Monday, October 03, 2022

Constitutional Monarchy Revisited

It has been 11 days since I posted some tentative views on the monarchy in Above the Fray. At the end of that piece, I wrote that would let you know if and when Mary posted her views about our Constitutional Monarchy form of government. She did just that only two days later in a post entitled, Peace, Order and Usually Okay Government.

It has taken me all of this time to refer to it, not because I was ignoring it but because I have had so many other little posts that I wanted to publish first. Indeed, I had so many posts simmering that for a few days I actually resorted to posting two blogs per day, just to get through them all. I had many in the queue, but with this post, I am all caught up and may be scratching my head about what to post next.

A am linking Mary's post, but it occurs to me that many won't be terribly interested in Canadian government, especially now that interest in the monarchy question has abated now that the recent funeral ceremonies have ceased. Therefore, I have decided to precis some Of Mary's post and to quote some directly (below), but I do encourage you to go there and read the whole entry.

I have put all direct quotes in italics, but almost all of the non-quoted material it has been summarized from Mary's post.

Constitutional monarchs do not directly rule. Instead, they carry out constitutional, ceremonial and representational duties.

[William III] and his successors more or less did what Parliament told them or they did not get enough money from the Commons to manage. You note, it comes down to money and who has the power to determine taxes and collect them. Even Elizabeth I could not work around that.
In Canada, and in general in such constitutional monarchies, The Crown is the head of state. However, it is Parliament that initiates and passes all policies and bills. It is only then that The Crown gives royal assent to whatever parliament has initiated.  Although, in theory, The Crown can withhold assent, in practice, it does not.

The American republican system uses a system of checks and balances. In our system, the constitution defines and outlines a framework by which governing people and bodies may act. Balance is attained by having a loyal opposition party. The loyal opposition can, at times, find enough support to bring the government down and thus trigger an election. For example: I well remember that Joe Clark's minority government was brought down in 1980 by a non-confidence motion only a few months after his Conservatives had attained a minority government. Thankfully, that happens seldom, for the governing party tries to work with at least one of the opposition parties for three or four years. This is the wise course, for the electorate may very well choose to punish at the pools a party that hasn't been seen to have tried its best.

Under the American system, the political procedure can be almost brought to almost a standstill when the two parties have almost equal representation. Under Canada's system, even a minority government can be made to work. At present, the third party, the NDP, is propping up the governing Liberal party in power as long as they keep their promise to institute a viable form of dental coverage for whose who need it, such as needy children and less affluent seniors. So the system is working and policy is being implemented despite the minority situation.

I insert Mary's final paragraph in its unedited entirety.
The system of constitutional monarchy, with its roots in tradition and example, is, I believe, responsible for the mostly smooth transitions in government that you see here, in Australia and New Zealand, and, of course, in Great Britain. It survives photo op Prime Ministers, the Boris Johnson Trump lite Prime Ministers, the power-hungry Governor Generals of Australia and, most importantly for me, a lot of voter apathy in quiet times. We have a lot of quiet times in Canada. If we end up with a political head of state, I project that there would be a lot less peace, order and good government.


MARY G said...

Nice precis. Better than mine for Americans for sure. You rock!

Jeanie said...

This is fascinating. Thank you for posting about this -- it's a topic that interests me.

gigi-hawaii said...

Well, there are pros and cons to everything, including systems of government.

Tabor said...

We need a third, fourth and even a fifth party and also ranked-choice voting.

Patio Postcards said...

Being part of a constitutional monarchy has many benefits, many seem hidden to most, until we look. Thank you posting Mary's piece. I'll be one of those saying Long Live The King.

Margaret said...

Excellent and interesting post. Very informative.

peppylady (Dora) said...

As American I have question. Is your election expensive like ours here in United States?
Coffee is on and stay safe

Anvilcloud said...

I am not too knowledgeable about this but I believe there are limits. The actual time of campaigning is quite short, something like 30 days after the writ is dropped (meaning the election has been officially set in motion).

DJan said...

It is so much better than what we do in the US. Thanks for all the information. :-)

Jenn Jilks said...

It is an interesting piece!
I found that already King Charles is doing things differently than his mum. His message to those dealing with Hurricane Fiona was quite strong, and seems to indicate a new change.
Here in Canada? I don't know. Thing is First Nations treaties were made by The Crown. We still have crown lands.

MARY G said...

Jen Jilk's comment is really a good one for me. Something I had not thought about. Now I am thinking. And thinking.