EXCESSIVE POWERS OF THE PRIME MINISTER 7
ExcessivePowers of the Prime Minister
ExcessivePowers of a Prime Minister
Ina political setup, power refers to the authority vested in variousindividuals who help in governing the society. Canada, among otherdemocratic countries, has political institutions in which power hasbeen divided. However, the division of authority between thesepolitical institutions is determined by the constitution. Theselegislative bodies are the legislature, executive, and judiciary(Thomas & Biette, 2014). Fundamentally the power should beequally distributed. However, the current transformation has vested alot of authority to the prime minister who is the heart of thegovernment. It subsequently led to a very powerful prime minister.Taking the case of Canada, this discussion will demonstrate theenormous amount of power vested in the prime minister in such formsof governments.
Tostart with, the prime minister is the head of the government. InCanada, the prime minister is the leader of the political party thatwins most seats in the House of Commons (Savoie, 2013). Despitehaving no constitutionally documented roles of the prime minister, heor she is the most influential person and sometimes erroneouslyreferred to as the head of state. Apart from being the chief of thegovernment, he or she is a cabinet chair and a party leader. However,it is their responsibility to make a gender balance as well asrepresenting the regional interests considering the ethnic minoritiesas a cabinet chair. The cabinet is the decision-making body and,therefore, being the chair, there is a lot of power vested in him orher as the final decision wholly depends on him.
Overtime, there are a lot of responsibilities given to the prime ministerin Canada that is not noted in the constitution (Howe, 2008). Theundocumented powers have made the Prime Minister Exercise power andauthority discreetly without supervision or consensus from otherbranches of the government. The prime minister`s powers exist in theconstitution conventions. Many of the Governor General`s tasks aredone on the prime minister`s advice (Aucoin et al, 2011). Therefore,he has a final say on the work done by the governor general. A goodexample is dissolving the parliament and the triggering of thefederal election done by the governor general after consulting theprime minister.
Inthe sector of appointment, the prime minister has a broad range ofpower. The judicial appointment decision is made by the governorgeneral after seeking advice from the Prime Minister (Gidengil &Bastedo, 2014). The selecting panel submits a list of three unrankedcandidates from which the prime minister chooses one of them to bethe judicial appointee. Since there are no public hearings, thedecision is purely under discretion, and there are no stipulatedguidelines that the prime minister follows for the appointment. He orshe also has the power to recommend the appointment of senators toget to the minimum 105 members required (Aucoin et al, 2011). Sincethe constitution does not clearly state the relationship between theprime minister and the governor general, there is a lot ofministerial powers unveiled.
Theprime minister is very close to the crown. To a great extent, theyenjoy the responsibilities of the head. As discussed earlier, theprime minister helps the governor general on the recommendation ofvarious issues. Therefore, there is a close relationship between thepowers of the Crown and the prime minister. The privilege sets theprime minister at the top of the Canadian politics. The constitutionis the most powerful law of the Canadian government. Therefore, noindividual has the power to challenge the document. However, theprime minister has the powers to convene meetings of provincialpremiers to negotiate on constitutional change in addition to anynational affair (Thomas & Biette, 2014).
Accordingto Savoie (2013), the prime minister and the sitting governmentcontrol the day to day affairs. Therefore, they set the daily agendasthat are easy to control and to formulate. Since he or she is incharge of appointing and removal of the cabinet ministers, theycommand loyalty. In the process, the loyal ministers may be rewardedwith the coveted positions (Finn, 2015). As a result, much commitmentis shown by the interested members and to avoid being barred fromvying through the political ticket earlier used. The party leadersare chosen by the party members and, therefore, the members of theparliament cannot stand against a leader elected by the majorityparty members. Therefore, the prime minister has a lot of influenceon the agendas made and has an easier time to operate them.
Theprime minister, therefore, is in charge of making major decisions.Considering that he determines the appointment of the judges and thesenators, the appointed people tend to side with the prime ministersto secure their trust with the prime minister. In some cases, theyconsider his decisions and points over some issues to defend theirpositions as he has the power to appoint and dismiss the cabinetministers (Gidengil & Bastedo, 2014). The cabinet ministers may,therefore, be forced to be biased towards the sitting government. Onthe other hand, the summoning and the dissolution of the parliamentdepend on the advice of the Prime Minister (Howe, 2008). Therefore,the prime minister might consider interrupting the passing of a billto law and trigger federal elections.
Mediaplays a greater role in politics. It is the mirror of the societyfrom where the citizens receive information about day to daypolitical affairs. The prime minister, being the focal point takesadvantage of the powers of the media to achieve the politicalambitions (Aucoin et al, 2011). The prime minister has the benefit ofobtaining more power and opportunities with the media than any otherpolitical figure. In such a case, they have the ability and theadvantage to make their views better known and to support thegoverning party. Constant exaggeration and emphasis on the powersvested in the prime minister by the current government make them verypowerful. Considering that the media gives an illusion that the primeminister is more powerful than any other political figure, makespeople overestimate their powers and eventually triggers the primeminister to be powerful as well.
Afterthe ruling of Sir Pierre Trudeau, the Westminster system accumulateda lot of power and authority upon the Prime Minister (Finn, 2015).Apart from the decision making, the prime minister is accountable forall the decisions made. The head of the government, therefore, canacquire all information on the first hand efficiently (Thomas &Biette, 2014). However, they are charged by no one as no higher powercan punish them in case the decision takes a wrong turn. Therefore,the decisions made may be good or bad, and the office will gounpunished since they are the highest rank. The decisions made havean advantage of the support from the cabinet where the prime ministerhas appointees who tend to be biased to secure their favor andpositions.
TheWestminster democracy has played a great role in wresting power awayfrom the crown and vesting it upon the Prime Minister (Finn, 2015).Therefore, the prime minister can use and retain the crown powers,which happens in most cases as he person holding the position deemsright. The crown powers have enabled the prime ministers to advancetheir partisan interests. Since the democratic institutions have beeneroded, there is a significant effect on the democratic governance.The lack of transparency, less scrutiny of public policy and lack ofaccountability are challenges that work for the actions of the PrimeMinister (Thomas & Biette, 2014). There is also little debateassociated with the powers and the decisions of the prime ministersince most of the members of the parliament are in support of thesitting government for personal interests.
Inconclusion, the Canada case shows that there is a lot of power vestedin the position of the prime minister. He is the head of thegovernment, the chair of the cabinet and the leader. His or herpowers are not documented in the constitution, but he or she standsout to be a very powerful political leader in the Canadian politics.His roles of appointing the judges, cabinet ministers and thesenators give them a lot of commands for loyalty. His or her power toban ministers from vying in the subsequent elections helps them togain support from a large number of members who may also beinterested in winning favors out of their loyalty. As the chair ofthe decision-making body, the prime minister also influences most ofthe decisions made as he or she makes the final determination. As theadvisor to the governor general, the prime minister is accorded awide range of Crown powers.
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Finn,E. (2015). Canadaafter Harper: His Ideology-Fuelled Attack on Canadian Society andValues, and How we can Resist and Create the Country we want.Toronto: Lorimer
Gidengil,E., & Bastedo, H. (2014). CanadianDemocracy from the Ground Up: Perceptions And Performance.Vancouver,BC:Universityof British Columbia Press
Howe,P. (2008). StrengtheningCanadian Democracy.Montreal, Québec: Inst. for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
Savoie,D. J. (2013). WhateverHappened to the Music Teacher?: How Government Decides and Why.Toronto: Mcgill-QueensUniversity Press
Thomas,D. M., & Biette, D. (2014). Canadaand the United States: Differences that Count.Toronto: Universityof Toronto Press