Leading up to Canada Day, the Huffington Post blog team asked prominent Canadians what they would change about one aspect of our country. We are publishing their answers in our series "What I'd Change About Canada" leading up to July 1. You can find the full series here.
Why does Canada still retain any connection to monarchy?
In all of our recent indignation over the totally predicable abuse of power by unelected, unaccountable senators, we've overlooked an even sillier layer of law-making: royal assent.
Before our laws become law, they must be approved by the Queen of England, someone who retains her authority solely by virtue of her father's timely discharge of his regal ejaculate, with each of his individual sperm cells having inherited their mandate from God Himself.
I found this tidy summation of our democrarchy on the Parliament of Canada's website: "The representative of the Crown personifies the nation; the Senate embodies the federal principle; and the Commons represents the people through their representatives."
Let's examine this in parts:
The representative of the Crown personifies the nation
Now, if we all voted on a single human being that best embodied the self-identity of this country, would we choose the head of an institution which enslaved and murdered and pillaged its way around the world for hundreds of years? Or, say, Howie Mandel? Or even better, nobody, as you simply cannot narrow down the beautiful diversity of this country into a single human (sorry Howie).
The Senate embodies the federal principle
Although I couldn't find an official definition, the federal principle appears to be this: Elected representatives must be restricted by other, unelected unrepresentatives.
The Commons represents the people through their representatives
Mentioned last surely by coincidence, I do have one quibble with this (beyond the lazy use of "represent" twice -- get a goddamn thesaurus). Given the power afforded majority governments combined with a lack of proportional representation, the Commons is in reality only representing the 5.8 million people who voted for the governing party.
So how does royal assent actually work? In practice, it's the Governor General who grants it, because the Queen is too busy. Although often, it's a deputy of the Governor General who grants it, because the Governor General is too busy... to do... basically his or her only job. And the assent is usually granted by the deputy in writing rather than in person because, well, again everyone is very busy.
The boilerplate request for royal assent goes like this: "May it please Your Excellency: The Senate and the House of Commons have passed the following Bill, to which they humbly request Your Excellency's Assent."
Personally, I think it's a bit informal. After all, this is royalty, the strip sirloin of humanity. So let's try this:
"Beloved Commander of Wind, Earth and Sky. Our sincerest apologies for interrupting You mid-wave, but the common rabble has seen fit to momentarily emerge from their cesspool with a law. I assure You the law has since been disinfected and endorsed by a group of enlightened senators who remain unsullied by elections. We thus ask You with utter humility (if not outright humiliation) to please consider turning Your noble thoughts to this lowly bill and ONLY if it pleases Your Excellence, Blessed Protector of Earthly Power, signify Your approval by nodding Your head downward only very slightly so as not to put undue strain on Your Divine Trapezius Muscles."
Defenders of royal assent maintain that it is an important symbol. I agree. It is a symbol of how uncomfortable our government is with pure, unfiltered democracy. True representative government will only come when we chuck the Brita and wrap our lips around that filthy tap called "the people."
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