February 1, 1958 (23rd Parliament, 1st Session)


James Garfield Gardiner


Mr. Gardiner:

I realize, of course, that that is not the basis on which the decision is really made to form a government, the people elected to this house a larger group of Conservatives than they did of Liberals. That brought up the question as to who was going to form a government to carry on during a period when there was not a majority in this house in favour of any party. I realize that, under our constitution, no party has a right to form a government. It is not parties that have the right to form a government. It is

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration
the individual in the house who can command a majority and only the individual in the house who can command a majority. It does not matter whether he heads any party or whether he does not. Under our institutions of government, parties are formed only for the purpose of making it possible to have a government that can carry on for four or five years or, in other words, so that we can have a stable government. The people did not make a decision that made that result possible on June 10.
So there had to be some consideration given to it and some discussion of the matter. In spite of some of the things that have been said since that time, I want to say now -and I do not think anyone will ever be able to contradict what I am about to say and base that contradiction on constitutional arguments-that there is only one way in which a Governor General can act, and that is on the advice of his prime minister. I want to say further that if the prime minister of the day had said "Well, we are going to carry on for a while"-the Governor General would have accepted that, but that was not said, and there are certain reasons why it was not said.
The leader of the C.C.F. party on the day after the election-on the 11th day of June-said very distinctly to all the people of this country, over the air and through the press, that he was prepared to support a government that would be formed by the leader of the Conservative party. The leader of the Social Credit group took a similar position, although there was a difference in their respective positions. The leader of the C.C.F. party said in effect that the only person he would support as prime minister in this house was the leader of the Conservative party,-or if he did not say that definitely, he certainly left that inference. The leader of the Social Credit group however made it very clear that which ever party undertook to form a government they would give them the chance to show their wares in this house before that group voted want of confidence.

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