A recent issue of Maclean’s Magazine summarizes a detailed report from the Monarchist League of Canada which found that the cost of maintaining the Crown in Canada (covering the operations of the Governor General and the 10 provincial Lieutenant-Governors) amounted to $1.53 a year per capita, about the price of a small coffee at Tim Horton’s.
The impetus for this post began with a recent chat with a friend of mine. He recalled a bureaucratic adventure from the time he worked in the federal government. That, in turn, reminded me of several examples from the wonderful world of bureaucracy. Since readers seemed to appreciate my past reminiscences, here are some more.
In a recent book I noted the near impossibility of Senate reforms. Most of those being advocated would require unanimous consent of all 10 provincial legislatures or the approval of at least seven provinces whose combined populations represent at least half of the population of Canada. Under the circumstances, I wrote, the change that could most easily be made – and one of the most effective as well – would be to stop abusing the appointing power. The Senate was included in our governmental system as a body of members to be drawn from all walks of life, people who would display moderation and good judgment in giving sober second thought to legislation passed by the House of Commons. Instead, all Prime Ministers – until our current one – used Senate appointments to reward the party faithful and expected unswerving loyalty from those Senators in return.
In one of my earliest blogs, almost two years ago, I urged Toronto councillors and citizens to have a grown up conversation about the costs of running the city and the accompanying responsibility to fund these costs. At that time I was critical of yet another foolish and irresponsible plan by council – one that would see it cover a shortfall in the current budget by raiding the capital budget, thereby postponing some $60 million of planned capital expenditures. That budget shortfall could have been met by raising property taxes $5 a month, but the city had already planned for a tax increase of $5 a month and a further $5 increase would exceed the rate of inflation and was, therefore, unacceptable. What made this short-sighted and cowardly decision by council particularly disappointing is that Toronto residents have long paid by far the lowest property taxes among the municipalities in the GTA.
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.