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LETTERS – for May. 16, 2011

CivicsLesson

I’m commenting here on two references in your April 2011 issue of CANADIAN CATTLEMEN:

In your Comment (pg. 4) entitled “They’re off and running” you incorrectly refer to the federal budget and the resulting fall of the government. In the News Roundup section under “Government — Beefing up the Cattle Sector” you refer to the ill-fated budget.

These references are a clear misunderstanding of the facts of the matter. The government was defeated on a motion of misconduct. The government was charged with “Contempt of Parliament” by a house subcommittee for failing to provide financial information as required. The motion of contempt is unique in Canadian and Commonwealth history and is perhaps largely a reflection of the lack of cooperation between members/parties in the House.

The Speaker of the House gave the government ample opportunity to respond to the subcommittee’s request for information — two months in fact.

My concern here is not just with the misrepresentation of what transpired in the House but with a growing lack of understanding, by the Canadian population, of how a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy functions. Living so close to the U.S., Canadians are tending to map their presidential system on to our parliamentary system.

A few points… The real power in our government rests with the MPs. Each MP represents his constituency and is entrusted to act on his constituency’s behalf. The structure of “parties,” “cabinet,” and the “prime minister” are organizational structures that are secondary to the power of the MPs. The notion of a coalition makes no sense in a parliamentary system. The government itself is a coalition of MPs. Having members voting along non-party lines should be encouraged as it makes our system more democratic. These MP represent our interests not the interests of the PMO, cabinet, or a party. Otherwise it’s not a democracy it’s some sort of oligarchy.

DAVE DOCKENDORFF

POWASSAN, ONT.

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