Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

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Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-20 12:09am

Continuing from a side discussion that emerged in thread about the plans for Queen Elizabeth's eventual death.

Tribble wrote:
The Romulan Republic wrote:Realistically? I have no idea.

In theory, I suppose I'd prefer a President elected by popular vote andbut definitely a greater degree of international cooperation.


And what kind of powers and procedures would you give said president? Do you want Canada to be a mini-USA? I am harping on this a bit because the differences between Canada's and the USA's political structure matters; it's not as simple as just tossing out the Monarch and electing a president, it would be a fundamental change as to how our government operates.

The Romulan Republic wrote:... well, a North American Union is problematic because the US would be so utterly dominant...


But doesn't that go against your idea that Canada remaining a separate nation and having a separate national identity is terrible? If you believe that nationalism in all its forms no matter what is bad, wouldn't the benefits of joining in a North American Union, even with the USA being completely dominant, outweigh all the evils that will continue to happen so long as Canada is a separate country and Canadians view themselves as a distinct group of people?

The Romulan Republic wrote:...but definitely a greater degree of international cooperation.


While the argument can certainly be made that all nations need to cooperate more particularly when it comes to the environment and humanitarian issues, that's a pretty broad statement. What exactly do you mean? Should we be signing up for things like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and CETA, just for the sake of international cooperation? Have our military fully subordinated to the UN?

The Romulan Republic wrote:Though I'd be open to some sort of non-elected ceremonial figurehead if selected through some means other than heredity.


That would be similar to the German model, which might work (though it is subject to political horse trading).

The Romulan Republic wrote:But in practice, Canada, for all its many advantages as a country, is so far from this ideal that I can't really imagine a clear path from here to their, and I don't expect it within a generation, if even in my life time.

Edit: And as a dual citizen of the US and Canada, I think I am in an unusual position to say that, as much as I love the United States, no one in their right mind would want to join with us while You Know Who is at the helm. :wink:


Well, you can't really have it both ways. Either the benefits of Canada being a separate nation state with a separate national identity outweighs the drawbacks overall, or it doesn't. Which do you think is the case? If you had to choose, would you prefer Canada remaining a separate country or would you prefer Canada joining in something like a North American Union, even if it meant being dominated by the USA and having the occasional Trump in charge, just for the sake of getting rid of Canadian nationalism? Or perhaps we ought to re-integrate with the UK and other Commonwealth countries and become the British Empire 2.0? Because let's be clear here - nationalism is as part of Canada as it is in many other Western countries, its why we deliberately choose not to be part of the USA and why we gradually moved away from the British Empire. If you think that is a bad thing fine, but then you ought to support Canada joining in a larger union with the USA, EU, or Commonwealth etc.


As to what sort of Presidential system I would envision for Canada, no, it would most definitely not be a simple copy of the US system. Indeed, I already stipulated one major difference, that being my preference for a direct popular vote over the absurd un-democratic anachronism of the Electoral College.

Likely, the simplest approach would be to simply retain the Parliament and PM in their current form, with a separately elected President taking the Queen's place as the Head of State. Possibly transfer some of the PM's powers to the President. Although as previously stated, I would likely consider a non-elected head of state acceptable as well, if they were selected by some means other than heredity.

To the question of nationalism vs. greater international unity:

Ultimately, I feel that their is a strong argument to be made for global government, as it would eliminate the risk of nuclear conflict between nation states, and because their are many problems faced by our globalized world (most notably international terrorism, the refugee crisis, pollution, and climate change) that require an organized global response to effectively address.

However, any such union should be, indeed must be, voluntary, and would likely have to come about, if at all, through a very gradual process. I fully acknowledge that any such union is a very distant goal, and I don't presume to be able to outline every step that would lead from here to their.

Long-term and overall, I would say that the benefits of greater unity would likely outweigh the benefits of nationalism, yes. I believe that nationalism is a largely poisonous ideology that serves to divide people based on cultural and country of origin, to incite and provide a flimsy justification for conflict, and to undermine the ideals of equality.

However, that does not mean that nationalism is a greater evil than any other possible evil. So even if a North American Union or union with the United States were the only possible form of international union Canada could hypothetically pursue (and you yourself propose other possibilities, however unlikely), I do not see any contradiction between my aversion to nationalim and my aversion to the idea of a North American Union, particularly now. A North American Union is problematic because the US would, realistically, be by far the dominant partner in such a union. Moreover, even if we consider such a union beneficial in the long-term, it would be foolish to cede authority over ones' country to a nation that is at present, to all appearances, rapidly descending into despotism and demagoguery.

A Commonwealth Union is an interesting theoretical concept. At least in such a union their would be enough member states of considerable size to prevent any one state from completely dominating all other members.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-20 12:34am

A point I neglected to adequately address before, which I'll respond to now:

While the argument can certainly be made that all nations need to cooperate more particularly when it comes to the environment and humanitarian issues, that's a pretty broad statement. What exactly do you mean? Should we be signing up for things like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and CETA, just for the sake of international cooperation? Have our military fully subordinated to the UN?


Since I recognize that global government is a goal that is a long way off, if it is ever achieved, let's focus on specific areas, which I alluded to above, where greater international cooperation would be potentially advisable: primarily the environment, security, and humanitarian crises. Obviously, any treaties should include provisions to protect the rights of the people as well.

Note that I do not include free trade deals in that list. I am not opposed to international trade by any means, but prefer fair trade to free trade designed to benefit corporations at the expense of the people.

As to the UN... it is, regrettably, largely a toothless joke when it comes to enforcing international law and protecting international security and human rights. This is due, at least in part, to the presence of the veto power, as well as to the fact that the UN, by design, includes and is influenced by despotic regimes as well as democratic ones.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Tribble » 2017-03-20 01:04am

The Romulan Republic wrote:As to what sort of Presidential system I would envision for Canada, no, it would most definitely not be a simple copy of the US system. Indeed, I already stipulated one major difference, that being my preference for a direct popular vote over the absurd un-democratic anachronism of the Electoral College.


Not having an Electoral College would obviously be ideal, although you would probably get strong objections from smaller provinces as they would effectively be even more irrelevant to Canadian politics than they are already. Getting their support to bring in a president who is elected solely via popular vote would probably be pretty difficult, though perhaps not impossible given all we have to do is take a look at the USA to see where that leads.

My biggest gripe is the Senate which definitely needs reform no matter what.


The Romulan Republic wrote:Likely, the simplest approach would be to simply retain the Parliament and PM in their current form, with a separately elected President taking the Queen's place as the Head of State. Possibly transfer some of the PM's powers to the President. Although as previously stated, I would likely consider a non-elected head of state acceptable as well, if they were selected by some means other than heredity.


Technically it's the other way around for the most part - the Governor General runs things on the "PM's advice" (which is almost always followed).

The Monarchy's powers are... quite extensive technically speaking. Apart from taxation and writing legislation the Monarch can pretty much do anything, and even those two are subject to a veto (via refusing Royal Assent). By practice and custom parliament and provincial legislatures do all of the work now, but the residual powers are still there. I think there may be occasions where having those kind of powers being rested with one individual whose above most of the political fray might be needed "if constitutional crisis occurs, break glass"... I'm concerned that electing such an individual even with the popular vote would be risking a demagogue down the road.

A ceremonial head of state who is not directly elected by the public is possible; Germany has one from instance. If we were to get rid of the Monarchy that's one option.

One feature that a Constitutional Hereditary Monarchy has is that it's in the Monarch's and his/her family's own interested never to use said powers unless its absolutely vital. If they start to get involved in day to day politics they'd be kicked out, and they know it. Also the only people to whom they owe favours to is the public, seeing it is the solely the public favour alone that keeps them in power. That's quite a bit different than elected/ appointed politicians, who almost always owe big favours to whoever helped them climb the greasy pole.

That being said, as someone else mentioned in another thread I think a good move would be to have the Monarch name their successors, and only if the Monarch dies without a successor being named / all named successors becomes incapacitated should it fall back to "next in line". That way it would help avoid the problem of being forced to have the next in line take over even if s/he is mediocre. IIRC good Roman Emperors even went to far as to "adopt" their successors into their family when necessary.



I'll respond to other bits shortly but it's past 1am over here and I have work in the morning :P
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Tribble » 2017-03-20 11:48pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:Ultimately, I feel that their is a strong argument to be made for global government, as it would eliminate the risk of nuclear conflict between nation states, and because their are many problems faced by our globalized world (most notably international terrorism, the refugee crisis, pollution, and climate change) that require an organized global response to effectively address.

However, any such union should be, indeed must be, voluntary, and would likely have to come about, if at all, through a very gradual process. I fully acknowledge that any such union is a very distant goal, and I don't presume to be able to outline every step that would lead from here to their.

Long-term and overall, I would say that the benefits of greater unity would likely outweigh the benefits of nationalism, yes. I believe that nationalism is a largely poisonous ideology that serves to divide people based on cultural and country of origin, to incite and provide a flimsy justification for conflict, and to undermine the ideals of equality.

However, that does not mean that nationalism is a greater evil than any other possible evil. So even if a North American Union or union with the United States were the only possible form of international union Canada could hypothetically pursue (and you yourself propose other possibilities, however unlikely), I do not see any contradiction between my aversion to nationalim and my aversion to the idea of a North American Union, particularly now. A North American Union is problematic because the US would, realistically, be by far the dominant partner in such a union. Moreover, even if we consider such a union beneficial in the long-term, it would be foolish to cede authority over ones' country to a nation that is at present, to all appearances, rapidly descending into despotism and demagoguery.

A Commonwealth Union is an interesting theoretical concept. At least in such a union their would be enough member states of considerable size to prevent any one state from completely dominating all other members.


Upon reading I find you and I are more or less on the same page, in the sense that it would be better for nations to gradually come together peacefully and hopefully one day there will hopefully be a utopian world government. A very long term difficult task for sure, but one worth moving towards over time... carefully.

I think you would benefit from posting comments like this over, say:

The Romulan Republic wrote:It would be for the best if Europe were a single nation-state rather than to go back to the pre-EU Europe, which depending on how far back you go is either Cold War Europe with the Iron Curtain, or constantly warring hyper-nationalist Europe that gave us two world wars and the largest organized, systematic genocide in history.

Fuck nationalism, wherever it rears its filthy head.

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viewtopic.php?f=22&t=166237

I strongly disagree with the ladder part of that statement when it comes to Canada, particularly under the present circumstances. Nationalism is what's holding Canada together as a country - if we didn't have a sense of being a distinct group of people with a distinct country and society, we wouldn't exist as a separate country. In fact that very well near happened with the Quebec referendums in 1980 and 1995, and some in the USA openly admitted they were hoping Canada would fall apart so that they could "pick up the pieces". I would say the desire not to join in a bigger union with the USA is what keeps the country together at the moment more than anything else (which has been the case since we decided not to join in the American Revoultion) since geographically and culturally speaking several provinces have more in common with their US neighbours than they do their Canadian counterparts.

The Romulan Republic wrote:Since I recognize that global government is a goal that is a long way off, if it is ever achieved, let's focus on specific areas, which I alluded to above, where greater international cooperation would be potentially advisable: primarily the environment, security, and humanitarian crises. Obviously, any treaties should include provisions to protect the rights of the people as well.

Note that I do not include free trade deals in that list. I am not opposed to international trade by any means, but prefer fair trade to free trade designed to benefit corporations at the expense of the people.

As to the UN... it is, regrettably, largely a toothless joke when it comes to enforcing international law and protecting international security and human rights. This is due, at least in part, to the presence of the veto power, as well as to the fact that the UN, by design, includes and is influenced by despotic regimes as well as democratic ones.


Well at least we are on the same page with "free trade" agreements... not a fan of things like CETA and the TPP.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-21 12:19am

Tribble wrote:Not having an Electoral College would obviously be ideal, although you would probably get strong objections from smaller provinces as they would effectively be even more irrelevant to Canadian politics than they are already.


The Electoral College specifically is, to my knowledge, a system unique to the United States, and it is unlikely that their would be a strong push to duplicate it in Canada, I expect. Especially in light of recent events in the US, as you subsequently noted.

Getting their support to bring in a president who is elected solely via popular vote would probably be pretty difficult, though perhaps not impossible given all we have to do is take a look at the USA to see where that leads.


I pretty much agree with this.

However, their are better places to establish checks to protect the minority than the election of a national head of state. I'm very much of the view that election results should be based on the popular vote to be considered truly representative and democratic. And the concern that smaller states/provinces will be underrepresented in a popular vote election is, in my opinion, somewhat missing the point. States/provinces are artificial constructs, which are ultimately comprised of individual people, not homogenous blocks. A nation-wide popular vote ensures that all individual voters are equally represented, regardless of where they live. To put the representation of a political construct over the equal representation of the individuals that comprise that construct is a mockery of democracy.

My biggest gripe is the Senate which definitely needs reform no matter what.


Agreed. As it is, its an unelected branch whose existence largely seems redundant.

Technically it's the other way around for the most part - the Governor General runs things on the "PM's advice" (which is almost always followed).


Yes, theoretically, the Governor General is in charge, but practically speaking, its generally the PM who's running things.

The Monarchy's powers are... quite extensive technically speaking. Apart from taxation and writing legislation the Monarch can pretty much do anything, and even those two are subject to a veto (via refusing Royal Assent). By practice and custom parliament and provincial legislatures do all of the work now, but the residual powers are still there. I think there may be occasions where having those kind of powers being rested with one individual whose above most of the political fray might be needed "if constitutional crisis occurs, break glass"... I'm concerned that electing such an individual even with the popular vote would be risking a demagogue down the road.


On the one hand, their are conceivable circumstances where having those powers in the hands of a non-elected official might prove useful. On the other hand, most of the time, they're either going to not be exercised, or it would be horribly undemocratic if they were. And if they ever were exercised, I expect their'd be a huge uproar over it.

Their is a risk of demagoguery under any system. Is a Presidential system more vulnerable to it than any other? I'm not sure. Ultimately, it depends on both the system of checks and balances, or lack thereof, in place, and upon the political culture of the nation in question.

A ceremonial head of state who is not directly elected by the public is possible; Germany has one from instance. If we were to get rid of the Monarchy that's one option.


I should probably take a closer look at the German system.

One possibility I've considered, which you discuss below, is a monarch who appoints their own successor. Possibly subject to a (largely a formality) approval by the legislature. Though other possibilities could no doubt be devised.

One feature that a Constitutional Hereditary Monarchy has is that it's in the Monarch's and his/her family's own interested never to use said powers unless its absolutely vital. If they start to get involved in day to day politics they'd be kicked out, and they know it. Also the only people to whom they owe favours to is the public, seeing it is the solely the public favour alone that keeps them in power. That's quite a bit different than elected/ appointed politicians, who almost always owe big favours to whoever helped them climb the greasy pole.


Their is some truth to this, provided that the popular sentiment is similar to, and the current monarch has the sense of public duty and responsibility that, the current British monarchy does.

However, while it is true that elected politicians will tend to accumulate debts to those who helped them climb the ladder, by all rights they should be most indebted to the people, or at least to the majority of the people who voted for them, as the vote is the source of their authority. If this is not the case, it is because of defects in the current laws such as overly permissive campaign finance laws. I think that we need to differentiate between inherent flaws in democracy, and those which are simply a product of current law (particularly US law).

If, to take an extreme example, the contemporary United States is treated as representative of democratic republics in general, and Queen Elizabeth the Second is treated as representative of monarchy in general, then yeah, the latter looks like the better deal. But that isn't really a fair representation, as I think you'll agree.

That being said, as someone else mentioned in another thread I think a good move would be to have the Monarch name their successors, and only if the Monarch dies without a successor being named / all named successors becomes incapacitated should it fall back to "next in line". That way it would help avoid the problem of being forced to have the next in line take over even if s/he is mediocre. IIRC good Roman Emperors even went to far as to "adopt" their successors into their family when necessary.


Agreed. See above.

Response to your second post pending.

Edited the bit comparing the US "democratic" system to the British monarchy to avoid an unintentional implication that Britain is not a democracy. :wink:
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby AniThyng » 2017-03-21 12:26am

I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-21 12:35am

AniThyng wrote:I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.


Yes, that's true.

Electoral reform is an issue in Canada as well- something that constantly gets talked about but frustratingly never actually happens (probably because whoever's in power got their under the current, flawed system).

That said, while it is entirely possible for a party to take a parliamentary majority without a majority of the vote, I am at least unaware of anyone ever becoming Prime Minister when another party had more votes. The ratios may be skewed, but we don't outright reverse who won.

I actually find the indirect way in which our PM is elected deeply frustrating, however. Because the PM is the leader of whichever party gets the most seats in Parliament, one cannot vote for one party for the legislature and another for PM, the way one could, say, vote Independent for Senate, Republican for Congress, and Democrat for President, or whatever. It also makes it basically impossible to have an Independent bid for PM. It restricts the voters' choices and forces them, potentially, to choose between who suites them locally and who suites them nationally.

As someone who can legally participate in both systems, their are a number of aspects of the US system I prefer. The US Senate is superior in function and design, in my opinion, and Presidential elections in some respects give the voter more choice.

Counterbalancing that are several serious flaws, perhaps most notably:

-Overly permissive campaign finance laws.
-Absurd levels of gerrymandering.
-Voter suppression laws.
-The chaotic and inconsistent and often undemocratic primary process.
-The Electoral College.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby AniThyng » 2017-03-21 12:40am

AniThyng wrote:I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.


In fact, thinking about it a bit more, isn't the fact that a PM is accountable to parliament and a part of it a double edged sword? A strong PM will definitely be able to count on his legislature being behind him for the entirety of his term, something few American president's can count on.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-21 12:43am

AniThyng wrote:
AniThyng wrote:I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.


In fact, thinking about it a bit more, isn't the fact that a PM is accountable to parliament and a part of it a double edged sword? A strong PM will definitely be able to count on his legislature being behind him for the entirety of his term.


Yep. Short of the Governor General (as representative of the Monarch) exercising those theoretical but seldom used powers, a PM with a majority government can pretty much do... whatever the hell they please, for the most part.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby AniThyng » 2017-03-21 12:52am

And if you get a elected President/Governor general who also supports the direction of the PM...well, so much for that check and balance.

But I suppose at that point one must concede that is the will of 50+1 of the people, give or take a few %.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-03-21 01:00am

Of course, it is not usual for the Governor General to go against the PM/Parliament. So its normally more of a theoretical check than an actual one.

As to checks on abuse by a majority government... to me, the primary safeguards against that are, or ought to be, constitutional and judicial, as well as the presence of a free press. And of course, ultimately, the people themselves.

Ultimately, any political system depends on the will of the people. No government can survive and function forever if the people are overwhelmingly against it. No political system will be be fully functional if the political culture of the country is not healthy. Monarchies are not immune to revolt, or to corruption. No political system is.

So yes, ultimately, and especially if you profess a belief in the fundamental equality and freedom of all people, you have to put your trust in the populace. The structure of government should be designed to facilitate the right of the people (including the minority) to have an informed voice in government, and to create a structure in which those disagreements and shifts in power can occur peacefully.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Tribble » 2017-03-21 01:56am

The Romulan Republic wrote:I pretty much agree with this.

However, their are better places to establish checks to protect the minority than the election of a national head of state. I'm very much of the view that election results should be based on the popular vote to be considered truly representative and democratic. And the concern that smaller states/provinces will be underrepresented in a popular vote election is, in my opinion, somewhat missing the point. States/provinces are artificial constructs, which are ultimately comprised of individual people, not homogenous blocks. A nation-wide popular vote ensures that all individual voters are equally represented, regardless of where they live. To put the representation of a political construct over the equal representation of the individuals that comprise that construct is a mockery of democracy.


I agree, I'm just pointing out that from a practical standpoint electing a president via popular vote alone would almost certainly be a major issue... to the point where realistically reforming the head of state may be unfeasible if that's the route being chosen. Remember that removing the Monarch would require all provinces plus the Feds.

The Romulan Republic wrote:On the one hand, their are conceivable circumstances where having those powers in the hands of a non-elected official might prove useful. On the other hand, most of the time, they're either going to not be exercised, or it would be horribly undemocratic if they were. And if they ever were exercised, I expect their'd be a huge uproar over it.


Which is why I've always called it "in case of constitutional crisis, break glass" scenarios. It has happened on occasion in both Canada and Australia.

The Romulan Republic wrote:Their is a risk of demagoguery under any system. Is a Presidential system more vulnerable to it than any other? I'm not sure. Ultimately, it depends on both the system of checks and balances, or lack thereof, in place, and upon the political culture of the nation in question.


In the Canadian context, for the foreseeable future yes I do believe the risk of demagoguery is greater under a Presidential system, particularly if said president is directly elected and has US-style levels of powers.


The Romulan Republic wrote:Their is some truth to this, provided that the popular sentiment is similar to, and the current monarch has the sense of public duty and responsibility that, the current British monarchy does.

However, while it is true that elected politicians will tend to accumulate debts to those who helped them climb the ladder, by all rights they should be most indebted to the people, or at least to the majority of the people who voted for them, as the vote is the source of their authority. If this is not the case, it is because of defects in the current laws such as overly permissive campaign finance laws. I think that we need to differentiate between inherent flaws in democracy, and those which are simply a product of current law (particularly US law).

If, to take an extreme example, the contemporary United States is treated as representative of democratic republics in general, and Queen Elizabeth the Second is treated as representative of monarchy in general, then yeah, the latter looks like the better deal. But that isn't really a fair representation, as I think you'll agree.


Actually outside of the British Commonwealth there are quite a few examples of countries with constitutional Monarchs that tend to do quite well for themselves (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Japan, etc). Queen Elizabeth the Second may be the most well known but she's certainly not alone.

In terms of countries which are strictly democratic republics I would say that Germany is the most successful, and again their president is largely ceremonial and not directly elected by the public.


AniThyng wrote:I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.


Electoral reform is an issue in Canada and there have been steady calls to replace FPTP. It's quite frequent for a government to win a majority of seats with just 38% of the vote. This isn't confined to the leading party either - we've had bizarre things like the Separatist Bloc Quebecois coming in 2nd place and forming the "Loyal Opposition" despite only running in Quebec and having ~13.5% of the vote. Results like that are usually do to split voting, and though they are rare they do happen.

That being said, you can't really leave aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign as that's a fundamental part of the system as well. The moment the PM loses the confidence of parliament, out s/he goes. The PM is paradoxically much more powerful yet much more vulnerable than the US president.

The Romulan Republic wrote:That said, while it is entirely possible for a party to take a parliamentary majority without a majority of the vote, I am at least unaware of anyone ever becoming Prime Minister when another party had more votes. The ratios may be skewed, but we don't outright reverse who won.


That actually happened once (the King-Byng affair) and was considered a constitutional crisis. Basically the PM (King) refused to resign after his party came in 2nd place, he eventually lost a vote of confidence and requested an election but the Governor General (Byng) refused and offered the leading party the chance to govern instead (note that the Governor General did not ask Britain for advice as he wanted to keep them above the fray). That didn't pan out, an election was eventually held and King ended up winning a majority the 2nd time around. While Byng resigned. YMMV on whose actions were justifiable, though IMO King was largely at fault for not resigning when he ought to have.

The Romulan Republic wrote:I actually find the indirect way in which our PM is elected deeply frustrating, however. Because the PM is the leader of whichever party gets the most seats in Parliament, one cannot vote for one party for the legislature and another for PM, the way one could, say, vote Independent for Senate, Republican for Congress, and Democrat for President, or whatever. It also makes it basically impossible to have an Independent bid for PM. It restricts the voters' choices and forces them, potentially, to choose between who suites them locally and who suites them nationally.


On the other hand you don't have the perpetual log-jams that so prevalent in the US, since the PM must have the support of parliament in order to hold the position. The whole idea in modern Canadian politics is that you are voting for a government with specific beliefs that you agree with rather than a single person. YMMV, though IMO the ladder is generally superior (provided we have a more effective Senate, see below).

The Romulan Republic wrote:As someone who can legally participate in both systems, their are a number of aspects of the US system I prefer. The US Senate is superior in function and design, in my opinion, and Presidential elections in some respects give the voter more choice.


I agree that the Canadian Senate needs reform, and it should be elected. Ideally it should also follow the US custom by having equal numbers of Senators for each province rather than the current setup. The 2nd part is not likely to happen given that Quebec would almost certainly object, but I think that would be the most fair.

However, my views differ on how the Canadian Senate should operate. I would prefer to see it as an effective "House of Review" over it being a more or less equal House, as is the case between the US House of Representatives vs the Senate. I go could into some discussion on this, but basically my view is that the main problem is not the powers and duties of the Senate so much as Senators just being party favourites who were appointed either appointed as a gift or consolation prize rather than due to any skills, and 99.9% of the time they just rubber stamp legislation rather than seriously look at it. An elected and politically independent Senate would go a long way to acting as an effective check (as it currently stands we tend to have to rely on the Courts too much, as they were never intended to be the sole check of government legislation).

AniThyng wrote:In fact, thinking about it a bit more, isn't the fact that a PM is accountable to parliament and a part of it a double edged sword? A strong PM will definitely be able to count on his legislature being behind him for the entirety of his term, something few American president's can count on.


The biggest problem isn't so much that as the fact that we use First Past the Post to elect everyone. Under a proportional election system the PM would rarely have a majority and would have to compromise with other parties.

Plus we really need to reform the Senate, which was intended on checking a PM's powers instead of the rubber stamp organization it is right now.

The Romulan Republic wrote:Yep. Short of the Governor General (as representative of the Monarch) exercising those theoretical but seldom used powers, a PM with a majority government can pretty much do... whatever the hell they please, for the most part.


See above. The courts do play an essential role as well, but IMO they've been forced into taking a far stronger stance than they ought to, since for practical purposes they are currently they only real check on government power in most instances.

AniThyng wrote:And if you get a elected President/Governor general who also supports the direction of the PM...well, so much for that check and balance.

But I suppose at that point one must concede that is the will of 50+1 of the people, give or take a few %.


As it currently stands the Governor general abides by the advice of the PM and only intervenes for potential constitutional crises, which does happen on occasion. The most recent occasion where a Governor General did not 100% agree to a PM's advice was in 2008, where Steven Harper requested a prorogue (temporary disbanding of parliament) in order to prevent a potential NDP/BQ/Liberal coalition from replacing him. While the Governor General agreed she refused the unconditional prorogue which he had requested and permitted a maximum of 30 days. While that was enough to break the coalition, if it hadn't all the indications were that Harper would be replaced and that the Governor General would not have permitted him a 2nd prorogue or calling an election.

The Romulan wrote:Of course, it is not usual for the Governor General to go against the PM/Parliament. So its normally more of a theoretical check than an actual one.

As to checks on abuse by a majority government... to me, the primary safeguards against that are, or ought to be, constitutional and judicial, as well as the presence of a free press. And of course, ultimately, the people themselves.

Ultimately, any political system depends on the will of the people. No government can survive and function forever if the people are overwhelmingly against it. No political system will be be fully functional if the political culture of the country is not healthy. Monarchies are not immune to revolt, or to corruption. No political system is.

So yes, ultimately, and especially if you profess a belief in the fundamental equality and freedom of all people, you have to put your trust in the populace. The structure of government should be designed to facilitate the right of the people (including the minority) to have an informed voice in government, and to create a structure in which those disagreements and shifts in power can occur peacefully.


While I generally agree with that sentiment, I would not go so far as to jump to the conclusion (which you seem to be implying, though I might be wrong) that because no system is perfect, we should therefore should get rid of the Monarchy and make Canada a Federal Republic. If the populace believes that there are benefits to having a Constitutional Monarchy over a Federal Republic, then I don't really see that being at odds with the "belief in the fundamental equality and freedom of all people" and "putting your trust in the hands of the populace."
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Tribble » 2017-03-21 02:19am

I should add that as replacing the Monarch is a pretty big constitutional amendment, it should naturally require high threshold. At present it requires the unanimous consent of all provinces and the Feds, but no referendum. IMO that's about right - if public sentiment is such that they elect governments across the board to replace the Monarch its obvious the Monarch has become unpopular enough to be a serious liability. Not that I'd want a US style President of course, but that would be a clear indicator that change was needed.
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Coop D'etat » 2017-03-21 03:38pm

AniThyng wrote:
AniThyng wrote:I'm curious as to how the Canadian method of choosing the prime minister is better at representing the popular vote than the electoral college? Is it not possible for a Westminster style PM to be PM with a majority in parliament but not by national popular vote just like in the latter system? Leaving aside that it's much easier to force a bad PM to resign.


In fact, thinking about it a bit more, isn't the fact that a PM is accountable to parliament and a part of it a double edged sword? A strong PM will definitely be able to count on his legislature being behind him for the entirety of his term, something few American president's can count on.


That's a feature, not a bug. A strong Prime Minister has the discretion to enact a comprehensive and coherent program of governance, so long as they retain the confidence of the people he is responsible to, firstly Parliament and his party and ultimately the electorate. The parties in particular are strong enduring institutions with an inherent long-term interest in delivering to the electorate (failure to do so leads to not just loss of power, but at times even annilation of the party as a political entity so the incentives are strong). Essentially you can have massive power in this system, but only so long as there is the confidence that you should do so.

Throw out the notion of calculated checks and balances that Presidential systems use, its not how the system works. Its an accountability system. Those in power have wide discretion in how the execute it so long as they remain in the confines of the law, but are under perpetual supervision and can be called to account and removed. Holding office is seen as having a job with responsiblities, meet said responsiblities according to expectations or expect to get fired and replaced.

The proof of the value of the system isn't that its what you'd come up with on paper as a theorycrafting exercise by poli-sci nerds, but that it gives every sign of working as well as or better than what anybody else is doing.

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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-03-21 05:24pm

That might be because of the progressive societies in the Commonwealth countries we usually see as having Prime Minister-ial parliamentary-style governments... on the other hand, aren't places like Malaysia using similar systems but with dysfunctional results? Can we come up with examples of crummy states that weren't unfucked just by having a Prime Minister/Parliament?
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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby Coop D'etat » 2017-03-21 08:07pm

You can't unfuck a system by changing the structure of government. Government gets fucked or unfucked based on things like political institutions, informal norms and civil society, not which of the types of more or less functional democratic governence you decide to use. At best you can favour using one that better suits the political needs of a particular state and its political, demographic and societal conditions.

The current Canadian governmental structure isn't what anyone would propose on paper as an ideal solution, but it functions essentially well enough for the purposes it needs to fill and has fundamental legitimacy to the voting public. History also shows that trying to change the structure to chase marginal improvments tends to destablize the polity. In the case of using the British Monarchy as the head of state, its an objectively wierd feature to have in the system, but it functions well enough as is. Changing it for what amounts to purely symbolic reasons creates new problems without really fixing anything that was fundamentally broken.

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Re: Discussions on Canadian government: Monarchy vs. Republic, and nationalism vs. globalism.

Postby AniThyng » 2017-03-22 07:09am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:That might be because of the progressive societies in the Commonwealth countries we usually see as having Prime Minister-ial parliamentary-style governments... on the other hand, aren't places like Malaysia using similar systems but with dysfunctional results? Can we come up with examples of crummy states that weren't unfucked just by having a Prime Minister/Parliament?


To be honest for all its faults, the Malaysian government still functions, and the opposition parties have only one thing in common : a desire to win the national elections. Once they manage that they will swiftly disintegrate because the match between a secular socialist party and an Islamic party is one made in hell.

I also think Malaysia, in the form of kelantan offers an interesting insight into the dilemma of regional vs national rights : kelantan time and time again votes for an Islamic party. Why should the rest of the country get to dictate they cannot then have a more Islamic administration?
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