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Andrew Roman

There is so much misinformation, narrowly biased coverage and raw emotion online that concern me about our society's ability to think critically about the important issues of the day. I want to provoke a deeper level of thought by offering an explanation of issues as I see them. You may agree or disagree, but hopefully you will at least think about the issues.

I am a retired litigation lawyer with over 40 years of experience in environmental, electricity, competition, and constitutional issues. I have appeared at all levels of court including the Supreme Court of Canada, and in every province of Canada. I have been invited as a guest lecturer at almost all of the law schools in this country. I am also the author of over 100 legal articles and a law book, and have been an adjunct faculty member at four Canadian law schools.

Elections in Canada: Are We Voting in a Parliamentary Democracy or an Elected Monarchy?

Introduction

Pollsters tell us many Canadians are unhappy with their government. Not just the  federal government, but governments at all levels. They report a sense of disappointment.  Candidates over-promise and then after the election, under deliver. That’s because the system concentrates power in the hands of a select few at the top. 

One pollster’s trust index suggests cratering trust in governments, with only 22 per cent saying they trust governments or politicians, compared with 40 per cent (even then, less than half) in the early days of the pandemic in May 2020.

Be an Informed Voter

How should you vote in the next election to get the kind of government you want?  Be an informed voter. Understand how your government— federal, provincial or municipal— really works in practice, not just in theory.  The sooner you understand what you are really choosing by voting for or against one of the names on your ballot the sooner you will understand how to use your one vote to try to achieve what you want it to achieve. In this post I will focus on the federal government.

The Theory

The way Canada is governed today is much more like a monarchy with courtiers than a traditional parliamentary democracy. The temporary monarch, the Prime Minister, is elected until renewed or replaced in the next election. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is the modern version of the king’s court.

Canada also has a Senate, the “chamber of sober second thought” as it has been called.  But as senators aren’t elected you can’t vote for or against them, which is why I won’t discuss the Senate here. 

In the traditional Westminster Parliamentary model theory, the House of Commons has Members of Parliament, who enact laws by majority vote.  These Members, also in theory, select the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the members of the Cabinet.  Canada currently has 338 Members of Parliament, 39 Cabinet Ministers and, of course, only one Prime Minister.  But this theory doesn’t tell us how things actually work. Who does what?

Continue reading “Elections in Canada: Are We Voting in a Parliamentary Democracy or an Elected Monarchy?”