Over the past week or so, people have become quite fond of name calling and deriding the intelligence of a certain individual: me. Perhaps they caught it from the Commons.
Collectively, the message is this: petitioning the Governor General to remove the Prime Minister won't work. One camp insists that the GG removing the PM would clearly be anti-democratic and I must be an idiot for suggesting it. A more polite, if condescending, group suggest I don't understand how responsible government works, with some going so far as to recommend further reading. More detractors maintain that, even if the Governor General has the authority on paper to remove a sitting Prime Minister, such action would result in a massive constitutional crisis. Then they start spouting legal references like Trekkies arguing which captain is better, Kirk or Picard.
Get over yourselves, please. You have been gazing into the fuzzy navel of Parliamentary law for so long you have missed the obvious. Of course the Governor General has the authority; the GG uses it all the time.
When an election is called, what happens? The Governor General dissolves Parliament. In other words, he removes all Ministers and MPs from office. What about resignations? When a Minister - or Prime Minister - steps down, they don't shout 'I Quit!' at the Speaker and leave. No, they submit in writing or in person to the Governor General, requesting to be released, and the GG removes them. In the case of no-confidence votes, the Commons sends a letter to the Governor General asking either the Prime Minster be struck and replaced (with the Opposition Leader, generally) or that Parliament be dissolved (see above).
Bottom line: only the Governor General removes Prime Ministers. The fact that it is done by request of the PM or the Commons is irrelevant for our discussion. The GG has the power and uses it regularly - end of debate.
More of my recent lambasting follows this line: Petitions don't work you fool! What we need is protests!
Sorry to burst your bubble my friends, but protests are petition. So are letters, legislation awaiting assent, national strikes, Senate requests to remove Senators, the request to dissolve parliament for an election, all of it... perhaps even tweetstorms. Any time one asks the Governor General to act, one is petitioning the GG. Petitioning, as in 'Your Excellency, we would be most pleased if you might see your way clear to...' Any statement, endorsed by 1 or more individuals, requesting that the Governor General perform an action is, in fact, a petition.
The formal request-endorsed-by-citizens type of petition is more likely to be considered legal than the informal crowd-of-people-chanting-slogans type of petition. Civil unrest indicates only that people are upset. Without an attendance tally connected to, and endorsing, an official statement, all one has is spectacle. In order for a massed rally to affect change, it needs to a) clearly indicate what it wants done and b) be able to demonstrate that those rallying are entitled to make such a request.
In other words, a petition.
The final group of personal assailants chime in along these lines: the Governor General is Harper' puppet, in his pocket, is his crony, owes Harper for appointing him, or something about David Johnston's daughter connected to some company that Harper is connected with (or something, I wasn't able to follow the dots.) Basically, large bunches of Citizens believe Harper controls the GG, as he does the Senate, and that Governor General Johnston won't remove Harper, no matter what happens.
If those people are correct, then we are in very serious trouble.
If the Governor General won't concede to the wishes of Citizens who signed a formal petition, then he is not likely to pay much attention to Save Canada Day. Or Idle No More's Sovereignty Summer. Or the scientists, doctors, civil servants, veterans, or, indeed, anyone else who has been rallying on Parliament Hill. If, as they say, the GG is in cahoots with Harper and will not act, where does it leave us?
The Governor General is the only one who can remove Harper. If the Conservative caucus were to revolt and kick Harper out of caucus, we could be faced with Stevie-the-Indie-PM. Even if Harper resigns - which isn't likely - it is still the GG who choses to accept. And, according to them, His Excellency wouldn't accept. Which leaves us stuck with PMSH for 2 more years - at least.
As I discussed elsewhere, The Prime Minister has already forced the civil service into supporting him. He's already attacked those who dissent. What will 2 more years bring? Will it be made illegal to support a non-Conservative Party? Like the civil service, will you risk losing your income from EI or Canada Pension if you are not loyal to "the government of the day"? The Conservatives have already violated the Elections Act and there was fraud in the 2011 election (not yet linked to the party except by their voter contact list). Perhaps Prime Minister Stephen Harper will simply decide to dispense with elections altogether. Why not? Who's to stop him? He already controls the Commons and the Senate, and some say, the Governor General. So what is preventing him from doing whatever he wants?
I have faith in Governor General Johnston. As a lawyer, he respects the rule of law and the prime tenet that no one is above the law. As a Governor General, he must respect the right of citizens - individually and collectively - to petition for his assistance. If there are enough Citizens who are angry, fed up, and disgusted with the Harper Government; if enough of us want Parliament paused and answers provided; if enough of us who want our rights back; then I believe the Governor General will act.
Failure to heed the will of the population usually leads to violent insurrection and none of us want that, most especially me. Me, who decided to stand and declare his position; to risk retribution from a Government known to strikes out at dissidents; to put my reputation - and perhaps even freedom - on the line to do the right thing and try to head-off violence.
So go ahead, mock me, insult me, list all the reasons this won't work, but ask yourself this:
If this does't work, then what happens?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets behind the bar at the Victoria pub in Montreal Friday, March 16, 2012 where he stopped in to meet some supporters and have a drink for St. Patricks Day.
Stephen Harper and wife Laureen in 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8472663517/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper stand next to a tray of hot cross buns at a bakery in Mississauga, on April 23, 2011.
Stephen Harper with wife Laureen and their chinchilla Charlie. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8425819048/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves after going for an ATV ride as he visits a farm for a campaign event in Wainfleet Ont., on Monday, April 4, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper eats maple taffy as he visits a sugar shack in Norbertville, Quebec on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives his wife Laureen a kiss following a day of G-20 meetings in Toronto. June 27, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=938&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays with foster kittens at 24 Sussex. May 1, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper throws a small snowball at photographers after talking with reporters at a campaign stop in Guelph, Ontario Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives Taylor Swift the book "Maple Leaf Forever" before her concert at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. May 20, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Stephen Harper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/23/harper-wedding-photos-ottawa_n_2006374.html" target="_blank">surprises an Ottawa couple on their wedding day</a> in 2012.
Laureen Harper laughs as she holds a husky dog with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they tour Caribou Crossing, Yukon, south of Whitehorse Monday August 20, 2012.
Stephen Harper, his children Ben and Rachel, and wife Laureen cross Abbey Road in 2009. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OfGXN" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hams it up with Bonhomme Carnaval in the Prime Minister's Centre Block Office. November 25, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1238&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far left, watches a third round match between Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic with his children Rachel, center, and Benjamin, right, at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2011.
Part of a painting of Prime Minister Stephen Harper fully nude, by Kingston artist Maggie Sutherland, is shown at the Central Kingston public library in Kingston, Ont. on May 18, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son Ben watch a bloopers show while attending the Calgary Flames NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, April 11, 2009.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper practices a few chords after arriving at home from work. February 19, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1457&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Conservative leader Stephen Harper gets a hug from his mother Margaret during a visit to his campaign office in Calgary, Saturday May 29, 2004.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds up a moustache scarf to kick off the start of ‘Movember’, November 1, 2012 Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8146161138/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Senior Legislative Assistant, Katherine Locke, left, and Government House Leader Special Assistant, Zoe Lawson, show off their House of Commons gingerbread house to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office on Dec. 16, 2010. The gingerbread house was filled with rows of gummi bears as members of Parliament. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1355&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to tourists as he walks on the beach after the closing of the VI Summit of the Americas on April 15, 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays a game of table tennis with Team Canada's Mo Zhang at Canada House in London on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries on an old hockey helmet at he tours the Yukon's Hockey History exhibit at the McBride Museum in Whitehorse, Yukon on Thursday, August 25, 2011.
Stephen Harper, his son Ben, and Wayne Gretzky watch the men's ice hockey team's gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8457917081/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Stephen Harper and his son Ben hit balloons into the crowd after his speech at the party's three-day policy convention in Montreal on Friday March 18, 2005.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jamie Robinson (guitar) play along with Blue Rodeo's front man Jim Cuddy, and recording artist Jimmy Rankin as they belt out a tune during a Juno Awards reception at 24, Sussex March 31, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=2099&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, looks up from dishing out pancakes at Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, July 10, 2011.
Stephen Harper welcomes two Chinese pandas at Toronto's Pearson Airport on March 25, 2013. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8588948719/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
A young Stephen Harper.
Clowns ham it up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. July 19, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1037&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, throws Senator Gerry St. Germain's cowboy hat into the crowd after presenting him with a new one as his wife Margaret St. Germain, right, laughs during a barbecue at St. Germain's ranch in Surrey, B.C., on Monday August 6, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives the thumbs up from the cockpit of his campaign plane as he arrives in Ottawa,Tuesday May 3, 2011.
Stephen Harper presents Justin Bieber with a Diamond Jubilee Medal on Nov. 23, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8212520594/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Stephen Harper and Wayne Gretzky, joined by students on an outdoor ice rink in Saskatoon on Feb. 5, 2010. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/ZTlKy6" target="_blank"> Facebook</a>
Stephen Harper, wife Laureen and Suraksha, Grade 10, visit an IMAX theatre in Bangalore, India on Nov. 8, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photograph with Halloween trick-or-treaters at his official residence in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper adjusts his hat prior to the arrival of Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for the official start of the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alberta, July 8, 2011.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen play with some furry friends at the official opening of the new Ottawa Humane Society facility on July 6, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1724&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>
Met Batisse X, official mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to welcoming French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ottawa. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8554783327/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a cricket lesson from Ankur Biswas, cricket team captain, at the Bishop Cotton Boys School. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/12OffwT" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper drives a dog sled after meeting mushing teams at the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Monday, March 10, 2008.
Stephen Harper meets Canada's women's hockey team, gold medal winners at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/17v6qKa" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, left, make cookies with 10-year-old brain cancer survivor Baxton Wacholtz, right, and his mom Michelle, of Telkwa, B.C., during a photo opportunity at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday August 7, 2012.
Canadian musician Jens Lindemann visits Stephen Harper before a concert. "His blue trumpet reminded me of Sgt. Pepper," according to Harper. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8519328992/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Met with Constable Dan Allen of the Child at Risk Response Team (and Cagney the dog) while in Calgary. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8640427193/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>
Prime Minister Stephen Harper points out the camera to baby Grayson, dressed up as a giraffe, during his first time trick-or-treating at 24 Sussex. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/10ppG5w" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
Stephen Harper hugs his daughter Rachel Hugging Rachel as results come in after the 2011 election. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/15WI2TY" target="_blank">Facebook</a>
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