Canada & the Power of the PM
Canada is one of the oldest constitutional democracies in the world. While the roles of the Monarch and the Governor General are described in the Canadian Constitution, the role of the Prime minister is not discussed in any constitutional document. Doesn't this seem odd? This is an example of an "unwritten" element of Canada's Constitution, which means the role is a tradition or convention that over time and history has come to be accepted as part of an unquestioned element of Canada's governance. As such, the PM is the head of federal government in Canada. And now the more that I consider this role that is increasingly unencumbered by limitations to its power, it appears both odd and concerning. Why is this unquestioned? Canadian citizens should debate the growing power of modern prime ministers and whether this threatens our democratic institutions. Whereas the Prime Minister was once viewed as 'the first among equals' in the Cabinet, this is no longer the case. The PM is now incomparably more powerful than any colleague. The PM not only heads government but also has almost sole control over his or her own party. (Of course today I likely shouldn't be using personal possessive gender pronouns.) But more importantly than that, for the past 20 years at least, the PM has been exercising the discretionary power of an autocrat to make policy and appointments of people who may hold views offensive to most Canadians. While popular culture demands transparency and accountability, the silent population and all its silent representatives are accepting this archaic and faulty governance.