My friend James Bowden has started a new blog. It will be well worth reading, especially if you are interested in constitutional issues. My young friend has already written an interesting article on these matters that I posted before. Understanding of our amazing system is at a particular low these days. We need to understand theses things so that our liberties are not compromised. I wish James much luck with his important work.
After a tumultuous cycle of single-party minority government from 2004 to 2011, the 41st Parliament gave the Conservative Party a parliamentary majority. Many Canadians would think that the results of the last election give Prime Minister Harper unlimited latitude to pass all the policies that he so desires. But they would be wrong – at least, in theory – and they are missing the point entirely, because Parliament, not Cabinet, determines who governs. Sadly, most parliamentarians miss the point as well. The principle of responsible government, arguably the most important unwritten constitutional convention in modern Westminster parliamentarism, affirms Parliament’s ancient right to exercise its sovereignty, and underscores that the cabinet is subordinate to the House of Commons. In other words, the government can only govern inasmuch as it commands the confidence of a majority of the House of Commons. A single-party majority government can normally do so, but cabinet ought never to take that support for granted – and nor should government backbenchers unconditionally lend their support to cabinet.