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

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      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”.


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      Just wait a year

      May 8, 2014 at 2:12pm

      The Cons are more likely to lose the next election with Herr Harper as leader, so let's just wait this out.

      If you think Harper is the only problem your heads in the tarsands

      May 8, 2014 at 6:17pm

      Keep the pressure on HarperCon they all are have the actions sick greedy ignorant pricks

      @just wait a year

      May 8, 2014 at 6:32pm

      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.


      May 8, 2014 at 11:33pm

      Where is the petition for us to sign? Shouldnt it have been included!?!


      May 9, 2014 at 12:27am

      @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.

      sandy scallion

      May 9, 2014 at 4:19pm

      he is ruining our country

      Some Dude

      May 9, 2014 at 4:41pm

      PITCH FORKS.......Get, yur pitch forks here!!!

      cheena graham

      May 9, 2014 at 7:29pm

      @ 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?

      Raymond Rogers

      May 10, 2014 at 3:21am

      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.

      Minah Ellefsen

      May 10, 2014 at 6:52am

      Can`t fill out the petition!!! The system is non-functioning!!!!