Essential Knowledge Needed to Grow a Democracy (16)
Limit the Power of the Leader
Leadership is the organizing and motivating of people. Studies indicate that there are 5 styles of leadership. Politics seems to be the exception. The overwhelmingly dominate style of leadership in politics is Autocratic/Authoritarian style of leading. Except for a trusted few, all of our elected representatives are to keep their mouths shut, because there will be consequences if they don’t. This is the rule. Of course power comes in degrees, but more or less most political leaders are Autocratic.
On the April 19, 2010 Liberal Michael Ignatieff threatened his Liberal Caucus if they voted against the Parties stand on the Long Gun Registry MP’s would be whipped as did the Conservative government. The term whipped means that members would be disciplined if they voted against Party Line. This means even if the MP is voting according to the will of his/her constituents that pay him/her to represent their issues for their benefit. Enforcing the leader’s will is so institutionalized that there is an enforcer who is called the Party Whip. I guess it is cute that he whips the members into subjection, the no bodies, as Pierre Trudeau called them back in 1972. Perhaps it is a throwback to the days of slaves, or captives.
With such constricting controls on members, it is hardly a wonder that little to no creative thinking goes on in Parliament, or in the Legislatures. You cannot constrict the spirits of people (in this case Members of Parliament) and have people to flourish to be their best. I remind you of something I have written previously; The StarPhoenix, on January 30, 2012 stated that Saskatoon-Humboldt Conservative MP Brad Trost is questioning the “ironclad” party discipline that prevails in Ottawa, saying it stifles debate and prevents independent thinking. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Trost+questions+iron+clad+party+discipline/6074831/story.html But these are the fruits we garner when we elect leaders that like power.
My contention is that the adage, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” stands as true as it did back in 1887 when the historian and moralist Lord Acton said it. The people need to recognize the wisdom and truth that we must begin to elect humbler leaders, and then work together to get a check on the Prime Minister’s power as a safeguard.
If you look around the first world nations none of them seem much better. Only one nation shines out from the rest, that is Switzerland. In my opinion, the Swiss Government is the most democratic, and brilliant country ever seen on the Earth. In a later blog I’ll get into Switzerland Direct Representation, but for now I’ll mention their genius on controlling the power of leaders. In Switzerland the people want to remain sovereign, in other words, they do not trust power to be out of the hands of the people – the Swiss people make all the final decisions, on budgets and policies. It is the Swiss people that give the final okay on the budget via a Referendum. What a novel idea: it is the peoples’ money and they want to have the final say on whether they pay higher or lower taxes. In Switzerland the people are the power, and the government’s real power is the power to enact the will of the people.
To deal with the leadership and power issue the Swiss have, not one leader, but a Federal Council of 7 people that share the power, to organize the government and to enact the will of the people. There is not enough power for them to amass power to themselves, and at the same time if government or a leader began to assume powers they don’t have authority to weald, the mechanisms of Initiative and Referendum would be implemented to take the power back. The power will always default to the Swiss people.
In contrast, Steven Harper or Michael Ignatieff would discipline your representative for doing what his constituents want him to do. I will add one more point here and that is of trust, and whether our or leaders are worthy of our trust. When we give a leader or an MP our power to use on our collective behalf, and they lie or hide information, or make decisions against the public will, they have indeed betrayed that trust relationship. It is no wonder there is such public apathy, dismay and anger about our Parliamentary System..
According to the theory of democracy( even the bad model that our leaders hold out to us), being a democracy, our leaders are to tell us what they are proposing to do for the people and then we, the people, are to vote for the vision of the country that we want. What does it mean if we are not told what they are proposing? By their own rules of democracy, that they project to us, that means we do not have democracy. An example, an issue that our collective leaders have not told us about. During the last election the Harper Government was negotiating a free trade deal with the EU. Good or bad, the point is that trade deals are a big deal. We did have 2 elections over trade deals, the Free Trade Deal with the US and the NAFTA. So what, was it a case of the free trade deal with Europe didn’t deserve a whisper. Or was it more a reflection that our leaders think we are too stupid to be trusted with our own power, or would it be an interference on their assumption of power if they had to tell us. Okay, so that was then and this is now, only the Harper Government is still negotiating the free trade deal with the EU and still where is the talk from the leaders?
Is there a need to take control of our Prime Minister? Yes. With a Swiss kind of government it would never have gone this far.
Here is a little homework for those who don’t just talk the talk about loving freedom and change.
1. An article by the Vancouver Province April 2, 2008 called “Let’s get behind brave backbencher as he stands up to an Orwellian law”.
2. And here is a look at leadership Swiss style.
Swiss Federal Council http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Federal_Council
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia