last four years the Australia Labour Party has rejected a leader (and prime minister) and then rejected the replacement on the will of the caucus,” Rathgeber writes. “This is normal; this is parliamentary democracy as it should be, where the leader leads the caucus but does not dominate it. The aforementioned Westminster democracies, which have not fallen prey to creeping presidentialism , are thought to be much more functional by academics…”

It's quite clear that Stephen Harper would be quite comfortable with the monikers "Mr. President" and "Commander-in-Chief." And that's precisely why he needs to be thrown out of office in the next election.


We'll be in Montreal for the next couple of days. My plan is to resume blogging on Monday.



12 comments:

Bill said...

Safe travels.

If you happen to have a stopover in Ottawa and run into the Prime Minister please kick him in the shins for me (LOL). Not that you or I really condone violence of any kind but Mr Harper really needs a karma jolt-sooner the better.

Owen Gray said...

Even if he were given such a jolt, Bill, he would accuse the perpetrator of working for the Islamic State.

Inse said...

And you'd probably win yourself a tax audit too!!

Kirby Evans said...

I think the saddest part of the whole thing is that none of the major parties are offering an real reforms to parliament for these problems. And the truth is that the reforms need to come in the form of Constitutional amendments so that they cannot be simply dispensed with by a power hungry PM like Harper. One or more of the major parties needs to offer a constitutional amendment package for the reform of parliamentary practice that includes such things as a system to create an independent speaker, set timelines for parliamentary sittings, the elimination of omnibus bills, set rules and timelines for debate that cannot be manipulated, an oversight organization for the PMO with total power to look at all documents, mandatory release of all government expenditure and projections for expenditure to parliament, a less partisan way of appointing members of the SCofC, etc, etc.

But these reforms are not even on the radar of any of the major parties with the exception of maybe of a few reforms offered by the Green Party.

Kirby Evans said...

I think the saddest part of the whole thing is that none of the major parties are offering an real reforms to parliament for these problems. And the truth is that the reforms need to come in the form of Constitutional amendments so that they cannot be simply dispensed with by a power hungry PM like Harper. One or more of the major parties needs to offer a constitutional amendment package for the reform of parliamentary practice that includes such things as a system to create an independent speaker, set timelines for parliamentary sittings, the elimination of omnibus bills, set rules and timelines for debate that cannot be manipulated, an oversight organization for the PMO with total power to look at all documents, mandatory release of all government expenditure and projections for expenditure to parliament, a less partisan way of appointing members of the SCofC, etc, etc.

But these reforms are not even on the radar of any of the major parties with the exception of maybe of a few reforms offered by the Green Party.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Kirby. But -- to make matters more difficult -- there would probably have to be some buy in from the provinces.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that's true, Isne. This blog -- like lots of other blogs -- is being monitored.

Anonymous said...

Chairman Mao Harper ripped into Russia and Putin, said they were evil Communists. Chairman Mao Harper, then sold Canada to Communist China. Harper still sells weapons to Russia.

There has been no democracy in Canada since, Harper's so called majority. Harper was begging and whinging to Canadians, for a majority.

Then Harper said? I am the law. I make the rules. And, by the time I get through with this country? You won't recognize it. Those are the only true words, Harper has ever uttered. Never has Canada been, occupied by Communist China before.

Harper is very little different than, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. They all have the same typo characteristics. The lies, deceit, thieves, corrupt, used underhanded politics, underhanded tactics and, all of them cheated to win. Harper too has a list of degenerates, to do his dirty work for him. There is no such thing as, democracy in Canada.

Steve said...

I was thinking aboot something along these lines. Elboa very serious threat, goverment says do not worry. ISIS no threat really goverment says be terrified. There is an axiom for that.
The disturbing thing is how easily Harper and the Banana Republicans play the fools cards.

Owen Gray said...

That was the whole idea, Anon. His agenda cannot survive in a real democracy.

Owen Gray said...

Banana Republics operate on fear, Steve. Keep 'em scared and you'll keep 'em quiet.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Kirby. All parties thrive in a neutered parliament. Everything is all about achieving political advantage, not the common good.