The political happenings in Ottawa in the past weeks have been if nothing else, a reason for all of us to take another look at how governments function in Canada.
Not much to cheer about. We now find out that the head of the federal civil service is a partisan Liberal.
This puts into doubt the credibility of the entire civil service and whether we should trust any aspect of our federal government.
It is supposed to be impartial and competent in delivering government programs.
Politicizing the civil service and the judiciary, leaving the military weak and poorly equipped and an immigration system in chaos does not give one a lot of confidence in our national government.
It is interesting to note that for Canada’s 100th anniversary in 1967 there actually was a party. People travelled about the country, put the logo on buildings and showed some pride.
The 150th in 2017 pretty much came and went and no one cared.
So how did we get to this place?
The description of what has happened to the nature of government in Canada written by Herman Schwenk in a recent edition of the ECA Review titled ‘Concentration of Political Power’ Feb, 21, pg. 6, is, I think, spot on.
The structure of our governments means that they do not need to be accountable for anything between elections.
In some democracies, it takes three signatures from different branches of government to make changes.
In Canada, one leader can do whatever they want for a few years.
This sort of dysfunctional government was predictable and predicted.
As Schwenk points out, this really was decades in the making. It got going under Trudeau #1 and is being raised to an art form under Trudeau #2 50 years later.
Governments have always been able to consult widely, borrow ideas and get a reaction from Canadians to any proposal. It is just as possible to do just the opposite.
We are probably lucky that the abuse of power has not been worse. At least it is happening in both official languages.
It seems that Canadians are neither stirred nor shaken by this slow-moving wreck. So, the only thing we can do is switch parties back and forth with faint hope it will make a difference.
Different obviously does not necessarily mean better. It is up to voters to find competent candidates and leaders and demand meaningful change.
The current state of the country probably means that constitutional change is nearly impossible. It will take a crisis of some sort and some serious leadership.
I am afraid that Schwenk’s prescription of independent candidates is not a cure.