Canada Is Not a Democracy
It's time to stop pretending
Internationals think Canada is a wonderful place full of wonderful people, but as we’ve covered before, it’s actually a wretchedly corrupt nation full of shopaholics that knowingly poisons its people and runs one of the biggest real estate pyramid schemes in history.
It only looks good because it stands beside big bad America and sneers:
“We’re not American.”
Today we return to our regularly scheduled program of Canadian iconoclasm, dispelling the old notion that Canada is a democracy.
Let’s dig in.
Canada’s head of state is unelected
“All executive, legislative, and judicial power in and over Canada is vested in the monarch.” — Canada’s Constitution Act
Believe it or not, Canada’s head of state isn’t the fair-haired PM JT.
Near-centenarian corgi-collector Elizabeth II is Canada’s ultimate head of state, even though she wasn’t elected, and hasn’t stepped foot in Canada in nearly twelve years.
Despite the fact that her family should be paying reparations for centuries of documented bloodshed and slavery around the globe, her list of retained executive powers in Canada is outrageous.
The Governor-General is unelected
The British Queen, of course, couldn’t actually be bothered to exercise her presumed rights over her Canadian subjects, so she leaves the job to yet another unelected bureaucrat — the rightfully-derided semi-feudal position of Governor-General.
Anti-democracy/pro-monarch sycophants are quick to defend the GG by insisting that the position is purely ceremonial and has no real power.
But there are two major problems with that argument:
The first is that it admits the Gov-Gen position is a straight-up waste of money — money that could and absolutely should be spent on, say, oh, I don’t know, helping millions of our First Nations brothers and sisters by making clean water a human right in Canada.
The second problem with their argument is that it’s patently false.
In 2008, the Governor-General used her unelected position to suspend parliament so that a right-wing corporatist party could cling to power in the face of democratic overthrow.
Instead, this totally-not-just-ceremonial position costs Canadians tens of millions of dollars per year. The GG gets paid nearly $300,000, lives in a pair of massive (and massively expensive) mansions, staffed by “aides-de-camp, press officers, financial managers, speechwriters, trip organizers, event planners, protocol officers, chefs, and other kitchen employees, waiters, and various cleaning staff,” plus costly support from the National Capital Commission, the Department of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Did I mention the Queen also saddles Canadian taxpayers with ten unelected provincial Lieutenant Governors?
The Prime Minister is not elected
In a democracy, the people would vote for who should be their next Prime Minister independently of parties and politicians.
In Canada, the PM is appointed by convention by the unelected Governor-General, who is in turn representing the unelected head of state.
Even crazier: There are no term limits. One guy ruled for over 21 years.
The Supreme Court is not elected
Canada’s highest court wields a massive amount of power over the lives, wellbeing, and future of all Canadian subjects, yet not a single citizen gets a democratic say in the nine judges who fill the bench.
Instead, justices are appointed by the unelected Governor-General, who is in turn representing the unelected head of state, based more or less on the recommendations of the unelected Prime Minister, using an infamously opaque and unaccountable selection process.
The result is a bench full of ideologues, hand-picked by wedge-loving party bosses.
All lower courts are unelected
Just like the Supreme Court, all Canadian courts are staffed by unelected judges — and there are quite literally hundreds of judges with such powerful positions.
These judges hold the power of life and death in their hands, and yet the people get no say in who rules over them, as the selection process is even more unaccountable and hidden than at the Supreme Court level.
Senators are not elected
Canada’s upper chamber, the home of the famous “sober second thought” is having a bit of a renaissance at the moment, thanks to a cadre of very keen senators who are making themselves busy with all sorts of research on well-paid committees.
But the fact remains: Every single one of Canada’s 105 senators was unelected by the people they claim to serve.
They are paid a whopping $164,500 per year, plus thousands of ways to earn bonuses.
To add insult to injury, every single Senator has a vote to pass, block, or amend bills that they do not like, whether the people like it or not.
Premiers are not elected
Equivalent to American governors (but with fewer known sex scandals), Canada’s thirteen provincial premiers are not elected directly by the citizens but are appointed by their unelected lieutenant governor, who in turn is representing the unelected head of state.
Voting is not mandatory
Because Canadians do not like to step on toes, voting is not mandatory in Canadian elections.
What this means is that voter turnout in Canada is generally terrible, especially for local elections.
Without compulsory participation in voting — even if it’s just to scratch a ballot or write in your own name — the voices of millions of disillusioned people simply are not heard. But perhaps they simply don’t want to waste their time because they know the truth…
Members of Parliament are fraudulently elected
But nevermind everything above. Now we’re into the meat of this sickly stew.
Canadian MPs (equivalent to American congresspeople) are chosen via a wildly corrupt electoral system called first-past-the-post.
Without boring you with the details, FPTP is essentially a caveman’s way of running a rudimentary election, and it leads to an unfathomable amount of anti-democratic outcomes, including false majorities (aka temporary dictatorships), wasted votes, geographical favoritism, safe seats, tactical voting, the suppression of political diversity, the polarization of the political field, and mass unrepresentation.
It is safe to say that Canada’s election system is working perfectly well for the major corporate parties (the Libs and Cons), as neither has done a thing to change it, even after promising to do so. They love the status quo, and it ensures them a regular opportunity to rule without a check against their power.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, put it well: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. If you want better results, focus on your systems.” The Canadian system is finely tuned to ensure politicians receive the most amount of power from the least amount of representation.
The result is that in every election cycle, the majority of Canadians did not vote for the party that now possesses 100% of the decision-making.
(S)elections are privately funded
To ensure a fair and equal fight, Canadian federal parties used to get campaign money directly from the government, but a right-wing politician got rid of the level playing field for obvious reasons.
Now, picking politicians is a money game, and since corporations and private interests have most of the money in society (and it’s getting worse by the day), they now have a massively outsized say in Canada’s un-democracy.
Members of Parliament do not care about the will of their constituents
Because all the major Canadian parties are bought-and-paid-for by corporations, their members of Parliament don’t actually work for the people.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Ottawa — I’ve shown several of my documentaries, testified in a parliamentary committee, been part of getting two laws changed, and have met or interviewed dozens of MPs. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the vast majority of these people are dictionary-definition sociopaths who do not care one blink what the public thinks, so long as they can get re-elected on yet another platform of lies and/or false promises.
Moreover, each party has a position called — I kid you not — the Party Whip, who uses carrots and sticks to beat the party’s MPs into line for important votes. This is the mechanism by which corporate sponsors ensure their will is done on the chamber floor.
Overthrow is nearly impossible
I honestly don’t know why opposition MPs and dissenting backbenchers even bother to show up for Parliamentarian sessions, besides to collect their fat paychecks. They have near-nil power to change a thing, as the entire power structure of FPTP voting ensures all the power accumulates to the Prime Minister.
Not only is opposition effectively impossible, but the same applies to referendums and recalls. The people are, frankly, powerless to stop a PM with a so-called majority.
So if Canada isn’t a democracy, what is it?
Canadians won’t want to hear it, but here’s the truth:
Canada is a corporate oligarchy.
It’s certainly not as bad as Russia’s (yet), but it’s an oligarchy nonetheless.
Don’t take my word for it — that’s what dictionaries are for.
Oligarchy comes from the Greek oligarkhía, meaning “rule by the few.” (Or you can go with Aristotle’s tweaked definition: “Rule by the rich.”)
Merriam-Webster defines an oligarchy as “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.”
Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges put it best:
“In America, you cannot vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.”
In other words, voting Republican or Democrat is irrelevant to the corporations that sponsor both parties.
The same is true of Canada’s Libs and Cons, substituting Goldman Sachs for the Irving family, the Westons, the Thomsons, any number of major multinational mining industrialists, the big five banks, or the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Let’s face it: Canada as a country has experienced corporate capture.
Go ahead Canucks — cycle through the five stages of grief
Denial. (“Canada really is a democracy, I swear…”)
Anger. (“Jared, why do you hate on Canada so much?”)
Bargaining. (“At least it’s not as bad as America’s Electoral College…”)
Depression. (“I was never going to be able to afford a house anyway…”)
Just come to terms with reality.
It’s a far better place to live than delusion.
What Canadians could and should do about this
I know it sounds crazy, but Canadians should try democracy.
Democracy has never been tried in human history, so why not give it a shot in the so-called “great” white north?
The first step would be creating and funding a new political party, called The Democracy Party.
The second step would be to stop voting for all the corporate-captured parties — Libs, Cons, NDP, Green, Bloc, etc — and start supporting and voting for the Democracy Party.
That’s pretty much it.
Run the sociopaths and their corrupt system out of office, then start a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Of course, the real powers that run Canada would never let that happen — they haven’t invested tens of billions in controlling the Canadian media, banking, food, and energy industries for nothing.
Should Canadians ever make a real college try at becoming a democracy, the actual powers would simply throw off the charade of “democracy” once and for all.
Not much would materially change, but at least the nation would finally start being honest.
And holier-than-thou Canadians wouldn’t like that at all.
Jared A. Brock is an award-winning biographer, PBS documentarian, and the cell-free founder of the popular futurist blog Surviving Tomorrow, where he provides thoughtful people with contrarian perspectives on the corporatist anti-culture. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Guardian, Smithsonian, USA Today, and TIME Magazine, and he has traveled to more than forty countries including North Korea. Join 20,000+ people who follow him on Medium, Twitter, and Substack.