By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 13 Comments
The Public Policy Forum has released a summary of a roundtable conducted in March to discuss the loosely agreed upon rules by which we govern ourselves. This follows a workshop organized by constitutional scholar Peter Russell in February.
The contributors to each are esteemed and varied. And the overarching objective would seem to be to codify much of what is presently unwritten or poorly understanding: essentially to create something like New Zealand’s Cabinet Manual, an idea Mark Jarvis considered in his essay for our continuing series on the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 9:48 AM - 54 Comments
Asked if Mr. Harper might have had a different motivation for sending the letter to Ms. Clarkson — one other than ensuring that she explored the option of Conservative-led minority if Martin’s government fell — Mr. Flanagan replied: “I can’t see what other point there would have been in writing the letter except to remind everybody that it was possible to change the government in that set of circumstances without an election.”
Meanwhile, John Geddes talks to Don Desserud, who finds Mr. Harper’s understanding of convention to be “odd.”
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 9:07 AM - 52 Comments
The Prime Minister will momentarily arrive at Rideau Hall to ask that Parliament be dissolved. Meanwhile this morning, Michael Ignatieff has released a statement on how he would handle a minority government.
This election is not just an exercise in democracy, it’s about democracy. So as we begin the campaign, let’s be clear about the rules.
Whoever leads the party that wins the most seats on election day should be called on to form the government.
If that is the Liberal Party, then I will be required to rapidly seek the confidence of the newly-elected Parliament. If our government cannot win the support of the House, then Mr. Harper will be called on to form a government and face the same challenge. That is our Constitution. It is the law of the land.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 25, 2010 at 9:01 AM - 0 Comments
Maxime Bernier addresses the faithful in Quebec City.
Supporters of big government have been in power for fifty years. They have brought us to a constitutional and economic dead end. Every day they endanger our prosperity and freedom a little more. It is high time for supporters of freedom to get together and propose a new realistic vision of Quebec’s future.
Let’s state it loudly and forcefully: we need a smaller, less interventionist and less centralized government in Ottawa; but also a smaller, less interventionist and less controlling government in Quebec City. A new chapter in Quebec’s history is being written beginning today. And together, through the strength of our convictions, we are the ones who shall be its main characters!
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM - 13 Comments
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is presently concerned with a study of “issues related to prorogation” and, as part of those hearings, called Brian Topp, coalition biographer and former NDP campaign director, to testify. His opening statement, reprinted below, is almost certainly the most interesting treatise on Parliamentary democracy you’ll read this afternoon. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 10:05 AM - 31 Comments
Earlier this week I interviewed Michael Behiels, a political historian at the University of…
Earlier this week I interviewed Michael Behiels, a political historian at the University of Ottawa. We had a nice long chat, about Prince Charles and his mum, the monarchy, those annoying Australians, and Stephen Harper. Here’s a partial transcript of the interview — this is my favourite part:
I think Harper’s education in Calgary warped his understanding of the parliamentary system in Canada. He was taken down the wrong path by Tom Flanagan and others, who think ours is an easy system to change. I thought Harper had a better understanding of the constitution than that, since his views on the Meech Lake and Charlotteown accords, and on the Supreme Court reference on Quebec secession, were quite astute.
By John Geddes - Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 10:32 AM - 19 Comments
University of Toronto law professor Ed Morgan is an expert on the Constitution and the traditions that underpin Parliamentary government. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke with Governor General Michaelle Jean at Rideau Hall, Morgan answered our questions about the decision she must soon make. An edited version of that conversation:
Q. What rules will guide the Governor General this morning?
A. All we have on these matters is a phrase that says our Constitution is similar to the constitution of the United Kingdom, and we know they have an unwritten constitution. So we’re into the area of unwritten constitutional conventions. The so-called reserve powers of the Crown are not unlimited but they are just unwritten.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, August 29, 2008 at 7:09 PM - 0 Comments
The idea that the Governor General would be within her rights to refuse Harper’s…
The idea that the Governor General would be within her rights to refuse Harper’s request for dissolution apparently has other adherents besides crankish magazine columnists. Indeed, constitutional scholar Errol Mendes, professor of law at the University of Ottawa and editor of the National Journal of Constitutional Law, argues Harper’s demand for a snap election may well be illegal:
Many of the powers of the prime minister and the Governor General are governed not by the written Constitution, but by constitutional conventions, including who has the right to dissolve Parliament and call for elections. Constitutional convention gives the prime minister only the right to advise the Governor General to call for dissolution of Parliament and thereby trigger an election. The Governor General has an uncontested residual power to deny a prime minister’s request for dissolution.
Constitutional conventions can be both entrenched in and overridden by statute law. That is precisely what the Conservatives did when they decided to constrain the conventional power of the prime minister to seek dissolution whenever he smelled political advantage to do so.
However, the fixed election law does not constrain the residual power of the Governor General…
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 9:12 PM - 0 Comments
Flipping y’all back to Colleague Wells, who put his Google-fu up against Peter Van…
Flipping y’all back to Colleague Wells, who put his Google-fu up against Peter Van Loan’s communications director, and – well, you can decide for yourselves who came out ahead.
By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 9:57 AM - 0 Comments
Oh, dear. I fear my fellow Maudit Anglais Phil Gohier doth protest too much….
Oh, dear. I fear my fellow Maudit Anglais Phil Gohier doth protest too much. Not sure what’s in the air in Toronto these days – Frustration? Spite? The stench of failure? – but whatever it is, Phil has been inhaling a little too hard. (Through the nose, Phil.) I wept yesterday when reading his treacherous post about TQS, Quebec’s self-professed “black sheep” network, the recent hardships of which Phil tut-tutted: “Am I the only one who doesn’t really understand the collective hand-wringing over the plight of TQS? Exactly how did the future of a third-rate TV network whose only success was in the realms of late-night softcore porn and phony ‘debates’ between insufferable blowhards become a constitutional issue?”
First off, Bleu Nuit is a long-running cultural icon that for decades has helped countless Quebec teens through the night. It also taught the world at large that, yes, Quebecers are for the most part horny and forever tortured. You might as well say Poutine is bad because its fattening and clogs the arteries, or that foie gras is evil because, well, think of the poor ducks.
By Philippe Gohier - Monday, April 28, 2008 at 6:25 PM - 0 Comments
Am I the only one who doesn’t really understand the collective hand-wringing over the…
Am I the only one who doesn’t really understand the collective hand-wringing over the plight of TQS? Exactly how did the future of a third-rate TV network whose only success was in the realms of late-night softcore porn and phony “debates” between insufferable blowhards become a constitutional issue?
[PQ leader Pauline Marois's] comments were sparked by Remstar Corp.’s announcement this week it was cancelling all newscasts on French-language television network TQS and will lay off about 270 journalists.
This kind of decision would not have happened if Quebec called the shots for the telecommunications sector, Marois said.
“We could dictate our own rules on the importance, for example, of preserving local news and a diversity of information and communication,” she told the national assembly in French. “These [elements] are fundamental to a people’s identity.”
Now, it’s certainly unfortunate for those who’ll be losing their jobs. And there’s also something to be said for TQS’s dogged determination to cover even the most regional news events in Quebec while every one else converged on Montreal and Quebec City.
But while the feds and the province pore over the fine print in the station’s broadcasting license from the CRTC and publicly nurture their newfound appreciation for diversity in Quebec’s news industry, the ongoing lock-out of journalists at the Journal de Québec stretches into its second year; Quebecor, which owns the JdeQ, is consolidating its stranglehold on all media in the province; and Télé-Québec, the state-owned broadcaster, struggles to recover from a series of budget cuts imposed by many of those currently in government.
So, enjoy the overdubbed version of Die Hard and the clips of American Funniest Home Videos rescued from the cutting floor while you still can. Apparently, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.