Something, right under our noses, that all Canadians need to know, but don't know.
Sun Media's "Red Chamber Rehab" editorial ends with the line
"If this bill passes, then, the governor general will still summon "qualified persons" to the Senate -- only these qualified persons will actually have a democratic stamp of approval."
It typifies the widely-held close but no cigar total mis-understanding of Canada's governance system, the deftly-crafted system of 1867 BNA checks and balance, the office of Governor General and the Senate (the Commons too for that matter)
Canada is and was never designed to be a democracy. It's a top-down, constitutionally - limited Monarchy.
This means that apart from the areas granted by Constitution/BNA and subsequent, Crown-assented legislation to the Legislative Order of the Central government, the Crown (i.e. the UK Cabinet, assisted by their local supervisors the Governor General, the Lt. Govovernors and the Governor General's Privy Council), holds ultimate control over everything. For example; All our Freehold land is not private property, we simply enjoy an interest in Crown-granted lands, a bundle of rights to sell, give, lease and will it.
Please recall that the 1867 system was devised (based on the 1791 concept of a legislative assembly, legislative council, executive council and governor) in the wake of the 1837-38 Rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada (and in light of the failed attempt to assimilate the French/Catholics into a English/UEL/Protestant society).
The Rebellions showed the United Kingdom government that the democratic element in Canada just as potentially volatile as in the 13 colonies and the Act of Union stalemate showed that assimilation would not work either.
The Canadian framers proposed and (after some tinkering) the United Kingdom Cabinet agreed to grant limited democratic freedom, but strait-jacketed it with three levels of superior levels of power.
The Senate was the House of Taxpayers - the only office with property-ownership net net-worth qualifications. The significance of this fact is sadly lost to inflation because $4,000 (the only dollar amount in Canada never seasonally-adjusted) just doesn't mean the same as ~$240,000-320,000 might.
Integrated into our section 17, One Parliament is the Crown, as represented by the Governor General. For example, this individual must approve their bills (s.55), But also above both of Legislative Houses is the Executive level ss.9-15 - the Monarch(-in-Council until 1982), the Governor General and the Privy Council (plus the Governor General in Council for certain specific circumstances s.13)
The whole idea was to not let the democratic element run amok (as now).
Okay, that was then and this is now. How come what I'm saying seems so 18th century and surely not the way it is written as constitutional law?
In 1940 the Prime Minister took over control of the Privy Council (as revenge for Lord Byng refusing his recommendation in 1926) and then lobbied after the war to control the appointment of the Governor General. Since then the Prime Minister had no controls on his actions if he had a majority.
Sixty-five years later no one remembers. And nobody reads the constitution. It cannot be taught because the observable de facto state of government does not match the de jure provisions of the highest law of the land.
If we were a different type of people we'd rebel. Impeach every Supreme Court Justice for not forcing the government to follow the constitution and toss away every bill proclaimed since 1940 as Unconstitutional.
But we're not. We're placid and uninformed, some could say blissfully innocent.
Some others could say fools.
My recommendations ...
- elect the Governor General (get rid of the patronage/patsy appointment by the PM)
- adjust the appointed til 75yrs old Senators property and net worth qualification
- allow no grandfathering-mothering of any existing Senators (disallow their pension too if they were never really qualified to serve, heck they got paid that's enough)
Put the Commons and the puisne First Minister back in his/her rightful lowly place at the bottom of the power totem.