Democracy Not Very Popular in Canada

ByNorman Kearney

Angry Americans fed up with their politicians and business leaders continue to Occupy Wall Street as a wave of disillusionment sweeps across the country. But this wave has a different flavor than the one that brought the Tea Party to prominence. The occupiers speak of social justice and basic needs, demands which are re-inspiring the faith of some Americans in their union.

But a different wave is sweeping the federation to the north. After a year of seemingly endless elections, Canadians are flippant. You have to forgive us Canadians, of course: We just went to provincial polls, the federal polls were in May, and in autumn of last year many of us went to the municipal polls too. Fortunately, democracy can now be forgotten for another few years, although some worry that it will rear its ugly head once again and force Canada into another lazy election. 

It really is a waste of our time, democracy, and our money! Canadians were not bred for democracy and our system hardly even permits it, so why not call it what it is and let the oligarchs run the show? And what ever happened to that Queen of ours?

Ah, that's right: She no longer rules, but she keeps a representative here, the governor general, who does her bidding. The governor is a rather overpaid minion, I must say. The last time the governor did anything was when she shut down parliament so that the prime minister could keep his job, and that was three years ago! 

He is a clever man, our Prime Minister Stephen Harper. First he tried to silence dissent by bankrupting his opponents, and when they joined together to remove him from office he played that trick with the governor. How convenient for him that our country was founded on trust in peace, order, and good government. Free from scandals such as Watergate, we never developed the checks and balances which protect the civil and political rights of Americans. Now, our prime minister can do whatever he wants, and that is very good because these are tough economic times.

The prime minister has a minion, too: the party whip. The whip ensures that members of parliament know that they are free to do exactly as Harper pleases. Our system is much more efficient than the American one where the president is constrained and congress has a great degree of power. Here, parliament nods approvingly to the decrees of the prime minster, which the whip enforces, a system which is very efficient indeed.

Our people have learned that governing is best left to others which is why so few of us are members of political parties. Less than 10% of us have been or are active members of a political party. An active member pays her dues and, if all goes well, votes favorably, but to ask more of that would be to disrupt the comforts of Canadian life. Democracy should not be a tiring thing, and most of all it should never interfere with the economic growth to which our lives are dedicated. 

Soon, we may be so fortunate as to have only leaders who are committed to reversing the runaway spending on health care, social security, and the environment. How we ever came to indulge in such expensive luxuries will forever remain a mystery to me. 

Fiscal responsibility under Harper’s Conservatives is almost assured by our restrictive electoral system. Although we have three leading parties, two minor parties — one on the way out, another on the rise — and a litany of tiny issue-based parties, our system of first-past-the-post practically limits our governments to the single party on the right. This predetermined outcome is convenient because choice is paralyzing and can lead to change, and change is unstable which is bad for the economy.

Fortunately, everything conceivable has been or is being done to suppress our political instincts and choices. Canada is proof that the public which participates least is governed best, but I continually fear that the delicate balance on which our happy life rests could be disturbed by some impertinent rabble-rouser who talks of reforms and rights.

Hopefully, the protesters on Wall Street will learn from our example and put some faith in the people in charge. Americans could learn a lot from Canada. How blessed we Canadians are to have such a perfect system, and may it live long.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons