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POLSCI 1G06 (280)
Todd Alway (280)
Lecture 12

Lecture 12 - Canadian Executive.docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Lecture 17 - The Canadian Executive January-09-13 12:30 PM  Where does executive power lie in the Canadian political system?  Canada is a constitutional monarchy  At least in a Constitutional sense, it is the Queen that is at the Apex of Canadian power Crown  “Defined as the collectivity of executive powers exercised by or in the name of the Monarch” Governor General:  The Governor General exercises Crown power within Canada, in the name of the Queen (currently David Johnson)  Prime Minister selects Governor General and is then appointed by the Queen Power in Theory  The Governor General (at least on paper)  Appoints Senators and Judges  Gives royal assent to law to pass bills  Summons and dissolves Parliament Power in Practice:  All of this is done on the “advice” of the government of the day  The Governor General’s assent is usually a “rubber stamp”  Very little real power in practice  Crown doesn't play any real role  "Queen reigns, but doesn't rule"  However, in the past there have been rare cases where the Governor General has had a tangible political role to play  Appointment of the Prime Minister  Usually no real discretion  If a Party has won a majority of the seats in a general election  The Governor General automatically invites the individual leading that Party to form a government  However there were occasions in in the past where there was no clear successor for the office of Prime Minister  The PM (John A. McDonald) died in office and the Governor General played a role in appointing one until elections could be held  Two cases in the 1890s  P.M. Charles Tucker lost and made appointments with his supporters, so Governor General said no  This is not a real power in the present as Parties are better organized – and leadership succession is much clearer  Discretion in when to call an election  Usually will dissolve Parliament on the basis of a request from the Prime Minister  However, 1926 – King-Byng Affair  PM McKenzie King goes to GG (Bing) and asks him to dissolve parliament and call new election  GG said no and asked opposition party member to become PM (Arthur Mehen) without election taking place  Lasted 3 days  Election called - going against GG unconstitutional December 2008 - Office of GG faced public scrutiny   Election on Oct. 2008, Conservative party with Harper won election but didn't win majority so they formed a minority government  So all other parties got together they could bring Conservatives down  Stephen Dion under Liberals and Democratic Party wanted to form a coalition with support of Bloc Quebecois and make demand to GG that they will vote non-confidence and bring down Conservatives  So, Stephen Harper asks GG for a "recess", which got Conservatives mad because it sets a precedent  Conservatives had largest share of popular support and now after election they Liberals and NDP  Wanted to respect will of election  GG grants Conservatives reccess - could have said no Should Canada eliminate its ties to the Monarchy? Disadvantages:  According to critics, “the monarchical system brings with it a set of undemocratic values – elitism, privilege, etc.”  System based on heredity Advantages:  The Crown has a role to play when unexpected crisis develop. It is a source of legitimate power that can be used “only when normal controls cannot operate and a crisis gets out of hand”  Symbolic - someone representing all of state but PM doesn't represent everyone, only their supporters  Safe guard - someone to say no to the PM if needed So, if the Crown possesses no real power in most instances, where does executive power lie in the Canadian political system? Prime Minister and Cabinet: De facto power:  In a de facto (power in practice) sense it is the Prime Minister and his or her Cabinet that are the most powerful executive agents in the Canadian government  Privy council in practice - composed of PM and cabinet Cabinet:  It is in the Cabinet that policy is decided upon  Leadership Group (Minister of Finance, PM etc.)  The Prime Mini
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