Jan. 19, 2022

Part 2 – The Canadian Constitution, contradicted and ignored

Although there are many critics of our Constitution, few have read it, and fewer still understand it.

The primary culprits are our political parties. They ignore provisions of the Constitution because they inhibit their actions and focus on political partisanship and power struggles. They have no intention of serving Canadians or our society. Each party is fixated on acquiring and wielding power.

We do not currently exist in a lawful democracy. Our governance is much closer to a third-world nation where powerful warlords fight bloody battles to achieve supremacy. We have not gotten to a shooting war, but we are treated as obedient followers, not individuals with rights and freedoms.

Our Senate must be politically neutral and styled following the Constitution:

In relation to the Constitution of the Senate, Canada shall be deemed to consist of Four Divisions:
1. Ontario;
2. Quebec;
3. The Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island;
4. The Western Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta;
which Four Divisions shall (subject to the Provisions of this Act) be equally represented in the Senate as follows:
Ontario by twenty-four senators; Quebec by twenty-four senators; the Maritime Provinces and Prince Edward Island by twenty-four senators, ten thereof representing Nova Scotia, ten thereof representing New Brunswick, and four thereof representing Prince Edward Island; the Western Provinces by twenty-four senators, six thereof representing Manitoba, six thereof representing British Columbia, six thereof representing Saskatchewan, and six thereof representing Alberta; Newfoundland shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by six members; the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by one member each.

Formatting the Senate as a secondary political partisan battleground was not envisioned when the Constitution was written. We must reconfigure the Senate to comply with the Constitution.

  • Mackenzie King was elected prime minister with a minority government in 1921. He called an election in 1925, hoping to win a majority for the Liberals. Instead, the Conservative Party under Arthur Meighen won 116 seats compared to 101 for the Liberals.
  • Despite the loss, King retained his grasp on power with support from the Progressive party, which had 24 seats. King’s Liberals remained in power even though the Tories represented more ridings.
  • A year later, King’s Liberals were hit by scandal. The Customs and Excise minister, Jacques Bureau, promoted a known bootlegger to a senior ministry position during Prohibition in the United States. Bureau also protected customs officers accused by the RCMP of smuggling alcohol.
  • King announced Bureau was stepping down because of ill health and immediately appointed him to the Senate.
  • King was losing the support of the Progressives and facing a non-confidence vote that accused his government of corruption. To avoid that vote, King asked the governor general, Lord Byng, to dissolve Parliament. The Conservative government established at Byng’s invitation lasted only five days before falling on a non-confidence vote.
  • King accused Byng, the Queen’s representative, of interfering in Canadian politics in the resulting election campaign. Voters agreed and, ignoring the Customs scandal that sparked the row, elected 128 Liberals and Liberal-Progressives, compared to 91 Conservatives. King remained prime minister until 1930, was voted out and then back into office from 1935 to 1948.
  • The politician who sparked the crisis, Jacques Bureau, remained a senator until he died in 1933.

King’s contention that the Governor General (Executive Branch) ought not to interfere with the power of politicians is spurious nonsense supported by every political party and government since. While the exercise of executive powers has always been and should continue to be rare, the GG’s power to rescind any political appointment provides Canada with the equivalent of an impeachment process.

PM King held a grudge and, in 1940, seized an opportunity to weaken the Executive Branch. Canada was at war. The Secretary to the Cabinet had retired. King passed an Order in Council merging the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet into one office reporting to the Prime Minister.

Government operations since violate our Constitution.

The Constitution states:
11. There shall be a Council to aid and advise in the Government of Canada, to be styled the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada; and the Persons who are to be Members of that Council shall be from Time to Time chosen and summoned by the Governor General and sworn in as Privy Councillors, and Members thereof may be from Time to Time removed by the Governor General.

The Privy Council must be politically neutral as the Clerk is also Head of the Civil Service. The Privy Council must work with whatever party is elected to govern.

The GG selects members, not the Prime Minister. Ideally, the Privy Council should include representatives from all political parties and other persons the GG deems useful in providing insights into government operations.

All deliberations of the Privy Council are deemed to be secret, and Privy Councillors must swear an oath to maintain that secrecy. Privy Council meeting minutes and documents cannot be accessed through the courts.

Cabinet affairs are also considered secret but can be reviewed by the courts on application. If a judge deems that the release of the documents is in the public interest, they must be made public.

Current governments strive to apply Privy Council secrecy to Cabinet affairs, opposite of the transparency political parties promise but never deliver.

More to come in Part 3.