POLS 375 Lecture Notes - Cabinet Collective Responsibility, Parliamentary Sovereignty, Lloyd Axworthy
One of the checks on prime ministers, including foreign policy, was the
convention of Cabinet solidarity.
Minister of External Affairs didn't exist until after King's cabinet.
Without cabinet solidarity, the prime minister usually wouldn't do anything.
Today, the prime minister makes the calls…
It still exists today, even with a majority government.
If he goes out of the safe zone, he risks being defeated.
As such, one of the key checks is that he has to stay in tune with the
majority of Canadians.
They know they are doomed.
They won't be running again.
Prime ministers tend to do crazy things when:
Provinces' ability to place a check on the feds is limited, but also powerful.
Provinces can actively campaign against or for certain foreign policy issues.
It was a British tradition.
Elected officials would be the final say.
Up until 1982, the courts acted as an umpire.
Up until 1982, our courts operated on the basis of parliamentary
Prime Minister never had to fear Courts until 1982.
Courts are another example on the check on prime ministers' foreign policies.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forces judges to be activist judges.
Recent example: courts instructing government to support Ronald Smith, who
was on Death Row in Montana.
Provinces and the Courts
Influence is limited… Supreme Court laws are enforceable when the
government actually chooses to enforce it.
Supreme Court of Canada
All three had dim view of those (backbenchers and cabinet members) who
disagreed with them.
Lloyd Axworthy was Chretien's foreign minister
Chretien, Trudeau and Mulroney had multiple terms with majority governments.
March 13, 2013 (Powers of the Prime Minister)
POLS 375.3 Page 1