This has however not been without exception. During the Reagan years, Canadians were not as much onboard with the pro-U.S. line as leaders such as Britain's Margaret Thatcher.
However, doubts such as have been entertained above have had to weighed against the realization that now in the Nuclear Age Canada could be reached and hit from beyond its borders. Cooperation in the past and at present in NORAD as well as the War on Terror has only heightened this perception. From Canadian participation in the Korean War to its present commitment in Afghanistan, an open Canadian rift with the U.S. has been the rare exception (such as not joining the coalition in Iraq) and Canada has toed a line that has been pro-Western and in particular pro-NATO (ibid 62).
As noted before, the office of Governor General is an interesting holdover and hearkening back to the days of imperial British rule. As in the previous Sudan Crisis, they have not always supported the elected parliamentary government. In actuality, Canada is a constitutional monarchy where Queen Elizabeth II is actually the sovereign. Like Canada, the Canadian experience is mirrored in the constitutions of fifteen otherwise independent countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. The Constitution Act (British North America Act) of 1867 vests all executive powers in actuality in this sovereign, although this executive usually defers to the elected prime minister. However, this is not always the case. Outside of these normal executive powers the Queen has reserve powers that can be exercised by her without approval of any branch of the Canadian government. These powers can be executed through the Governor General.
The office of Governor General is required by the Constitution Act of 1867 and the letters patent issued in 1947 by King George VI. The governor general's primary task is to perform the Queen's constitutional duties on her behalf. It is understood that they will act within the principles of parliamentary democracy and promote stable governance. In actuality, the Crown's responsibilities are exercised on a day-to-day basis by elected and appointed individuals, leaving the Governor General largely in charge of ceremonial duties ("The Governor General of Canada-Her Excellency the Right Honorable Michaelle Jean: Roles and Responsibilities").
However, on December 4, 2008, Governor General Michaelle Jean assented to the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until January 26, 2009. This ended the first session of the 40th parliament, thereby delaying a possible change in government. After the suspension,...
The Conservative government's budget, revealed on January 27, 2009, met the demands of the Liberal Party who agreed to support it with an amendment to the budget motion ("GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January").
In essence, the representative of the queen suspended an elected parliament supposedly to promote governmental stability in order to prevent the fall of the government. No national emergency loomed. The only problem was budgetary and normally would have been handled through parliamentary channels. The exact reasons remain for the suspension of the parliament and the actions of the Governor General remain shrouded in mystery. However, the effects upon the Canadian-British relationship in the future will be interesting to see. We need to keep a wary eye upon the Crown and realize where its interests and ours diverge.
Liberal and Conservative Party Representatives
1. Continue Present Policy
2. Make Canada more independent in its foreign policy associations, especially with regard to the United States and Britain.
3. Reform the Office of Governor General
4. Abolish the Office of Governor General
If we continue the present policies, we will continue to be involved in Afghanistan and subject to the possibility of Crown interference in internal Canadian issues via a relic of Canada's status as a British Dominion.
A more internal focus on domestic Canadian issues would allow resources plowed currently into foreign affairs and commitments to be resourced instead to pressing economic problems at home.
Allen, Ralph. Ordeal by Fire. Toronto: Doubleday, 1961.
Darwin, J.G.. "The Chanak Crisis and the British Cabinet." History 65, no. 213
"GG agrees to suspend Parliament until January." Dec. 4,
2008.http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/12/04/harper-jean.html (accessed May 25, 2010).
"The Governor General of Canada-Her Excellency the Right Honorable Michaelle Jean:
Roles and Responsibilities." http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=41 (accessed May 25, 2010).
Holloway, Steven Kendall. Canadian Foreign Policy: Defining the National Interest .
Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2006.
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