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I've often discussed the difference between the two main types of democracies, presidential and parliamentary (there's actually a third, but it is used very rarely, in countries like France for example).

In the last century we have seen a lot of new democratic governments founded: Australia, Germany (twice), Japan, former communist countries...and even places like Iraq. Yet, none of these have adopted the American model of democratic governance (presidential).

It made sense for Japan to have a parliamentary government, and for Australia's founding fathers to adopt it as well. We wanted Emperor Showa (Hirohito) to have no power, but remain a symbolic head of state, and the only way to do that is to use the Westminster model, or some adaptation thereof. But when we advised the eastern European countries toward democracy we seemed to have encouraged parliamentary governments. When Iraq's constitution was designed we didn't impose a presidential model on them; but a modified Westminster model with proportional representation, to boot.

Other countries have adopted various aspects of the American constitution where they thought it would be useful, but have stopped short of having an actual presidential model.

Why is this exactly? Why haven't more countries, especially those which were influenced by American advisers, used a presidential model, or at least some modification thereof?

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16 minutes ago, JamesHackerMP said:

Why is this exactly? Why haven't more countries, especially those which were influenced by American advisers, used a presidential model, or at least some modification thereof?

 

Well, there is no exactly.   European colonialism and their forms of government have influenced many parts of the world, as has the United States in the Americas, where presidential republics are the dominant form of government post colonialism.   Central Africa and post Soviet Union Asia have also adopted presidential republic hybrids.  The Mideast has been more influenced by Britain and France.

Historically, the American system was a direct and explicit challenge to an existing parliamentary government by definition, so adoption of presidential republics often replaces previous forms that have lost favour/failed for various reasons.

Lastly, the American system was purposely designed for checks and balances, separating legislative and executive arms of government.

 

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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Most people assume that the founding fathers of the United States designed the constitution in a way to create three, co-equal branches of government, capable of checking each other. This isn't quite true. The 3 branches/checks and balances theory is a more modern theory. The government may look the same on paper as it did in 1789, but every government evolves over time.

In fact, the checks and balances were supposed to come from WITHIN the legislative sphere, the differences between the Senate and House of Representatives ensured that they could check each other. The senate came from the state legislatures, the House from the People.

The presidency, on the other hand, was created for the need of an executive officer with the authority to enforce acts of Congress. The old constitution had no such officer, and the states were expected to carry out its will (and they frequently refused). Most states at the time had nominal executive branches, for the most part. Naturally, the idea of a president met with resistance.

Of course, parliamentary democracy didn't exist in the 1780s. We were more rebelling against foreign control and remotely-influenced repression of our liberties, than against any particular form of government; though the Declaration certainly stirred passions against the idea of a monarchy.

It's just interesting that in the last century, very few presidential democracies have been established, was my point. I'm surprised Iraq didn't end up presidential, or at least (more likely) as semi-presidential republic, like France.

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22 minutes ago, JamesHackerMP said:

figured there'd be more interest in this from Canadians. It seems to be "common knowledge" up north that their form of government is inherently superior.

 

Well, one has to consider that the Constitution Act has a "get-out-of-jail-free-card" in the form of the Notwithstanding Clause, and the second most populous province (Quebec) never even ratified the constitution.  

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James: I would like to ask you as you are American about the Vietnam-war how did the soldiers serving in the war end up there?

Namely, Sweden whose socialist government critisized the USA for the Vietnam-war offered asylum to those American war-deserters to managed to get to Sweden. It was only Clinton who pardoned the war-deserters. Prior to that, had they travelled to the USA they would have been arested.

Wasn't there some sort of a lottery-system or something like that to decide who went to Vietnam? Powerful families bought themselves out of the war as the stories about GWB or Clinton how they dodged the draft.

 

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On 7/6/2018 at 7:06 AM, JamesHackerMP said:

Interesting. Explain the notwithstanding clause to me.

 

My understanding of the Notwithstanding Clause (Section 33 of the Charter) permits provinces to override certain parts of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by passing a  law...the override can last for up to five years.   It was necessary to gain political support for adopting the Charter, and has been rarely used.

I guess it is loosely equivalent to the American "state's rights" protections from federal intrusion.

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22 hours ago, -TSS- said:

Namely, Sweden whose socialist government critisized the USA for the Vietnam-war offered asylum to those American war-deserters to managed to get to Sweden. It was only Clinton who pardoned the war-deserters. Prior to that, had they travelled to the USA they would have been arested.

 

It was President Jimmy Carter who pardoned the draft dodgers....in 1977...his first full day in office after inauguration.  It was a campaign promise.  My brother went to Sweden in 1972, but he hadn't been drafted yet...just had a low lottery number.   He came back to the USA in 1974 after Nixon resigned from office, but was never arrested.

Here is how the U.S. selective service draft worked during the Vietnam War...draftees could also be sent to other nations, like Germany or South Korea.

https://www.sss.gov/About/History-And-Records/lotter1

All civilian males in the USA still have to register for selective service (draft) within 30 days of their 18th birthday...this includes legal and illegal immigrants.   Females are not required to do so, but there are efforts to change this. 

I didn't have to register for the draft because I was already in the U.S. armed forces before my 18th birthday.

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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On 7/11/2018 at 6:49 PM, -TSS- said:

James: I would like to ask you as you are American about the Vietnam-war how did the soldiers serving in the war end up there?

Namely, Sweden whose socialist government critisized the USA for the Vietnam-war offered asylum to those American war-deserters to managed to get to Sweden. It was only Clinton who pardoned the war-deserters. Prior to that, had they travelled to the USA they would have been arested.

Wasn't there some sort of a lottery-system or something like that to decide who went to Vietnam? Powerful families bought themselves out of the war as the stories about GWB or Clinton how they dodged the draft.

 

I'm not sure. I know my uncle, when he appeared before the draft board after his number was picked; all he he to say was that his brother was already in Vietnam (my father) and he was excused.

Funny then that Sweden just re-introduced the draft, didn't they?

Edited by JamesHackerMP
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5 minutes ago, JamesHackerMP said:

About the notwithstanding clause: I wonder how long it will be, or what it will take, for that to blow up in canada's face?

 

Maybe never...Canada is a loose confederation by design....Quebec gets to do its own thing already for fear of separation.

Conflict avoidance is a Canadian value.

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On 7/12/2018 at 4:42 PM, bush_cheney2004 said:

 

My understanding of the Notwithstanding Clause (Section 33 of the Charter) permits provinces to override certain parts of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by passing a  law...the override can last for up to five years.   It was necessary to gain political support for adopting the Charter, and has been rarely used.

I guess it is loosely equivalent to the American "state's rights" protections from federal intrusion.

That's not quite the actual legal purpose and/or application of the clause. It was mainly instituted in order to address concerns that the Charter granted courts an inordinately significant role in a system that's otherwise modeled on the centuries old British principle of "supremacy of Parliament". The fear was that the courts would have the ability to overturn laws passed by democratically elected governments, which when you think about it is a legitimate concern. Any government, provincial or federal, has the right and/or ability to assert the notwithstanding clause to nullify a court decision that on Charter grounds overturns a law or an aspect of a law. Also, a government can assert the clause when passing legislation in order to ensure the law is immune from Charter challenges. I believe the clause can only be applied for temporary periods (up to five years?) but can be reasserted (or withdrawn) if/when a government wishes to do so. Provincial governments, particularly in Quebec, have applied the clause, but I don't believe it's ever been applied by a federal government, although many think that in some cases it could and probably should have been.

Edited by turningrite
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On 7/11/2018 at 6:49 PM, -TSS- said:

James: I would like to ask you as you are American about the Vietnam-war how did the soldiers serving in the war end up there?

Namely, Sweden whose socialist government critisized the USA for the Vietnam-war offered asylum to those American war-deserters to managed to get to Sweden. It was only Clinton who pardoned the war-deserters. Prior to that, had they travelled to the USA they would have been arested.

Wasn't there some sort of a lottery-system or something like that to decide who went to Vietnam? Powerful families bought themselves out of the war as the stories about GWB or Clinton how they dodged the draft.

 

I don't know about powerful families being able to buy their way out. Do you know that for a fact? Or are you assuming? There was a lottery system, yes.

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On 7/18/2018 at 2:40 PM, turningrite said:

That's not quite the actual legal purpose and/or application of the clause. It was mainly instituted in order to address concerns that the Charter granted courts an inordinately significant role in a system that's otherwise modeled on the centuries old British principle of "supremacy of Parliament". The fear was that the courts would have the ability to overturn laws passed by democratically elected governments, which when you think about it is a legitimate concern. Any government, provincial or federal, has the right and/or ability to assert the notwithstanding clause to nullify a court decision that on Charter grounds overturns a law or an aspect of a law. Also, a government can assert the clause when passing legislation in order to ensure the law is immune from Charter challenges. I believe the clause can only be applied for temporary periods (up to five years?) but can be reasserted (or withdrawn) if/when a government wishes to do so. Provincial governments, particularly in Quebec, have applied the clause, but I don't believe it's ever been applied by a federal government, although many think that in some cases it could and probably should have been.

In the U.S., on the other hand, our courts have delivered civil rights victories to people who wouldn't have had a prayer if we had anything like "legislative supremacy" in this country. Thank God we don't have a notwithstanding clause.

I've come to believe that the belief many in Canada and western Europe have that the parliamentary form of government is "superior", is pure B.S. National pride channeled in the wrong direction.

Edited by JamesHackerMP
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16 hours ago, JamesHackerMP said:

In the U.S., on the other hand, our courts have delivered civil rights victories to people who wouldn't have had a prayer if we had anything like "legislative supremacy" in this country. Thank God we don't have a notwithstanding clause.

I've come to believe that the belief many in Canada and western Europe have that the parliamentary form of government is "superior", is pure B.S. National pride channeled in the wrong direction.

The notwithstanding clause was controversial when it was first written into the 1982 Charter. It was only accepted in order to get a deal and there's since been an unspoken agreement of sorts that it only be used in very extraordinary circumstances. Mainly, Quebec has used it to shield its language laws from Charter challenges but most believe this a more-or-less reasonable application of the clause. That Ford is using the clause to address such a minor matter worries a lot of people, including politicians who were involved in the negotiations that generated the clause. Ford's behavior could open the floodgates, causing legislatures to casually apply the clause to escape judicial accountability. You're correct that U.S. legislators don't have such a thing at their disposal and the legal rights of Americans are more solidly protected as a result of this. In many respects, Canadian rights protections are weaker than their American counterparts. Free speech protections are much less solidly grounded here than in the U.S., for instance. I'm not sure about the rights protection regimes in European countries, but I believe Canada's free speech protections are among the weakest in the Western world. Our elites like it this way.

Edited by turningrite
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Except that our judicial system isn't as politicized as in the U.S., nor does money drive politics to the same degree in Canada.  Money is used to buy justice to a much greater degree in the U.S., creating two-tier justice.  U.S. prisons are full of vulnerable minorities, especially black, who couldn't afford to avail themselves of a decent legal defense.  Often the prosecutor and the judge make fast decisions with huge impacts on poor black families.  How often have the accused been forced into plea bargains for crimes they didn't commit because of expediency?  The poor are made to post bail that they can't afford just to avoid being imprisoned BEFORE at trial has even been held.  The notwithstanding clause is problematic for sure, but perhaps it is a kind of political counterweight to the courts.  I'd think Americans would appreciate that.  I agree that the core principles of the Charter must be inalienable, but as you know, courts interpret how events agree/disagree with the Charter, so we have that human bias rearing its head again.  Unavoidable?

Edited by Zeitgeist
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I dont want to get into a "who's better" argument, but despite the politicization of the Supreme Court and some of the federal courts, there's at least a balance of power between the executive and legislative in picking the justices. Not a very perfect one, hell no. But especially when there is a Senate of one party and a president of the other, it requires compromise. The government of the day cannot always get its way. I really can't see another way of doing it, other than the present formula of the executive appoints and the Senate approves/rejects.

Edited by JamesHackerMP
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On 9/12/2018 at 11:56 PM, turningrite said:

The notwithstanding clause was controversial when it was first written into the 1982 Charter. It was only accepted in order to get a deal and there's since been an unspoken agreement of sorts that it only be used in very extraordinary circumstances.

Unspoken agreements are not legally binding. And this is a legal document. Which means they're utterly meaningless. The agreement, in any case, is among the central Canada elites of politics and media.

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On 9/14/2018 at 8:53 PM, Zeitgeist said:

Except that our judicial system isn't as politicized as in the U.S.,

Oh don't kid yourself. No one gets appointed a judge in this country, and especially not to the Supreme Court, if his or her ideological views don't line up as perfectly as possible with the government in power. We're just less honest about it, just like Trudeau's 'independent' senators. All of whom are carefully chosen to reflect liberal ideological and social views.

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On 6/25/2018 at 5:36 PM, JamesHackerMP said:

Other countries have adopted various aspects of the American constitution where they thought it would be useful, but have stopped short of having an actual presidential model.

Why is this exactly? Why haven't more countries, especially those which were influenced by American advisers, used a presidential model, or at least some modification thereof?

Because it won't work in third world countries, in countries without a long history of political compromise. They president would never accept being overruled by the congress. There would be violence, or a move to eliminate or bring the congress under control. As we've seen in Russia, in Turkey, in China and in places like Venezuela. The congress becomes little more than a herd of trained, obedient seals clapping as the president desires, and so is basically useless.

 

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On 9/14/2018 at 7:53 PM, Zeitgeist said:

Except that our judicial system isn't as politicized as in the U.S., nor does money drive politics to the same degree in Canada.  Money is used to buy justice to a much greater degree in the U.S., creating two-tier justice.  U.S. prisons are full of vulnerable minorities, especially black, who couldn't afford to avail themselves of a decent legal defense. 

 

But it is politicized in Canada, starting from the top with the SC of Canada and "Charter Politics".  As for vulnerable minorities, do I really have to point out the state of "aboriginals" (what a word) in the Canadian justice system ?    This is just another example of Canadian blinders focused in one direction...south.

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15 minutes ago, Goddess said:

Just curious whether you have a  country that you would rather have as a neighbour, as opposed to  Canada?

 

Never really thought about another option, because there is none.   Canada is actually part of the USA's history and development as an independent nation, so is indispensable in that context.   In the end, my only wish would be that each country be allowed to exist with similarities and differences without apology.

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4 hours ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

Canada is actually part of the USA's history and development as an independent nation, so is indispensable in that context. 

Indeed, both nations, and in fact the British Empire itself, born of the same father, at Fort Necessity, 3 July 1754

Edited by Dougie93
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