Letter: Canada enjoys ‘simpler, cleaner’ government than US

Editor: Letter writer Cran Campbell (the Times, April 1) seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of Canada’s history and its system of government.

Government in Canada is very different from the confusing and  dysfunctional  system we are currently watching with some alarm in the United States.

Our system is based on the historical concept of responsible government that began well before Confederation in 1867.

The government takes its basic executive form as the cabinet appointed by the prime minister who represents the largest group of members in the House of Commons.

A government only serves Canadians as long as it maintains the support of a majority of members in the House of Commons.

The government can be defeated at any time on a vote of non-confidence or on a spending bill.  There is nothing similar in the US system, where terms are tightly fixed, as are elections dates.

In Canada, elections must be called at the end of five years, but usually are called more frequently.

Both countries are democracies but a Canadian member of Parliament is either a supporter of the government or is a member of the opposition. A member of Parliament does represent a specific riding, but the member also supports or opposes the government.

Every member has the power to vote to defeat any government.

Representatives in the US Congress can only stall legislation. They do not have the collective power to defeat a government and force an election.

Hence we see a majority in congress refusing to pass any legislation requested by the president who vows to veto anything congress passes that does not support the president’s government or administration.

So nothing can be done, sometimes for years, until the next fixed date US federal election.

In Canada the government of the day can call an election at any time if it finds that it cannot put together enough support in Parliament. Or if the opposition can put together a majority of members they can ask the Governor General to call for a new election or even form a new government without a new election.  The latter is very rare.

Every member of Parliament has constituents who support or oppose the government. Each member has basic obligations to all of the citizens in the member’s constituency but will never be able to represent the wishes and views of all of them at any one time.

When a Canadian government is meeting the needs of its citizens it can likely look forward to being re-elected. But when it gets out of step with the citizenry it can be quickly defeated as we saw last October.

We just had the longest election campaign in our modern history  which took place over 78 days.

The US campaign will have gone on for more than two years before a new President and Congress take office in January of 2017.

Canada’s system is simpler, cleaner and the governments we have had have been more responsible to Canadians than anything we have seen in the United States.

Our constitution is dedicated to “peace, order and good government.”

Why would anyone want anything else? It  should make us proud.

Craig Strickland,

Langley