• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)

What do you want to see?


  • Total voters
    194
Status
Not open for further replies.

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,549
Points
1,060
MCG said:
......After that, it may be worth looking at how leaders are selected in Parliament (not necessarily by the parties) and how government and the opposition is formed.I think shifting power from parties to MPs would be a good thing.  Of course, this debate would also require that we review our position on the formation of coalitions and of MPs crossing party lines inside the house.

MCG, I agree that this is the crux of the matter for Canadian democracy: the selection of leaders. 

The representative assembly system, with no parties, and the Prime Minister selected by the Majority of the Caucus that has the Majority of the Votes in the House, reduces the opportunity for back-room deals to be made.

The party system ensures that power is managed out of sight of the public, outside the House.

When King, (or was it Bonar Law? or Lord North?) declared that he was no longer bound by the Caucus, but was a creature of extra-parliamentary forces, he set aside all the work of reform that had occured from the days of Lord North and had their apogee with the arrival of universal suffrage.   No sooner did working men and all women have a right to influence the decision making system in parliament than a mechanism was discovered for influence to be exerted that would subvert their influence.

The Parties are Clubs.  They are Private Clubs.  They may run themselves by constitutions and Roberts Rules but they are still Private Clubs.  They may not discriminate in membership but they still charge a membership fee.  And that fee does not gain you  much control over how the funds are spent. Edit: It essentially buys you a single, minority share in privately held company.

The Party is essentially a corporation whose sole purpose is selling influence.  It promises to deliver a Prime Minister, a block of MPs and a set of Policies in return for cash.  In the Liberals case it used to come primarily from the heirs of the Norwesters in the Golden Square Mile of Montreal.  In the case of the NDP it came from the coerced masses in their Unions.  In the case of the Conservatives, it used to come from Upper Canada but now, increasingly, is coming from Calgary and the Middle Class.

But no matter how broad the subscription on which a Party is based, it is stilll a vehicle for influence-peddling, and that is a crime:

INFLUENCE PEDDLING
Influence peddling is another example of improper use of office. Unlike bribery, which is aimed at buying a decision directly from the decision maker, the concept of influence peddling involves paying a third party to exert influence on the decision maker. In this situation, the buyer hopes that the influence of the person being paid will be sufficient to convince the decision maker to decide a matter in his or her favour.

The Criminal Code prohibits officials from demanding, accepting or offering or agreeing to accept a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind for cooperation, assistance or exercise of influence in connection with any matter of business relating to the government[21]. Although Parliamentarians may not necessarily be in a position to make a particular decision, they might very well be able to influence the decision-making process. In fact, members of the House of Commons are expected to represent the interests of their constituents and to participate in the development of public policies. Thus, representing the interests of their constituents in influencing public policy is not in itself a crime. However, this activity becomes a crime when done in exchange for a benefit. The member would be taking advantage of his public office for private gain.

It is noteworthy that when a public official accepts a benefit in exchange for the exercise of his or her influence, it is not necessary that the official possess a corrupt state of mind. The test applied by the courts is : whether or not the individual is aware that he or she is an official ; whether or not the official intentionally demands or accepts the benefit in question, for himself or herself, or for another person ; and whether or not the official knows that the reward is in consideration for his or her influence in connection with the transaction of business with the government.....
Source

Moving to Proportional Representation and Party Lists would only strengthen the hand of those who control the coffers and buy the Prime Minister's office.

With respect to your point about crossing party lines.  If there are no parties, there are no lines to cross.  There is just an assembly of representatives who are forced to make their deals in public, on the issues.

I noticed in one article that I posted, I think it was the article by the Carleton prof, that Belgium insisted that the Party Leader NOT be the Leader of the Party in the House.  Perhaps that makes some sense.  It separates the Party, an extraparliamenetary club of individuals that lobby parliamentarians to support their cause, from the parliamentarians themselves.

Perhaps the secret is to move the parliamentarians further along the curve toward the (supposedly) apolitical courts.  A starting point would be to demand that parliamentarians cannot be affiliated with any party - cannot hold a party membership.

A second step would be to increase the use of by-elections and decrease the use of general-elections.  This would decrease the ability of the Party to influence the messaging by forcing them to spread their efforts over time as they would be limited geographically.

(By the way I wonder if the word By in By-election is  related to the By in the name of the town Whitby.  By is a Danish word for city, town or borough is found widely in town names throughout northern England and southern Scotland. Whitby is smack in middle of this area on the coast of Yorkshire.)

A third step would be to actually elect the individual that our laws and conventions recognize as our leader - Her Majesty's representative, the Governor-General (deisgnate the office as Guardian of the Crown and us traditionalists would probably be happy).

With these three steps I think we could put our system of governance back into balance.

Edited to add Carleton link.






 

Castus

Jr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
110
Proportional Commons, Elected Senate (with a fixed, equal number of Senators per province/territory, maybe) and Elected GG. That's how I see democracy working best for us. Yeah, it would affect the party I voted for last election (Tories) negatively, but I think the ultimate point of having proportional representation is that all viewpoints are broadly represented.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,549
Points
1,060
Castus said:
.....but I think the ultimate point of having proportional representation is that all viewpoints are broadly represented.

I don't think there is a problem with all viewpoints being represented now.

The ongoing question is: "Who gets to decide?"

The proponents of proportional representation generally are also fans of "consensus".  When time is available then "consensus" is a viable (if not necessarily desirable) method of decision making.  However, when time is short, or divisions are so entrenched that consensus isn't possible who gets to decide?

Our system is based on giving an individual a temporary, renewable licence to decide for us.
 

TCBF

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
360
Castus said:
Proportional Commons, Elected Senate (with a fixed, equal number of Senators per province/territory, maybe) and Elected GG. That's how I see democracy working best for us. Yeah, it would affect the party I voted for last election (Tories) negatively, but I think the ultimate point of having proportional representation is that all viewpoints are broadly represented.

- Again, Proportional Rep gives the lunatic fringe influence in national affairs - that is how Hitler came into power: Proportional Rep.  First Past the Post ensures that that every MP MUST meet the standard of getting more votes than their competitors from their constituents.
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
TCBF said:
- Again, Proportional Rep gives the lunatic fringe influence in national affairs - that is how Hitler came into power: Proportional Rep.  First Past the Post ensures that that every MP MUST meet the standard of getting more votes than their competitors from their constituents.

Excluding forms of PR that give seats in legislative bodies based on nation wide percentages or numbers of voters, a "lunatic fringe" must still garner enough votes in a single riding (over all the non-lunatics) to win the seat.  The single transferable vote system is one example of this in which reaching the quota in a multi-member constituency is the only method of selecting a MP and no % or national vote tally can parachute a candidate into office.

I'm not as big of a fan of PR as I used to be, but some of the claims against it just don't stack up to reality.  If you compare the FPTP system of the UK and the STV system of Ireland you will see that not only is the Irish parliament just as stable as the British , but that the British system has many more "fringe" parties than the Irish do. 

The Irish through their method of PR (The Single Transferable Vote) and tightening the criteria for registering a political party has gone to great lengths to eliminate the possibility of nut-bars in Parliament.  In short it's not PR but the method of PR that one has to be wary of.

Do I think that PR could work in Canada?  Frankly, no.  Neither our politicians nor our electorate seem mature enough to actually accept a coalition, much less be able to function in one.

One of the things I'd most like to see done in Parliament is to have all the TV cameras removed from the HoC.  Take the stage away and I'd wager the grandstanding and childish crap that these so called legislators pull to one-up their opponents would diminish greatly.
 

Edward Campbell

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Mentor
Reaction score
1,318
Points
1,160
I favour a simple (list system) form of PR for a fully elected Senate – when (rather than if) we get there.

The Senate of Canada should represent the equal partners in Confederation: the provinces, as provinces.*

I want each province’s Senate ‘delegation’ to be elected during provincial general elections and I want the senators to reflect, roughly, the votes cast in that provincial election – hence a simple list system.

Ontario, after the 2007 election, would have sent 11 Liberal (on 42% of the popular vote), 7 Conservative (31.6%), 4 NDP (16%) and 2 Green senators to Ottawa for a (roughly) four year term of office.

Abolishing the Senate requires a full blown Constitutional convention during which the NDP’s abolitionist nonsense would be exposed for the populist fluff it is – completely devoid of any intellectual weight at all. If we ever get a full blown Constitutional Convention I forecast a republic, with a Westminster Style Parliament and an elected Senate representing, equally, five provinces: BC, North West Canada, Ontario Québec and Atlantic Canada.

--------------------

* While the HoC should represent Canadians as people living in local communities – some, to be sure, bloody vast communities – on a roughly equal (1:1±20%) basis. For this a First Past the Post system - with run of elections or, better, multi round vote counting (select your first, second, third choices) with only a few run offs when necessary - is best. Each local community selects its own member: the one who gets 50%+1 of the weighted (3+2+1) total ballots. The parties must deal with local voters on local issues in order to get enough seats from enough local communities to form a government.

 

McG

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,967
Points
1,160
I like the idea of HoC multi-member constituencies for cities that are large enough to have multiple constituencies under the current system. 
 

Infanteer

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Donor
Reaction score
4,105
Points
1,160
So McG, you're not opposed to a STV-system for cities?

For the House of Commons, I still support the single constituancy representative elected by a first past the post system.  It is a simple and clear way of ensuring accountability - the buck stops with your representative.  Just because we have a party system and an elector didn't vote for "Party X" doesn't mean that the winner isn't their representative as well - make 'em work for you.  The reason there is so much disatisfaction with this system is that our current constitutional makeup makes this vote so important.  The first past the post system amounts to who gets the most seats which amounts to who selects the Prime Minister which amounts to an office with the single greatest concentration of power amongst Western democracies.  If FPTP simply represented sending a Representative to Ottawa, it wouldn't be so much salt in the eye.

I advocate Senate Reform, but I've never really put thought into how we should choose Senators.  I believe, fundamentally, that a Senate should be equal in order to offer regional representation.  If it isn't - if Senate seats are assigned based upon which provinces are more populace - then it is simply another Legislative House based upon population.  It is my belief that an Upper House needs to offer a counterbalance to a potential "tyranny of the Majority".  In Canada's case, so many people are dissatisfied with the amount of seats in Southern Ontario (which it rightly deserves in a House representing population) - an equal Senate offers a "check" to this.  If the ultimate goal isn't an Equal Senate, then we may as well chuck it because it is only duplicating a function served by the HofC.

I do not support Edward's idea of a list system for two simple reasons:
1.    It shuts out the independants.  Sure, they may not be a huge effect on the system but the notion that anyone can run as an independant is important in highlighting the fact that the principle prerequisite for office is the will of the electors and not the nod of the local party chief; and

2.    By extention, it enshrines Parties and their grip on the political process.  My goal is to see parties reduced to "confederations" of ideas as opposed to enshrining them into Kingmakers.
 

dapaterson

Army.ca Relic
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
7,158
Points
1,090
Having a PR senate, using the results of the provincial elections, would either oblige greater co-operation between the federal and provincial parties or would create a more robust upper house - both good, to my way of thinking.

Of course, I'd probably want seats in the upper house rotating on alternate provincial elections (that is, half the seats in play at any one time) to provide better continuity.  Add a few term limits as well, and it could be good.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
The deeper I look into things the more it seems like this is a job that can only be done by teaming Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) and Mike Holmes (Holmes on Holmes).

Much of the problem isn't in the Constitution or the ordinary conventions that surround a Westminster Parliament at all, but rather the various additions that have grown around Parliament and government over the centuries. I suspect that no one ever really considered that being a politician should be a full time career, nor were ideas like political parties, caucusing, the Privy Council Office, a permanent bureaucracy, NGO's, interest groups,activist courts, politicized press on a 24hr news cycle or polling in the thoughts of the people who put together the various constitutions and laws that make up our official system of government.

In a way, the BNA act and the Constitution act of 1982 are more like a trellis in the garden which supports the "real" mechanisms of government in Canada growing over top of them (which have been revealed to be poisonous weeds). I have no real solutions except to sharply limit and restrict the powers of government; without the incentives of absolute power there will be less attraction to get into government (and the trough will not be big enough to support the armies of flunkies and hangers on anyway).
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
Thucydides said:
In a way, the BNA act and the Constitution act of 1982 are more like a trellis in the garden which supports the "real" mechanisms of government in Canada growing over top of them (which have been revealed to be poisonous weeds). I have no real solutions except to sharply limit and restrict the powers of government; without the incentives of absolute power there will be less attraction to get into government (and the trough will not be big enough to support the armies of flunkies and hangers on anyway).

Agreed, take away the almost unlimited ability to tax and spend, separate government and the economy and return government to the basic functions of Defense of rights, defense of the nation and ensuring the rule of law and see how many politicians line up to make such mundane duties their life's work. 
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,549
Points
1,060
Zip said:
..... take away the almost unlimited ability to tax and spend......

But ultimately that is why we have Parliament.  It's primary purpose has always been to control the public purse and limit the government's ability to tax and spend.

Everything else is secondary to that main effort.

Parliament, in another instance of usurpation/evolution, has moved from laws pertaining to the King's ability to raise taxes, through economic "rights", like the right to maintain a fishweir on the Thames to "rights" in general.  Once upon a time those "rights" issues were decided by the King and the Courts, and Juries, under the Common Law formula of precedence.  The Juries and Precedence ensured that Common Law evolved with Society.
 

McG

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,967
Points
1,160
Infanteer said:
So McG, you're not opposed to a STV-system for cities?
See here: http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/25692/post-200633.html#msg200633

 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
Kirkhill said:
But ultimately that is why we have Parliament.  It's primary purpose has always been to control the public purse and limit the government's ability to tax and spend.

Historically perhaps but our system has evolved away from controlling the King's excess to the point where the guys we elect are worse than the King in the first place. 
 

McG

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
1,967
Points
1,160
Zip said:
Historically perhaps but our system has evolved away from controlling the King's excess to the point where the guys we elect are worse than the King in the first place. 
Is it the individuals or the parties that have become "worse"?

It seems all the more reason to ensure a system which gives power to individual representatives over parties, and for a bicameral system with one house to check the other.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,549
Points
1,060
Zip and MCG - I agree with both of you.

Part of the problem is the job of Prime Minister - an undefined position held at the behest of external influences. 

I say this next as a confirmed Monarchist, the other part of the problem is that the Monarchy gives cover to the PM.  The PM has progressed from being an advisor to the Monarch, to being a counter to the Monarch to being the Monarch pro tem.

The US republic and the Canadian monarchy have this in common.  Both require a head of state and a CEO.  Both of them require their head of state and their CEOs to be active participants in their governance.  In the US the President is Head of State and Monarch Pro Tem.  In Canada (and Britain) the PM hides in the shadows protecting us from the phantom of the absolute monarch while availing himself of all the powers of the Monarch in the Monarch's name.

This is a bigger problem for Britain than for Canada.  In Britain Governance is still tied up with the Oldenburg family blood lines.  In Canada, by virtue of our having an unrelated Governor-General selected as Vice-Roy for a limited term (5 years by tradition) we already have a simple basis for correcting the imbalance.  Change the method of selection from PM's fiat to some form of election.  We already changed from Foreign Office appointee to PM's fiat without anybody noticing much.
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
MCG said:
Is it the individuals or the parties that have become "worse"?

It seems all the more reason to ensure a system which gives power to individual representatives over parties, and for a bicameral system with one house to check the other.

It's much deeper than that.  In my opinion it goes all the way back to the founding documents of this country that allow the wholesale expansion of government into private and market sectors.  Don't even get me started on that PC, let's all sing kumbaya, piece of reform liberal, social engineering that is the CCRF.

There aught to only be three rights in that document, Life, Liberty and Property.  Everything else is at best ancillary to those and at worse a fabrication of fuzzy thinking.
 

RangerRay

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
757
Points
1,110
E.R. Campbell said:
I want each province’s Senate ‘delegation’ to be elected during provincial general elections and I want the senators to reflect, roughly, the votes cast in that provincial election – hence a simple list system.

With the hodge-podge of provincial parties, would this not lead to a disfunctional Senate?  Many provinces do not have provincial Conservative or Liberal parties (e.g. BC, Saskatchewan, Quebec), some share a party name, but are otherwise unconnected to the federal namesake (e.g. BC Liberal Party) and many have parties that only exist in their respective province (e.g. Saskatchewan Party, Yukon Party, Parti Quebecois), not to mention the existence of provincial Progressive Conservative parties that have little in common with the federal Conservative Party (e.g. Newfoundland).

I think having provincial parties in a federal House would be quite messy.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,549
Points
1,060
I like the idea of a "messy" upper house.  Given that its remit is to give "sober second thought",  and not just to pass government legislation,  its primary role is to delay and consider.  Perhaps we could say allow time for the passions of the mob to pass?

However it can't delay if it lacks legitimacy - then its motives become suspect, especially if the majority is identified with a particular party (either pro or anti government).

It should be selected on grounds that grant it legitimacy, independent of the government, or the opposition.  Provincial representatives, Municipal representatives, Borough representatives, Guild representatives, all of them I would have in the Senate, with no general election provisions at all to permit continuity.  Seats would be filled on a staggered, if not random, schedule.
 

Edward Campbell

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Mentor
Reaction score
1,318
Points
1,160
RangerRay said:
With the hodge-podge of provincial parties, would this not lead to a disfunctional Senate?  Many provinces do not have provincial Conservative or Liberal parties (e.g. BC, Saskatchewan, Quebec), some share a party name, but are otherwise unconnected to the federal namesake (e.g. BC Liberal Party) and many have parties that only exist in their respective province (e.g. Saskatchewan Party, Yukon Party, Parti Quebecois), not to mention the existence of provincial Progressive Conservative parties that have little in common with the federal Conservative Party (e.g. Newfoundland).

I think having provincial parties in a federal House would be quite messy.


It would certainly, delightfully in my view, complicate things for the government and opposition leaders. There is no guarantee that the BC or QC Liberal delegations will caucus with the Liberal Party of Canada, for example. The Saskatchewan Party delegation might choose to caucus with the Conservatives or might remain as independents.

Once a Senate is elected PMs will pretty much have to appoint some elected senators to cabinet - mostly in portfolios where the feds intrude into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Some senators will want to caucus with the governing party in order to secure a cabinet appointment. Right now, for example, at least one (elected) NF senator would certainly caucus with the government, with Danny Williams' blessing, to have a NF 'voice' in cabinet again.

The 'messy' Senate might complicate life even for PMs with good, solid HoC majorities because elected senators are, surely, going to be willing to throw their (elected) weight around.

On balance I think it is manageable and, in my opinion, infinitely preferable to an appointed legislative chambre.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top