NDP leader Jagmeet Singh wrote Governor General Mary Simon to refuse requests to dissolve Parliament, citing constitutional law.
Singh said in a letter to Simon that an early election is permissible if the federal government lost the confidence of the House. However, the federal government has yet to lose a confidence vote, particularly those on the speech from the throne and Budget 2021.
Ottawa University law professor Errol Mendes said the Governor General, as a representative of the Queen, could refuse a request from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to dissolve Parliament in theory, reported the National Post. But that power, said Mendes, has not been used since the UK regarded Canada as an independent country.
He said Singh referenced the COVID-19 pandemic and gaps in legislative work to justify refusing an early election. However, Mendes noted past precedents of Canada in crisis when the governor general dissolved Parliament.
The last incident where the governor general refused an early election request came in 1926. Governor General Lord Julian Byng refused prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, which led to a constitutional crisis known as the King-Byng Affair.
Byng asked the next largest party in Parliament at that time to form a government. However, they did not last long. Mackenzie King won the next election, campaigning that the governor general did not hold the right to not dissolve Parliament if asked to do so by the prime minister. Mendes said the crisis will likely be brought to Simon’s attention and will likely "learn from that situation," adding that she would accept an early election call because of that.
Mounting anticipation of an early election persists as federal party leaders tour the country, including Trudeau and Singh. Green Party leader Annamie Paul also launched her campaign office in what is her second crack at Toronto-Centre.
Mendes said the prime minister has the legal authority under the Constitution to call an early election. The fixed-election law brought in by the Harper government did not change that, only to state that every federal election is held on the third Monday of October at least every four years.
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