Petition asking Governor General to fire Stephen Harper may end up in House of Commons

Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart is willing to present a  petition in the House of Commons asking Governor General David Johnston to dismiss Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

However, the New Democrat emphasized that he will do so only if the petition initiated by former Vancouver newspaper columnist Greg Felton meets parliamentary requirements.

“I do know that the Governor General can remove the prime minister, and that’s a very well-known fact because it’s there in the Constitution,” Stewart told the Straight in a phone interview. “But that’s about the extent of it at this point.”

The first-term MP has spoke with Felton by phone but has neither read the text of the online petition nor met Felton in person.

“I said that if it meets the formatting requirements, I would present the paper petition,” Stewart said of his phone conversation with Felton.

House procedural guidelines state that before an MP can present a petition, the document mustfirst be certified as correct in form and content by the clerk of petitions.

“A petition submitted for certification which does not meet the requirements as to form and content will be returned to the Member with an explanatory note,” the guidelines further state.

The Straight reported last year that the petition cites the October 1, 1947, letters patent signed by King George VI constituting the office of the governor general.

The letters patent empowers the monarch’s representative “to remove from his office, or to suspend from the exercise of the same, any person exercising any office within Canada”.

In the same piece last year, the Straight reported on the opinion of law professor Lorne Neudorf regarding the petition.

“Yes, the governor general does hold legally the power to dismiss the prime minister and the cabinet, but the question really here is the exercise of power and should that power be exercised,” Neudorf said in a phone interview on October 4. “And in modern Canada, it would be seen to breach long-standing constitutional conventions that we have developed in this country.

“One of those conventions is the idea that we have and this is the convention of responsible government,” the Thompson Rivers University professor also said. “And what this means is that the governor general will act only upon the advice of the prime minister and we have this so long as the prime minister continues to hold confidence in the House [of Commons], then his or her advice will be accepted by the governor general.”

Stewart, who is on leave as an associate professor at the SFU school of public policy, didn’t get into interpretations of the governor general’s power.

But the Burnaby-Douglas MP noted that he has presented many petitions in the House, including some he didn’t agree with, because that’s part of the duties of a member of the House.

As well, House rules do not allow MPs to say whether or not they support a petition they’re presenting, Stewart noted.

According to Stewart, the petition started by Felton is an indication of a “legitimacy crisis”.

“There is a growing dissatisfaction not just with the current government, but how our democracy works in general,” he said.

Stewart noted that this is a concern that is also shared by some Conservative MPs.

“There’s a number of Conservatives who have put bills that I have co-signed because they’re trying to also change our democracy for the better,” the New Democrat said.

Stewart also said that he agrees when “people say the system is broken and they’re trying to find different ways to fix it, and Mr. Felton’s frustration, I mean, I hear it everyday from all kinds of people”.

Comments (72) Add New Comment
Just wait a year
The Cons are more likely to lose the next election with Herr Harper as leader, so let's just wait this out.
Rating: -21
If you think Harper is the only problem your heads in the tarsands
Keep the pressure on HarperCon they all are have the actions sick greedy ignorant pricks
Rating: +60
@just wait a year
Why wait? It's already known the damage he has done and the kind of games he likes to play and how his strategy is an attempt to blindside the public. To wait it out is to support the Cons (which ironically they are) for another year. How much more evidence is needed? It is an election and to say they are "more likely" to lose is foolery. When we know someone has committed offences numerous times, do we say "yeah, let's wait it out". I think we've been more than patient.
Rating: +163
Where is the petition for us to sign? Shouldnt it have been included!?!
Rating: +78
@Lisa; It was. Click on the word 'petition' way up at the top (second line).

@Just wait a year; One, the petition asks that the 'Harper Government' be dismissed, not just Harper, so that would trigger an election. Two, waiting a year, would make it easier for the Cons to be reelected (even without Harper at the helm), as by then their (un)fair elections act would be law.
Rating: +47
sandy scallion
he is ruining our country
Rating: +42
Some Dude
PITCH FORKS.......Get, yur pitch forks here!!!
Rating: +31
cheena graham
@ Donald - Yes, but not only will the unfair elections act be law, but he/they will also have had time to do all their dirty work - lie, cheat, steal, any/everything in their power in order to make sure they win - illegally, yes, but it was illegal this time too and nothing happened did it?
Rating: +10
Raymond Rogers
There is some bad news to waiting for the next election if I am correct.I think the Prime Minister will escalate the situation in the Ukraine and then refuse us the chance to vote because of the dangers of the transition to power of``People not up to speed with the crisis.`After the first term as a warring Prime Minister who knows how he would change the three term limit of office.We have a huge problem on our hands with this boy.
Rating: +16
Minah Ellefsen
Can`t fill out the petition!!! The system is non-functioning!!!!
Rating: -9
Since the NDP has offices in the community and have workers there to assist the public, to me they are Goverment. It is time for individuals to stand up, be their own leaders and not wait for an 'election' to fire a group of people who are failing to do their jobs they were hired for. We are citizens who pay taxes for Healthcare, Education and Infrastructure. Income is taxed at the highest level, so workers should get their moneys worth for the systems they pay taxes for.
Rating: +11
Pope Teddywang
Pretty unlikely that the Mulroney-apologist General would dismiss the hand that feeds him.
Still worth signing though, just to send the message.
Rating: +3
Felton is a uninformed fool.
Rating: -46
Greg Felton
Hi Minah:
You have to download the petition, gather other signatures if you want, and then mail it in to MP Kennedy Stewart.

211 Justice Building
Ottawa ON
K1A 1A6

It's free to do so.

Pope Teddywang: You're right—Johnston is political compromised—so that's why the public has to demand that he do his duty. If enough people sign, perhaps the pressure can become irresistible.
Rating: 0
MAIL it in?!?!? WTF?!

Hey, NDP, what century are you running in? Go join the Hudak campaign for gawd's sake...
Rating: +6
Smelly Willy
It's a good idea (like other good ideas), which is why it won't happen & we'll be stuck with Stephen Harper :(
Rating: -16
mail it in - right! like Canada post workers will suddenly get their jobs back for this task.
Rating: -4
@cheena graham - " it was illegal this time too and nothing happened did it?"

That is the point of the petition, to make something happen.

@Raymond Rogers - "who knows how he would change the three term limit of office."

There is no term limit for Canadian PMs "The Canadian prime minister serves at Her Majesty's pleasure, meaning the post does not have a fixed term. Once appointed and sworn in by the governor general, the prime minister remains in office until he or she resigns, is dismissed, or dies." -
Rating: +14
Harper is a Disgrace to Canada..
And if you don't think so, you're NOT a real Canadian... Worst PM ever.
Rating: +20
Cynthia Joan Morrison
Rating: +9


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