Peewee’s Big Civics Lesson

In spite of his shadier side off camera,  Peewee Herman’s on camera attempts to work life resonate with me. I don’t think I would have gone looking for the Alamo’s basement, but I have been to the Wheel Inn and eaten the pie (a bit like the reverse of drinking the metaphoric Koolaid) in spite of never planning that adventure.  Transplanting my civics education to terrain where it is mostly but not all applicable is giving me some intellectual Peewee moments now.

Because of the constitutional crisis in the national public eye, there is more basic info for me to collect on how parliamentary democracy works.  Because a lot of people are confused, I get a civics lesson I can follow.  Hardly seems just and right.

Last night, we watched the speeches and got hopelessly tangled by words we had never read and so couldn’t recognize.  And that was a good lesson in how literacy indeed does alter one’s ability to interpret.  This morning, in print, I now have a grasp of “prorogue” but when heard for the first time (and yes, after a very small carafe of saki for me and a glass of beer for Bob), we were afraid we had tumbled down a middle European meat pie tunnel: at a time like this, why were folks discussing pierogis? And what was with the references to the Kennedys–which eventually clarified as Canadians–or “deviling the kill”? (The last eventually revealed itself as the sensible “developing the skill”).

Just as in the US, the general populace–while holding strong opinions and expressing them with varying degrees of vehemence in public–expects no descent into civic chaos.  Unlike the US, a comparison of current affairs is being drawn to an event in Australian history.  The world is smaller here.

3 Responses to “Peewee’s Big Civics Lesson”

  1. Sarah Dentan Says:

    The sense of a smaller world (or rather, that there is the more to the world than one’s own self-important nation) is what I am most grateful for in terms of my time as an expat. Well, that and giving birth to a child in a country with socialized health care and relatively sane approach to such things in general.

  2. Von Allan Says:

    I’ve been wondering what you were thinking of our little crisis. There’s a very good primer on the Toronto Star’s website that’s worth a read about this. It’s at

    I have to admit to being very disappointed in the Governor-General’s decision. There’s no doubt that the government would have been defeated with a Confidence Vote on Monday. So we have, right now, the unique situation that the government is actually ruling without the confidence of the House. It’s undemocratic and precedence setting and it’s not sitting well with me at all.

    I also found myself amazed at the lack of education of many of my fellow Canadians. With our parliamentary system, Canadians only elect Members of Parliament. We do NOT elect governments, parties or the Prime Minister. Our MPs, once they are elected, are empowered to form the government. The cry from the Tories that the Coalition was undemocratic misses the point entirely – the Coalition is very democratic. They would not only have had a majority of seats but they would have had the majority of the popular vote, too (I wrote a bit more on this front at

    It will shake out fine, I’m sure. But the spin and very nasty rhetoric has been incredibly unpleasant.

  3. halifaxing Says:

    And I keep reading that the US President is elected by direct vote of the people and that isn’t precise either: in the Presidential election, one votes for electors who then meet as the Electoral College and cast the deciding ballots. And this has gone astray before…..

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