Want the Governor General to fire Stephen Harper? There’s a petition for that
A former Vancouver newspaper columnist wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper fired from office.
Greg Felton has put up an online petition asking Governor General David Johnston to dismiss Harper and his Conservative government.
“When a government does violence to the country and its people, the Constitution is our democratic protection,” the petition states. “Dismissal of Harper is the proper, democratic and constitutional remedy.”
The petition relies on the October 1, 1947, letters patent signed by King George VI constituting the office of the governor general.
The letters patent vests the monarch’s representative with the power “to remove from his office, or to suspend from the exercise of the same, any person exercising any office within Canada”.
During a break in his teaching duties at a downtown English language school today (October 17), Felton noted that the petition isn’t going very well, with only 19 signatories so far. He was the first to sign the petition—which is topped by an image equating support for Harper to support for "Israel's genocide of Palestinians"—on October 2.
“A lot of people are essentially very defeatist about it,” Felton told the Straight in a phone interview. “I mean they think that, ‘Oh, it’s not going to make any difference.’”
He said that even though many think that Johnston will not do anything, this shouldn’t stop them from asking the governor general to perform his constitutional duty. Johnston was nominated for the position by the Harper government.
“It’s the public that has to get angry enough to demand the governor general to do his job,” Felton said. “And if the public is not angry enough, then this country is truly lost.”
The Straight earlier sought the opinion of law professor Lorne Neudorf regarding the Felton 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 over the phone 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 continued. “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.”
A House report titled The Governor General of Canada: Role, Duties and Funding for Activities discusses the constitutional duties and responsibilities of the office.
“Although the Governor General has vast legislative powers under the 1867 Constitution and the Letters Patent of 1947, many of the most important conventions in the Canadian Constitution provide that these powers are, in practice, exercised individually by the Prime Minister and collectively by Cabinet,” the report explains.
Neudorf said that if there is an allegation that the government violated the Constitution, the proper remedy is for one to go to court to have a particular action invalidated or legislation struck down.
“If Stephen Harper is alleged to be treasonous in some way, which is a criminal offence, well then the police can investigate and he can be prosecuted,” Neudorf added.
The Thompson Rivers University law professor also said that ultimately, it’s the ballot box that decides who gets in and out of the prime minister’s office.
While the petition isn’t gathering momentum, Felton is undaunted.
“In this case, the governor general, if he’s doing his job properly, has to see the damage being done and...fire the prime minister, even if that forces an election,” Felton said. “If an election were called tomorrow the Canadian public could decide whether they want to have a government ran by a person that puts Canada first or whether they want to continue to be dominated by a fascistic occupation government.”
Oct 17, 2013 at 2:46pm
<I>Felton noted that the petition isn’t going very well, with only 19 signatories so far.</I>
8 of which are from outside Canada.
Oct 17, 2013 at 5:49pm
I think the GG should use all the his power available to resolve the issue relating to the overall legitimacy of the government he allowed to be in power.
There has been a court case that stated there was orchestrated election irregularities. There has been a by-election forced by campaign irregularities. There is a MP facing charges related to campaign irregularities.
The people that could assist in the investigations have not been overtly enthusiastic about cooperation. I'm sure it is just a coincidence that many have an association to the governing party.
The GG allows someone to govern, should he not ensure they have a legitimate right to be there? It has been a couple years.
Oct 17, 2013 at 7:10pm
he is no good fro canad
Oct 17, 2013 at 7:22pm
44 now! 45 when i add mine!
Oct 17, 2013 at 7:38pm
Oct 17, 2013 at 9:16pm
Thank you! Every action that might rid us of the REFORMACONS is an action worth taking. I support your effort and your petition. I too am undaunted. :)
Oct 17, 2013 at 10:54pm
Yes, every opportunity to 'heave steve' gets my vote.
Oct 17, 2013 at 11:33pm
I credit professor Lorne Neudorf with recognizing that the governor general has the power to dismiss a sitting PM. That’s a lot more than certain other people have been prepared to do.
Unfortunately, his interpretation of Canadian politics is stale and his understanding of Canadian electoral politics is erroneous.
First, his citing challenges to convention is irrelevant, since never before has Canada had such a corrupt government. Conventions have already been broken. As such, intoning the hoary shibboleth of "responsible government" shows that Prof. Neudorf is out of touch with reality. He has not noticed that Harper is practising IRRESPONSIBLE government, such as waging war on Parliament, committing electoral fraud, and destroying the very idea of Canada, itself.
Yes, demanding impeachment is a radical step, but it is a LEGITIMATE step, and it is a damend sight more credible than paying homage to anachronistic conventions.
Second, elections do not determine who holds office in Canada. They never have. They merely portray political party popularity. It is the governor general who determines who holds office. After the populace has had its say, he or she issues an invitation to a party leader to form a government.
Usually, this invitation goes to the leader of the party that won the most seats, giving the common illusion that the public elects the government. In fact, the governor general may invite any party leader to form a government.
After the 2008 general election, for example, when Harper won yet another minority, Governor General Michaëlle Jean could have asked Liberal leader Stéphane Dion to form a government. A precedent for such a decision occurred in 1896 when the Earl of Aberdeen asked Liberal leader Sir Wilfrid Laurier to form a government after Conservative prime minister Sir Charles Tupper failed to win an expected majority.
Clearly, Prof. Neudorf has confused reality with appearance.
In short, since the GG has the power of dismissal, as Prof. Neudorf recognizes, and since Harper is loyal not to the Constitution but to foreign governments and corporations, to deny the need for impeachment is the height of delusion and cognitive dissonance.
I ask Prof. Neudorf to reconsider and to sign the petition. It is the right thing, the CANADIAN thing to do.
Oct 18, 2013 at 6:26am
OK, so, if we can remone Harper for Treason, what's the legal definition of Treason?
It seems to me that Stephen Harper has committed several acts of Treason, including in his Foreign Investment Protection Agreements (FIPA's) which give foreign corporations the right to sue any Canadian government for any possible loss of corporate profit that might have resulted from that government's action to protect the environment, workplace safety, etc.
Clearly, Stephen Harper is protecting the interests of foreign investors, at the cost of the safety, livelihood, best interests of Canadians, and his FIPA's are attacking the governments that seek to protect those interests. that seems like Treason to me!
Where do we go from here? Straight.com or Rsbble - Please send questions back to TRU Law Professor Neudorf!
Contact: on Facebook - Sacred Headwaters Petition
Oct 18, 2013 at 11:06am
The GG is a partisan Con supporter.
Even if all the signatures are gathered it would end up in Court by that time it will be quicker to Vote this idiot out of Office in the next election tentatively scheduled for October 19, 2015.