POLSCI 1G06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Royal Assent, De Facto, Heredity

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
Lecture 17 - The Canadian Executive
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
“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
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
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