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The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday December 3, 2008
Stephen Harper and the opposition party Leaders have pushed Michaëlle Jean onto a constitutional cliff-edge where no governor-general has stood before.

No governor-general previously has faced having to dismiss a prime minister.

No governor-general has had to decide whether to accept the entreaties of opposition parties and ask them to replace an elected government with their own coalition.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton made things marginally easier for Ms. Jean yesterday by making public their letters saying Mr. Harper's Conservatives no longer had the confidence of the House of Commons and asking her to request a Liberal-NDP coalition to form a new government.

Otherwise, if the letters had been private, Ms. Jean would have faced the added constitutional dilemma of deciding when she could properly read them.

Historian Jacques Monet wrote that the governor-general holds the great constitutional fire extinguishers of Canadian democracy.

There are few rules or templates setting down the sovereign's or governor-general's powers in constitutional monarchies such as Canada. What conventions or traditional practices do exist have roots centuries deep in history and arcane language, but should the government be defeated, and should Ms. Jean accept a coalition agreement, Canada would see its first change of government without an election since 1926. Source...


Leaders forcing GG into uncharted territory
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