Reconsidering Constructive Non-Confidence for Canada: Experiences from Six European Countries

Reconsidering Constructive Non-Confidence for Canada: Experiences from Six European Countries

Canada’s recent run of hung parliaments (2004‐2011) gave rise to a number of proposals intended to stabilize minority government. One such proposal recommends fixing the confidence convention by adopting a constructive vote of non‐confidence that requires non‐confidence votes to simultaneously elect a new head of government. Aucoin, Jarvis and Turnbull suggest that constructive non‐confidence will increase parliamentary stability, legitimize mid‐term transitions and reduce executive dominance. Yet, a cursory investigation of research on the constructive non-confidence votes demonstrates a dearth of evidence on the rule’s effects. This article fills this gap by reviewing other jurisdictions’ experiences with constructive non-confidence in order to unpack how the rule might work within the Canadian context. The comparative research demonstrates that though constructive non-confidence will enhance parliamentary stability, it will do so at the cost of decreasing the legitimacy of mid-term transitions and bolstering executive dominance over parliament.