Saturday, April 7, 2007


We Canadians are a naval-gazing people. We're always second-guessing ourselves. In a way, this is a good thing: It ensures that our institutions tend not to be completely static. In another way, though, it underlies a natural, national insecurity. Not altogether unexpected, mind you, considering who we live next to. This insecurity manifests itself most often through American-bashing. To listen to some Canadians, the United States has never done anything good, except possibly by accident.

Our near-constant gnashing of teeth over the NHL is another example of this naval-gazing. "Why don't more people watch it?" "Why aren't all the best players Canadian?" "Why don't Canadian teams win the Stanley Cup more often?"

The only institution we tend to want to tinker with more often than hockey is our system of governance. Institutes, Blue Ribbon Panels, Think-Tanks from the right AND the left, and all manner of groups and individuals chime in with their own 2 cents on how to, among other things:

  • Lessen the power of special interest groups
  • Increase the ability of not-for-profits to lobby government
  • Decrease the power of the PMO (funny how most people only list this as a concern when "their guy" is in Opposition, instead of IN the PMO...)
  • Increase power to the provinces
  • Take back powers FROM the provinces
  • Equalize the tax system
  • Reform the senate
  • Change how we elect our politicians
  • Change or eliminate the party system
  • Set term limits
  • Set election dates
  • Move to proportional representation
  • Eliminate the "first past the post" electoral system
  • Change how judges are appointed

And the list goes on and on and on... to some, the constitution is sacred and static and must never be changed. The Charter is the be all and end all, and all good things flow from it. To others, the Charter must be malleable to allow for a changing world, much like the U.S. constitution has changed over its nearly 231 years - and the constitution hasn't even been ratified by Quebec, so why not change it anyhow?

Hold on, ES... The Americans (or "evil Americans", as many of my so-called "progressive" readers would no doubt prefer I call them) amended their constitution 18 times over 201 years, and our constitution is still unsigned, and the Charter has only been around for 25 years.
True. But, when something's as fresh in your mind as 1982, you tend to realize "whoops, that's not what I meant" or "oops, loophole there" or "oopsies, typo...". I mean, come ON, the NHLPA can find loopholes to exploit in a CBA less than 2 years old, and we want ourselves to think that over the past 25 years criminals and their lawyers haven't found a way to get around their just rewards? And, just for the record: Those "evil Americans", who can't get anything right? In the first 30 years they were independent from Britain, they changed their constitution 3 times, for a total of 12 amendments - INCLUDING the Bill of Rights. So maybe Trudeau's Charter is a good document, but isn't perfect. We likewise have areas in which we can improve how we're governed.

One of my pet ideas, which I came up with independent of outside influence but certainly must have been thought of by someone before *I* did it, was to make the Governor General an elected position. No constitutional changes, nothing. But you've added accountability to the "supervisor" of the House and Senate, and by so doing, made it MUCH more difficult for the "bad guys" (whomever you consider them to be) to run all 3 branches of government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial). More on that in a later post.

I will shortly be posting something that will make my position on how, and why, we should proceed as an electorate very clear. It will be heavy reading, and the format will surely infuriate some of you (again, calling yourself "progressive" while building an effigy of George W. Bush is questionable, at best), but take heart: I've never much cared about the opinions of people who get pissed off the second they read the words "We The People"...

- ES

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