Thinking on a new Canadian Constitution.

Victoria Day is a day set aside to recognize the foolishness of having a foreign queen as our head of state. It is a day set aside to thinking of how we can do things better.

And we can. One of the most serious weaknesses in our representative form of government is that some people vote for a local representative just to show their choice of the person they prefer as Prime Minister. That means we often elect some very useless people just to get a particular party leader. In Babel, this tendency is downright embarrassing.

We should think of ways to get the Prime Minister (President or Lord High Potentate or whatever) we want and still elect qualified, competent people to the House of Commons. Looking at presidential systems is one way to do it. Judging by our American neighbours, the main problem with separating the executive branch of government from the legislative branch it that they sometimes work at cross purposes and do not play nice. You can end up with constipated government rather than effective government.

Another way is to have the legislative branch of government nominate the chief executive. Maybe they could propose more than one and the populace could then vote on their choice. That idea needs more thought.

Many Canadians would probably like to stay with a more ceremonial form of head of state. That is a possibility but we would certainly want the person do more to earn their keep than the Queen and the current Governor General. There has to be more to the job than cutting ribbons, welcoming foreign dignitaries and signing bills. If you are going to sign things into law, you should have to take some responsibility for them.

As you can see, we have many questions about our head of state. And that is only a start.

And what are we going to do about the Senate? Is it worthwhile to have a House of Sober Second Thought? Should we make it a House of the Provinces to give a bit more influence to the country’s regions? There is no question but that Stephen Harper has destroyed the Senate as a serious opportunity to improve on House of Commons laws. He has created a Senate that just does as it is told.

House of Commons committees need to be less partisan, better staffed and given more time to do a proper job. We need to examine their relationship to the responsible cabinet ministers. And should we look beyond the House of Commons for our cabinet ministers? There is a serious imbalance in workload and authority of ministers today that needs to be considered. We need to go through the entire process, listen carefully to former members, ministers and staff on ways to make our government more responsible and effective.

We also have to stop thinking idly on the possible changes and start planning seriously.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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