vendredi 29 janvier 2010

Canadians don’t care because you don’t let us

If the current prorogation debate can tell us anything, is that Canadians don’t know too much about our governmental structure or really don’t care too much about it. So often, we will hear a fellow citizen say “it doesn’t matter, nothing will change anyway” and when we look at the past 142 years of Canada, that isn’t necessarily false. All Canadians expect from their government is not to waste any tax money or embarrass them too much abroad. When this happens, we elect a new government. The desire for a government that keeps quiet stems from the fact that Canadians have rarely been consulted on the institutions which govern them and therefore expect less from them than people of other countries. Though there might be a fair amount of literature on the subject of which this author is not aware, a few reasons will be cited that could have given rise to such an occurrence which severely weakens our institutions and the accountability of our government.

Canadians were never consulted when the structure that governs them was created, changed and updated throughout the years. The first settlers to come from Europe were used to despotic monarchs that told them what to do and they did it. While other countries fought revolutions to reject these systems, Canadians did not. Ontario has decided to make their motto out of it. A short period of rebellion and radical change was put down in 1837-38 and that was almost the end of it. Since then, Canadians have let the institutions be changed by a precious few members of the elite who representing them by election or not, have made significant changes without direct consultation of the electorate. The foundation of Canada in 1867 is a prime example. Without participating in the creation of this new country and its institutions there was and still is no real attachment to the need to protect these when there is a difficulty. The list is significant.

Canadians do not worship their institutions because they did not build them. Most of the institutions in Canada are not created in this country but were replicas, or attempts to replicate, institutions that existed in other countries. The House of Commons finds its origins in England and the Senate is a watered-down version of its American counter-part that was intended to be like the House of Lords. The Governor General was for a long period of time the continuation of the role of Governor that existed previously and today still has not shaken that image (thanks to Monarchists and a few other close-minded people). The only significant difference that exists in Canada that is different from other countries is the power of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister monopolizes power and he is usually elected by less than 40% of the population. This is true in this country and reduces the value of every citizen’s vote, at least in common perception. This appropriation of power has never been discussed and though referendums have occurred regarding modifying the constitution, they have never discussed the structure itself, simply the wording.

With these factors in consideration, it is easy to see why the average Canadian does not particularly care if Parliament is prorogued. When we have built something, such as the Canadian forces or our hockey teams, then things are serious. Government, who cares.

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