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Morgenthau: Re-Open the Constitution

June 28, 2011

Canada, reopen the constitution.

I know you don’t want to. I mean…what a schlep right? Lets not open that can of worms!

Well, Canada- I dare you. That’s right. I triple dog dare you.

Daring is a childish game. But, our collective cowardice is also childish. We are avoiding fundamental issues.

We are avoiding our monarchy. We are avoiding our unelected senate. We are avoiding our dysfunctional electoral system. We are avoiding the disempowerment of the indigenous population.

So, Canada, I dare you to grow up. Stop the policy of avoidance. Lets re-open the constitution. Lets make some important changes.

Republicanism
Canada should become a republic. Our head of state should be a Canadian resident. They should be appointed by a majority of the House of Commons.

That’s kind of how the Governor General is appointed. But, the Governor General is not our head of state.

The Queen of England is our head of state. True- she doubles as the “Queen of Canada.” But lets be honest- how many Tim Bits does she eat a year? Not many.

Our subservience to British monarchy is insulting. It is insulting to Quebec, to the indigenous population and to our multi-cultural mosaic.

It’s also embarrassing. To be a serious player on the international stage- we need to cut the umbilical chord already.

It’s not just her nationality. The monarchy is a bad symbol. It is a symbol of ascription over achievement.

But, we have a parliamentary system. And we are a part of the commonwealth. Wouldn’t this put that in danger?

Actually, there are many republics with both a PM and president. Ireland, Israel and Italy- are just a few examples.

Nor, does this force Canada to leave the commonwealth. Most members of the commonwealth are republics.

Abolishing the Senate
Canada should abolish the senate.

The unelected senate has the power to stop legislation. Some, argue, they will never use it. “Lets not fix, what ain’t broken.” But, isn’t it “better safe then sorry?”

Recently the senate blocked bill C393. The bill aimed at making drugs affordable for the 3rd world. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with the bill. It passed the house of commons with supporters from all parties.

An unelected senate should not have the power to stop legislation.

An elected senate would be even worse. I like circuses, but think that’s one we should avoid. We already have elections for the House of Commons. We don’t need another set of elections for the senate.

The only solution is to abolish the senate.

It’s true, the senate can do good work. They are a less partisan body. Through committee work they compile good reports.

So, lets create a new institution to do that work. This can be a body without the power to stop legislation.

Sober second thought is not needed. If MP’s are coming drunk to work, then we shouldn’t vote for them.

Single Transferable Vote
Canada should adopt a single transferable vote. Also described as “instant run off voting.”

Currently Members of Parliament can be elected without a majority in their riding. That’s not democratic.

This reality has garnered a lot of attention lately. Websites like voteswap.ca enable “strategic voting.”

STV/IRV eliminates the need for strategic voting.

It is true, though, that this system is not proportional. Some parties would have more seats then % of popular vote. Others would have less.

STV, however, is more proportional then the current system. Proportional systems lack riding based members. Mixed Member Proportional is a system which combines ridings and “party lists” to solve that problem. It is, however, rather complicated. STV would solve many of our current systems problems. It would also be a step towards empowering individual members.

Currently it seems like this would help the “left.” The anti-Tory vote is split between the Liberals, NDP and Greens. But vote splitting used to plague the “right.” At the end of the day it plagues democracy.

Indigenous Rights
The Indigenous population should be self-governing. They should be given relevant jurisdictional powers, entrenched in the constitution. In other words, they should be given powers similar to the provinces.

The disempowerment of the indigenous population is the single greatest problem holding this country back. Fairness is at the core of being Canadian. The treatment of the indigenous population is hardly fair.

Nations have an inherit right to sovereignty. As such, the first nations have an inherit right to sovereignty. After all, consent of the governed is an important principle of modernity.

Furthermore self-government is the only way to solve the slew of social problems that Aboriginal Canadians face. Self-government would boost their collective self-esteem. Personal self-esteem is so much more possible when measured against a strong collective one. Problems like suicide, and school drop out rates can only be solved with strong personal self-esteem.

Does indigenous self-government threaten our national fabric? It sure sounds complicated!

Canada is a gigantic, federal, and multi-cultural society. We can accommodate indigenous self-government. The opportunity to correct a great historical injustice is not something to be missed.

Reopen the Constitution

Canada is a great country. We can even be the best country. But we have some room for improvement.

We should not shy away from making those necessary changes. Fear is not a policy. It’s a lack of policy.

Canada must open up to patriotism. Canada must open up to our elected representatives. Canada must open up to democracy. Canada must open up to the indigenous population. To do this, we have to re-open the constitution.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2011 2:44 pm

    Thank you for thinking outside the box!

  2. July 4, 2011 9:28 pm

    Regarding Indigenous sovereignty – You mention that first nations should be given power similar to provinces. But provinces aren’t entirely self-governing. So do you advocate for an expansion of provincial sovereignty as well?

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