Language matters

Lost In Translation
Photo credit at bottom of post

While most Canadians are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team, those with political leanings are abuzz with the news that Parliament may be prorogued until after those very same Olympics.

A quick Twitter search will show that there are strong feelings one way or another but this post isn’t going to tackle that question. Instead, what bothers me is the widespread belief that it’s the Prime Minister himself who is planning to prorogue Parliament. Only the Governor General (and I suppose the Queen, if she was here) can prorogue Parliament. She does so at the request of the Prime Minister, mind you, but it’s her act, not the PM’s.

Semantics? Yup. But important ones.

It’s the same lack of understanding of Canada’s Parliamentary system that allowed certain spinsters to argue (with mind-boggling success) that Canada elected Harper in the last election. While the merits of the proposed coalition that led to the last prorogation can certainly debated, the notion that it was undemocratic is simply wrong.

Canadians elect their member of Parliament. That’s all. From those members, the Governor General (representing the Queen, Canada’s head of state) invites the leader of the party with the most seats to form a government. That government can only exist so long as it has the confidence of Parliament.

Get that last nuance? The government is at the whim of Parliament. Not the other way around. The Prime Minister, as the head of government, has no right to order Parliament to do anything.

Creative Commons License photo credit: tochis


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