Issues with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Parliament Essay

Issues with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Parliament Essay

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not a true representative of the people. Neither an academic nor an average Canadian, Mr. Harper is, first and foremost, a political tactician. He climbed his way to Parliament Hill and the position of Prime Minister along with a minority government in 2006 and has, ever since, used all means necessary to keep that – ever striving for a majority, which was finally achieved in the spring of 2011. However, in 2008 Harper was the source of a prorogation crisis, in which he, out of fear of losing the confidence of the House and giving up his role for an unstable coalition government, requested to then-Governor General Michaelle Jean that Parliament be prorogued in an effort to stave off the coalition and create a fiscal update that will be acceptable to the House. Through this request and subsequent approval by Jean, Harper and Jean have been accused of undermining the Constitution and creating a democratic deficit in Canada.
The debate surrounding the 2008 prorogation crisis calls into question an abundance of topics such as the legitimacy of the Governor General, the nature of constitutional conventions, and the freedoms and lenience given to the Governor General on executive decisions. Furthermore, it could be argued that any prorogation decisions made by the Governor General are catch-22 in nature; in essence, if the request is denied, in the case of Harper in 2008, his government would have been defeated in a confidence vote and a questionable, arguably unstable coalition headed by Liberal leader Stephane Dion would have come into power. However, when the request was approved, it allowed Harper to, with lack of a better suited term, shirk his duties as Prime Minister of Canada and prolong the co...


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...ratic level of discretion on ministerial advice, any and all decisions made by them are generally catch-22 in nature. There will always be a negative consequence, or a large group of Canadians who feel as though there was a better alternative. Nevertheless, the Governor General takes that into account, as Michaelle Jean did in 2008. Jean also let Stephen Harper know that “she was not a rubber stamp for his request to shut down Parliament… [and] that it was within her constitutional discretionary power to turn him down,” (Franks 35). All the same, in the end Jean believed that the best course of action for Canada would be to keep Harper in power and stave off the confidence vote by means of granting prorogation – had Canadians truly not wanted Harper in power, one could argue that the results in the election barely a month earlier should have better reflected that.

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