UK Supreme Court set strong precedent ruling in 2019 that PM Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was illegal – snap election call illegal for similar reasons
GG was handpicked by Trudeau through secretive, partisan process – but will hopefully do her job properly and stop the PM’s abuse of power
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Saturday, August 14, 2021
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch formally launched its petition on Change.org calling on new Governor General Mary Simon to say no to any snap election call by Prime Minister Trudeau before the next fixed election date. A snap election call would be illegal, dishonest, and unfair and dangerous for many voters. More than 15,000 voters have signed the petition in the past week.
“Almost all MPs, including Prime Minister Trudeau, voted against holding an election now, and all opposition parties are against it, and surveys show a large majority of Canadians are against it, so hopefully the Governor General will do her job properly and uphold the democratic will of Parliament instead of giving in to Trudeau’s selfish, dictatorial demand for a snap election,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Ph.D. student at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. “The Governor General should reject any snap election call by Prime Minister Trudeau because it is illegal, dishonest and goes against the democratic will of Parliament, in the same way the British Supreme Court rejected the British PM’s shutting down of Parliament as an illegal abuse of power that went against the will of Parliament.”
The British Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that PM Boris Johnson’s decision to advise the Queen to shut down Parliament was unlawful as it “ha[d] the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive” (para. 50 of the ruling).
A snap election is similarly illegal because Canada’s election law has measures that fix the next election date for October 2023, four years after the last election, unless the government loses a confidence vote in Parliament.
As well, a snap election would violate the constitutional convention rule that has been created by the fixed election date law, and the Prime Minister and Parliament following the law for the past three elections. In 2011, the Conservative government led by PM Harper only called an election after losing a vote of confidence in Parliament. In 2015, PM Harper called an election on the fixed date, as did PM Trudeau in 2019.
A snap election will also be dishonest because anything Trudeau says about needing to call an election now will be false. A majority of MPs have voted in favour of everything the Trudeau Liberals have proposed since the last election, including the Liberal budget, so the opposition parties have shown they support the Liberals continuing to govern.
In addition, Prime Minister Trudeau and almost all MPs in the House of Commons, including all Liberals, voted in May against holding an election while COVID is still a danger, which it is. A recent poll showed only 26% of Canadians want an election this fall, and, just a few weeks ago, the PM also denied that he was going to call an election.
A snap election will be dangerous for many voters. A fourth wave of COVID-19 is expected across Canada this fall, more contagious than ever, as many people are still not fully vaccinated. Voters who are vulnerable to COVID-19 will, completely justifiably, feel hesitant about going to a polling station to vote.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s government called a snap election last winter – then a COVID outbreak happened, the election date was postponed twice, and voter turnout plunged to a record low as many voters were prevented from voting by the sudden new requirement to register for, receive, fill in and mail back their ballot on short deadlines.
Elections Canada has never run an election with mail-in ballots being the way a lot of voters vote, nor have any of the federal parties.
Whenever a snap election is called, it is unfair because voters have no time to plan and arrange their lives so they can run as a candidate, volunteer or participate in the election in other ways. That’s why Parliament decided to fix the federal election date in Canada’s election law. It makes the election more fair for everyone.
Because they are illegal, dishonest and unfair, Democracy Watch went to court to challenge the snap election calls last fall by the B.C. NDP Premier and the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Premier, which both violated their provincial fixed election date laws.
PM Trudeau controlled the selection of Governor General Mary Simon (even more than PM Harper did in the past) by setting up a façade of an Advisory Panel that he appointed, co-chaired by his friend and Cabinet appointee Dominic LeBlanc.
Instead, to democratize the selection of the GG, and every other key federal position that upholds democratic good government rules, Trudeau should have used a fully independent committee to conduct a public, merit-based search for a shortlist of qualified candidates. A survey of 1,601 Canadians in February 2021 found that 91% of people surveyed, of all types and from all political parties, support having a committee of MPs choose the Governor General instead of the PM alone. More than 80% of Canadians also want public, written rules for a minority government like England, Australia and New Zealand have.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Email: [email protected]