Prime Minister’s Primer on Parliament

I notice that you keep butting heads with the Supreme Court, Prime Minister, so I’ve prepared this little guide on the role of the court in government.

Governments are made of three parts. It’s a system that goes way back to the Greeks. Each of the parts is purposely separate from the others to provide a distribution of powers. It’s preferable to an absolute monarchy in which one person runs the whole show. It’s a messy way of doing things, I know, but it safeguards democracy.


We don’t have to go all the way back to the Greeks to understand the system. Since you value the family, let’s go back to your childhood growing up in the suburbs of Toronto and imagine that your rotten sister has taken your Etch A Sketch and won’t give it back.

Your dad told her long ago that she can’t take things that don’t belong to her. This is an example of the Legislative branch of government. In Canada, parliament makes the laws.

So you tell your big brother and he goes to your sister to get the Etch A Sketch back. This is an example of the Executive branch of government consisting of the prime minister and cabinet who control the army. Your rotten sister says that she didn’t steal your Etch A Sketch; that you lent it to her.

The dispute is brought before your mom who listens to both sides. Can you imagine what branch of government this represents, Prime Minister? That’s right, it’s the Judicial branch. Your mom weighs the evidence and decides that the rotten sister has, indeed, taken your Etch A Sketch. As punishment, she will not be allowed to watch her favourite TV show “Leave it to Beaver” for two weeks.

All kinds of bad things can happen when one part tries to control the others.

Look at what happened last year, when the Egyptian military overthrew the democratically elected government and threw everyone else out. Your attempt to stack the Supreme Court with your appointees is not quite the same, but you get the idea: don’t mess with the independence of another part.

When you try to affect the outcome of the Supreme Court, that’s an example of one branch (the executive) trying to influence another (the judicial). The lack of separation of powers is bad for  Canada.

Not only is it a bad thing to do, Prime Minister, it doesn’t even seem to be working. Even though you appointed the majority of justices to the Supreme Court, they keep ruling against you: a total of six times recently.

Now, pay attention to what I’m about to tell you. Your latest plans to invade the internet privacy of Canadians (Bill C-13) will bring you more grief. This bill collides with a recent court ruling that says you can’t search Canadians’ internet use without a warrant and yet your bill proposes to do exactly that. Withdraw the bill or face the consequences of another court challenge in which the outcome will almost certainly go badly –again.

I hope you liked my little primer. As a retired teacher, I’m always ready to help.


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