The content of this blog is made up of a comment I put on Not to be Trusted with Knives in response to a question about how the Governor General might be able to ask the other parties to form a government should the current one fall.
I am not the resident historian/political scientist but I do hold a Masters degree in history with a minor in political science…so here goes.
As most of your readers likely know, the Governor General (GG) is the Queen’s representative in Canada. While some of her duties are written down many are down by ‘convention.’ Which basically means it has always been thus and therefore we can assume (generally speaking) it will be done this way again.
So, in the case of the government falling due to a non-confidence vote – the PM (AKA the Harpie) can ask her to dissolve parliament and call an election. Convention has dictated that the party who holds the largest number of seats is asked to form the government. Technically, the GG could ask whoever she wanted but that would be ignoring convention – which is not generally done. When a government falls quickly then the GG can ask the party with the next largest number of seats if they can form a government.
If this scenario comes about it will be tricky. To my knowledge it is the King-Byng affair which is instructive in this case but it does not match exactly. In 1926 King called an election. He got less seats than the Conservatives but combined with the Progressive party there was enough to form a coalition so King did not resign. It quickly became apparent, due to a scandal, that King did not enjoy the confidence of the House and therefore asked Byng to dissolve parliament. He refused, instead asking the Cons to form a government – which they did.
If the Opposition parties can form an alliance (I would be surprised but I suspect they are desperate given the thought of staring at the Harpie for much longer) then perhaps the GG will ask the Liberals to form a government.
I think this is bad strategy and a bit desperate but I guess the Libs figure they have nothing to lose…