In 1867 there was no Income Tax – government revenues were from taxes on property, excise, customs, licenses, heads etc.
Any “serious money” that was to be raised by taxation was going to be paid by the Propertied Class – hence they ‘needed’ economic-class representation, in addition to their civic/social geographic representation.
In 1867 Canada was populated by more ‘regular folks’ than by Propertied-Class folks and was about to be bountifully “filled up” by more regular folks who would soon be controlling who became the Leaders of the Lower House – often prospective Commons Leaders will propose stupidly-expensive things in a campaign, just to get elected.
But… no one seems to be able to re-construct this Executive ‘double-check’ on the Legislative aspect.
In fact, all this has been forgotten/erased/ignored.
You see, the Commons took over – during the time when Wm L M King was PM – all lot happened all over the world between 1925 and 1950, so we won’t blame only him
Regardless, the Commons DID take over from the Crown-in-Council and from the Governor General and from the Upper House and (as always) the victors re-wrote the history.
Every university scholar and book publisher re-tells the same “incorrect” story” of how a Constitutional Monarchy became a democracy a) without changing the paperwork and b) without actually being able to explain how it was done. (Here’s one that popped up today
Now YOU know.
Unfortunately no one else will comprehend what I’m saying about the 2015 and 1867 Senate without a complete understanding of the purpose of its predecessor, the Constitutional Act of 1791 or at least comprehension of the statements I’ve made above.
The 1791 Act’s purpose was to provide an assembly, but without allowing the Mob to run wild (the UK had watched France go berserk and the 13 colonies rebel) – the whole idea was to keep the Crown-in-Council (UK Cabinet) in charge, keep the Executive in loyal hands (assisted by independent-of-the-assembly local Advice) and, while granting an assembly to (certain of) the local subjects, to keep a tight hand on the exchequer by appointing an Upper House (Legislative Council) of property-owners and established taxpayers.
This “provincial” hierarchical power-sharing arrangement (with a “General/ConFederal” superstructure of similar design added atop) is the model used for 1867.
Notwithstanding the idiocy of the Act of Union 1840 and the post-Civil War political immediacy behind the creation of the 4 province Union with its “similar in principle” underpinnings in 1867, I stand firm in my belief that 1867 Confederation still is the perfect model for governance of the (finally recognized) best country in the world.
I assert this, ALSO notwithstanding the reality that it is a “Imperial/Colonial” governance system AND that its paperwork-trail is missing key bits ie it is arrested-in-development
The only things wrong are:
*1) the post 1867 boundaries are all wrong (save PEI) creating blatant IN-equality and a political denial of the fact that people live in/near big cities and not in provinces;
* 2) the leadership of the ConFederal Legislative Order (Cabinet) usurped control (and has been allowed to continue to) of the Executive Order (Order in Council P.C. 1940 -1121 attached) and now the PMO/PCO leviathan/colossus is almost un-checkable when in minority and an almost autocracy in majority;
*3) the elected members of the assemblies/legislatures/parliament(s) are so Party-Disciplined that they no longer represent ANYTHING but their own self-interest in getting re-elected (and going on good junkets and getting on good cmttees);
*4) the nanny-state social-welfare covenants made with Baby Boom demographics were allowed to continue AFTER it was well-known that those actuarial assumptions were no longer valid;
*5) as a result, the provincial and Confederal governments borrowed (were allowed to borrow) their operating-deficits for decades (instead of raising taxes/reducing social-welfare programs to balance their budgets) which created huge quantities of at-interest (almost perpetual) Bonds that spin off Public Debt Charges that are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th largest “department” in all treasuries;
*6) the Upper House has become the Lower House a) in the minds of Lower House members and b) that hubristic mis-taking of fact has been spread-around thickly;
*7) the appointed members of this Upper House (same body I’m trying to defend) have been trained-to-think they represent a PolParty, a Region, a sub-set of Cdns deemed (or seeking to be deemed) worthy-of-amelioration/special treatment, their heritage/national origin/race or ‘other’ self-identified trait INSTEAD of representing Resident-Citizen-Taxpayers …. their actual mandate;
*8) we have never adjusted-for-inflation, the Dollar amount ($4,000.00) of the Upper House members’ unique-in-all-of Canada PRIMARY attributes and qualities:
a) Senators must meet net-worth qualification s.23.(4) and disqualification s.31.(3)(5) ,
b) and simultaneously meet net-equity in property-ownership qualifications s.23,(3) and disqualifications s.31.(5)
c) swear to these financial qualities with a unique Oath found (some say buried) in the Fifth Schedule
DECLARATION OF QUALIFICATION
I A.B. do declare and testify, That I am by Law duly qualified to be appointed a Member of the Senate of Canada [or as the Case may be], and that I am legally or equitably seised as of Freehold for my own Use and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in Free and Common Socage [or seised or possessed for my own Use and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in Franc-alleu or in Roture (as the Case may be),] in the Province of Nova Scotia [or as the Case may be] of the Value of Four thousand Dollars over and above all Rents, Dues, Debts, Mortgages, Charges, and Incumbrances due or payable out of or charged on or affecting the same, and that I have not collusively or colourably obtained a Title to or become possessed of the said Lands and Tenements or any Part thereof for the Purpose of enabling me to become a Member of the Senate of Canada [or as the Case may be], and that my Real and Personal Property are together worth Four thousand Dollars over and above my Debts and Liabilities
The Upper House’s members were intended to represent the Propertied Class vis a vis “everybody else”, who might want ‘something for nothing’ especially want something from an electioneering politico
The Upper House was intended to equally represent the Propertied Class by having it’s membership drawn equally from the 3 (now 4+) Divisions (now regions) of the Dominion.
Back in 1867 as in 1791, the “Crown-in-Council” didn’t want the “have-nots” to be able to vote-in an un-affordable/ unsustainable measure …that the “haves” would have to pay for AND wanted a mechanism-in-place within the similar-in-principle power-sharing hierarchy to forestall such a measure from ever passing through the Legislative Order- this is the Upper House’s function to stop silly spending.
As an aside, it’s appropriate to state that the BNA Act really IS amazing, almost prescient – they built-in back-ups on their back-ups. If any mearure slipped passed the Senate, the Executive could deploy a local Withholding of Assent, a local Reservation or activate that era’s Nuclear Option, the ConFederal/Imperial Disallowance power.
These are the elements to discuss! Everything else that’s been bandied-about now (and for years) regarding Senate Re-form is only going to De-Form the Upper House even more than the Party-Hack system and the loan-me $4000 system has done in the post-WW2 era.
Mr Stillborn makes good points regarding some of these DE-Forming topics in his column today simultaneous with a many-time call for objectives, a vision. a purpose, Senatorial job description “requiring qualifications”, a contemporary version, a clear purpose statement before finally recommending a “constructive and progressive status quo”.
Ladies and Gents, let’s go back to first principles, strip away the trappings that the “Otta-washed” community thinks is true regarding the Senate and DO what 1867 actually says before changing anything – except instituting the adjustment-for-inflation on the $4000.00.
There is no shame in turning back, when you discover you’re on the wrong path. © 2006
Whole thing on one Page — It’s masterful (if you can read it)