Andrew Scheer Is Not Exactly Wrong: Forming Governments in Minority Parliaments

“Whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats, if not an absolute majority, has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties.”

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Posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Formation of Governments | 3 Comments

Minority Parliaments and the Governor General’s Special Warrants

Joe Jordan’s Column

The polls indicate that Canadians will elect a minority parliament next week, and this has naturally spawned much speculation on the roles of the Governor General and political parties in the formation of governments and what would happen to incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One of the more outlandish pieces appeared earlier this month in The Hill Times by former Liberal MP Joe Jordan. It involves not only the prospect of a minority parliament but also an erroneous invocation of the Governor General’s Special Warrants.

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Posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Formation of Governments | Leave a comment

The Over-Zealous Caretakers of the 2019 Election

The Caretaker Array in Star Trek: Voyager

Caretaker Convention

During the writ in 2015, Parks Canada infamously agonised over issuing a routine public advisory about the threat that bears and mountain lions posed to hikers in Rocky Mountain national parks that fall, falsely believing that the Caretaker Convention in general and the Privy Council Office’s Guidelines in particular prohibited such communication. Parks opted not to warn the public of the feline and ursine dangers prowling and lurking in the forests. I had hoped that the civil service had worked this sort of over-zealous hypercorrection (which invariably indicates something incorrect) out of its system in 2015, but the quadrennial madness has only worsened in 2019.

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Posted in Caretaker Convention, Constitution (Conventional) | Leave a comment

This Election Has Not Been A Time to Discuss Serious Issues: The Very Unserious Issue of Dual Citizenship


The media revealed earlier this week that Andrew Scheer is a natural-born citizen of both Canada and the United States. He inherited the American citizenship through his father. This piece of information has generated some considerable controversy, not least because in 2005 Scheer subtly criticised Governor General Michaelle Jean for holding French citizenship (which she later renounced), and because he stood silent while Prime Minister Harper attacked Stephane Dion and Thomas Mulcair for holding both Canadian and French citizenships. Scheer’s coy retort on why he had somehow forgotten to mention his US citizenship – “No one ever asked” – comes across as a failed attempt to channel a certain devil-may-care Trudeauian bravado that he cannot quite pull off.  The remainder of Scheer’s bumbling, Joe Clark-like response that he has not gotten around to renouncing his American citizenship because he “was focused on other things” will not serve him well either. Scheer now looks like he had something to hide. The national identity of English-speaking Canada, by definition, depends upon a repudiation of the United States of America, and this sort of October Surprise, as our American friends would call it, might just have secured the Liberals another parliamentary majority. Anti-Americanism remains an acceptable prejudice in Canada, and it’s practically encouraged when an unpopular president occupies the White House.

From a political standpoint, Scheer should have taken the Ted Cruz Approach and openly acknowledged his American citizenship when he won the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2017, and he should have announced his intentions clearly then, whether to renounce or retain it. But in principle and in general, I have found the furore surrounding dual citizenship utterly ridiculous and unfounded.

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Posted in History of British North America | 1 Comment

The Caretaker Convention and the Appointment of Supreme Court Justices During Elections: 2015 vs 2019

The Caretaker Array in Star Trek: Voyager

Prime Minister Appoints New Justice to the Supreme Court During the Election

On 24 April 2015, Marshall Rothstein announced that he would retire as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada on 31 August 2015.[1] On 27 July 2015, an Order-in-Council advised that Russell S. Brown be appointed as a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, effective 31 August 2015.[2] Since Prime Minister Harper opted for a long writ in 2015 of 78 days from 2 August to 19 October 2019, Russell Brown’s appointment ended up happening during the writ for the 42nd general election.[3] If Prime Minister Harper had opted for the minimum writ of 36 days, then Brown would have taken up his appointment before the writ. In any case, however, Prime Minister Harper must have known by 27 July that he would have advised the Governor General to dissolve parliament only a few days later. Nevertheless, the announcement did not become a big news story until a few days later, though Maclean’s mused that he might be conservative.[4]

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Posted in Caretaker Convention, Constitution (Conventional) | 5 Comments