Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for March 2015

Is Harper Government playing politics with 2-year Governor General extension?

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has extended David Johnston’s tenure as Governor General of Canada for an additional 2 years.

Though the Governor General technically represents the Queen in Canada, how long the Governor General serves depends on the prime minister.

The Governor General usually serves about 5 years in the role in Canada. Johnston has been in the role since October 1, 2010.

The end of a 5-year term would come right around the federal election, provided that election is on time. Extending the term is not the surprise; extending the term by 2 years is the surprise.

Roland Michener was the last Governor General to serve as many as 7 years (1967-1974), though a few have served 6 years. Michaëlle Jean, Johnston’s predecessor, served 5 years and 4 days. Adrienne Clarkson, Jean’s predecessor, served about 10 days short of 6 years.

Jean was appointed by Paul Martin in 2005, so Johnston has been Harper’s only pick. Jean was helpful to Harper in 2008 when she prorogued Parliament, ensuring that the Conservatives would remain in power.

We were told in the announcement last week that the extension was also to cover Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017. Plausible, but the real impact will be serving through the next election and beyond, no matter which party wins the election.

The fixed election date that Harper and the Conservatives pushed through is designed to call for an election every 5 years. The Governor General’s term lasts 5 years, so the 2-year extension would change the timing so that the two don’t collide.

If Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair is the new prime minister, they will end up with a Governor General they didn’t pick for 2 years.

The presumption for Harper’s decision — besides him making the decision and not the Queen — is that the announcement implies that Harper will win in October … or September or August.

Every politician thinks they will win an election; acting as if that is guaranteed to happen comes across as pompous.

Of course, Johnston’s 2-year extension is subject to change if someone other than Harper wins this year, though expect Johnston to remain for a few months at absolute minimum.

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Canadian-born Ted Cruz to run for U.S. president

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This column courtesy of CanadianCrossing.com runs here with complete permission.

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By every interpretation of “natural-born citizen” in the United States Constitution, Ted Cruz is not eligible to run for President of the United States. Yet the junior senator from Texas will announce his presidential run for 2016 later today.

Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1970 and lived in Canada for his first 4 years.

Though Cruz did not have to do so, he eventually renounced his Canadian citizenship. Cruz’s father is Cuban; Cruz has not renounced any ties to Cuba because of the status of his birth.

The argument for Cruz is that because his mother is American, Cruz is a “natural-born” citizen. The only problem is that we don’t know if that is allowed.

The intriguing subplot to this story is that the Tea Party, the source of a lot of Cruz’s support, offered up a theory that a person born to a foreign-born father and an American mother outside the United States is not eligible to be president.

They claimed this was true for President Barack Obama without offering a shred of proof. All but a tiny percentage have been quiet on this point of order about Cruz.

Now that Cruz will be a presidential candidate, the media should ask him about his words about why he didn’t want to be a Canadian citizen. If Cruz gets elected, he’ll be the first president who was a Canadian citizen and lived in Canada. President Cruz will have to work a lot with Canada on numerous trade and security issues. Yet you get the feeling that I know more about Canada than Senator Cruz.

In reality, Cruz has less of a chance of winning the 2016 GOP nomination than George Romney did in 1968. Romney was born and raised in Mexico and is a child of U.S. citizens.

Ted Cruz can be prime minister of Canada, even if he wasn’t born in Canada. But until they changed the rules, he can’t be president of the United States.

photo illustration by: Gage Skidmore / Todd Wiseman