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
Governor General
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"
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