It’s a good thing then, Cannuck
, that the constitutional monarchy is by nature above politics.
On the question of unity, Canada has the potential to be far more united than either the United States of America
, or the United Mexican States
. You may ask why? The reason is that Canada has a constitutional monarchy to which Canadians can be proud to owe allegiance to, notwithstanding their partisan associations. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats can be loyal to The Crown without compromising their party allegiances—I would suggest that this fosters greater
freedom of expression and debate. Under republican systems of government, disagreement with the head of State’s government decisions can be denounced as unpatriotic or anti-national. Under our system of constitutional monarchy, we don’t have that problem because our head of State does not make the decisions for the Government of the day.
As for the suggestion, Cannuck
, that the prime minister could simply appoint someone else to be head of State, what is your issue, then, with our current system of Government? Our governors general are almost invariably always appointed by The Queen on the advice of the prime minister—where would you say The Queen, or the Governor General, has made such a grievously terrible decision so as to promote the termination of the monarchy and the destruction of our constitution? The creation of a presidency equipped with the powers of the Governor General would only cause controversy, as I would venture to guess that a president acting with the legitimacy of election, or with the partisan backing of a prime minister, would make much too frequent use of the constitutional powers that our head of state possesses.
It should also be noted that The Queen’s representative didn’t let the prime minister “duck one”. As much as I hate to say it (as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada
), at no time during the constitutional crisis we experienced some months ago, was the House of Commons
able to expressly withdraw its support for Her Majesty’s Government for Canada
. The Commons was unable to pass a vote condemning the Government, and that is why the Governor General had the authority and the discretion to grant the prime minister’s request to dissolve the legislature. I can understand the heated emotions regarding the issue, however, as the Governor General’s decision—in essence—rejected the Liberal bid to form Government (and it was a constitutionally-sound decision to do so). It would have been a very seperate and more serious issue if the Commons had withdrawn its support for the Government through a vote in the House.
It is to our tremendous advantage that The Queen and the Governor General reserve their uses of our emergency powers, because they are such powers that should only be exercised under the strangest and more extreme of circumstances. It is best that these powers are vested in The Queen, who has no personal stake in the Government operations of the day. It is of paramount importance that such powers are kept out of the hands of Government masters, so that they can be applied appropriately at the correct time (though I do, of course, hope that such a time never approaches). The Governor General has sometimes been termed a ‘constitutional fire extinguisher’, and it is in this spirit that the position—and the powers inherent thereto—must be protected.
The powers of the monarch are kept in check by the very fact that Her Majesty is an unelected head of State, Cannuck
—this fact ensures that the powers possessed by The Crown would only be exercised independently of the prime minister under very serious and unique circumstances, which is exactly how it should
be. Such powers possessed by a president or some other elected, or even appointed head of State, would be exercised with frequency and without due regard to peace, order and good government. They would be exercised for personal and partisan gain, and it is one of the fundamental features of constitutional monarchy that this not be the case.
You should resist putting words in my mouth, Cannuck
, at no point during our discussion have I said that the American armed forces are inappropriate. I did, however, say that it is inappropriate, in my view, for members of the armed forces to owe allegiance to someone who was elected to partisan office. It is unreasonable for the armed forces to have to swear obedience to someone elected under a particular banner, because it spits in the face of the independence and non-partisanship of the armed forces as an institution.
Let’s face it—we have only ever had advantages, as Canadians, due to our constitutional monarchy. We have never lost anything; we have never experienced any disadvantages due to our current constitutional arrangements. Members who promote abolishing the monarchy are searching for problems where none exist—it’s rather unfortunate that anyone would want to promote the end of such a stable constitutional system, when there are dozens of other nations that are also running smoothly and properly on the same general basis.
Thank you for what has been a very stimulating discussion so far, Cannuck