Project Introduction

This project looks at a federal system of government such as Canada’s and asks, is a better system possible? It is not about practical next steps that can be taken to provide incremental improvement; it starts without limitations and assumes nothing is sacred, not the three branches of government, the division of powers, or the accounting rules. It seeks to illuminate the possibilities so we can decide whether or not we should be content with our democracy.

After identifying the challenges of the current system and reviewing the historic foundations of democracy, this project will attempt to develop a more effective democratic basis. It will posit that due to the current complexity of government, representative democracy doesn’t result in what the people desire because it makes it too difficult for the people to determine desired outcomes, communicate these to representatives, and then hold them to account. It will be argued that the solution is to reduce the complexity of government by:

1) Trimming the number of decisions that are in the realm of public accountability (not to be confused with reducing the role of government). This can be done by, shifting the responsibility for holding government accountable from the public realm to those that are directly affected by the decisions, having clear, purposeful delineation of powers to eliminate duplication, and simplifying the network of programs and services.

2) Making what remains in the sphere of public accountability understandable to the public. Understanding requires, increased comparative accountability between jurisdictions and a greater role for independent evaluation.

The project will be organized into four parts:

Part I: Demonstrate that the Canadian system of government is not democratic

Part II: Establish a new theoretical foundation for government based on democratic theory, organizational design, and psychology that achieves a less complex system

Part III: Rethinking the Three Branches of Government

Part IV: Rethinking the Levels of Government