The hatreds will always be there

There was an interesting op-ed piece in the Guardian this weekend on the plight of former prime ministers. While focusing on former British PMs, the same certainly applies to former Canadian PMs. In the US, where the office of President – if not always the individual holding the office – is revered, former presidents are not only granted respect once they leave office, but are frequently called upon by incumbent presidents for advice, or to lead high profile missions abroad. They continue to play prominent roles in US politics and society. Even those who leave office in disgrace, such as Richard Nixon, usually end up rehabilitated to a degree with the passage of time: their accomplishments in office are acknowledged, […]

On Petitions

All authorities agree that the right of petitioning parliament for redress of grievances is acknowledged as a fundamental principle of the constitution. It has been uninterruptedly exercised from very early times and has had a profound effect in determining the main forms of parliamentary procedure. – Speaker Gaspard Fauteux (Debates, June 18, 1947, pp. 4278-9) The right of citizens to petition Parliament for redress of grievance well entrenched, based as it is on tradition that dates back centuries and established precedent. The following historical overview is taken from the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 2nd edition 2009. Petitioning the Crown (and later Parliament) for redress of a grievance originated in the 13th century, during the reign of Edward I. […]

When policy ideas are actually matters of debate

In recent years, in North America at least, whenever a politician changes their mind on a certain policy position, the press immediately jumps on this, calling the change a “flip flop”, which helps create the impression that the politician in question is indecisive and uncertain of where they really stand on a given issue, and because of that, aren’t good leaders or potential leaders. This is an unfortunate development because politicians become increasingly hesitant to admit that perhaps one of their policies wasn’t as well thought-out as they had thought, or that after study and consultation, they realise that a proposed policy isn’t the right one to pursue. They then move ahead with policies and programs that fly in the […]

Yes Deputy Prime Minister

The position of deputy prime minister in Westminster parliamentary systems varies from one jurisdiction to another. For example, in both Australia and New Zealand, the position has become an official ministerial portfolio, since 1949 in New Zealand and since 1968 in Australia. In Australia, the duties of the Deputy Prime Minister are to act on behalf of the Prime Minister in his or her absence overseas or on leave. The Deputy Prime Minister has always been a member of the Cabinet, and has always held at least one substantive portfolio. It would be possible for a minister to hold only the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister, but this has never happened. If the Prime Minister were to die, become incapacitated […]

Yes Prime Minister

In Westminster parliamentary systems, the prime minister is the presiding and actual head of the government and head of the executive branch. In such systems, the head of state or the head of state’s official representative (i.e. the monarch, president, or governor-general), although officially the head of the executive branch, in fact holds a ceremonial position. What is particularly interesting, to me at least, is that in most, if not all of the countries using the Westminster system, the constitutions of those country make no mention of the position, power and status of prime ministers. This is certainly the case in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (although in the Constitution Act, 1982, a passing reference to a […]