Friday, 5 December 2008

From sea to sea

There are often interesting comparisons to be drawn between Canada and Australia. In Canberra, the parliamentarians have had to extend their hours in order to get through all the Government legislation before Christmas. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the Prime Minister wishes it was time for summer holidays, and has managed to have parliament suspended until 26 January, in order to avoid (or postpone?) a no-confidence motion.

It's interesting to see how the unprecedented consitutional issue been reported. The BBC refers to the Canadian Governor(-)General as the "acting head of state", which would presumably ruffle some feathers among both sides of the Australian republic debate, such as it is. The SMH includes a report sourced from AFP using the same wording, although the standard warning that spelling, currency and measurement units follow North American usage might be considered to cover the possibly controversial terminology.

They also include an AP-sourced report, which describes he as the "unelected representative of the head of state" (emphasis mine). I wonder why the writer thought it was necessary to include "unelected", even apart from the fact that the Queen she represents is also unelected. On the one hand, some weren't too happy when an unelected John Kerr dismissed the elected government in Australian in 1975, and forcing the elected parliament to take an unplanned break could be seen in the same light. On the other, the fact that the GG is unelected goes some way to explaining why she followed the advice of her Prime Minister, and an elected official may have felt more able to to make a different response.

No comments: