Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
A More Perfect Dominion

Time for the Canadian Republic
Beryl P. Wajsman   

“One man – resolute – abiding by the truth, will rally a majority.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


“The Republican form of Government is the highest form of government;

but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature.”

~ Herbert Spencer


Amidst all the recent tumult concerning everything from Michaelle Jean’s citizenship, sympathy for Quebec sovereignty, and even her designer dresses, one particular commentary stands out as symptomatic of what a frivolous and feckless nation Canada has become.


John Aimers, Dominion President of the Monarchist League, said in an interview that Canadians have “…no appetite for constitutional discussions on whether links to the monarchy, and thereby the office of the Governor-General, are necessary.” He said Canada is well-governed and that Canadians are more interested in “…a chicken in every pot and shorter waiting times in hospitals…” In his words we can uncover the reasons for  the compromise of Canadian consequence.


Canadians have been conditioned to abdicate their individual imperatives and the sovereignty of their suffrage to institutions. It’s a top down process. When citizens are raised from childhood on bended knee to monarchy, they can never arouse in themselves the spirit, or confidence to take control of their own lives. Buck-passing becomes a way of life. From the office of Governor-General to the notion of supremacy of Parliament, to choosing judges behind closed doors, the national political will in this country becomes as petrified as the trees in Russian gulags.


Aimers is wrong. Canada is not well-governed. Not in any meaningful sense. We have no direct election of our head of government. We do not have an independent judiciary. Our judges have inappropriate institutional intimacies with the political elites because the system brings forward appointments from behind the closed doors of judicial selection committees instead of in free and open votes by the people. Our Senate is like a box of chocolates, each seat given out to those who have been good or could be helpful. Our statocratic engineers in Ottawa and the provincial capitals so incessantly intervene in every aspect of Canadians lives that we are rendered senseless, and scared, to voice opinions that might inflict more interference in our privacy from some nanny-state agency.


The monarchical connection, and the offices of state that accompany it, created from Canada’s beginnings the walls of secrecy in council rooms apart that have proved endemic to the development of a true liberal pluralistic democracy fuelled by an engaged citizenry of independent  thought and action. And the past twenty years in particular have seen our highest elected officials fully exploit the protection of those walls of secrecy to engage in misfeasance and malfeasance.


We cannot be considered well-governed when a sitting Prime Minister can use the egregious monarchical tool of Orders-in-Council to set aside Charter guarantees of due process. We cannot be considered well-governed when a previous Prime Minister used the unbridled power of the PMO to try and destroy an official who would not bow to his will on a loan to a constituent. We cannot be considered well-governed when a Finance Minister, during his term of office, oversaw passage of retroactive rules and regulations that allowed him enormous personal financial benefits by changing off-shore tax-haven rules. And we cannot be considered well-governed when yet another Prime Minister emasculated federal power by caving in to jurisdictional power-sharing demands of provincial premiers in return for their political support, without any thought of a constitutional convention.


Prime Minister Trudeau tried to change this country from a Parliamentary democracy to a Constitutional democracy. The Charter of Rights not only enshrined the supremacy of the individual over any collective demands of the state, but also made the supremacy of Parliament subject to judicial review and challenge by individual citizens. He gave us the tools. But it hasn’t sunk in yet.


Americans have the Bill of Rights engrained in their souls. We don’t have to agree with everything they do, but every American citizen knows his birthright bequeaths to him an inherent superiority over his governors. They can truly exercise a living embodiment of Emerson’s promise that, “One man – resolute- abiding by the truth, will rally a majority.”


And maybe, just maybe, the reason is the nature of the American system. The Oxford Dictionary defines Republicanism as “…the belief that the supreme power of a country should be vested in the electoral power of the people…”


What a concept. Supreme power vested in the people’s voice. That’s a lot better governance than the ermine robes of a Governor-General cloaking our fidelity to the supremacy of bloodlines of familial descent.