Unclear, unwritten “constitutional conventions” caused crisis in 2008 – another crisis can be prevented by media asking GG and leaders where they stand now
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 13, 2015
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch launched its Stop Unfair Post-Election Actions letter-writing campaign that calls on Governor General David Johnston and federal political party leaders to issue public statements before election day agreeing to 7 fair post-election rules that will prevent a crisis like the one that happened after the 2008 election.
Governor General Johnston, unelected and unaccountable, has the very important powers to decide after the election:
- which party will be given the opportunity to try to govern first;
- when Parliament will open and can be shut down;
- whether MPs support the government or whether a vote of non-confidence has occurred, and;
- whether and when another election will happen.
However, especially if no party wins a majority of seats in Parliament in the election, Governor General Johnston — who was chosen by Prime Minister Harper and has in the past protected PM Harper and protected the Conservatives — has no clear, public rules that he has to follow when he makes these key post-election decisions. Instead, Canada has unwritten constitutional “conventions” that can easily be abused.
The 7 fair post-election rules Democracy Watch proposes are clear and broadly supported by constitutional scholars. Public approval of the rules by the Governor General and party leaders will ensure clear, fair decisions by all after the election.
In England, Australia and New Zealand, political party leaders and MPs agreed years ago to clear, public rules so what happens after an election is fair for all the parties, and for voters. Most countries in the world also have clear, public post-election rules.
“The Governor General and party leaders can prevent post-election constitutional crises by publicly approving key rules before election day,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa School of Political Studies. “The post-federal-election situation is potentially doubly dangerous because we don’t have clear, public rules for the Governor General and party leaders to follow, and the Governor General was chosen by Prime Minister Harper and has worked for and made very questionable decisions in the past that protected the federal Conservatives.”
“There are no legal or other justifiable reasons for the Governor General and the party leaders to refuse to approve the 7 fair post-election rules, and it is clearly in the public interest that the rules be approved to prevent unfair post-election shenanigans that abuse powers and violate the public trust and the democratic will of a majority of voters,” said Conacher.
Before he became Governor General, David Johnston was chosen by Prime Minister Harper to review the corruption scandal involving former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and German arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber. Johnston made a very questionable recommendation that a very serious and important part of the Mulroney-Schreiber scandal should not be investigated in a public inquiry (and, as a result, the Oliphant Commission did not investigate that part of the scandal).
With his recommendation, David Johnston protected Prime Minister Harper’s mentor, Brian Mulroney, from investigation, and protected PM Harper and the Conservatives from being even more tainted by the scandal.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch’s Stop Unfair Post-Election Actions campaign page