Thursday, December 11, 2008

Democracy in Canada? Maybe someday

A few days ago, the unelected representative of a foreign monarch thwarted the coming to power of a coalition that had the support of a majority of members of the House of Commons.

This majority was actually elected by a majority of voters.
That would have been unusual, had the coalition succeeded in forming a government with the support of the Bloc Québécois. Under our "first past the post" electoral system, most majority governments in Canada are elected by minorities.

But in any case it didn't happen. Parliament was simply dismissed, and will be permitted to reconvene in late January.

The leader of the Liberals, not even elected by his own party, will shortly be meeting with the Prime Minister, who was not
elected by popular vote, because we don't do that sort of thing here. Stephen Harper was elected in one of Canada's 310 ridings, and he leads the government after 37% of the voters supported Conservatives in the last election.

The PM is busy at the moment appointing 18 new members to sit in the unelected Senate. If his government falls in a non-confidence vote, he'll at least have managed to jam Canada's upper house with Conservatives, all by himself--although unelected Liberal senators will still be in the majority.

Waiting in the wings, in case questions of Constitutional interpretation are at stake, is the unelected Supreme Court of Canada, whose members are appointed by the Prime Minister as vacancies occur.

On January 27, there will be a vote in the House of Commons on a new budget. It will be a confidence vote, and should the government lose it, that unelected representative of a foreign monarch I mentioned will once again decide where we all go from there.

"This is what democracy looks like," chant the street protesters. But they're talking about something else.

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