Canadians don't understand political system: survey
Updated Sun. Dec. 14 2008 4:26 PM ET
The Canadian Press
TORONTO -- D'oh Canada! We hardly know you.
The prime minister is not our head of state. We are not a representative republic. We do not elect our prime minister directly.
A new survey for the Dominion Institute taken in the aftermath of this month's political crisis in which the word "prorogue" was dusted off political science textbooks suggests a woeful ignorance when it comes to our system of government.
"Given a choice how best to describe the system of government, 25 per cent decided on a "co-operative assembly" while 17 per cent opted for a "representative republic."
Canada is neither.
Only 59 per cent correctly picked constitutional monarchy.
In a similar vein, 51 per cent wrongly agreed that Canadians elect the prime minister directly.
In fact, Canadians elect local members of Parliament and the leader of the party with the most members by tradition becomes prime minister at the request of the governor general.
"Our school system needs to be doing a better job of training young people to be citizens," Chalifoux said.
One question that did elicit close to unanimous agreement was about the Governor General's power to refuse to call an election at the request of a prime minister who no longer enjoys majority support in the House of Commons.
A full 90 per cent responded -- correctly -- that the Governor General does have the power, which Jean may yet be called on to wield if the opposition coalition does defeat the government with a vote in the Commons.