Impeachment is the word on everyone's minds today. The US House of Representatives held a historic vote to pass two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. While that's happening south of the border, Canadians might be asking, "can a Canadian Prime Minister be impeached?" The answer is more complicated than you might think.

The first important fact to point out is that Canada's federal government is far different from the one in the United States. While the U.S. is a republic represented by the three branches of government, ours is a constitutional monarchy.

What does that mean? It means that we have both a head of state and a head of government. The Queen of England is our head of state, represented in the House of Commons by the Governor General. The Prime Minister acts as the head of government.

A Canadian Prime Minister can be removed (not impeached) by a no-confidence vote in the House. Unlike the rules of impeachment, the rules of what is known as the Confidence Convention are not written and are a matter of tradition.

A vote of no confidence can be triggered at any time in the House of Commons, such as when a bill is defeated. If the Prime Minister does not have the support of a majority of Members of Parliament, they must resign or dissolve parliament altogether and ask for a new election.

The Governor General then decides whether to hold an entirely new election or ask a coalition of other parties to form a new government.

This means that, unlike impeachment and removal from office in the United States, a Prime Minister who loses a no-confidence vote can still run in a newly called election.

If a party has a majority government, then a vote of no confidence is incredibly unlikely. However, Canada currently has a Liberal minority government. That means that the other parties could eventually hold a successful no-confidence vote. 

It is also possible for our head of government to be dismissed by the Governor General if they are acting against the constitution. However, this has never happened in Canada's history.

Canada's government, like any government, has a lot of complicated rules. So while the word "impeach" doesn't really exist in our system, we do have our own, slightly different version of it.


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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