When Snap Elections Are Good and Just


Introduction

Journalists who cover politics often suffer from crippling boredom in the summer months when Parliament sits not and no longer provides them with a steady stream of headline fodder.

Susan Delacourt and Andrew Coyne in June 2018 started raising the spectre of an early dissolution, and Chantal Hebert in August 2018 started suggesting that Prime Minister Trudeau ignore the fixed-date election provision contained in the Canada Elections Act, which schedules the next federal general election for October 2019, and instead opt for an early election this year.[1] Not to be outdone, Susan Delacourt wrote a second column on the same subject in August 2018.[2]

It is difficult to imagine the parliamentary press gallery having encouraged Prime Minister Harper to opt for an early election, when in 2008, several reporters promoted Duff Conacher’s and Errol Mendes’s assertion that “Harper broke his own law!” when he obtained an early dissolution ten years ago.[3] (Though a few journalists at the time did correctly point out that the fixed-date election law kept the established constitutional positions of the Governor General and Prime Minister intact).[4] But things have changed over the last decade to the point where at least three reporters actively encourage that Trudeau obtain an early dissolution purely out of political expediency.

Nevertheless, Delacourt, Coyne, and Hebert do raise a pertinent question: when is a snap election just and good? I will consider this below.

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Posted in Dissolution, Fixed-Date Elections | 3 Comments

What Does “Calling an Early Election” Mean Anyway?


I took this photo on a trip to Quebec City in 2008

Introduction

Judging by recent media reports, the answer depends upon the length of the writ and not necessarily on the date of the election itself, as the case of Quebec in 2018 and Canada in 2015 demonstrate.

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Posted in Dissolution, Fixed-Date Elections | 3 Comments

The Merkel III Cabinet: Germany’s Longest Caretaker


The CSU-CDU and SPD form Grand Coalition III

Introduction

The Merkel III Cabinet should have lasted from 2013 to 2017, but it lingered on in office for five months – from the first meeting of the new Bundestag on 24 October 2017 until the appointment of the new cabinet on 14 March 2018 – as a caretaker government.

In the midst of that unprecedented political crisis, I quipped earlier this year that “Germany Is the New Belgium” after it became clear that Merkel wanted to avoid another election at all costs. I’m following up on those two earlier entries, belatedly, and showing how Merkel III ended and Merkel IV finally took office on 14 March 2018.

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Posted in Comparative, Formation of Governments, Government Formation in Germany | Leave a comment

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act’s Complexities Could Save Prime Minister May


Two of the most prominent cabinet ministers, and those most heavily implicated in Brexit negotiations, have resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet, and her ministry could fall.

However, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act complicates matters and could even offer the beleaguered May a reprieve, or at least keep the Conservative Party in government. This act has put the British Crown’s prerogative authority over dissolving parliament into abeyance. In other words, the Queen no longer dissolves Parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister. Instead, Parliament can now only be dissolved pursuant to the statutory authority contained within the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act itself.

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Posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Dissolution, Fixed-Date Elections, Reform | 12 Comments

Canada’s Counter-Manifest Destiny


The Dorchester Review latest issue just came out last week. It includes my little piece on George Brown and Canada’s Manifest Destiny, in which I argue that George Brown — the underrated visionary — saw Confederation as the means of making British America stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic as a counterweight to and mirrorimage of the United States of America. Confederation cemented the Counter-Revolution of 1783.

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Posted in Dominion Day, Dorchester Review, History of British North America | 1 Comment