Friday, August 27, 2010

An Open Letter to Her Majesty The Queen

Okay, as I mentioned in my first post to this blog I started after a trip to Ottawa where I had some thoughts but no outlet for them so let me start with the first and probably most interesting/important--at least in my own mind. One of the most interesting aspects of my trip was the references to democracy by the various guides of the National Capital Commission that were made and it got me thinking... there are 2 aspects of Canadian democracy that I find problematic.

First, our democracy is predicated on an antiquated electoral system (see where the popular vote (i.e., the percentage of votes for a particular party vs. another party) is entirely irrelevant.  And, second that all of our bills which either do or do not become laws in this country have to first be passed through an unelected assembly namely the Canadian Senate.

In the last federal election to the House of Commons one of the Conservative party's election promises was to reform this Senate.  Now although I'm not a particular fan of the Conservative party I have to admit this was an area where I thought we could find common cause.  Several years on no actions have been taken on this matter.  Now I could sit here behind my keyboard and lambaste Steven Harper and the Conservative party for breaking one of their election promises; but I won't for one very simple reason: It wasn't their fault.  No member of the elected House of Commons--regardless of the potential flaws in the electoral system which has elected them--has the necessary authority to reform the "Upper House" including the Prime Minister.

That being said I submit this open letter to Her Majesty The Queen who is the only one (or through her representative in this nations capital the Governor General) who does have any authority over the Canadian Senate.

To: The Private Secretary of Her Majesty the Queen.

Please communicate the following to her royal person.  

I, as a citizen of Canada noting the deficiency in democracy brought about by the electoral system used to elect representatives to the House of Commons where by a majority can be elected to the House by virtue of the riding assignments regardless of the overall popular vote hereby request that actions be taken to remodel the Canadian Senate such that the members of the Upper House be elected by strict proportional representation.

Yours Sincerely,
Kevin Lucas

Okay, maybe a bit drastic and dramatic.  But, there it is.  In one sentence--albeit a grammatically questionable one--the solution to the democratic deficit in Canada.  Think of it.  Really, the Canadian Senate is a rubber stamp on the decisions of the House of Commons.  Senators typically don't do all that much.  They're appointments are political rewards from the leading parties.  

There are only 2 organizations that I can think of that would oppose the election of the Senate by Proportional Representation (See:  One is the Senate itself.  After all, hey, we've got a good thing going, why shoot ourselves in the foot.  The other is Elections Canada who would end up with extra work.  Aside from those two institutions who would oppose this idea?  Okay, so really it shouldn't be referred to as the 'Upper House' any longer but on an equal footing as the House of Commons but really--practically, the power in Canadian federal political resides in the House of Commons now so what have we got to lose save for an outdated House of 'sober second thoughts' that acts as little more than a 'feel good' connection to the past and a place to put political favorites for the government of the day?

Electing the Senate; and electing them by P.R. makes sense for a modern democracy.  Putting the Senate on a par with the House of Commons makes sense for a modern democracy.  This way we get the best of both worlds.  One of the major problems with Proportional Representation is that there is no locality associated with an individual member (just ask an Italian).  Having one House elected under one electoral system and the other by another just makes sense for a modern democracy.  

Okay, so there's my piece.  It may sound out there a bit but like Michale Moore said "...this is a democracy, we can make any sort of crazy laws we want...."


Senators Only

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