That, in the opinion of the House, all Members of Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of conscience.
He said: Mr. Speaker, my motion has a number of significant points that I am asking the House to support: first, that the motion apply to every member, regardless of rank or position in the House or party, and on all matters that come before the House captured by this motion whether in the nature of private members' motions or bills, government bills, motions or other legislative initiatives; second, that members be allowed to vote freely, meaning without order or demand by party leaders, House leaders, whips or anyone else in the party structure, to vote in a certain or particular way on pain of censure or sanction if they will not; and third, that this would be so in matters of conscience.
There may be a great deal of debate and some difference of opinion on what are matters of conscience. I can, however, say with a great deal of confidence that matters relating to life, more particularly to the termination of life at any time from the point of conception to the point of natural death, would easily fall within that definition. Whether or not to terminate before death naturally occurs, or to terminate a life before it fully becomes a living being or while it has the potential to be a living being is certainly a matter of conscience, as may be a number of other matters falling somewhere between these two.
In my view, a matter of conscience would arise out of a religious, moral or ethical issue that has to do with one's inner sense of what is right or wrong. The right to freedom of conscience is represented in all international conventions concerning human rights. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. There is no question that one's conscience is and ought to be sovereign.
In fact, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, commonly referred to as the charter, states, in paragraph 2, with regard to fundamental freedoms, “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion”. This fundamental freedom is found alongside those freedoms that we cherish: freedom of expression, freedom of the press, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. In fact, the first words in the preamble in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives rise to potential conscience struggles that may occur when interpreting laws or even with respect to charter matters when it states, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”, is bound to bring the rule of law, the supremacy of God into conflict at times.
When it comes to matters of conscience, Sir Thomas More said it best when he had to make a decision whether to obey God's law as he saw it rather than man, that one should be most cautious not to offend his conscience than anything else in the whole world. Of course, his head was taken off and placed on the Tower Bridge in London as the price for not offending his conscience.
An email made public, sent to the member for , the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, by former Liberal members of Parliament also made the point well when they stated in part:
We, the undersigned, former Liberal Members of Parliament, are concerned about your recent pronouncement that people who hold a particular view on a given moral issue, as a matter of conscience, cannot be Liberal candidates for the position of M.P. unless they agree to park their consciences at the entrance to the House of Commons and vote directly opposite to their fundamental beliefs, as directed by you.
In the House, the Conservative Party has on a number of occasions allowed for free votes, and that is the way it should be. The party policy also states very specifically in section 7 that the party believes in restoring democratic accountability in the House of Commons by allowing free votes. It states all votes should be free, except for the budget, for obvious reasons, main estimates, and core government initiatives.
On issues of moral conscience, the Conservative Party acknowledges the diversity of deeply held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.
The Supreme Court of Canada's decisions on the recent Lee Carter, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al. decision, commonly referred to as the Carter decision, which related to end-of-life issues, and R. v. Morgentaler, commonly referred to as the Morgentaler decision, related to abortion, fall into the category where actions taken in the House should be the subject of free votes. In each case, the court relied on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gave the House the benefit of the court's view on the charter's application.
The Carter decision essentially referred to section 7 of the charter, which reads:
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The decision said that it would require legislation allowing for physician-assisted death for a competent adult who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, disease or disability that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. I may not agree with the court's logic in the use of section 7, but it has said that and it has said that Parliament needs to address that.
The type of legislation, the substance of the legislation and the views of the members may vary. Many members may struggle in deciding in good conscience whether or not they should support that piece of legislation, another piece of legislation or something in between. However, when it comes before the House for a vote, it should be a free vote.
Similarly, in the Morgentaler decision, the court decided in essence that the Criminal Code provisions then existing regarding abortion offended the same section 7 rights. The court was also of the view that it was Parliament's prerogative or obligation to put forth legislation, not theirs, that would balance this right with the rest of the charter that would provide for the protection of the unborn. In fact, section 1 of the charter states:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
It is all conditional. This clearly indicates that there must be a balancing of interests, or at least a consideration of interests, if one truly wishes to rely on the charter.
Justice Wilson, on page 183 of the Morgentaler judgment, stated:
The precise point in the development of the foetus at which the state's interest in its protection becomes "compelling" I leave to the informed judgment of the legislature which is in a position to receive guidance...from all the relevant disciplines. It seems to me, however, that it might fall somewhere in the second trimester.
She based her views squarely on the charter, so I feel that it is safe to say that the protection of the unborn is a charter consideration relating to the unborn requiring legislative action by Parliament. She specifically left open the entirely different question of whether the unborn is covered by the word “everyone” in section 7, so as to have an independent right to life under that section.
There is no doubt that members feel strongly on matters such as this, relating to issues of life. Some would feel strongly that life is sacred and that they should not be required to vote for any legislation that is against their conscience if it takes or allows for the taking of such life after conception and before natural death. These may be absolute positions, but on all matters of life, there may also be positions somewhere in between, where honest, sincere and good thinking members will, I am sure, struggle with their decision and differ in their views. Ultimately, however, they should all be free to vote with their conscience.
By allowing members to vote freely, it presupposes that members of differing points of view and different persuasions, personal convictions and religious beliefs are allowed to run for public office and to be elected by constituents. To say, as the leader of the Liberal Party, the member for , stated, that anyone who has a view other than what is commonly referred to as a “pro-choice” view cannot run for the office of a member of Parliament or, at the very least, would not be given a free vote on the same issue runs absolutely contrary to this motion, as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Indeed, it would run against the fundamentals of democracy, where issues should be debated freely and then voted upon.
The very definition of “Parliament”, which I have taken from How Parliament Works, by John Bejermi, stems from the French parler, meaning “to speak” or “to discuss”. “Parliament”, then, or this House is a meeting place where the representatives of the people can speak, discuss, criticize, argue and express their opinions publicly on all matters of state.
In Canada, therefore, we have a system called “parliamentary government”. It is regrettable that because of the positions taken by leaders like that of the Liberal Party, some of the press, the media, and others, we cannot have a good or reasonable debate on these issues, with contrary points of view, without it seeming to be something unusual, unacceptable, or in bad taste. It is most unfortunate. This has to change in this House. For too long we have felt that difficult issues should not be moved, debated, or discussed in Parliament, many times simply because we have strong views on the subject and do not want to entertain anything else. That is not what democracy is about.
When it comes to matters of conscience, there should be nothing that causes an MP to vote contrary to his or her conscience, for if members are forced to cross that line, they have violated who and what they are and what they believe in. I dare say that it is self-evident that no one should be required to do that. Their conscience is sacrosanct, inviolable, and should not be impinged upon, for indeed if it can be, what value is the opinion or vote of those members going forward and what reliance can be placed upon them. I think most Canadians and most constituents would expect no less from their members, even if they disagreed or had a different point or a different position. If the majority of constituents disagree, they should then elect a new member.
In fairness, these issues should not be raised time and again ad infinitum. There should be some rules around that. I personally like one of the rules that regulates whether a private member's bill or motion such as mine is votable. Does it involve issues that have already been considered in the session? If it does not, it can go forward. A new session could give rise to new debates.
Many have said that Parliament should use the charter section 33 “notwithstanding” clause to allow for an act or provision thereof to operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or section 7 of the charter. Although this option is available, it is something, in my view, that ought to be used sparingly and only in exceptional circumstances. That said, we cannot cherry-pick which part of the charter we like and which to disregard.
I found it interesting that the member for and leader of the Liberal Party was quick to put forward a motion, voted upon on February 24, 2015, asking the House to recognize the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter, which ruled that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying violated a section 7 charter right and stated that Parliament has a responsibility to respond to the Supreme Court ruling.
I did not see that same vigour and immediacy in requesting that this House respond to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Morgentaler indicating that it is for Parliament to decide at what point the state's interest arises and becomes compelling so as to provide some protection for the unborn.
Indeed, the member asked that a special committee be appointed, with the usual parameters, and that the committee report on an expeditious basis to the House. Yet when the member faced the motion presented by the member for , which also asked that a special committee of the House be appointed to review the Criminal Code declaration of when a child becomes a human being and report to the House, the member for and leader of the Liberal Party voted against it.
I found it somewhat hypocritical when the member for and leader of the Liberal Party said on one hand that we need to ensure that we are charter compliant and respect the rights and privileges we may have under the charter when it comes to an issue of pro-choice but then voted against the protection of a right or privilege under the charter when he did not agree with it, as in the case where the court said that it is up to Parliament to draft legislation protecting the rights of the unborn. It is like respecting the decision of the Supreme Court when one likes it and not respecting the Supreme Court and the charter when one does not like the decision. We cannot be selective when it comes to charter rights unless we are prepared to use the “notwithstanding” clause.
In the same email sent to the member for and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada by former Liberal members, they made this point quite well when they stated:
Second, since your edict singles out the issue of being opposed to abortion, but only that issue, it clearly discriminates against a select class of people, namely those who oppose abortion, and no one else, such as those who might oppose, or be in favour of, say, assisted suicide. We believe that such discrimination is a clear violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2 (a) which guarantees everyone, even Liberal Members of Parliament, “freedom of conscience”, and (b), which guarantees everyone, even Liberal Members of Parliament, “freedom of thought, belief...and expression”.
In my view, we need to get off the premise that some subjects are off limits for debate. We should have legislation go forward, agreeing that this is precisely the place where hard and difficult decisions must be made, accepting the fact that members may have to struggle with their conscience to support a particular position. In the interest of democracy, justice and good government, we want all members to vote on these issues freely and without impediment. I am hopeful and expect that not only my colleagues on this side of the House but all members of Parliament will see fit to support Motion No. 590.
This motion is straightforward and unambiguous. Matters of conscience for obvious reasons should be subject to free votes. I think it is a timely motion, especially given the most recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Carter case and the languishing ruling on the Morgentaler case, which so far parliamentarians have not been able to face head-on or even in a peripheral way.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Motion No. 590, moved my by my colleague from .
There are just three weeks left before the 41st Parliament is adjourned, so this is probably one of my last speeches. Like my colleague who sponsored this motion, I will not seek another term in October, so this speech is a very special one to me. I cannot imagine a more perfect ending than a philosophical debate.
I would like to read out Motion No. 590:
That, in the opinion of the House, all Members of Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of conscience.
I think I read in the papers that my colleague from thinks this motion is quite straightforward and that he does not anticipate any opposition from the government or opposition sides. I want to set him straight and also reassure him. Motion No. 590 certainly is short, but it is not straightforward in the least. Nevertheless, I am determined to support this motion and I think that my colleagues will do the same, based on what their conscience tells them.
Parliament's job is to pass laws for Canada. Even though a motion is not a parliamentary document with the same scope or weight as a bill, it does have to be moved in legal language. What, then, is the legal definition of conscience? My colleague provided his personal interpretation during his speech, but if we have to use a concept such as conscience, it cannot be limited to the uncertain and relativistic confines of a philosophical definition. On the contrary, it must be imbued with a clearly identifiable and established legal meaning understandable to all.
What, therefore, is the legal definition of a matter of conscience? One might say that all human beings know what conscience is, that it is unique to humans and that it is recognized automatically much like humans recognize beauty or truth. Esteemed colleagues, that is what Plato said. Even though philosophy is the noblest endeavour of humankind, our job here is to manage the federal Canadian state with just and constitutional laws, not to add new material to the western philosophical canon.
In order for that motion to be applicable and have any value at all to the parliamentary exercise that it is supposed to improve, a legal definition of the concept of conscience is crucial. Without that, this is nothing but hot air. However, we will never get that legal definition because it simply does not exist. This means that my colleague's motion could just as easily read as follows, “That, in the opinion of the House, all members of Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of beauty”. Good luck with that.
The problem here is the abstract notion of conscience. Even when we look at the substance of the motion, we come up against another question. I mean no offence to my hon. colleague, and I am surprised he does not know this already, but members can already vote freely. Nowhere in the rules of this House does it state that members are obligated to betray their values or their beliefs in exercising the mandate that they have been given—nowhere.
It is a bit embarrassing and I am disappointed at the public admission we are witnessing today, that not once during any of his terms in office was my colleague ever informed by his party that he could vote according to his conscience or, if he was, that he was not supported by his Conservative colleagues when they twisted arms and forced people to vote against their beliefs.
I know that many Conservative MPs have a fiercely electoral view of the parliamentary system and that they are quite committed to defending personal and local values in Parliament, even if it means being dysfunctional and spending their time torturing their souls in abstract debates. They hide their discomfort very well, I have to say. I did not see anyone on the government side suffering from a crisis of conscience when they all voted in favour of Canada's involvement in the Syrian civil war in support of Bashar al-Assad. Mea culpa, I should have paid a bit more attention. However, during that time, my conscience certainly bothered me, and I mourned the human suffering that befell the people of Syria.
I can say unequivocally that at no time during the past four years did I feel oppressed at vote time. I was not unduly pressured in any way and no one ever tried to compromise my conscience, regardless of its nature. Debate within our party is lively and salutary. We try to compromise according to what is best for Canadians in general and for each one of us in particular. The NDP takes an inclusive approach. We meet every week to discuss the votes on the agenda and to decide together what position we are going to defend. Every one of us contributes to what goes on in this building and every one of us is free to express his or her opinion.
We never rule out the possibility of a free vote. However, in the majority of cases, my colleagues and I arrive at a consensus that is acceptable for everyone.
To maintain their commitment to the parliamentary electoral system, and for the benefit of their political base, the Conservatives often congratulate themselves for having a few dissenting voices among their members in votes on private member's bills, as though this dissent were proof of inclusion or democratic vigour. Personally, I think this inability to agree amongst themselves is not something to be proud of, quite the contrary. Belonging to a political party is also an act of will and a choice freely made. You join a party because it represents your values. Once elected, members have the right to vote as they wish in the House, and they have the duty to inform their peers of their views on any upcoming votes. If a member votes against his or her party and there are consequences, that is between the member and the party. However, ultimately everyone can vote as they wish in the House and that will not affect a member's position in the House of Commons.
We are all free men and women, with our own free will and freedom of choice. Our duty is to come to an agreement with our colleagues and not to blindly defend our personal obsessions. That is why I believe my NDP colleagues should support this motion because, in the end, all of us are already free.
Mr. Speaker, it is good to speak to this motion today. First of all, let me say in speaking for the Liberal Party that in the Liberal caucus, private member's bills are free votes, as is the tradition in many other parties. Our leader, the hon. member for , has been very clear that the charter is at the heart of the Liberal conscience, and as we have long said, Liberals will always support the charter. We are the party of the charter.
I want to talk about how our leader, which the sponsor of the bill mentioned quite a bit in his speech, has led by example. In June 2013, he announced the open Parliament plan, which sought to proactively disclose travel and hospitality expenses and post them in a quarterly manner. I remember all the work my staff had to do for that. It was an extra expense and use of resources to make sure that travel and hospitality expenses were disclosed.
The Board of Internal Economy then was opened up and we expanded the performance audits of the House of Commons and Senate administration and worked with the Auditor General on public guidelines for future audits.
Liberals believe that openness and transparency are pillars of our democratic institutions, and that is why, as I just described, we became the first caucus in the House of Commons, in October 2013, to publicly post our expenses online.
Canadians have asked for openness and honesty in their elected representatives, not secrecy, not distrust, and not scandal.
The Senate, through extreme patronage and partisanship, has come to poorly serve the interests of Canadians. That is why our leader took decisive action on January 29, 2014, when he announced that the national Liberal caucus would only include elected members of Parliament and not appointed senators.
I remember that day very well, and I remember feeling that the leader was very courageous in doing that. I was somewhat taken by surprise, because there was no announcement to me before the day the leader took that action, but it was very courageous. It is a clear example of movement on the issue of the Senate and what role the Senate should play and how it could be improved to serve Canadians better.
Our leader also announced that a future Liberal government would put in place an open, transparent, and non-partisan appointment process for new senators. Our leader did more to reform the Senate in a single day than the has done in a decade.
At our convention in February 2014, we passed a comprehensive democratic reform motion that will help restore trust in our democracy. The motion includes a number of components, and I want to list them: open, democratic nominations of candidates; fewer whipped votes in Parliament and more free votes requiring individual MPs to assume full responsibility for their decisions; stronger parliamentary control over public finances, including an annual deadline for the budget; accounting consistency between the estimates and the public accounts; more clarity in voting on estimates; a costing analysis for each government bill; a requirement that government borrowing plans get Parliament's pre-approval; a truly independent, properly resourced Parliamentary Budget Officer; a more effective access to information regime with stronger safeguards against political interference; an impartial system to identify and eliminate the waste of tax dollars on partisan advertising; and careful limitations on secret committee proceedings, omnibus bills, and prorogation to avoid their misuse for the short-term partisan convenience of the government.
On that point, one of the things I have seen as a first-term MP right away is how the government has not respected the role of Parliament by using those things.
Further components include adequate funding, investigative powers, and enforcement authority to ensure Elections Canada can root out electoral fraud; proactive disclosure of parliamentarians' expenses, as I mentioned earlier, a more transparent Board of Internal Economy, and better audit rules; a truly independent Senate not based upon partisanship or patronage; and a commitment to establish an all-party process involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms.
This was the resolution that was passed at the Liberal Party convention in early 2014.
In March 2014, we put forward an opposition day motion to implement the proactive disclosure of travel and hospitality expenses for all MPs by the House of Commons administration. The motion passed unanimously.
In June 2014, the introduced the transparency act in Parliament. The bill sought to achieve the following reforms, which I would like to list.
First of all, it would have required that meetings of the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy be open by default. Today, MPs are making decisions about the regulations that govern their own spending with insufficient public scrutiny. This is a reform initiative that the Liberal Party called for in 2013 with the Liberal Party's open Parliament plan.
The board would still have been permitted to operate in camera, for example, for confidential personnel matters, something that is often the reason for taking a committee in camera, or when dealing with contracts.
The second part of the transparency act would have been to amend section 2 of the Access to Information Act, the purpose section of the act, so that all government data and information must be made open, and not only made open but made open by default in machine readable format.
Just before I stood up to give this speech, I was dealing with a statistician who had the experience of trying to download temperature data from temperature stations in Canada, and was having trouble doing that from the temperature data stored by Environment Canada. The individual had to rely on some help from somebody inside Health Canada in order to extract temperature data from Environment Canada, and still found problems with the Environment Canada data.
It is really important to make sure that data and information are easily available by putting them it in machine readable format.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to participate in today's discussion of Motion No. 590 and try to get back on track. As we know, the motion concerns free votes on matters of conscience. I think all members would agree this is an important topic and Canadians want to know where parties stand on this issue.
My colleague, the member for , has continued in a recent trend in private members' business by bringing forward a motion that pertains to how we conduct ourselves and do business in the House of Commons. I applaud the member for bringing forward such a straightforward motion. It might be one of the most direct and to the point motions we have had the pleasure to debate in this session of Parliament.
That, in the opinion of the House, all Members of Parliament should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of conscience.
I would like to spend my time today reviewing some of the history of the use of the free vote in Parliament and our government's record in that regard.
I have a quick comment on the motion itself. It is worth mentioning, given our system of responsible government and the importance of confidence convention, the member for has made the important distinction of limiting the motion to matters of conscience. No one would disagree that party solidarity on confidence matters is crucial, given the important consequences.
At the other end of the spectrum, matters of conscience are those where the representative role of individual members is the most acute. I hope no one would disagree that free votes are particularly important on these matters. We have seen a number of private members' motions come forward that address issues related to how we do business in this place and also the role we play as members of Parliament. Similarly, the motion addresses one of the most important roles we perform, and that is voting.
When I took a moment to compare the motion with some of the others we have debated in this session there was one clear difference that struck me, which I will address in a moment.
Since the start of 2014, the House of Commons has adopted Motion No. 428 from the member for , regarding the implementation of an electronic petitions system. We also passed Motion No. 431 from my colleague, the member for , related to the study of the process for selecting the chairs of committees of the House. The House also adopted Motion No. 489 from my colleague, the member for , to study the process for electing the Speaker of the House of Commons.
A common thread among those motions is that they all required a consideration of the standing orders, the rules that govern the House. As members know, the standing orders are carefully balanced based on parliamentary principles and traditions and reflect the interests of all members. They set out in detail how things such as petitions or the selection of committee chairs are handled.
It is in relation to the rules of the House of Commons that I discovered a key difference between Motion No. 590, which we are debating today, and the other three motions I just outlined. What I noted is that when one takes a close look at the standing orders, nowhere does one find a reference to a free vote. As noted on page 576 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, 0 'Brien and Bosc, it states:
There are no rules or Standing Orders defining a "free vote" in the House of Commons ... Simply defined, a free vote takes place when a party decides that, on a particular issue, its Members are not required to vote along party lines, or that the issue is not a matter of party policy and its Members may vote as they choose.
What we can conclude from this omission from the standing orders, and what Canadians should know, is that the principle of free votes and when they are used rests with each individual party.
How is it then that each party has used free votes in this place? As I mentioned at the outset, given our system of responsible government, I would suspect that all parties agree there is a need for party discipline when it comes to voting on such matters as, for example, the budget and main estimates. These have traditionally been matters of confidence. However, in what sort of circumstances have members been afforded freedom in how they vote? Let us look at some examples.
As stated in O'Brien and Bosc on page 577, it is not clear when the first free vote took place in the House of Commons, but that the first free vote of note took place in 1946, on the matter of milk subsidies. While voting down the government's intent to eliminate milk subsidies was not necessarily a matter of conscience, it did open the door to free votes on several key matters of government business through the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The national flag debate in 1964 was treated as a free vote.
Similarly, as noted by Ned Franks in his November 1997 article in Policy Options, the issue of capital punishment and abortion, as items of government business, were treated as free votes by the Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party over those three decades. For example, there were a number of free votes on capital punishment, including the original legislation to abolish capital punishment in 1967, which passed, and a motion to reinstate capital punishment in 1987, which was defeated.
Generally, the well-publicized free votes that have taken place since 1946 have been largely limited to matters of morality and conscience. Following the significant reforms to private members' business brought about by the 1985 third report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, known as the McGrath reforms, there has been an even greater opportunity to have free votes. The McGrath reforms resulted in more private members' business being introduced and debated, resulting in more free votes. Importantly, these are also the matters of most significance for individual members and their constituents.
We as a government are quite proud of the record number of private members' bills that have become law under our government. I would contend that our government has a demonstrated record with free votes, especially on matters of conscience. Let me highlight two examples that would back this up.
Bill , introduced by my colleague, the member for , called to amend the National Anthem Act, which was a gender issue. The second reading vote on the member for 's Bill on gender identity is another prime example. The vote passed 150 to 132 on June 6, 2012, with 15 government members voting differently than the majority of their caucus.
What are the characteristics of our Parliament that are relevant to this debate? First, our system is modelled after what is known as the Westminster style of government; that is, after the parliamentary institutions that emerged from the United Kingdom over the past 800 years. Legislative power is vested in Parliament to become law. Legislation must be assented to by each of Parliament's three constituent parts: the House of Commons, the Senate and the Crown.
The executive powers of government, in other words the power to implement government policies and programs, are formally vested in the Crown, but effectively exercised by the and cabinet, which belong to the governing party. The executive function is fulfilled by the Governor-in-Council, which is, practically speaking, the Governor General acting with, and on the advice of, the Prime Minister and the cabinet. The role of the executive is an important aspect of the principle of responsible government, which is a cornerstone of Westminster-style parliaments. The Prime Minister and cabinet are resp