the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.,
Governor General of Canada
Approximately three hours ago, 153 of 303 voting Members of Parliament attending at the House of Commons voted in favour of a motion to ask the House of Commons' public accounts committee to amend a report dating back to October 28, 2004, "to recommend that the government resign because of its failure to address deficiencies in governance of the public service." Such an explicit request that the government resign can only be interpreted as a de facto expression of no confidence in the Prime Minister, if not also a de jure expression of no confidence. The government's response has been that, as a matter of legal interpretation, the motion was not technically a motion of no confidence, such that the Prime Minister needs neither to resign nor to advise you to dissolve Parliament.
With respect your Excellency, the government's position is simply untenable. Rules concerning what motions qualify as motions of no confidence are designed to prevent an erroneous inference no confidence when the government actually has the confidence of a majority of MPs. Today's motion does not fall into that category: the government does not have the confidence of a majority of MPs. Indeed, one could not even reasonably infer, from the result of the vote on that motion, that the government has the confidence of a majority of MPs. Clearly, the 153 members who voted in favour of today's motion intended that their vote be interpreted as an expression of no confidence. Mr. Gilles Duceppe went so far as to put it explicitly on the record that every vote cast by members of the Bloc Quebecois was in fact an expression of no confidence. Whatever conclusions of law might be drawn about whether or not today's motion was technically a motion of no confidence, there can be no doubt that the history books will unequivocally conclude that - as a matter of fact - the 153 Members who voted in favour of today's motion intended their votes to be an unequivocal expression no confidence, and a communication of same to the Crown.
Your Excellency, I respectfully submit to you that, those 153 MPs having now expressed their lack of confidence unequivocally within the House of Commons, the ball has, of necessity, been put in your court. There can be no serious question that MPs who lack confidence in the Prime Minister have a right to express that lack of confidence. Indeed, when a majority of the House lacks confidence in the Prime Minister, it is arguable that that majority has a duty to express that lack of confidence. Yet the government has taken deliberate steps to attempt to stifle the expression of that non-confidence, and the Prime Minister is refusing to resign or advise your office to dissolve Parliament. Therefore, if your Excellency does not take action, the office of Governor General will itself have created a Catch 22 for Conservative, Bloc, and NDP MPs, to the detriment of Canadians, democracy, and our monarchy. Specifically:
Your Excellency, the very thing that ensures that the authority of government lies with the governed - the very thing, in other words, that makes our system of government democratic - is Responsible Government. If that principle is undermined, we will have been plunged into a serious constitutional crisis. At present, only the Governor General's office has the ability, and the duty, to ensure that that crisis does not occur. Members of Parliament are, in contrast, constitutionally powerless to prevent continuing rule by a government that lacks the confidence of Parliament.
I would ask your Excellency to consider, also, the importance of prompt, decisive action by the Governor General in preserving the monarchy and maintaining the unity of the federation. Specifically, should the Governor General take no action to prevent the Prime Minister from continuing to govern when he so obviously lacks the de facto confidence of a majority of Members in the lower house, the legitimacy and relevancy of the monarchy will be dealt a serious, self-inflicted, and possibly permanent injury. The argument of secessionists in Quebec - that it is time to part ways with the Monarchy, and with the rest of Canada - will be given new life, greater authority, and improved legitimacy. Secessionists will eagerly and effectively exploit the political turmoil that is expected to occur if your office fails to take prompt, decisive action.
Your Excellency, neither I nor the political party that I lead will be participating as candidates in Canada's next federal election. Out of a sincere and non-partisan concern for the integrity of your office and of our system of government, I ask respectfully that you now take immediate steps either to dissolve Parliament, or to dismiss the Prime Minister.
Paul McKeever, B.Sc.(Hons),
c.c. Prime Minister Paul Martin, Hon. Stephen Harper,
Mr. Gilles Duceppe, Mr. Jack Layton
media release has been sent to all Members of the Parliament of Canada
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