The Bloody Birth of the Political Parties
The Parties Are Born
So let’s have a look at what was going on in England after the bloody transition to democracy. Unfortunately for our little democratic baby, the late 1600’s were trying times in England – King Charles II had fathered no less than 14 illegitimate children and all those women and a few wars had drained the royal coffers.
Under Charles II, taxes rose to levels that threatened the monarchy. In 1670 Charles hit upon what was ultimately a disastrous plan. Seeking extra funds so that he wasn’t reliant on Parliament, he made a secret pact with his cousin, the French King Louis XIV, a devout Catholic, for a French pension. As part of the deal, he was to restore the rights of English Catholics and, at a future date, to declare himself a Catholic (he had been brought up a Catholic by his French mother Henrietta Maria.)
As it turns out, Charles not only had a problem keeping his Catholic fly up but keeping secrets as well. A couple of things were working against him after word of the pact leaked out. One being that despite his fertility, he had produced no legitimate heirs. The other being his brother James, Duke of York, was now in line for the monarchy (and openly Catholic to boot). As you can imagine, trouble was a-brewin’ between Protestant England and their now outed Catholic Monarchy.
Things really heated up when Parliamentarians tried to exclude Charles’ brother from the Royal lineup. The “exclusion” pitted an alliance of Puritans, populists and Parliamentarians against the “court” party of High Anglicans and loyal monarchists. The Whiggamores, a term of abuse for Scottish outlaws was applied to the Parliamentarians and the Monarchists became the Tories – derived from a Gaelic word for Catholic bandits.
So no sooner did the democratic baby get born, but shortly thereafter was born the party system. Almost kind of like the afterbirth, come to think of it. Outlaws vs. bandits – Whigs versus Tories. Sound familiar? By the early 1680’s the rivals were proudly bearing their names, printing manifestos, financing newspapers and choosing candidates.
And the acrimonious debates of the Party System have never ceased to this day. Eventually the Whigs managed to build up a majority in the House of Commons. However, they found themselves powerless in the face of the King’s prerogative powers, which were essentially those of Charles I. Whenever the Whigs got close to a vote that would have excluded James from becoming King on his brother’s death, Charles would dissolve Parliament. After three bitterly debated sessions and three dissolutions, Parliament ran out of steam and Charles II was able to rule for the last five years of his reign without Parliament.
Aha I thought – this would be a supreme test of my theory that institutions don’t change. Here’s a clear example of power being exercised in a democratic system for purely political reasons. So, in our quest to find out if the Parliament of the 1600’s bears any resemblance to the Parliament of today, we have to ask ourselves the question – could political ambition shut down a “modern” Canadian parliament? Surely parliament couldn’t be dissolved just to circumvent the political problems of one person, right? I mean if the democratic system has evolved, something like this could never happen today.
But, as it turns out, we have to go where the evidence leads us. Further bearing out the theory that the system does not change, we find pretty much the same thing happening in Canada in 1873 (Sir John A. McDonald and the Pacific Scandal), in 2002 (Jean Chretien and the Sponsorship Scandal), in 2008 (Stephen Harper facing a potential non-confidence vote), in 2009 (Stephen Harper facing a Parliamentary report about the torture of Afghans). You can look any of these up, but I’m going to pick Harper’s little foray into closure. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I have no partisan leanings one way or another. The only reason I’m picking on Harper right now is that even the conservative press was appalled.
When he shut down Parliament in 2009, Harper faced criticism not only from the opposition parties, but even the influential British conservative magazine, the Economist, called the move “naked self-interest”. As we saw in the early birthing process, political parties were financing newspapers which espoused the party lines. So why would a staunch defender of conservative values like the Economist turn on one of its own?
One of the largest issues facing the “law and order” Prime Minister, who’s party image is based largely on right-wing values including supporting the military, was the public relations problem of the military handing Afghan prisoners over to their allies for torture. Turns out the Canadian military, as did the U.S., handed prisoners over to countries known for torturing prisoners to see if they can get any useful information back. A neat little trick that gives you something called ‘plausible deniability’. In other words, we didn’t torture anybody but our friends might have. Can’t have a modern democracy like Canada practicing torture can we – it just wouldn’t look good.
However, when the countries you’re handing them over to are well known for torture, you’re apparently blurring the lines a bit too much and even an apathetic public could connect the dots on this one, although it took considerable time for the issue to come to light. (If you want a particularly good read on this topic, I recommend ‘Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Rendition and Torture Program’ by Investigative Journalist Stephen Grey). And by ‘rendition’ they mean ‘kidnapping’.
In 2009 Harper had been stonewalling a Parliamentary committee over this very issue but with his options rapidly dwindling, he simply shut down Parliament. With closure the committee couldn’t sit and embarrass the government by bringing out this information despite the rather strenuous efforts of the committee members to do so. Or, if you like the official explanation: Parliament was shut down so that everyone could trot off to the winter Olympics in Vancouver.
However, the reason he shut down Parliament is largely irrelevant. By all accounts and on all sides of the debate, Harper shutting down Parliament was for Harper’s own political ambitions. And the pregnant question is – can your duly elected Parliament be shut down because one guy decides to either a.) take a holiday b.) get himself out of a political jam? How can one guy exercise that much power in a modern democracy I asked?
And here we have it – one man, for whatever reason, political embarrassment or the need for a sporting holiday in Vancouver, shuts down a democratically-elected Canadian government, some 300 or so odd years later after a King did the same thing. Not only that, but we have a history of closure dating back to Canada’s first session of parliament. If, indeed, the institution has evolved from its original design, the question we have to ask is what exactly does this evolution look like?
It certainly didn’t seem to affect the ‘political’ influence brought to bear on our democratic system as evidenced by the ability of one man to decide whether Parliament remains at work or goes on holidays. And this has been happening in Canada and even provincially since the very first parliament in Canada. So what else hasn’t changed I wonder?
The Party Mischief
Which brings us to the afterbirth in the birthing metaphor – political parties. How did all this ‘partying’ get started and if a ‘democracy’ is you electing someone to represent your interests, how do political parties fit into the scenario? Are political parties an example of supreme power vested in the people and exercised directly by them with sovereignty residing at the lowest levels of authority or is this an example of the drive, initiative and unity of the mysterious elite the Italians were talking about?
And in researching Political Parties, I found some interesting comments from none other than George Washington, the founder of one of the greatest (just ask them) democracies on earth. Washington did not look kindly upon Political Parties and in fact argued strenuously against them. The information below is copied verbatim from his Farewell Address. What could a dead former U.S. President have to say that would be relevant to Canadian party politics? Quite a lot, as it turns out:
By: George Washington, Former President of the United States of America
“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”
It almost sounds like George was predicting something called “attack ads”. If you’re interested in what else Georgie has to say, his full Farewell Address can be found here:http://www.answers.com/topic/washington-s-farewell-address-1 So now I had to look at political parties in a little more detail. Heading down that Rabbit Hole, I found myself wondering if we could find evidence of some of the other things he was warning us about – foreign influence, the ruins of public liberty, permanent despotism, the absolute power of an individual. Could all this be part of the democratic action plan in Canada? I wondered.
We’re all pretty aware of the main political parties in Canada – Conservatives, New Democratic, Liberal, Bloc Quebecois but there are a raft of smaller recognized parties, some of which I had never heard of: Animal Alliance-Environment Voters, Canadian Action, Christian Heritage, Communists, First Peoples, Libertarian, Marxist–Leninist, Marijuana, Online, Pirate, Progressive Canadian, Rhinoceros, United, Western Block. All of these vying, apparently, according to George, to incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual. Seriously?
But, OK, George was around, what, over 200 years ago. Things must have changed since then. Can we truly believe that our modern political parties are trying to get one guy into the position of ‘absolute power’ with the idea of engendering some ‘formal and permanent despotism’? But, wait a minute – if that were the case then all the people that you and I democratically elect would have to just bitch under, as the modern saying goes, to this one guy. Kinda like everybody bowing down before the King. Does that happen in a modern democracy, I asked myself? And, because I asked it, I had to start down that road and see where it leads.
Party Discipline – the Antithesis of Democracy
And I have to admit, in trying to find the answer to that question, I came across a concept that I could not believe I was reading. Another ‘Rabbit Hole’ kind of experience. And it was a phrase that really just leapt off the page at me when I read it and seems to back up George’s assessment of parties. It was something called ‘party discipline’.
Here’s how it works -when a Political Party succeeds in getting its members (who are theoretically your representatives but let’s not quibble) into Parliament, the political party gets to enforce how any particular representative votes. I know what you’re thinking – this is absurd. Someone in a Political Party tells my duly-elected representative how to vote and he just goes along with it? Let’s keep in mind that in the birthing process, people died to have their elected representatives represent them and not the King (or his representatives).
But, you say – wouldn’t this stifle debate and effectively turn my elected representative into some type of (take your pick) – pawn, puppet or potted palm as they have been described? Or as former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau famously once said “a nobody???” As a matter of fact yes it does. And, surprisingly, almost without exception they do as they’re told. And who lays down the marching orders? Something called a Cabinet. Or a Shadow Cabinet if they are in Opposition. And who runs this Cabinet? The Prime Minister or the Prime Minister wannabe. In other words, the King. Amazing. The real question, in my mind, is why would they do this?
And the only thing that comes to mind is because, as in any job, there’s a ladder to the top or a quick trip to the dumpster. And, if you’re going to get to where the real power is in government, you want to get into Cabinet. And who’s in charge of the Cabinet – one guy! Is this what George was talking about? And all of this happening without your input. I voted for an MP. And not only is my MP told how to vote, any public criticism of the course of action of the government will result in a trip to the said dumpster, especially if you happen to be a member of the ruling party. This takes the form of censure, demotion or being turfed from the party. Does this, in all reality, sound like a fair, honest and open discourse that is designed to engender meaningful public debate and input into issues of the day by your duly elected representative, I wondered?
Let’s say you were put on a committee to build a local skating rink and the committee elected a few people to oversee the actual design of the rink and you were then shown the design and didn’t like it – maybe you didn’t think the design was very good for whatever reason or that it would be too expensive or that the committee didn’t follow its own rules in awarding the contract to build it – wouldn’t you think that you would be able to tell people without suffering repercussions?
It is, after all, your job to report back to the people who elected you. Not so in the Canadian Parliamentary system it would seem. Shut up and toe the line – vote how we tell you to or we will kick you out. These are the choices faced by our backbench Members of Parliament on a daily basis. And, by and large, with few exceptions – they toe the line. And they toe the line and try to suck up for a Cabinet Position – where the real power is exercised. Only problem being, there’s only about 40 Cabinet Ministers out of the 300 or so people that get elected. This sounds almost like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey – do they have to wear bondage gear?
So how long has this Party Discipline been going on? Turns out it’s been around for quite a while. In his memoirs, Robert Stanfield, Premier of Nova Scotia from 1948-1967 and leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party from 1967-1976 had this to say about it:
“One thing that bothers many members is that they are expected to vote the party line. They come to feel they are simply numbers. I would like to see more consideration given to some method of arranging more free votes. I recognize that in any session certain bills are the core of the government’s legislative program and that government has to get those measures through.
In these cases, party discipline is important. But on the other hand, there are a lot of government bills that are not really part of the core program. In those cases it really would not affect the government if some of its members voted against those bills, provided it is understood they are not votes of confidence.”
Wait, just a minute – is Robert Stanfield, former leader of the Progressive Conservative party really arguing to throw my representative a bone sometime? Like some back alley cur who’s ribs are sticking out just a little too far? Just to make my representative feel like he’s actually contributing something now and again? Seriously??? Like somebody’s bitch, maybe?
So here we have a former leader of a major Political Party in Canada arguing that meaningful debate and input into core programs be quashed for “getting those measures through” as if “those measures” could not be debated and improved or, indeed, be rejected by meaningful public debate with the very people that are elected to represent Canadians.
As if a full and meaningful debate would somehow harm the measures that the government “has to get through”. And, more to the point in our search for democracy – has to get through for whom? The elite, or you and me? Because I haven’t see a lot of consultation with you and me in this process.
So, is your representative, as a duly elected government official, a fully engaged self-actualizing Member of Parliament representing his voters or a political “nobody” as Pierre hinted? David Gamache Hutchison, Winner of the Alf Hales Research Award, in November, 1999 posed just such a question. In his report: “Executive Backbenchers or Political Nobodies? The Role of Parliamentary Secretaries in Canada” he wrote (I’ve italicized stuff):
“According to many observers of Canadian politics, the power and spoils of public office begin and end with appointment to Cabinet. In what has evolved into a centralized, executive-centred Parliamentary system, policy making and legislation are, with few exceptions, in the hands of the Members of Parliament (MPs) within Cabinet. As a result, in the governing of the country, little is left to engage the remaining backbench MPs. Perhaps the most sought after consolation prize available to the government backbench is the position of Parliamentary Secretary.”
Executive-centred Parliamentary system? Nothing to engage your MP? The power and spoils of public office? Consolation prize? Keep in mind that Gamache won an award for writing this! Since when did Canadian politics become a question of the power and spoils of public office? Are these pirates we’re electing so that they can somehow divvy up the spoils of public office? Which begs the question – is there a pirate code? Who buries the treasure? Do they have parrots on their shoulders? I can’t believe I’m reading this crap. I’m electing someone in the hopes that they can get to “the power and spoils of public office????” Seriously?
So, for the sake of political expediency and consolidation of power within Cabinet or within the Opposition, duly-elected public representatives are told how to vote. And they do. As a matter of course. Day in and day out your MP is somebody’s bitch. This is not even a secret.
Cabinet Steals Power
Anyway, here we have a guy they’re throwing awards at arguing that our Canadian democracy is really a centralized, executive-centred Parliamentary system that is in the hands of the Cabinet. And it was there that I had another clue – within Cabinet. So, once again, it was back to the books to find out what this mysterious “cabinet” is. I mean 40 guys running a country all trying to suck up to one guy doesn’t seem like much of a democracy to me. First step – look in the Constitution to see if it could be found there. Which drew a big blank.
Second, do a little more digging and come up with the fact that ‘cabinet’ is really the Privvy Council or former King’s Council and that they just call it ‘cabinet’ today!!! Nowhere in our Constitution is this committee mentioned and it really is just a ‘tradition’ of Parliament. So, here we have a tradition of government that has survived since the bloody birth and it is still central to how Canada’s parliament is run. So now I was realizing just how much Parliament hasn’t changed from when it was set up. Anyway, in doing the research, I came across this little tidbit from something called the McGrath Committee, which seemed to be concerned about reforming the House of Commons way back in 1985:
“The purpose of reform of the House of Commons is to restore to private members an effective legislative function, to give them a meaningful role in the formation of public policy and, in so doing, to restore the House of Commons to its rightful place in the Canadian political process.”
– Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (the McGrath Committee)
Keep in mind this was written almost 30 years ago. So if I’m reading this correctly, since the formation of the Canadian Parliamentary system, power has been consolidated into one small committee within government which enjoys the powers traditionally held by the King of England. And when people speak of the “federal government” or “the government” in Canada, they are really referring to “the Cabinet” as this is the governing body of Canada. And “the Cabinet” is essentially a small committee within our government that exercises enormous power and, when combined with Party Discipline, marginalizes the House of Commons as long as the governing party enjoys a majority.
As well, the Cabinet is not elected by MPs, it is simply appointed by the Prime Minister, a power historically enjoyed by the Kings of England. In other words, the system hasn’t changed. My original suspicions were confirmed. And the House of Commons, the supposed representatives of the commoners (that would be you and me) is just a bunch of nobodies, as so eloquently noted by Monsieur Trudeau.
But wait, maybe Parliament has evolved, I thought. Just not in the direction most of us would like to see it go. It seems this consolidation of power has recently been taken to new extremes in Canada. I also found it interesting that the Constitution of Canada does not make any explicit reference to what has become the most powerful political institution in our country.
The Cabinet simply developed over time as part of the historical record of Britain and Canada. To the point that if the governing party enjoys a majority in the House of Commons, for all intents and purposes, the Cabinet becomes the de facto Government of Canada. The Cabinet is a creation of our political system but nowhere in Canada’s Constitution is it given the power it wields.
So how did this all-powerful committee come about? And how can a small committee within the government dominate the rest of Parliament? Back to the history books. When Canada’s federal government was formed in 1867 it simply borrowed the Westminster traditions based on unwritten constitutional customs and conventions that had been adopted over time. Not even a Magna Carta or two. The practice of cabinet government is one of these unwritten customs. So how did this committee develop? Well, as it turns out, even the King needs some help. This came in the form of the royal court or council. These councils would advise the monarch on public policy and oversee the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.
As the system progressed and became more formalized and as Britain moved towards its democratic system, it institutionalized these royal courts and called it the Privy Council. But, by the 16th-century the Privy Council had grown too large to be of practical use. So monarchs began the practice of relying on an even smaller committee of the Privy Council, which eventually became known as the Cabinet. Which has survived intact to this day.
In fact, the Canadian Cabinet is the direct descendant of this hugely influential and power-wielding body. Obviously, if you have the ear of the Monarch, or the Prime Minister (as the Monarch’s representative), you are indeed in a position of high influence. Do we have what we call a King today? Depends on what you think a name means. But that debate aside, we have the King’s committee in place in Canada. In fact, according to former Prime Ministers and the Leaders of Parties, Cabinet runs the show and your MP is somebody’s bitch. So, in other words, Parliament hasn’t changed, I reasoned. And it’s not just me saying it.
So, I wondered – where does politics enter into the equation? Because Georgie had some bad words about that – what the heck is that? As we have seen, Cabinet became one of the most influential bodies in British government. If you wanted to gain favor or even have your request considered by the Monarchy, you sought out members of this elite group. If you were a member of the Privy Council, in order to have your views or requests known or acted upon, you would have to cut deals with the Cabinet or somehow influence them to deal with the issues you perceived as important. This is called politics. And it’s politics that Canadians, and incidentally, the world hates. More on this later.
Here’s how it works – you trade me some army support and I’ll appoint your nephew to head up that new colony. And, according to my research and experience in government, it is also how it works today. Only problem being: who is cutting deals for you and me? The Cabinet? Your MP?
Fast forward to the modern Canadian democratic system. Canada simply adopted this system lock, stock and barrel. In fact, Canada was given its own Privy Council – The Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. The Canadian Cabinet became a committee of this body. The Canadian Cabinet and not the House of Commons effectively inherited the power to govern the day-to-day affairs of the Canadian government based on an unwritten set of protocols. Okay, you say, but the Cabinet has to listen to Parliament, right?
The Cabinet was theoretically made responsible to the influence of the democratically elected legislature in Canada (the House of Commons) but has it worked out like this? Not from what I’ve seen. Seriously – your MP is now complaining he doesn’t even understand the financial implications of bills being presented by Cabinet. He has been called a ‘nobody’ by a sitting Prime Minister. Does this sound like he’s much of anything? Like he has some influence? And, by extension, do you think that you do?
The Cabinet also has powers within the Canadian legislative processes. The Cabinet has the power to create and submit legislation to Parliament for approval by Canada’s two legislative chambers – the House of Commons and the Senate. The Cabinet also has considerable powers over the manner in which legislation is deliberated upon by these legislatures. The Cabinet, for example, can shorten or extend the time spent deliberating a piece of legislation at the various levels of the legislative process.
So what happened to the King? In fact, Cabinet inherited powers that were previously under the complete discretion of the Monarch. These include: the power to submit money bills to Parliament; the power to summon and dissolve Parliament (as we have seen); the power to grant pardons; the power to appoint key state officials, such as Senators and Judges and several powers regarding foreign relations, including those governing the signing of international treaties and agreements, and those pertaining to declarations of war. And not only that but more recently, secret Ministerial directives have been used to weild this power.
Hmmm. So maybe this was the ‘foreign influence’ that George was talking about. Talk to one guy and his buddies and they can commit Canada to foreign treaties. I wonder if that could be abused?
Now let’s follow the bouncing ball here – a Political Party fields candidates in an election. If the candidates win, they get to declare a Prime Minister (you don’t get to vote for him unless you happen to be in his riding), the Prime Minister picks a small bunch of his BFF’s and they figure out what they want to do and if they think Canada should march off to war, well that’s the way it’s gotta be baby. We’re getting the 120 horse motor honey so just bitch up. So who, exactly are these politicians responsible to? Their party? You?
Ah Ha! You say, but Cabinet needs the House of Commons to act on all of this and your elected representative can effectively dictate whether or not this powerful Cabinet can get their wishes granted. Which is sort of the theoretical underpinnings of the democracy of Parliament, but, as even a cursory bit of research shows, it is not how the system works.
Obviously the most influence and real power within the Cabinet rests first with the Prime Minister, the effective replacement of the Monarch, then the Cabinet members themselves, then the members of the governing party and way further down the list the Opposition Members. The members of the governing political party that have been elected to Parliament may actually have more influence with Cabinet simply because they may have more of a chance to talk to someone in Cabinet.
However, keep in mind that each duly elected Member of Parliament is little more than a guaranteed vote for anything that Cabinet does. These Members of Parliament are referred to, appropriately enough, as “backbenchers“. Kinda says it all doesn’t it? And, really it provides the motivation to toe the line. If you’re sitting around waiting to be called up to the big leagues in the form of a Cabinet position, what are you gonna do? Start complaining about things? Vote against your party? Or try to impress the head guy that he should give you a real job in government? Piss him off or kiss his ass, to put it in the vernacular. Bitch up or go it alone?
So if you think that Canada has 300 or so MP’s and in a majority government you’ve got over 150 MPs and each one of those is looking to be in Cabinet – your chances of getting to the real power is about one in four. Better suck up or toe the line or try to make an impression somehow. Otherwise just go cool your butt on the back bench and make sure you show up when your boss needs a vote.
Is this the state of the art of our modern Canadian democratic system or do all democracies operate like this? Wikipedia says: “In most parliamentary systems, backbenchers individually do not have much power to influence government policy. However, they are important in providing services to their constituents and in relaying the opinions of their constituents.”
So, even Wikipedia says your Member of Parliament is a pantywaist. Really? This is what my elected representative is, kind of a glorified secretary? A gossip? How does he relay opinions I wondered? Maybe that was how I had some influence into the democratic system? If that is the case and the job of my elected representative is to relay my opinions to those in real power – when was the last time your MP asked you for your opinion with the express purpose of “relaying” these opinions to Cabinet? Is there a protocol for this? How is this duty handled in Canada? What formal processes are in place for this and why aren’t the results of this opinion-gathering publicized?
More importantly – can I see the recommendations? Surely not everyone who has ever been elected as a back-bencher just keeps track of all these opinions in their heads without writing it down somewhere? And what if my representative is in opposition? Does he get to relay my opinions to Cabinet? Come to think of it, every time I’ve ever emailed or phoned my MP I couldn’t even get a response. Or some “assistant” called or emailed and said he’d get back to me. Sadly, no one ever does despite my repeated attempts. WTF??? Maybe they do it with ESP. Or, maybe they just know what I need and work from that. No need to actually talk to me.
So what is the net result of power and influence in Canada’s democratic system? Is it sovereignty at the lowest levels or does it essentially consolidate power squarely into cabinet, which is dominated by the Prime Minister, who we have seen, has effectively replaced the King under the British system? And who does my Cabinet represent, the political parties that George tried to warn us about or maybe the mysterious ‘elites’?
If power has become so centralized that it essentially means our elected representatives are marginalized and the effective government of Canada is transferred to a small committee dominated by a Prime Minister, is that what democracy is? And, if I’m following all this and if my representative is someone’s bitch in Parliament and even he’s ignoring me, what, exactly, does that make me in the modern Canadian political landscape? A ‘serf’ or a ‘landowner’? My bitch’s bitch? Maybe that’s why the only time they even attempt to talk to me is when they need a vote. Anyway, it looks like a lot of bitching is going on in Canada today.