POLSCI 1G06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Parliamentary System, Bencher, De Facto
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The Canadian Executive
**July 8th presentation of research; July 24th due
•Where does the executive power lie in the Canadian political system?
•Canada is a constitutional monarchy
•The Queen (in a constitutional sense) is at the Apex of Canadian power
•"Defined as the collectivity of executive powers exercised by or in the name of the
•To an extent, it's nothing more than a rubber stamp: they reign but don't rule
•Exercises Crown power within Canada, in the name of the Queen
•Representative, appointed by the Queen by advice of the PM
Power in Theory
•The Governor General (at least on paper): appoints Senators and judges, gives royal
assent to law, summons and dissolves parliament
•Not necessarily the case in practice
•Sir John A. Macdonald- died in the middle of his term- Governor General played a
role in finding a successor and reinstituting a PM- they wouldn't be involved in this
anymore because parties are more organized now
Power in Practice
•All of this is done on the "advice" of the government of the day
•However in the past, there have been rare cases where the GG has had a tangible
political role to play
•Discretion in when to call an election?
•Usually dissolve Parliament on the bases of a request from the PM
•However, 1926- King Byng Affair- said no to dissolving government, had an election
already 8 months ago- instead, ask Meagan to be PM without there being an election
•Asking for prorogation Stephen Harper went to GG- take a recess from government-
dangerous precedent because now governments, whenever they have done wrong,
will escape from what they've done- can't hold leadership to account if they turn to
•She did prorogue government- but when he came back, he needed to present a budget
that would work
Should Canada eliminate its ties to the Monarchy?
•According to critics: "the monarchical system brings with it a set of undemocratic
values- elitism, privilege, etc."
•The Crown has a role to play when unexpected crises develop. It is a source of
legitimate power that can be used "only when normal controls cannot operate and a
crises gets out of hand"