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POL214Y5 (32)
Chapter 21

POL 214 Chap 21

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Political Science
David Pond

Chapter 21- The Executive: The Crown, Prime Minister & Cabinet The Crown Canada has a constitutional monarchy which is a democracy headed by a king or queen The queen is the head of state but she reigns according to the constitution Effective executive powers lie with the PM and Cabinet Executive decisions are made as advice to the queen and she must take it whether it is welcomed or not. There are 3 aspects that reflect the existence of the monarchical system: Loyal Opposition, Royal Assent and Speech from the throne. Governor General Local representative of the queen in Canada He can exercise any of her powers/functions in her absence He had a double role back when Canada was a British colony wherein he exercised powers on behalf of the British cabinet and today; he is only a representative of the queen and holds no connection to the British Government. Canadian PM appoints GG for a term of 5 years and he appoints both Anglophones and Francophone. Powers of the Crown The queen and governor general derive their powers from three sources: The Constitution Act- 1867, Letters Patent and the Royal Prerogative. The queen was given power to appoint extra senators by the 1867 Act. The governor general was given powers to appoint senators and judges, speaker of the senate, give royal assent to legislation and to recommend money bills to the House of Commons. The governor in council, a.k.a the cabinet was given power to appoint lieutenant governors and other officers. The Letters Patent is a document that creates the office of the governor general. It grants the GG powers of the monarchy, power to appoint or remove ministers and judges, power to dissolve, summon and prorogue parliament and power of pardon. Royal prerogative powers revolve around the residual authority of the Crown when the monarch used to exist back in the day. These are unwritten powers and are vulnerable to parliamentary restriction. Powers included ones to negotiate treaties, call war and peace and to appoint ambassadors. They were taken away and given to the PM and Cabinet. Most important prerogative power of the GG is to appoint the PM and this must be done based on constitutional conventions (unwritten rules). Ensuring that the office of the PM is never vacant, the GG relies on political parties and elections to be able to choose a PM. However, there have been some unexpected circumstances. One was the sudden death of John. A. Macdonald. In both cases, the conservative party did not have an obvious successor. Now, that has changed as political parties are better organized and prefer to choose their own leader. Two controversial acts of GG: 1.Charles Tupper & Lord Aberdeen This case concerned making government appointments. They are officially authorized by the GG but are decided upon by the PM and Cabinet. Charles Tupper government had lost the election and wanted to retain office. He presented a list of recommended appointments to the GG. The GG refused as he felt the newly elected Wilfred Laurier had authority to make these appointments. The GG thought he was upholding the Constitution. 2. King-Byng Dispute This case concerned the dissolution of parliament. The GG normally summons and dissolves parliament on advice of PM but in this case, Byng refused. He was influenced by the fact that there was the King government was involved in a scandal with the customs department and that was the debate being held in the Commons. The request for dissolution seemed like an attempt to hide what was going on and to avoid defeat in the Commons. Lord Byng also wanted to avoid an election, as another government was somewhat available. When that government fell in 3 days and was granted dissolution, it seemed like the GG had acted in a partisan (biased) way. Another prerogative power of the GG is to dismiss a government. Constitutional convention allows a GG to do so if the government doesnt resign after a defeat, or refuses to call an election after a clear vote of non- confidence. It is agreed that the GG should leave outrageous behavior to the will of the electorate (citizens/people qualified to vote). In normal situations, the GG must act on the advice of the PM and Cabinet. In emergency situations, the GG must only invoke his powers if things have reached a dangerous point. The GG is also known as a constitutional fire extinguisher. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Monarchy The queens role as a Canadian head of state has existed
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