Although it’s lacking teeth, an op-ed piece in the National Post fairly succinctly summarizes what I’ve been blathering on about for God-only-knows how long now. You don’t need to have a PoliSci degree to see what’s happening but although I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake my ageing parents’ (and many of their generation’s) scorn at my “naiveté”, “ignorance”, and “radical” views on government, at least I know I’m in fine scholarly company.
…the prime minister seems to have the unchecked power to decide when the House should be in session, when elections should occur, and even, in some circumstances, when their governments do or do not have the confidence of the House.
In the past I’ve referred to this as fascism, sometimes as a dictatorship, and often as a tyranny, but as I’ve tried to point out labels ultimately matter far less than deeds.
In the House, the prime minister and government have considerable control over day-to-day operations. This allows governments not only to set the agenda, but to carry it out with ease. The prime minister commands the steadfast loyalty of his MPs, largely through a carrot-and-stick approach; co-operative MPs might be rewarded with cabinet posts or coveted committee positions, while rogues can be — and at times are — punished with removal from caucus or even barred from running as a candidate for the party in future elections. All of these are vestiges of prime ministerial power. The party caucus has little leverage with which to counterbalance the prime minister’s power because party leaders are chosen (and replaced) by the party at large, rather than by the caucus. Thus, the government’s MPs have no effective mechanism through which to stand their ground against a very powerful leader or effectively represent his or her constituents.
Critics regularly cite our seemingly dizzying array of market choices as proof that government has little control in our day-to-day lives. Although they can hardly provide a straight and articulate answer without sneering derision, state supporters are often stumped by simple facts. For example, all of the so-called “choices” that the so-called “free market” offers are all directly controlled by government.
Okay, name any product or service in Canada that doesn’t require government legal authorization, licensing, approval, etc. In other words, you have only the choices that government allows and you’re coerced, backed by threats of violence and imprisonment, into paying for this through taxes. Yes, you can buy things on the black market but you face the wrath of government if you decide thusly to exercise your “free choice” and of course you’re guilty until you can prove otherwise (which they can still arbitrarily reject).
Because they’re now stumped, government lackeys immediately pivot their argument to deflect by claiming that this is necessary to “keep us safe”. To this I would simply suggest cracking open a newspaper – the evidence of how government doesn’t keep us safe is in the news pretty much on a daily basis. Whether this involves food, health, personal safety, privacy, and a litany of other claims about protections, there are regular and glaring examples of how this simply isn’t true.
The statist argument typically changes course once again at this point to demand that nothing – our hospitals, roads, water and electrical systems, etc. – would exist without government. I’ve addressed these obviously specious arguments a number of times in the past but I will concede that government vehicles with government employees do sometimes drive up to a pothole, and one labourer and three supervisors spend three to four weeks filling it with a cop or two gladly accepting extorted taxpayer money to text or browse the web on their cell phones or chat with the crew, while out of sight pedestrians and cars are left to their own devices to share the dangerous inches left for them. Sounds an awful lot like the lazy welfare whores that government is keen to trot out to justify how we should receive even less state “benefits”, doesn’t it?
In other words, government supplies a few services through a wasteful, overpriced, badly (if at all) regulated process, something that is typically done far more efficiently by the private sector. This makes sense – the private business has to look out for their bottom line, government can just raise taxes and you’ll be brutalized or extorted by “authorities” and go to jail if you don’t like it. There’s no incentive for government to be efficient or benefit citizens in any way, and every single government institution behaves according to this.
Don’t believe? Just try and apply for any government “benefits” to see how hard your loving, benign government works for you. Call up a government “service” phone line and see for yourself how much service you receive. While you’re at it, try calling the cops when you actually need them – I have and that’s why I know better.
Rather than becoming more like a system of presidential executive authority, this situation has left Canadian prime ministers in a position more akin to historical monarchs. The evolution of Westminster democracy in Canada is very much a story about the struggle to wrestle power away from the Crown and shift it to Parliament, and specifically the House of Commons, our primary democratic body and check on unfettered prime ministerial power. The ability of prime ministers to retain and use these Crown powers, alongside other powers over MPs and the House of Commons, is resulting in a situation where prime ministers have the power to make decisions, partisan and otherwise, that limit or negate Parliament’s role as a guardian for accountability in our democratic system.
This is not simply about politics or even personalities. Almost all recent prime ministers have used these powers to try to advance their partisan interests. What it is about is the erosion of our democratic institutions and the effect on democratic governance.
The next rhetorical recourse of any good government lapdog is to state that, yeah, okay, maybe government isn’t perfect but we have “checks and balances” to ensure that things more or less work out for most people. And if we don’t like it we can vote in someone else!
These are other points I’ve addressed at length and are yet more claims that can be factually rebutted with a mountain of evidence to the contrary (this blog is filled with it). And while it’s claimed that the media would surely alert us to these issues it’s easy to demonstrate that this is highly unlikely to be the case. Unless you seek out increasingly derided alternative sources you will only know what government and friends want you to know.
If your final argument is that people are too stupid to know what’s good for them, hence the need for unquestionable government, then kindly shut your ignorance hole – you’ve just brilliantly insisted that you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Put this all together and the will of the people is entirely irrelevant and, in fact, something to be suppressed.
It’s at this point when state defenders throw up their hands and exasperatedly exclaim, “Oh well! Then I guess we must be living under a King or Queen then, huh?!”
Yeah, smart guy. Flip over your Canadian money or do a Wikipedia search – Canada is a monarchy and whether the titular head is the queen or Harper the effect is the same.