Prime Minister's resignation not necessary if today's motion successful
the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.,
Governor General of Canada
I am writing because political events in recent weeks have given rise to political pressures that threaten to undermine our system of Responsible Government, and the legitimacy of the office of Governor General.
As you know, the government of Canada has postponed opposition days that the government fears might be used to defeat the government on a motion of no confidence. This has limited Parliament's ability to express itself concerning whether or not it has confidence in the current government.
It was reported yesterday that Her Majesty's loyal opposition will be bringing a motion today asking 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." Your Excellency, it is respectfully submitted that all members of Parliament who vote in favour of the motion must reasonably be understood to have expressed the opinion that they have no confidence in the government. And, in any event, I would ask your Excellency to consider that, should the motion pass, Canadians will be justified in concluding that a majority of members of Parliament lacks confidence in the government.
It can hardly be contested that the most unambiguous, unequivocal expression of a lack of confidence among members of Parliament is expressed, quite explicitly, on a successful motion of no confidence. However, it is equally established that, from the failure of a money bill, the Governor General is expected to make an inference. Specifically, the Governor General is expected to infer that, by voting against the money bill, Parliament is implying a lack of confidence in government. The motion that is to be brought by the official opposition today is much more explicit than a money bill. It is an explicit direction for the issuance of a recommendation that the government resign.
Your Excellency, if a lack of confidence is to be inferred from the failure of a money bill, it certainly must - at the very least - be inferred that today's motion, if successful, is an expression, by Parliament, that it lacks confidence in the government. This is particularly so because the government has taken obvious steps to delay an explicit motion of no confidence, and it is known to all members of Parliament that the motion today is intended to perform the function of a vote of no-confidence. A member who votes in the affirmative on the motion today must reasonably be viewed as having treating today's opposition motion as a motion of no-confidence. Accordingly, for the sake of the integrity of the office of Governor General, I am asking that your Excellency treat today's motion as a motion of no-confidence.
It is reported that the Prime Minister's office has said that the motion, if successful, will not be recognized (by the Prime Minister) as an expression of no-confidence. It has indicated that, as a result, the Prime Minister will not resign should the motion succeed.
Your Excellency, whereas it is quite true that the Prime Minister might not view today's motion as a motion of no-confidence, and might not resign or advise you to dissolve Parliament should the motion prove successful, those facts do not dispose of the matter. I would respectfully ask you to take notice of the fact that it is a personal prerogative or reserve power of the Governor General to dismiss the Prime Minister - hence his cabinet - whenever Parliament lacks confidence in the government. Former Dean of Osgoode Hall law school, Professor Emeritus Peter Hogg, puts it more forcefully in his widely-read and authoritative text, Constitutional Law of Canada:
Under our Constitution, the Prime Minister can, and arguably must, be dismissed by the Governor General if he does not voluntarily resign when he ceases to have the confidence of the majority of members of the House of Commons.
I would respectfully submit that, as guardian of our Parliamentary system and of the rule of law, your Excellency has the responsibility of protecting Canadians from a violation of the principle of Responsible Government. If the office of the Governor General does not intervene when the Prime Minister defies a clear indication that Parliament lacks confidence in the government, the principle of Responsible Government is undermined, and the usefulness, importance, and legitimacy of our monarchy is undermined. Whereas it is true that the Crown must act only on the advice of Parliament, it is equally true that the Crown has the responsibility of ensuring that no government operates without the consent and support of a majority of members of Parliament.
Accordingly, I implore you with all due respect to heed the explicit or implicit expression of Parliament concerning today's motion by the opposition. It is respectfully submitted that, if that motion is successful and the Prime Minister refuses to resign or to advise your Excellency to dissolve Parliament, it is the Crown's duty and responsibility to dismiss the Prime Minister and his cabinet. For the security of our Parliamentary democracy, and for the longevity of our monarchy, I beg of you not to allow the politically-motivated hyper-technical, legalistic overtures of partisans to obscure the meaning of the outcome of today's vote on the opposition's motion. Were it not for the government's delay of opposition days, it cannot reasonably be doubted that an explicit vote of no-confidence would be occurring in the place of the motion today.
Finally, your Excellency, let it not be said that I am asking you to drop the election writ. I recognize that the resignation or dismissal of the Prime Minister does not require that an election be held, and I recognize that your Excellency might, in the alternative, find it preferable, in the interest of Canadians, to appoint as Prime Minister another member of Parliament who might command the confidence of the House. I ask only that, should today's motion by the opposition prove successful, the Prime Minister be dismissed if he does not resign.
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
For further information, contact Freedom Party's leader, Paul McKeever:
Party of Ontario