The Convoy Appeals to the Governor General to Overthrow Responsible Government


If you observe politics closely for somewhere between 10 and 15 years, you see pretty much everything at least once, as narratives and ideas switch parties and cycle through and recycle through yet again, with partisans on all sides remaining ignorant to the history of their methods and ideas and thus to the contradictions which they heartily embrace. I started observing Canadian politics in 2000 with the federal election that year, and I’ve written this blog since 2011, so I have seen numerous examples of this phenomenon over the last 22 years.

For instance, recent events have shown the renewed popularity in appealing to the Governor General of Canada to dismiss the current Prime Minister and ministry and thus overthrow Responsible Government itself. While under Harper, these calls came from the radical left, they now come from the reactionary right now that Trudeau is in office.

As such couple of old posts have gained new popularity over the last couple of weeks because the Convoy has set up petitions inundating Her Excellency Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, with unsolicited requests that she dismiss Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister.

Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister saw several absurd petitions calling on Governor General David Johnston to dismiss him from office. Worse still, even elected MPs tried to circumvent Responsible Government. In 2011, Bob Rae, then the interim leader of the Liberal Party, sent a letter to Governor General Johnston asking him to withhold Royal Assent to a bill with which he and the Liberal parliamentary party disagreed. In 2012, Elizabeth May, then the leader of the Green Party, went one step further and asked Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, in an open letter to unilaterally establish a Royal Inquiry into the conduct of the federal election of 2011, with the aim of “restor[ing] Canada to a free and fair democracy.”

In February 2021, the Convoy descended on Ottawa and blocked off roads for three weeks in protest of vaccine mandates and restrictions associated with the pandemic. The Convoy also issued an unhinged and incoherent unilateral declaration under the guise of a “memorandum of understanding” (something which, in fact and by definition, requires the consent and agreement of at least two parties) earlier this month, which, bizarrely, regards the Senate and Governor General as “the highest authorities representing the Federal Government.” The Convoy’s declaration makes no mention of the prime minister or cabinet but would mean, for practical purposes, that the Governor General must dismiss the Trudeau ministry from office and then become the puppet of the Convoy.

The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General has taken the unusual step of issuing a short press release asking that Canadians stop inundating Her Excellency with absurd requests to dismiss the Trudeau ministry through personal avowals of no-confidence.

Yet the cathartic appeal of populism and deranged petitions shall remain, and I will live to see this cycle repeat itself again, under various new guises, many times.

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About J.W.J. Bowden

My area of academic expertise lies in Canadian political institutions, especially the Crown, political executive, and conventions of Responsible Government; since 2011, I have made a valuable contribution to the scholarship by having been published and cited extensively. I’m also a contributing editor to the Dorchester Review and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law.
This entry was posted in Appointment of PM, Crown (Powers and Office), Responsible Government. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Convoy Appeals to the Governor General to Overthrow Responsible Government

  1. I think Senator Paula Simons put it best with the Canadian obsession with attempting to overturn responsible government.

    “We’ve become a society of “Karens,” demanding to speak to the manager, imagining the Queen or her federal or provincial surrogates can somehow absolve us from the consequences of elections.”
    https://albertaviews.ca/we-are-our-own-masters/

    Like

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