Saturday, April 24, 2010

Monarchy in Canada

Democracy can only work if a public is informed, engaged & active in the democratic process. Constitutional monarchy can only work if a monarch is resident in and seen to be a part of the national daily life. When the Fathers of Confederation created Canada's unique version of constitutional monarchy, most Canadians felt a part of the greater British Empire and therefore recognized the legitimacy of a British monarch. That is not true today because of immigration from around the world and because of the efforts of successive Prime Ministers to remove the monarch from the Canadian consciousness. They have been successful by playing two cards, legitimacy based entirely on being elected & appeals to nationalism. Dependance on the ballot, as the only for of legimacy, leaves us open to what I would call 'tyranny of the majority'. We have a senate that is supposed to represent regions equally & a monarch who is supposed to represent ALL of us with equal regard. Legitimacy is based on the consent of the people, regardless of the form of selection. Voting, particularly first past the post, or 50% + one does not, in itself represent the will of the people, only that small number who voted for the elected members. I agree that in a modern Canada the British sovereign has become very foreign and has little involvement in Canadian daily life.

Canada's constitution is a reflection of the British North America Act of 1867. That document was negotiated by prominent Canadians for Canadians and was presented whole and approved whole by the British parliament to create our nation. It was written to include checks and balances on power to the various branches of government. The sovereign has executive power but must work through the House of Commons & Senate to exercise that power. The judiciary is supposed to interpret & enforce the laws of the land, independent of the government of the day. Anti-monarchy activism has been successful in the name of democracy & nationalism. The erosion of the legitimacy of the crown & the crown's representative, the Governor-General, has created a vacuum in executive authority. That has certainly been the intention of successive Prime Ministers! How can judges, senators & Governors be seen to act independently if they are dependant on the good graces of the Prime Minister's Office, who appointed them? This office is completely unelected, unconstitutionally sanctioned and operates with one purpose, to keep their boss, the Prime Minister, in power! This concentration of power in the PMO is DEFINITELY, NOT in the interest of Canadian democracy!

I believe that we need our own, resident royal family. It would make sense for that monarch to be a branch of our current sovereign's house. After all they inherited the authority of every sovereign house that has been associated with this land since before Europeans arrived. Even the First Nations and French Canadians have expressed loyalty to this same royal family at various times in our nation's history.

There is plenty of precedent for this evolution. For instance, Brazil gained it's independence and 80 years of economic & social progress when they took the heir to the Portuguese throne as their own Emperor in the early 19th century.

Of course Canadians would have to be more aware of the system we have and why it was designed that way. They would have to at least be aware that we currently ARE a constitutional monarchy & who the Queen of Canada is!

I recommend that Canadians, in defense of our heritage & our democracy lobby for the appointment of HRH Prince Andrew to the post of Governor-General of Canada. He's someone with an international reputation, experience and contacts that can help Canadian diplomacy & industry as well as a true representative of the Queen! After our royal heritage is reflected in our daily life for 5 years... Let's see then if Canadians want to reform or get rid of the monarchial system we have. We need someone who will defend the constitution from Prime Ministers who try to close parliament instead of facing criticism!

What if, when the current sovereign passes away, the new monarch was selected through a partially elective process. What if the only requirement to run for the office was to be a descendant of Canada's first Queen, Queen Victoria and be a resident of Canada? To keep the candidates above the frey, they could be required to have a group advocate on their behalf, in the election, rather than running actively themselves? The post would be for life unless resignation is requested. If the post becomes vacant then the same process could be followed or some other succession law could be enacted, with the consent of Canadians, after we have our own resident family.

This way Canada could get it's own monarch and that person or family would have the legitimacy of election as well as ancestral heritage.

Constitutional Monarchists' Declaration

I am a monarchist. I believe that loyalty to a person is more real & wholesome than an inanimate object like a flag. I believe that the monarch can symbolize a nation's aspirations and pride better than a money grabbing, manipulating politician. The world has become much less romantic and much less humane. Government is less personal and power so much more remote since monarchy was marginalized or destroyed. I am not in favour of an absolute monarchy. I am in favour of a constitutional monarchy. Spain's democracy would be gone without the dedication to democracy by their King in the 1980's. Politicians who serve rather than take from their people are few and far between. Someone who has committed their lives to serve a nation is an excellent example to their people. Presidents become the embodiment of a nation in the absence of a monarch, yet they are temporary and their motivations are more divided. They need to pursue re-election; that costs money and often unholy alliances with unseen interests, not answerable to the electorate. I believe that those who support a republic over a constitutional monarchy are not championing greater freedom for their countrymen. They encourage more inhumane domination by the backroom industrialists who control the campaigns of their politicians. A constitutional monarchy can balance and protect against power hungry, dishonest politicians and against a majority that persecutes or ignores persecution of minorities. When a monarch is not facing re-election they can represent all the people and not just the group who put them in power. It should be noted that a Constitutional monarch does not gain legitimacy, to take office from an accident of birth, rather holds office based on parameters, clearly defined, in a nation's chosen, Constitution! That means a constitutional monarch has legitimacy from all a nation's peoples, past and present, is answerable to them all for it's future legitimacy. This is NOT so with a political representative of a particular constituency, political ideology and/or group! When a politician knows that the power is not his/hers and the monarch knows he/she can only exercise power through the people there can be balance. All the power belongs to the monarch but that power can only be used by those elected by the people. A monarch can bring stability to a society that cannot decide between powerful groups in their country. A monarch can bring consistency to foreign relationships when governments change. A monarch can be a trained, experienced, confidential adviser to politicians new in office. All these benefits can be enjoyed with a Constitutional Monarchy. I believe that a constitutional monarchy form of government can offer the best chance for the freedom of it's citizens and is flexible & organic enough to be made to comfortably fit any human society.

Democracy is NOT 50% + One !!!

Somebody wrote on a democracy forum I read that monarchy has passed away. Monarchy has not passed away. This in spite of the best efforts of a couple of revolutionary republics and a couple of communist empires. The common view, especially popular in the American psyche, is that democracy & a vote are the same thing. I would argue that that is generally more like the tyranny of the majority. Democracy, as far as I am concerned is a society where every member has the best chance to pursue happiness in an environment of freedom, restricted only to protect his/her fellow citizen's freedoms. Absolute monarchy has almost passed away. Dictatorships do continue to pop up around the world, absolute monarchs by a different name. Some, it seems are hereditary, Syria for instance. As long as they don't call themselves royal they are palatable to America, France, China & Russia. It seems that "legitimacy" by virtue of military repression is acceptable as long as it comes with useful foreign policy & foreign investment regulations. Only when that falls short do the "great powers" start to grumble. All their talk of freedom & democracy. The only freedom that interests them is the freedom for their cronies to exploit fellow citizens and foreign populations. The only franchise in these countries is wealth, not the rights of mankind to equal opportunity & expression. I would suggest that the so called "democractic" experiment spawned by the enlightenment is as much a failed experiment as the communist experiment. America's dogged insistence on it's system as the only correct system not only endangers the development of freedom around the world but retards development of true freedom in America. 50% plus one is not the same as democracy! Legitimacy of authority is based on the consent of the people, not on the basis of one type of selection process. The arrogance of one community or system of thought to point fingers at everyone else as inferior is tedious. Especially tedious when discussing democracy and freedom of expression. It is for this reason that I am concerned about the sole reliance on the ballot as the only mode of legitimacy. I'm suggesting that to protect the interests of minorities in a society, there must be a mixture of selection processes for the components of government. For instance... hereditary monarch, elected assembly, appointed house. The details of how each of these groups is selected and for what purpose is unique to each society. The monarch represents all the people. The elected assembly represents the majority view and initiates legislation on behalf of all. The appointed body represents all identifiable groups equally to protect minority interests and has at least first veto on any legislated initiative. That is the best chance I see at true democracy. Wait a minute, I've seen this system around the world already. It's called constitutional monarchy and many countries to this day use it in some form. This type of system was not imposed overnight like the revolutionary regimes of the world. It evolved over centuries and is organic enough to evolve today, (an evolution that is overdue in Canada, Australia & Britain, by the way). To the best of my knowledge American republicanism has only been used by one other country since 1776. Even most people who have republics choose a parliamentary system similar to the system in a constitutional monarchy. Their presidents & prime ministers often build competing power bases that are obstructionist and expensive to national progress. Sometimes one of the two offices is irrelevant and therefore a waste of money. Austria elected a former Nazi as president but nobody really noticed because his office was easily ignored. A monarch in that position wouldn't create any more trouble, be properly trained, maybe facilitate confidential dialogue between different political camps and actually save millions every few years with no presidential elections. Monarchy has not passed away but I wish it was more prevalent.