Time for a refresher on the powers of Parliament

Here’s the introduction to my Ottawa Citizen op-ed from 4 October 2014:

Canada’s intervention in Iraq has raised questions about Parliament’s role in governing. Opposition parties have chastised the government for not consulting the legislature before deploying military advisors. The official opposition has demanded that the government hold a vote on the mission, stating that this decision should be made by the House of Commons, not merely cabinet. Although the prime minister and his cabinet hold the confidence of the House, opposition parties have come close to suggesting that the Iraq deployment is not a policy choice the Harper government can rightfully make on its own.

There is a case to be made for the opposition’s position; it may be that sensitive policies such as these merit parliamentary approval on political grounds. But the rhetoric employed goes further, fudging the distinct constitutional roles of the legislative and executive powers. If the opposition members truly believe what they are saying, we have a problem: They do not appreciate the distinct authorities of the government and Parliament.

A refresher on the legislature and executive is therefore in order.

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