The Governor General and Appointing a Prime Minister in Canada

2000px-Flag_of_the_Governor-General_of_Canada.svgLawyer Michael Mulligan on CFAX 1070 – Legally Speaking with Pamela McCall – discussing the role of the Governor General in a minority government situation in Canada. Following an election, the current Prime Minister remains in office until they either resign or are dismissed by the Governor General.  Contrary to statements made by Mr. Harper, Mr. Mulcair, and Mr. Trudeau during the election campaign, the party with the most elected MPs does not automatically form a government.

An example of this occurred in the Ontario provincial election in 1985. While the Conservative party won more seats than any other party, they did not have a majority. The NDP, who had the fewest seats, agreed to support the Ontario Liberal party and, as a result, the leader of the Liberal party was asked by the lieutenant governor to form a government.

Most of the important constitutional principles that would inform the Governor General’s decision are unwritten and, ultimately, there are important judgement calls to be made in the event that no party wins a majority of seats.

If the Governor General concludes that nobody can obtain the support of a majority in the House of Commons they can then decide to call another general election.

The Governor General’s web page:

Michael Mulligan New head b&wVictoria Lawyer Michael Mulligan on Legally Speaking – live on CFAX 1070 Thursdays at 11:00am.