History of Canada

Can a Canadian Prime minister be Impeached?

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2014-05-09 21:20:33
2014-05-09 21:20:33

This is a tricky question actually...

Technically yes, but in Practice no.

Reasons for "technically yes":

Parliament retains the power to impeach anyone.

Impeachment is just a process where the legislature charges a person with an unlawful act, tries them for it and if convicted levies a penalty (removal from office in the US, but in other countries includes fines or Jail time).

Canada has both a written and an unwritten constitution, the unwritten parts are inherited from Britain because our constitution is "similar in principle" to the UK's. Basically if the UK parliament has the power so does ours.

The UK's parliament has the power of impeachment, but they haven't used it in over 200 years! The last one was Henry Dundas in 1806. But we and they could dust it off if the need arises.

Reason for in practice "no":

It just doesn't fit into our political system. The government must maintain the confidence of the house of commons. How could a PM claim to still hold it if that same house just ordered him to stand trial?

Why would parliament choose to use the archaic impeachment process, when it is far easier to win a vote of non-confidence and accomplish the same thing?

Parliament doesn't actually have the power to remove the PM directly, that power being in the hands of the Governor General. It could issue declarations of non-confidence, it could throw the PM in jail. But still it is a request to the GG - who would be arguably bound to accept it.

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