Canadian democracy is in grave danger.
Or so say lots of pundits, journalists and academics who keep warning us about how the politicians in Ottawa are slowly eroding away our traditional democratic institutions.
They point out, for instance, how an “unelected Senate” recently killed a “Climate Change” Bill and how the House of Commons didn’t debate Canada’s military role in Afghanistan and how Prime Minister Stephen Harper was recently seen getting fitted for a medal-bedecked general’s uniform.
But fear not.
Despite what some critics are saying democracy is alive and well in Canada, although admittedly it’s a unique form of what might be called Canadian-style democracy.
What’s Canadian-style democracy?
Well, it’s a form of government we have developed over the last 100 years or so which manages to blend ideas adapted from the political traditions of Britain, America and the Byzantine Empire.
Unfortunately, however, given the pervasive influence of American media in Canada, many people mistakenly compare our system with the republican system south of the border.
Hence they wrongly assume democracy is in trouble in Canada.
So in the interest of setting the record straight, here’s a short primer of Canada’s distinctive political institutions:
- Members of Parliament
Elected directly by the people, Canadian MPs have two key responsibilities. 1) Blindly and obediently obey their party leaders 2) Stay in the House of Commons long enough to qualify for gold-plated pensions.
- The Opposition
Under our Constitution, the “Loyal” Opposition performs the extremely important democratic function of putting forward ideas that are so ridiculous they make governing party look good by comparison.
- The Governor-General
The Queen’s representative in Canada, the Governor-General once had no real power, but today he or she must perform the crucially vital duty of understanding, pronouncing and spelling the word, “prorogue.”
- The House of CommonsThe heart of Canadian democracy, the House of Commons is a place where MPs from different parts of the country and from different political parties gather with a democratic mandate to hurl juvenile catcalls at each other.
- The Senate
Yes Canadian Senators are “unelected”. But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be a Senator and get paid lots of money to basically do nothing? It’s the Canadian dream job. And it’s a job that’s open to anyone regardless of race, creed or colour, so long as you’re a loyal party hack or on good terms with the Prime Minister. Isn’t that a sort of democracy?
- The Prime Minister
Some say Canada’s Prime Minister has the dictatorial powers approaching that of a Latin American despot. That’s a complete and utter falsehood. In fact, his powers are more like an African despot.
- The Media
Although not a government institution, a free media is also crucial to our democracy. Indeed, through hard work, insightful analysis and courageous reporting, the Canadian media helps us understand the great importance to democracy of the Canadian media.
And finally, as the ultimate safeguard of democracy, Canadians have the power to regularly vote in federal elections.
That means if we think a government is bad we can always replace it with something worse.
Crossposted at Libertas Post