Proposal for elected Commons committee chairs

For the past three years now, this blog has explored some of the more interesting developments in parliamentary procedure in various jurisdictions (primarily the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Regular readers know that I am a big fan of many of the reforms introduced in the UK House of Commons in 2010, as per the recommendations of the Wright report. One of those reforms involved select committee chairs being elected by the whole House, as I’ve blogged about in detail in other posts. For example, back in April 2011, I wrote one of my Fixing Ottawa posts, this one focused on Committees, wherein I explained in detail how UK select committee chairs and members are now elected. In another […]

Appointed political hacks

Recent controversies surrounding a handful of Canadian Senators have sparked an intense debate (at least among the chattering political classes) with many calling not simply for Senate reform, but for the Upper Chamber to be abolished. Those in favour of abolition view the Senate as a graveyard for appointed political hacks. I have written a good number of posts defending the Senate. I am not at all in favour of abolishing it, however, I do recognize that the appointment process is flawed. I will once again address some of the issues raised by critics of the Senate. “Appointed political hacks” One of the most common criticisms levelled at current day Senators is that they are simply “appointed political hacks”. The […]

Canada’s Royal Succession Bill

In 2011, at a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government held in Perth, Australia, the 16 countries which have Queen Elizabeth as their head of state agreed to modernize the rules of royal succession. The proposed changes would put an end to three current practices: male children inheriting the throne ahead of their older, female siblings. a ban on a monarch or direct heir to the throne marrying a Roman Catholic. the requirement for all descendants of George II to obtain the monarch’s permission to marry or else have their marriage declared void. The Canadian government recently introduced Bill C-53, An Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne. A motion was moved, […]

On Constitutional Monarchy

Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries, are constitutional monarchies. Constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchical government established under a constitutional system that acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state. Modern constitutional monarchies usually implement the concept of trias politica or “separation of powers”, where the monarch either is the head of the executive branch or simply has a ceremonial role. Where a monarch holds absolute power, it is known as an absolute monarchy. The process of government and law within an absolute monarchy can be very different from that in a constitutional monarchy. Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a Commonwealth Realm that formally recognizes Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada. […]

Preferential voting isn’t the solution some think it might be

There have been a growing number of columns and articles in various Canadian media over the past few months bemoaning the state of our parliamentary democracy and proposing various changes which might improve the situation. More often than not, electoral reform is mentioned – either in the column itself, or by a reader commenting on the piece. There does seem to be a growing recognition or acceptance that the First-Past-the-Post voting system doesn’t quite work the way people would like. I won’t say it doesn’t work the way it should because it works exactly as it should. It simply isn’t the ideal system for multi-party democracies. Inevitably, in these discussions, someone proposes some form of proportional representation, usually Mixed-Member-Proportional, where […]

A Short History of Equalization, Part 2

As discussed in Part 1, the equalization program was significantly overhauled in 2007. This was largely because it had become, in the minds of many critics, an overly-complex mishmash of special deals and formulae that benefited some more than others and pleased no one. From 1982 to 2004, in general terms, the program used a complex but consistent formula of an equalization standard that was based on the average of the fiscal capacities of five provinces (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec), using 33 different tax bases (including 100% of natural resource revenue). In 2004, the Fixed Framework was adopted, which replaced that formula with a fixed pool of funds that was set in legislation (at a minimum of […]