This is why I’ve spent so much time lately explaining to dozens of people what a “constitional monarchy” and a “Parliamentary democracy” are. A recent survey shows that:
Only 24% of those surveyed knew that the Queen of England is Canada’s head of state (not the Prime Minister and not the Governor General [GG]).
A majority (59%) knew that the Canadian government is a “constitutional monarchy,” but that still means that 41% didn’t know that. (The survey doesn’t appear to have asked them if they know what “constitutional monarchy” means, which seems to me like it should be important!)
On the bright side, most people surveyed (90%) knew that the GG can refuse a Prime Minister’s request for a new election.
But then 51% thought that we directly elect the Prime Minister, which, of course, we do not. This is kind of funny for two reasons. First, 90% know that the GG can refuse a PM’s request for a new election, but only 49% knew that we don’t elect a PM directly. So how, exactly, do the other 41%1 think we get a new PM without an election? Second, how can people really think we directly elect the PM as, when you get your ballot on election day, you see a list of candidates for Member of Parliament in your riding, not a list of candidates for Prime Minister. And even if you are in, say, Stephen Harper’s riding, you aren’t going to see Stéphane Dion’s, Jack Layton’s, Gilles Duceppe’s or Elizabeth May’s name on the ballot, since they all run in different ridings. So you can’t elect the PM directly since you aren’t given that option on your ballot!
But then, how can we expect the average Canadian to understand our system of government when the Prime Minister himself doesn’t. He continues to say that the Liberal-NDP coaltion is trying to “”overthrow” the government” and that the NDP and the Bloc have been “planning to overturn the results of the election ever since election night.” (Source). Unless the NDP and the Bloc were trying to remove the MPs who were elected (which even Stephen Harper isn’t actually saying), they weren’t trying to overturn the election results. The election results only give you your 308 MPs – after that, those 308 MPs get to determine in whom they have confidence to run the government. Sorry, Mr. Harper. You weren’t elected as Prime Minister by the people of Canada, because the people of Canada don’t directly elect a PM!
1i.e., the 41% who know that the GG can refuse the PM’s request for a new election but also think we directly elect our PM.