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Live from Edmonton, it's Tuesday morning

And from now on, you lucky people, that means a second column from me in the Post to go with my usual Friday appearance. We debut today with a rejoinder to a Canadian legend on the subject of Canada's British connection.


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Comments (11)

Lord Bob:

I suppose that, given the temperatures in the west right now, you'll have some time to stay in and write.

I'm in Victoria and I haven't heard any eyewitness reports, so maybe someone here can tell me: is it true that the nitrogen in the air is actually freezing and falling to the ground in big clumps?

That's an old wives' tale. At earth-atmospheric pressures the oxygen precipitates out of the air first.

Well said, sir.


I'm a bit fatigued after my long hours at work - so I failed to miss the connection between Canada's monarchy and Canada's financial system.

It blurred into something like, "Canada's monarchy isn't so bad - just look at our financial system!"

Either I'm just too tired or my browser skipped an essential paragraph.

What embarrasses me is not explaining that the Queen doesn't rule Canada (and Americans are mostly teasing when they say that) but trying to explain how the PM appoints and runs a nutless GG, or appoints lifer senators, in our faux-bicameral system.

We don't even keep up the pretense of the GGs authority anymore - the "throne speech" for example; when was it we stopped maintaining the fiction? It's overtly described as the PM's speech today, no matter what flunky reads it. The comments section is too short to go into the myraid similar examples.

A Head of State that is merely the PM's puppet is of no benefit to Canadian democracy. Frankly, sir, I'm shocked (and confused, but I'm quite exhausted) by what you're saying here.

Uh, we haven't "kept up the pretense of the governor-general's authority" in the sense you mean since we obtained responsible government, so you're about 150 years behind the curve there. There is really no pretense at all; everyone who cares to enquire knows why we observe certain slightly weird ceremonial distinctions between the state and the authority of the House of Commons.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough about the nature of Bryan Caplan's debate with his more patriotic readers: usually it comes to a point at which the Americans are saying "All right, Canada expanded westward in a more civilized fashion than we did, and has been more sensible about race, and they never found it necessary to murder 600,000 of each other, but they're so very socialist up there." Caplan's point is that Canada, at all odds, is still one of the least socialist 20 or so countries on earth and does not by any means have to be too ashamed of its record of providing prosperity. How well it helps avoid truly calamitous economic crises is surely one of the most relevant empirical ways of judging a system of government.

At any rate it's pretty incredible that anyone should think the Prime Minister the "Governor-General's puppet" when Harper just got back from crawling on his belly to her to ask for a prorogation of Parliament. Of course, if you're a republican you then switch to arguing that she is unelected and illegitimate: feel quite free to seize on whatever argument is handy and ignore the historical context.


Indeed, Colby. What dpes it mean, Head of State. Who konws?



Indeed, Colby. What does it mean, Head of State. Who knows?


And no, it wasn't 150 years ago. It was like 5 years ago.


Ok, sorry, I should learn not to say anything when I'm that exhausted.

I can see now where you were going with that - though maybe you needed a few extra sentences in there for sleepwalking readers. :P So you weren't actually saying that the stability of our financial institutions somehow validates the monarchy.

As for the rest,

I've never really understood the benefit of having a primarily ceremonial Head of State, which in practice acts as the PM's rubber stamp. It seems that we have had strong GGs, who actually wielded their authority, a lot more recently than 1867.

Referring to the "PM's throne speech" and responding to it as against the PMs office -when the PM should have f**k all to do with running the office of GG - is not a very old practice in Canada.

I do have a problem with a system in which the Head of State, who has a significant role on paper, is effectively absent from the real mechanisms of gov't. Maybe it's not bad for democracy to have the lower house running the country, but it can be somewhat confusing for people from nations whose Heads of State are actually Heads of State.

I don't know that I'd characterize Harper's request as "crawling on his belly" since the only other option was an election. I'd think that Jean didn't have any other option than to grant it, since her role as rubber-stamp is prescribed by tradition and precedent, despite her theoretical leeway, and there's no precedent for either calling an election just weeks after an election, or allowing a coalition with significantly fewer seats than the ruling party to take over gov't.

But of course none of that actually has anything to do with your column, and I'm not anxious to further make an ass of myself.

I do have a problem with a system in which the Head of State, who has a significant role on paper, is effectively absent from the real mechanisms of gov't.

This to me is like saying "I have a problem with referees staying in the background during the game and not being very good at passing or blocking."


It would be the same . . . if the coaches personally appointed the referees and directed their actions on the field.

Luckily for the integrity of sport, that's generally not how it works.

It was only last year when Michaelle Jean raised nationwide controversy for being percieved by some as critical of Cabinet (over the Courts Challenges Program). The GG can't even be vaguely in dissagreement with the federal gov't these days without raising a stink - hardly a neutral "referee."


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