Saturday, January 10, 2009

There's The Talking Point, Then There's Reality

Tom Flanagan vomits the following forth:

Canada changed from a constitutional monarchy to a constitutional democracy as the franchise was extended to all adults and political parties became national in scope. That evolution was recognized in 1982 in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 1 characterizes Canada as "a free and democratic society," and Section 3 grants the right to vote to "every citizen of Canada."

... In countries where coalition governments are common, parties reveal their alliances so that citizens can know how their votes will affect the composition of the executive after the election. In stark contrast, those who voted for the Liberals, NDP or Bloc in the last election could not possibly have known they were choosing a Liberal-NDP government supported by a secret protocol with the Bloc. ...

Put it all together, and you have a head-spinning violation of democratic norms of open discussion and majority rule. The Governor-General, as the protector of Canada's constitutional democracy, should ensure the voters get a chance to say whether they want the coalition as a government. They haven't yet had that chance.


He starts off with a lie - and it is a whopper. "Canada changed from a constitutional monarchy to a constitutional democracy"

Really, Mr. Flanagan? Are you sure about this? Last I checked the Queen was still our titular head of state. Your argument is specious - it starts from a false premise, and concludes a logical fallacy when held up to reality - as this letter points out so nicely:

Eugene Forsey: "It is the people's representatives in the newly elected House who will decide whether the minority government shall stay in office or be thrown out."


(It's also interesting that Flanagan didn't publicly postulate such an argument in 2004 when the Con$ were plotting coalition with the Bloc and NDP)

Perhaps Mr. Flanagan needs some remedial courses on the structure of Canada's government - he seems to have lost sight of them during his descent into neo-Con/neo-Rethuglican dogma.

[Update 11/01/09]:
With respect to Patrick's off-topic question, Wikipedia has phrased the role of the monarchy in our government quite well:

In theory, supreme legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament; in practice in modern times, real power is vested in the House of Commons; the Sovereign generally acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited


In short, the Queen governs on the advice of her ministers. While she rarely exercises the power to intervene in the politics of the country, it is possible to do so:

Typically these powers are:

1. to dismiss a Prime Minister;
2. to refuse to dissolve Parliament;
3. to refuse or delay the Royal Assent to legislation.


[/Update]

[Update 12/01/09]:
Over at Northern BC Dipper's blog, I see someone claiming to be Tom Flanagan has posted a comment that reads:

Hi NBCDipper (whoever you are),

You’re quite right to pick up on that phrase in my most recent Globe column, but I didn’t actually write those words. The Globe’s editor changed them withut consulting me, and thereby altered the meaning. What I wrote was that the apologists for the coalition accuse others of not having paid attention in Political Science 101, which is actually quite different from what was printed. TEF


Okay, but it merely makes Flanagan's article a repetition of the same talking point that the HarperCon$ have been spewing since November last year. It is a talking point that is based on a blatant distortion of the structure and nature of Canada's parliamentary democracy. As far as I am concerned, Flanagan's argument remains specious - especially in light of the fact that the Con$ were negotiating just such a coalition in 2004.
[/Update]

5 comments:

Patrick Ross said...

Hmmm. What powers, specifically, does the Queen hold in Canada, again?

Or did you miss the fact that, for the past sixty years, the Queen has been a figurehead in this country?

MgS said...

There's quite a lot actually - but you'd have to actually read the Constitution to figure that out.

Remember, not only does Parliament sit at her Majesty's request, she is also the person to sign laws into force, and mysteriously is the head of our armed forces.

It is also at the hand of the Queen (through her agent, the Governor General) that actually has the power to call an election in this country.

Patrick Ross said...

Right. All of which she indirectly wields through the Governor General, whom is appointed by the Prime Minister, and can be dismissed at the Prime Minister's request.

Not to mention that constitutional convention has long practically bound the actions of the Governor General to the advice and instructions of the Prime Minister.

You may want to pay closer attention to the manner in which the Constitution is actually written.

If you were to do so, you'd know the answer to this question: who governs Canada? Parliament, or the Queen?

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe the Queen has the power to call elections, but as soon as Heir Harper declares himself Queen of All Canada, I'll assume that power for himself..

Queen Stephanie the First... Kinda sounds kinky doesn't it???

And won't he look pretty on our currency with is chubby face wearing a tiara?

MgS said...

You may want to pay closer attention to the manner in which the Constitution is actually written.

If you were to do so, you'd know the answer to this question: who governs Canada? Parliament, or the Queen?


Which is actually a red herring to the issue here - which is Flanagan's gross misrepresentation of our parliamentary system.

I return to the point so elegantly made in the original post:

Eugene Forsey: "It is the people's representatives in the newly elected House who will decide whether the minority government shall stay in office or be thrown out."

Get it through your head - Canadians elected a minority parliament, and we expect the members of that parliament to find a way to make it work.

Flanagan, along with other Con$ party hacks have been lying to the Canadian public on a scale I haven't seen in decades.

The Con$ have no right to whinge about a coalition when they were negotiating exactly the same thing in 2004.