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ER: Executive Reform

October 16, 2006

Electoral Reform, particularly Proportional Representation, has been a popular topic over the last couple of years. Proponents of Electoral Reform tend to want to change the political institutions of Canada to make it more democratic.

However, what is not often talked about is reform of the executive branch: the Cabinet and the Prime Minister. Most people know that in recent years, the Prime Minister’s office has been growing in power; so much, in fact, that somebody wrote a book calling Canada a “Friendly Dictatorship“. Another common complaint is that regular MPs don’t really have that much power. Maybe if one’s wants democratic change in Canada, they should have a look at the executive branch.

For interest sake, I’m going to throw out three proposals for executive reform.

  1. Cabinet Elected By Governing Party MP’s

    This is the most common proposal for executive reform that I hear. In this proposal, instead of the Prime Minister electing a Cabinet, the Prime Minister tells the caucus of the governing party how many Ministers he/she wants and then the members of caucus elect MP’s to fills those positions.

  2. Multipartisan Proportional Cabinet

    Right now, Cabinets tend to be all members of the governing party, arguably only limiting the Cabinet’s view to only one set of ideas. Maybe instead Cabinet should be multipartisan, with the percentage of seats that a single party receive in the cabinet being equal to the percentage of seats that that party has in the House of Commons; in fact, current House Committees operate in this way. Such a system might result in a more deliberative, cooperative government.

  3. Direct Election of Cabinet

    In this proposal, there is an election, like always. After that election is another election, this time for electing members of cabinet. Only current MPs could run for cabinet. As well, cabinet elections should be tightly regulated, with relatively small campaign finance limits and mandated equal media exposure time during the election. Such a system could be arguably the form of cabinet most responsive to the people.

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Categories: Federal, Ponderings
  1. wilf
    October 17, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    instead of the reforms you suggest, why not dissolve the government alltogether and start anew. that can be done by voting for people who will end the government when they get the power.then we can create the kind of government that will be truly democratic in the interest of people instead of capitalists, big business and politicians.

  2. Northern BC Dipper
    October 17, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    No, I’m afraid you just can’t get rid of the government altogether and replace it with a new government; the fact is, you just can’t remove the rules that everybody is used to. I mean, the French Revolution followed this approach and it lead to violence and dicatorship. To be successful in changing a country for the better, you must build/reform on the government insitutions that you have.

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