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Friday, January 08, 2010

Proroguing Parliament and the Death of the Canadian Monarchy

I've been rather negligent in my blogging the last few weeks, especially since there has been plenty to blog about. Stephen Harper has shut down Parliament in the face of political fire from the opposition, and the public reaction seems to be very negative.

Mr. Coyne sums up my feelings on this issue (he usually does). He comments in the video below that it is not so much a matter of the rules but of bad behaviour. Even if Proroguing Parliament was constitutional, it is a bad precedent to allow a Prime Minister to escape public scrutiny in this way. As Mr. Coyne comments, if this is truly allowed under the rules then the rules should be changed.

Ultimately, what has been revealed here is the farce of constitutional monarchy. A modern day Monarchist would have you believe that we need the office of Governor General and ties to the British Queen to ensure constitutional stability and continuity. The Governor General is suppose to be the vehicle in which bad behaviour is prevented and constitutional norms (such as responsible government) is enforced. Yet Governor General Jean has repeatedly demonstrated that she will not stand up to the PMO on constitutional matters.

The past few years of minority Parliament has made it clear that the Monarchy in Canada is truly an anachronistic institution.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 8, 2010 | Permalink


Actually Hugh it shows the reverse. If the monarchy had not been systematically undermined by most of the governments since King-Byng it would be in a strong enough position to say no to the PM. It's because we are closer to a quasi-republic than a true constitutional monarchy, that the PM can try and get away with stunts like this. If the role of the GG, and the monarch, as impartial constitutional arbiter was properly taught and understood, any PM would think twice about doing something like this.

Not helping the process has been the, mostly, mediocre appointments to Rideau Hall since Pearson. No one would have pushed around Vincent Massey or Georges Vanier. To say nothing of the British appointed GGs. The problem isn't the system, it's that no one remembers what the system is suppose to be. Even the old tradition that the whole of parliament is suppose to keep the government to account has been lost.

Posted by: Publius | 2010-01-08 7:04:24 AM


You are merely saying why the system no longer works, you don't seem to disagree with my basic conclusion that it doesn't work anymore. I have nothing in principle against a constitutional monarchy. In fact it is shown some positive outcomes in many places and times. The problem is that the monarchy, and the monarch's representatives, have lost their authority.

The reality is that it is not merely Parliament and the PM that has been undermining that authority. It is also the attitude of the Canadian people. One of the most remarkable shifts that took place in 20th century politics (at least in "Western countries") is the rise of democracy as the core condition of governing legitimacy. It is now widely believed that to have the right to rule you must be elected.

The GG LGs and ole Lizzie have no claim to democratic legitimacy. Wrongly or rightly the Canadian people (and the British people) do not feel that the monarchy should be exercising ANY power. That is why it was deemed acceptable to appoint a CBC host as our head of state.

We can't turn the clock back. Even if you normatively think the monarchy is a good thing, you can not rescue them from the rise of democratic orthodoxy. The monarchy is as good as dead.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2010-01-08 8:02:16 AM

Did the system essentially ever work? Weren't all the tricks of government developed and carefully crafted long before any of graced the earth with our presence?
If any of you would actually take the time to challenge legislation, you would find that what we live in doesn't represent a democracy at all. and letter to the queen or any of her corrupt Canadian representitives, will fall on completely uncaring eyes, and ears.
The tenets of natural law dictate that if an agency is treating a person adversely by placing them in harms way it is their right to have hearing before at the very least a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal, so as to determine if what the plaintiff is relaying has merit.
Those in power can obstruct and manipulate to do what ever it is they want regardless if a person can prove that statistically the government is placing them in harms way. It doesn't matter when it comes down to it, an induvidual in Canada has absolutely no rights because legislation trumps everything,doesn't matter if its harmful legislation, its the law. The ministers are the absolute scum of the earth. They are only there to fuck the people and protect their institution from who funds it.
Mr Harper should surprize no one in his actions because government is not about governing at all.

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-08 8:24:06 AM

A functional constitutional monarchy would indeed be a welcome check to the no longer merely petty Tory tyranny that is Harpo's junta.

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-08 5:59:54 PM

I also have a growing appreciation for HONEST Red Tory social democrats like Andrew Coyne.

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-08 6:01:02 PM


"We can't turn the clock back. Even if you normatively think the monarchy is a good thing, you can not rescue them from the rise of democratic orthodoxy. The monarchy is as good as dead."

Clocks do turn back, for good and ill. I wouldn't be spending my time advocating for small government if It didn't think "time would run back." If it can run back on capitalism, it can run back on the monarchy. Don't fall prey to the illusion of "progress." Institutions are human creations, they can be made and unmade.

Posted by: Publius | 2010-01-08 7:55:50 PM


For the most part smaller government means bringing down institutions not trying to recreate them. There are, admittedly, some institutions that can be revived and some that simply cannot. The Monarchy as a real force has long ago declined into oblivion. It no longer holds a strong place in the hearts and minds of Canadians. I don't see how it could be brought back to life.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2010-01-09 4:46:48 AM

Hi Hugh, I agree with you the Constitutional Monarchy is a great big farce. The Monarchy in Australia is unaccountable and anachronistic.

It is a huge insult to victims of serious human rights abuses like us.

Here in Queensland, Governor Penelope Wensley is keeping a very tight lid on serious judicial abuse and corruption allegations against her brother; former human rights court Judge Robert Wensley QC. But our corroborated story is being suppressed.

Further details:

Governor of Queensland’s charade and judicial corruption denial continues http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/8/21/770060/-Governor-of-Queenslands-charade-and-judicial-corruption-denial-continues-


My blog comment:
Jennifer Nash Says:
December 16th, 2009 at 10:51 am
Jennifer Nash Says:
January 14th, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Posted by: Jennifer Nash | 2010-01-14 8:13:37 PM

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