April 28, 2007
Gov. Gen. Has Power to Thwart an Election
Henry Srebrnik, The Calgary Herald
Most Canadians are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a third federal election in under four years.
But what if the following were to happen in the near future: the opposition parties gang up on the ruling Conservatives and defeat them, resulting in the fall of Stephen Harper's government?
However, rather than dissolve Parliament and force Canadians into another trip to the ballot box, Governor-General Michaelle Jean asks someone else – presumably Stephane Dion – to try to form another minority government, with support from other opposition parties.
After all, this kind of thing happens often in multi-party states such as
Though it is within her constitutional prerogative, could our governor-general get away with this in
There was no oversight, consultation, confirmation by a legislature, or election by an electoral college or by the public at large, as is the case in most countries which have a ceremonial head of state above partisan politics.
Unlike many a monarch or president, Jean had no constitutional or political experience when selected. If she were to designate Dion as prime minister, it would amount to Martin strangling Harper from the political grave.
This whole scenario highlights the ridiculous constitutional limbo
Where else does a political leader get to choose his constitutional boss? Certainly not in Britain, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Sweden or numerous other nations with political systems similar to ours.
As a consequence, our governors-general no longer have the kind of political legitimacy afforded the monarchs and presidents of the aforementioned countries.
We should either go the whole way and become a republic with a formal head of state who is not picked out of a back pocket by a head of government or, at the least, institute a proper procedure, including input from a wide variety of sources, for selecting our “stand-in” for our British-domiciled head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
Yet when I called attention to this issue at a panel discussing Canadian politics at the annual convention of the Western Social Science Association, which met in