Friday, 4 December 2009

Prorogation: One Year Later

Today marks one year since the Governor General exercised the powers of the Crown to prorogue Parliament, honouring a request by the Prime Minister - her chief constitutional advisor. In doing so, Mme Jean demonstrated that the Office of the Governor General (and indeed the Crown itself) is much more than a mere symbolic rubber stamp. Nobody was calling the GG a simple figurehead in the aftermath of the so-called "coalition crisis."

Regardless of whether you supported or opposed the idea of the proposed Liberal-NDP(-Bloc) coalition, from a monarchist perspective last year's events yielded a solid, contemporary textbook example of how the Crown works - and works remarkably well - in Canada's governance.

Here we had the Governor General - above and beyond partisan politics - making the ultimate decision. Ensuring that the constitution and established conventions were being adhered to.

For me, the whole exercise underlined the importance of having a non-partisan head of state. And, despite what republicans may claim, a non-partisan head of state can exist only in a constitutional monarchy. Because our non-partisan Governor General is appointed by the non-partisan Queen she is much less likely to pick sides or meddle (i.e., be partisan) than an elected or appointed President in a republic - who would be naturally inclined to favour the political party to which he belongs.

Thankfully, we have a wonderful track record in our constitutional monarchy in that even Governors General who were ex-politicians remarkably rise above partisanship once becoming the vice-regal. The fact that the Governor General represents The Queen and, thus draws her authority from the Crown - and not from a political party, Parliament, a segment of the population who voted for her, or some elitist electoral body - in my view helped us get through last year's "crisis" quite well. Rather unscathed and remarkably stable.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

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