Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

ARCHIVED - By Executive Decree

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

The Prime Minister (Page 2 of 2)

Photograph of the colonial premiers, including Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Photograph of the colonial premiers, including Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Source

 

Group of small photographs of the prime ministers of Canada, 1867-1963

Group of small photographs of the prime ministers of Canada, 1867-1963
Source

Although the Conservative Party under Arthur Meighen (1874-1960) won the most seats in the general election of 1925, the Liberal minority under William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) held on to power thanks to a coalition in Parliament. When Prime Minister King asked that the governor general call a new election, Lord Byng (1862-1935) refused, and instead invited Meighen to form a new government. Meighen's government failed after four days, and the ensuing election was fought over the nature of executive power in Canada. Voters sided with the political executive, returning King with a majority. Many historians, however, have sided with Byng, who sought to uphold the electorate's democratic will by exercising his formal executive power.

Since that time, no governor general has refused a prime minister's official request or recommendation. The constitutional crisis instigated by the "King-Byng Affair" highlights the prime minister's power, both within the machinery of government and on the national stage, where Mackenzie King was able to win votes by casting the governor general's decision as a threat to Canadian "constitutional liberty."

Today the prime minister's election strategies, statements of policy and national communications are carefully administered by a key central agency, the Prime Minister's Office. This important branch of the political executive is staffed by the prime minister's appointees, who serve formally as the prime minister's liaisons on matters of political importance, and informally as the prime minister's confidantes on government appointments, finances and policy decisions.