Words Matter – Miscellaneous

“Its responsibility”: the basic responsibility of a nation is to nurture and protect the citizens of the nation. This perspective is not share by a nation state such as Canada and the United States where the people belong to the state and they are called upon to sacrifice for it. John Kennedy’s inaugural speech stated it clearly when he said “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Colonial thinking: Canada is founded as the amalgamation of four British Colonies. It chose continued colonial loyalty to the British Crown in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Many United Empire Loyalists fled the proposed freedom and democracy of the newly envisaged United States in favour of continued loyalty to the crown. Fearing encirclement by the United States Canada invited the British colonies on the Pacific Coast to join it and colonized the vast prairies that lay in between the two entities. Colonial thinking was inherited by the government of Canada from the British Empire. It continues to dominate its relationship with the First People and the Prairie Provinces.

Electoral heartland: Quebec and Ontario considered the electoral heartland of the nation have 199 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons or 58.9 %.

Extreme concentration of power: Few countries have the extreme concentration of power into the hands of the Prime Minister that Canada has. Canada’s strict party discipline and the unusual lack of legislative significance of the Senate in a bicameral system makes the country’s Prime Minister extremely powerful by international standards among democratic countries. The Prime Minister has sole authority to appoint the Governor General (the nominal head on state), the head of the Military and the RCMP and any vacant positions in the Senate or the Supreme Court. Australia has an elected, fully empowered Senate typically forcing compromise. Britain has a partially elected Senate, an independent sovereign (in the Queen) and less party discipline. The United States has three branches that are all elected separately and a complex process of appointment to the Supreme Court. It has checks and balances on the power of the President that Canada does not have on its Prime Minister.

Asymmetrical confederation: People and provinces are not treated equally in the Canadian confederation. Democratic industrialized nations that are organized as federations such as Australia, Germany and the United States have regulation and systems that recognize the fundamental equality of the sub-sovereign entities in the federation and the people that live there. Canada is unique in its asymmetrical treatment of its component parts. The examples are many. No other country transfers funds from the outlying provinces to support the economic industrialized heartland. The result is tiny Newfoundland is called upon to support Ontario and Quebec. Other of preferential treatment include the national unemployment insurance, the allocation of seats in the Senate, the House of Commons and the Supreme Court, the location and employment of government services and the continue intrusion into sovereign provincial rights in natural resources that are resident in the outlying provinces while granting ever more rights (to unilaterally change the constitution for example) to the two core provinces. The asymmetrical confederation practiced in Canada is founded the official version of the country’s history (two founding nations- French of Quebec and English of Ontario), the practices of the government, the Trudeau constitution and unheard of in comparable modern nations.

Immutable systemic malaise: The nation is incapable of even making the most modest of changes that would improve the standards of democracy or equality for the people. The Reform act of 2014 was passed by the Conservative government to give the sitting members of Parliament a slight increase in their power over the executive of their parties. The bill was watered down significantly in order to be passed. Its articles and empowerments have been disregarded and whipped into ineffectiveness by all parties except the Conservatives who were reported in the media as having weak leadership when they voted to take the powers that the act offered the average MP’s.

Numbers too large to disregard: Political fact is based on perception. If a sufficient number of people believe that an issue is a problem, then it is a problem. For example, climate change and green house gases are viewed to be a problem by a sufficient number of citizens thereby making it a legitimate political issue that something needs to be done about by a democratic government. In the same way alienation in the west affects a sufficient number of people to be a democratic issue that must be addressed. This covers three kinds of alienation: classic western alienation on the prairies (7.1 million), alienation of the Indigenous through attempted assimilation (2.0 million) and alienation by abandonment of the west coast (5.1 million). There is some overlap but at 13 million citizens (of 37 million) 35% of the country is underrepresented in the decision making of the nation. The number is sufficient to be a national issue of our democracy.

Canadian Character: Canada has historically been a nation of compromise. Its history has been a series of collaborations to achieve mutual goals. There was respect for dissenting opinions and room for discourse. Respect for tradition and loyalty have been central to the nation as exemplified by the BNA, Quebec Agreements, Treaties on the prairies, referendums on separation and the conscription crisis of the two world wars. The country has had failures but the underlying character is that Canadians care for each other, feel a responsibility to each other and above all want to carve out something in North America that is not American. The nation is struggling to figure out what that is but it a and perhaps only common belief. We are here to help on that issue. We wish to arrest the Americanization of Canada because we are proud of all that we are from coast to coast in all of our diversity.

American style adversarial politics: The American political system is built, at its roots on the judicial adversarial system. The court is the supreme entity in its democracy and all the institutions and people in those institutions take guidance from that supreme entity in substance and style. The system is inherently less collaborative than the Westminster Parliamentary system to which Canada had previously adhered (before Trudeau’s constitution) and which had no judicial oversight and relied solely on people coming to a compromise solution on all issues.

Dehumanized modern state: the nation state of the modern world has taken on a life of its own for its own self-aggrandizement and seemingly has forgotten the people. This work believes that the nation, the government, the judiciary, businesses and all social organizations exist solely at the will of the people and that they are no more than mechanisms designed to help people. Those entities are not organic in nature, do not have an existence beyond the collective interests of the people and in fact, have a responsibility to be of service to the best interests of the people. The organization of the modern state has perpetuated the growing domination of these entities over the people in the eyes of many.