The Swiss have introduced some interesting practices to representative democracy that would also improve Canadian representative democracy.
One is to avoid having cantons (cantons are similar to Canadian provinces, American states, German Landers, etc.) so large and powerful that would dominate national politics.
Another important measure they introduced is to avoid having large cantons along cultural and language lines. Instead, the Swiss “break up” each of their major cultural and language areas, the German and French-speaking areas, into many cantons which are independent of each other.
This is what it means in practice; 2/3 of the population of Switzerland are German-speakers, but in Switzerland do not have one large, or a few large, German-speaking cantons, they have 17 German-speaking cantons, independent from each other.
This system helps prevent that the French, Italian and Romansh minorities feel overwhelmed by German-speakers. It also helps the prevent the growth of “tribal feelings” among German-speakers, and also among the many French speakers.
Most Swiss cantons also have only one official language, that’s it; no experiments in Switzerland with “immersion” classes in the other languages of the country. The people should also decide by referendum if they want one or more official languages.
The Swiss also allow creating new cantons for language-cultural minorities, if they demand it.
Each canton should also have lots of autonomy, more than the current Canadian provinces have.
How the Swiss system would change Canada;
Switzerland has 26 cantons for a population of 8.5 million; Canada, for a population of 39 million, has only 10 provinces and 3 territories. If it followed the Swiss model, it would have 125 provinces and territories.
If we follow the Swiss criteria, Ontario, for example, would be reorganized into 46 new provinces independent of each other. Ontario, as we know it now would cease to exist.
The 46 new provinces would not be of the same size, in land area or population. The 46 would reflect the identity of the people and the area they live in; geography, major economic activities, traditions and profile of the people in the area, etc. The size of each of the 46 new provinces would also be quite different.
There would be provinces for Native Canadians, and also for French-Canadians, in the areas where there are enough of them.
It is easy to imagine the boost to the pride and self image of Native Canadians if they had their own province, proper control of their lives, instead of being governed by the Minister and Civil Servants of the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs.
Is it not the logical, the rational and humane thing to do, to give each area of Ontario, to give Indigenous Peoples and French-speakers of Ontario the right to have and run their own unilingual communities?
At the local level, Ontarians would also have direct democracy.
I hope this gives you an idea of how Canada and Ontario could be reorganized, and I hope you like it.
In my next blog I will look at Quebec and the revolutionary changes it would bring to Canada. For example, the issue of Quebec’s separatism will go away forever.