Does the Canadian Prime Minister have too much power and what can be done about it?
For: Dr. D. Brown Political Science 221
By: Luke Baxter | ID: 201005340
Second to the Governor General of Canada, the position of the Canadian Prime Minister is the single highest power a public servant can obtain. The residual power that the Governor General holds under the monarchy of Britain gives the Governor General the ultimate and final say in all major matters concerning Canada’s intergovernmental affairs. An example of this is Michelle Jean proroguing the parliament by the request of Steven Harper to delay a potential vote on the motion of non-confidence during 2008-2009 Canadian parliamentary disputes (CBC News, 2008). In a fair democratic process, the Prime Minister has a variety of powers that he or she can enforce while maintaining constant checks and balances within caucus, various opposing political parties and the very influential media. Here in Canada, under the constitutional monarchy of Britain, citizens are fortunate that the Prime Minister often acts rationally with the powers he or she has. Similar to the United States of America, they share the same standards under a democratic state that the Presidential role is held under check by other potential powers to be. The ultimate right of a Prime Minister is to make the call for a general election; a very important and significant power. One of the most important calls a Canadian Prime Minister can make is to dissolve a government simply by seeking the consent of the Governor General of Canada. More recently with the move toward fixed election dates, the Prime Minister has limitations on his or her ability to call an election when they want; however, under specific and certain anomalies in parliament, this power can still be exercised. Expected requirements are the Prime Ministers right to appoint members to the cabinet, appoint civil servants, judges and senators. The Prime Minister has to keep constant communication with his Members of Parliament with daily/weekly cabinet meetings. This allows for the Prime Minister to stay on top of current and ongoing issues, and execute decisions. While the cabinet is a powerful group in itself, the ministers are responsible for their respective tasks, any poor judgment or efficiency issues can reflect poorly on the Prime Minister and may result in a cabinet shuffle which the Prime Minister can do whenever he or she pleases. In the British North America Act of 1867, section 91 outlines the powers and responsibilities of government, with a significant division of responsibilities between the provincial and federal governments (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013). An example of this would be: all issues pertaining to national defense are federal matters and all issues applicable to healthcare, for the most part, are provincial matters. This also allows for the Prime Minister to maintain checks and balance with provincial premiers to report to him frequently. The Council of the Federation ensures unity amongst all provinces and territories. All thirteen premiers meet with the Prime Minister to allow issues to be addressed, from health care, economic development to inter provincial trade. While under watch from each of the provinces premiers, they are always keeping the Prime Minister in check. This close monitoring goes both ways; there is most certainly federal pressure on provincial premiers; for example, when Pierre Trudeau implemented the Anti-Inflation Board in 1975 (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2013). This bill froze wages, with the ultimate goal of stopping the high inflation in Canada at the time. This bill ultimately caused finance minister John Turner to resign over the issue. This issue was the result of numerous displeased Canadian citizens, who ensured their Premier was well aware of the anger this caused. This led to Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal...
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