Fixed Terms

on | Filed under Governance

Did you ever see a law sneak so speedily through Parliament as Bill C-16 – the law fixing election dates at four year intervals from October 2009 onward? This in spite of the Conservative Party of Canada’s written Policy #10 – “Electoral Reform”, which avows, “A national referendum will be held prior to implementing any electoral reform proposal.” Fixed election dates are one of the several electoral reforms specified in Policy #10.

Fixed-Date elections are just about as bad an idea for Canada as Proportional Representation. Both are socialist wet dreams. We have already lost enough of our rights to Euro-US style republicanism, e.g. the Charter, loss of caucus-elected party leaders, growth of US-style PMO. We have a long climb back to regain the personal freedoms assured us under the governance of a British-style parliamentary system and don’t need to dig the hole any deeper.

The British took centuries to evolve the brilliant system whereby a party could control the institutions of government for only a maximum of five years. Initially, no end date for a Parliament was specified since it was called at the pleasure of the King. But, when the king lost his head, and after republicans ruled a dictatorship without a Parliament, the next Parliament went on for more than eighteen years! Too long, everyone agreed. So they tried seven years, then four, then settled on five as the optimum.

The thinking evolved that it took a year for a new bunch to find the washrooms, a year to legislate their wonderful new programmes, a year to implement them, a year to revise all the cockups their new programmes had wrought and a fifth year for the dust to settle so the electorate could judge their performance going into the prescribed election. Of course, events have seldom worked out so neatly, but, if you look back at the history of majority governments in Canada in the 20th century, they tended to last closer to five years than four.

The key issue is that Parliament needs to have the ability to remove a bad governing party. It’s irritating when PMs call early elections, but not fatal. If, as it’s currently written, the new law still permits the defeat of the governing party by Parliament, what’s the point of moving from five to four years as the limit? Also, the governing party should go to the people when fundamental issues are at stake and not be prevented from doing so by an arbitrary timetable. Finally, who wants to see US-style campaigning many months ahead of the event. Signs for the October Ontario election were already plastered on walls in April in my riding.

Think of the damage a bad bunch could do if they were guaranteed four years at the throats of our institutions. Think also that the only jurisdictions in Canada where fixed elections have been imposed are the socialist paradise of B.C., McGinty’s Liberal-Socialist Ontario and Milleroronto where the animals have taken over the city and the pigs are running it.

Bill C-16 should be repealed on its demerits as well as the slick way it was snuck through.

(Post script: And then Harper broke his own Law in September, 2008!)

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