Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Kernel of the operating system branded "Canada".

I am a network administrator, systems administrator, and software author.  I regularly write about how I apply my technical experience to understanding questions in the social sciences such as law.

I have noticed that I have a very different understanding of what "Canada" is than other people, and how much influence individual people (or even groups) have on the laws that apply to us.  What seems to be missing is understanding the structure of the systems: not all software in a computer is equal, and just because you can write an app does not mean you have full control over a computer.

Wikipedia offers some description and a simple diagram to help.

Kernel Layout.svg

This is a simple example where there is one space where applications can run.  Real operating systems, such as Android (the most popular mobile operating system) are more complex.  They offer separations such that some types of applications can do some things, and others can do different things.

What is "Canada"?

That term is used to mean so many different things, rendering the word almost meaningless.  I don't think of Canada as a place or group of people, but a set of policies and related institutions.

To understand the structure of the systems of Canada (law, governments, courts, police, etc), the importance is the installation and execution of the first version of the Kernel of these systems: The Constitution.

The 11 British North America Acts document the first version of this Kernel, as well as a series of patches. This Kernel was installed and maintained by the British parliament, up until they promised to no longer apply patches in Canada Act 1982.

I discussed in an earlier article discussing the first amendment to the Canadian Constitution that the Canadian Department of Justice maintains a list of enactments which people think of as amendments to the Canadian Constitution.  To think back about software, these are more like pull requests (See GitHub documentation).  They aren't patches to what is installed and run as the kernel, merely a suggestion to the primary maintainers (in this case, the British parliament, with installation being done by their Monarchy).

I started drafting this in February 2022 in the context of the Ottawa Siege, but never finished. I felt I should publish what I had started.

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