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How will King Charles influence UK politics? – Financial Times

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The monarch stays out of politics. This is one of the most widely accepted nostrums of the modern British constitution. While the crown has huge powers vested in it, they are nowadays held on the understanding that they are exercised only in accordance with the advice and wishes of the elected government.

That the sovereign keeps away from party politics is clear but the true scope of their influence and involvement is a subject of deliberate opacity. While there were moments in the last 70 years when Queen Elizabeth’s intervention has been visible, they are rare. What is little known is the impact she had in her weekly meetings with the prime minister — possibly the only government business which never leaks — or after her daily wade through official papers, both from the UK and the other Commonwealth nations where she remains head of state.

The issue will gain renewed importance because so much more is known about many of King Charles’ views and because he, while Prince of Wales, has been active in promoting his causes with ministers and allowing his opinions to become known — most recently his distaste for the government’s plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda.

However, the King made clear in a BBC interview four years ago that he understood he had to behave differently as monarch. “Clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir,” he said, adding he would not meddle in political issues as sovereign as he was “not that stupid”.

He reinforced this point with his address to the nation on Friday. Speaking for the first time as the King, he stated: “My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities. It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply.”

That work would pass to others, he said, adding that he would “uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation”. The implication is that he does not resile from his belief that senior royals should speak on societal issues but that it is now for others, most obviously the new Prince of Wales.

Walter Bagehot, the doyen of English constitutional writers, stated in 1867 that the monarch was entitled to be consulted, and could encourage and warn. This alone is significant influence especially when it was in the hands of someone with 70 years on the throne and 15 British premiers (including the newly appointed Liz Truss), to say nothing of the more than 150 prime ministers of the other Commonwealth realms.

Charles, as Prince of Wales, reads the Queen’s Speech at State opening of Parliament in 2022 © Alastair Grant/Getty Images

Thus the monarch must give royal assent to every piece of legislation but there has not been a question in modern times of that consent being refused. The monarch formally opens each new session of parliament (a roughly annual event) but the speech, stating what measures will be forthcoming, will have been written by the government.

These and other powers held under the so-called royal prerogative, are those which notionally belong to the monarch and can be used without parliamentary approval but which either in fact or custom belong to the government or sometimes parliament. The most important prerogative such as the right to sign treaties and declare war are now exercised by government. Even these are being diluted. While the power to declare war now lies with the government it has become accepted practice that it must be approved by MPs.

Likewise the monarch has the power to dissolve parliament and dismiss a prime minister, forcing an election. Again however this is not a power they would use against the wishes of the government or parliament. There is a grey area however. During the Brexit battles of the last parliament those close to Buckingham Palace worried over what would happen if the government lost a no-confidence vote and the Queen was forced to ask another leader to try to form a government.

Perhaps the most dramatic use of these royal powers came not in the UK but in Australia in 1975 when the governor-general, her representative in the country, used his powers to sack the prime minister Gough Whitlam. Letters show that the Queen was not told in advance of the move though the crisis had been brewing and had been discussed with Buckingham Palace.

Whitlam had failed to secure parliamentary approval for a budget and then refused to call an election. The governor-general, Sir John Kerr, saw it as a constitutional crisis which necessitated an election. Both he and the Queen had been seen as symbolic heads of state and the use of the power shocked many Australians. Nonetheless Whitlam was defeated in the election which followed.

In this instance efforts were made to shield the Queen from the political fallout but it highlights the sensitivity of the monarch’s most important constitutional right — the power to dismiss governments and dissolve parliament.

A 2005 archive photo of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam with the 1975 dismissal letter he received from then governor-general Sir John Kerr
A 2005 archive photo of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam with the 1975 dismissal letter he received from then governor-general Sir John Kerr © Mark Baker/AP

But there have, through Queen Elizabeth’s reign, been moments of more direct interventions. Perhaps the most notable in recent times came during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Talking years later, David Cameron, the then prime minister, revealed that as he grew more concerned by the tightening opinion polls and the apparent Nationalist surge he sought the monarch’s help.

He told the BBC: “I remember conversations I had with the Queen’s private secretary, not asking for anything that would be improper or unconstitutional but just a raising of an eyebrow, even, you know, a quarter of an inch, we thought would make a difference.”

The Sunday before the referendum the Queen had a brief exchange with a woman in Crathie churchyard where, in clearly-considered but seemingly off-the-cuff remarks she said: “You have an important vote on Thursday. I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”

Her words were duly reported. The Queen’s remarks were beautifully calibrated. Nationalists could not point to any stray phrase but the warning to think carefully was widely interpreted as a nod to caution and therefore the status quo. However, until Cameron’s unprecedented decision to reveal such politically sensitive exchanges, no one could prove political intent. What difference it made cannot be known, but the Tory leader clearly felt it helped.

The Queen also notably clashed with Margaret Thatcher when the prime minister refused to back sanctions against apartheid South Africa. The monarch was concerned about the damage this might do to the Commonwealth and was also more broadly worried at the impact of Thatcher’s policies on the social fabric of the UK. In an extraordinarily unusual incident, the Sunday Times was briefed about the Queen’s unhappiness by her press secretary. It has never been proven he acted at the Queen’s behest — blame has tended to focus on senior courtiers — but there is no doubt the briefing reflected her views. It was deeply embarrassing to both sides but cannot be said to have altered Thatcher’s course.

Royals are adept at lobbying for their own interests. In 2021 the Guardian revealed that in the 1970s the Queen — or at least Buckingham Palace — pressed to secure an exemption from financial transparency laws for private royal investments.

As Prince of Wales, the new King was often criticised for political interventions. The best known have been on non-partisan issues like architecture, on alternative medicine and on the environment, where he was an early advocate of organic farming, sustainability and climate awareness.

But he was also revealed to have pressed ministers on more sensitive issues. Lord David Blunkett, the former Labour education secretary, recalled being pressed by the then Prince to expand grammar schools.

The ‘black spider’ memos covered topics including equipment for troops, a badger cull, alternative medicines, supermarkets and hospital design
The ‘black spider’ memos covered topics including equipment for troops, a badger cull, alternative medicines, supermarkets and hospital design © Philip Toscano/PA

After a lengthy legal battle 27 letters by the Prince to senior ministers — the so called “black spider memos” in a reference to the handwriting — were revealed showing the breadth of his political lobbying. His demands included better equipment for troops in Iraq and a badger cull to halt the spread of bovine TB. He also sought more widespread availability of alternative medicines, lobbied for a particular individual to lead a crackdown on supermarkets which mistreated farmers and proposed his own aide brief Downing Street on the design of new hospitals.

While the royal family has no direct power over policy, these letters raised concerns that the future King would continue to push ministers over issues which concern him. The monarch has the power to influence debate with very small gestures not least by gently posing questions both in private and public.

However, both as heir and King, he has shown himself alive to this concern. In the BBC interview he cited the Shakespeare plays Henry IV and V and the changes in the young King Henry V as he becomes monarch. “The idea, somehow, that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two — the two situations — are completely different.”

Even so, there will be many who will want him to speak on major societal concerns — most obviously climate change. How he and other senior royals tread this line could be a defining issue of his reign.

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Former MPs find new paths and purpose after politics – CBC News

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It’s been a year since Bernadette Jordan last walked through the doors of the House of Commons as an elected official.

She lost the seat she’d held since 2015 to Conservative candidate Rick Perkins in South Shore St-Margarets in 2021.

Jordan was minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in the Trudeau government — a portfolio that had her navigating a thorny dispute over Indigenous treaty rights in the lobster fishing industry.

“What I tried to do was find a middle ground. I tried to get to a place where First Nations had the ability to exercise their moderate livelihood rights,” she said.

“Unfortunately, that middle ground didn’t make anybody happy and that was what ended my political career.”

So it didn’t come as a “huge shock,” she said, when she lost her seat. She subsequently accepted a position as national director of philanthropy with Shelter Movers in Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit organization that helps women move out of abusive situations.

Then-Fisheries and Oceans minister Bernadette Jordan in 2021. ‘I ran for politics, not because I ever wanted to be an MP or a minister, but because I wanted to help the people who lived in my community,’ she said. (CBC)

Losing is as much a part of politics as winning. Jordan said that, for her, politics was always a means to an end — which made leaving it behind a little easier to take.

“I ran for politics, not because I ever wanted to be an MP or a minister, but because I wanted to help the people who lived in my community,” she said. “That’s always been my guiding principle.”

Every election leaves a handful of MPs looking for something new to do with their lives.

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s drive for a majority government, the Liberal Party gained just three seats in the House of Commons (Kevin Vuong, though elected as a Liberal was ultimately forced to sit as an Independent. The Conservatives lost two seats, while the Bloc and the NDP each gained a seat).

Newly appointed Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, left to right, Minister of Agriculture and Argi-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Minister for Women and Gender Equality and newly appointed Minister of International Development Maryam Monsef attend a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Maryam Monsef was also in Trudeau’s cabinet, serving as minister for women and gender equality and rural development before the 2021 election ended her five-year term as MP for Peterborough-Kawartha.

Monsef’s district is considered a swing riding that sees pitched and unpredictable battles between Liberals and Conservatives. She lost her seat to Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri by 3,000 votes.

“Losing sucks,” she said. “I’m a competitive person and I work really hard for my community and nobody likes to lose.”

Monsef was 29 years old when she started her local political career and 30 when she became an MP.

“I was in the deep end right away and there’s no manual on how to be an effective cabinet minister or an effective member of Parliament,” she said.

Monsef endured a backlash in August, 2021 after she referred to the Taliban as “brothers” during a press conference in a plea to ensure safe passage for thousands looking to flee Afghanistan.

‘So many times falling off the horse’

She later took the comment back, saying that it’s a term many Muslims use to refer to each other and insisting she still viewed the Taliban as a terrorist organization.

“There were so many setbacks, so many times falling off the horse and getting back up,” said Monsef.

A year later, Monsef is deep into what she calls her “passion project” — a consulting firm called Onward that aims to help women develop leadership skills.

“I’ve always believed that when women are doing well, their families are doing well, society is doing well and countries do better,” she said.

“I started this company so that we could be a source of support to achieve that vision for women and their families — thriving by supporting women leaders.

“If I can play a small part in their leadership journey, well, that’s a life well lived.”

Former Green MP Paul Manly with former Green Party leader Elizabeth May: ‘It’s not easy going from being a very public figure to suddenly being unemployed.’ (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Paul Manly was elected in a May 6, 2019 byelection, becoming the second Green Party MP elected in Canadian history.

His political career proved relatively brief. While he kept his seat in the 2019 general election, he was defeated by NDP candidate Lisa Marie Barron in the 2021 vote.

“It’s not easy going from being a very public figure to suddenly being unemployed,” he said. “So you know you have to figure out what you’re going to do.”

Today, he is the part-time executive director of the Unitarian Shelter, a 24-bed shelter for the chronically homeless.

He also went back to a project he started before launching his political career — a nonprofit community service cooperative called Growing Opportunities.

“I’ve always been someone that’s concerned about environmental issues and about social justice,” he said. “And so I’ve done that kind of work for decades and when I was in the House of Commons, those are the kinds of things I was advocating for.”

‘There’s a lot that can be done’

Now, Manly is taking another run at politics – this time for Nanaimo City Council.

“There’s a lot that can be done at different levels of government,” he said. “We’re in a climate emergency and we need to be taking action to address the urgency of the situation and to make sure that we have a just transition to a new economy.

“And that work needs to take place at every level of government.”

Conservative James Cumming was Edmonton Centre’s MP from 2019 to 2021. He lost his seat to Liberal candidate Randy Boissoneault by 615 votes.

When the dust settled, Cumming was tasked with reviewing the Conservative Party’s electoral results – a typical practice for most political parties following an election.

After the post-mortem was completed, he continued to work as a political insider by helping out in the United Conservative Party’s leadership race in Alberta.

Former Conservative MP James Cumming: ‘If the right opportunity comes along, we’ll consider it.’ (Submitted by James Cumming)

“I’m still involved with conservatism,” he said, adding he still keeps a close eye on federal politics.

“Now that the party has picked its leader, I still remain committed to the movement and will help wherever I can.

“That may be in public life or that may be behind the scenes or a combination of both. But if the right opportunity comes along, we’ll consider it.”

Last year was also a difficult year personally for Cumming and his family. He lost his son Garrett to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He and his wife continue to be involved in charitable organizations that raise awareness of the disease and money for research.

“They did a golf tournament this year in Garrett’s name that the local firefighters put on and we’re contemplating some other activities with that,” he said.

“It’s something we’ve been pretty active with for the past 15 or 20 years.”

The NDP didn’t see significant changes to its caucus in 2021. The party hoped to boost its presence in the House of Commons but finished the election with just one extra seat.

Former New Democrat MP Scott Duvall: ‘Sometimes you think it’s in your DNA to continue on.’ (Submitted by Scott Duvall)

Scott Duvall was the New Democrat MP for Hamilton Mountain from 2015 to 2021. Unlike a lot of MPs who drop out of federal politics, he chose the timing of his exit by announcing in March 2021 that he would not be running again.

“After six years in politics, I was really starting to feel that because of my age, that I wanted to retire,” he said.

But Duvall couldn’t stay away from politics for very long.

‘I’m still useful’

“I was kind of disappointed that when I came back home to see my city in a dysfunctional way, the way the city was going with the crumbling roads and sidewalks,” he said.

Duvall is now running as a candidate for Hamilton’s city council. Ontario’s municipal elections will be held on Oct. 24.

“People were encouraging me to run, so I did. And that was the reason why I came back,” he said.

“Sometimes you think it’s in your DNA to continue on. I just thought, ‘I’m still useful.'”

Duvall said he feels he can make a bigger impact on his city by running municipally.

“In Ottawa, I found it very difficult and frustrating that things go as slow as molasses. It just takes time and it takes patience,” he said.

Duvall said that while he doesn’t have ambitions to run federally again, he wants to support people who hope to start a career in politics.

“It’s time to help somebody else out and bring them up,” he said.

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At 18, I only recently realized the importance of community engagement and politics – CBC.ca

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This column is an opinion by Shayyan Husein, a Grade 12 student at Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek, Ont. It is part of a special municipal election project by CBC Hamilton, featuring voices from the community. Find all our election coverage here

I turned 18 in April. I thought I cared about politics and being active in my community. I had been living in Hamilton for around a year by then and already felt devoted to helping out my community in any way I could.

For example, I worked for Elections Ontario, helping at a local polling station. I assisted residents of Hamilton to vote without any complications and running the voting location smoothly was our main goal.

This past spring I also helped start Orchard Park Secondary School’s first Muslim Student Association. I scheduled school events such as where we sold Kulfis (ice cream treats) to students and made sure we always had an available room to hold our Friday prayers. It was all part of building a safe and inspiring community for Muslim students. 

Yet, despite my activism, on June 2, I didn’t vote in the provincial election — the first time I would have been eligible to do so. 

Why? It felt like I didn’t have the time. I felt it was not THAT important. As I happened to be working at a different polling station than what was assigned for me to vote at, I felt like I did not have the time to commute to my assigned location and vote. More importantly, I felt like missing my vote once would not matter much, so I allowed myself to miss it.

Just a few months later, I feel differently. This time, in the municipal election, I will vote. 

Why community engagement — and voting — is important

Building our Muslim Student Association from the ground up made me realize the true impact of feedback from the community and how much community voices can influence those in charge.

I’ve learned through my work organizing the association’s first Eid event, which saw 60 students come together at Waterdown District High School, that you can make a change by simply dropping a suggestion or by voicing your concern. 

An Eid al-Fitr event in May saw around 60 students attend, playing games, sports and sharing food. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

As our Eid event consisted only of Muslims, many asked if they could invite their non-Muslim friends, which raised a great suggestion that could be implemented. In the future, we can bring other students from different religions to experience how we, as Muslims, celebrate our holy event. Not only will they learn more about what we do, but they can also enjoy what there is to offer, such as cultural food, different games and the atmosphere of our community.

Many students also wanted the event to be held at Orchard Park, as many students who attended the event were from here. This way, transportation would not be a blockage for the majority of those who came and for those who wished to attend.

If it were not for community engagement and feedback, we would not have thought of these ideas to implement and make our future events better for the community that enjoys them.

Realizing how important this engagement and feedback was also made me realize that my feedback to my own community is important.

That is why I am voting in this election. 

What matters to me

The issue that matters to me the most in this election is the young voices of Hamilton not being heard. I realize some of my peers don’t feel the same way, even though I think their voices matter, too.

During a recent school day in Orchard Park, as my friends wandered through the halls rushing for lunch, I went out to discuss with five of my peers who are or will be eligible to vote in the upcoming years about their views on voting and elections.

Four of them expressed their disinterest in politics and said they are opting to “vote for who their parents or relatives are voting for” in the future. The other friend was still unsure of whether to vote or not.

By not caring about our community and who will end up running it, we are not allowing ourselves to fully distinguish between different political candidates, what they bring to the table and what they plan to bring for the future.

Encouraging my fellow classmates and friends that are eligible to vote is an action that I have slowly started to do, as there is no harm in voting. Allowing the youth to have a voice within our community is powerful, and it is what I stand for when I look to vote in the upcoming municipal election.

This year’s municipal election is Oct. 24. (Colin Cote-Paulette)

I encourage all voters, new or experienced, to use voting as a tool to empower our voices for what we think is most important to us for our city. Hard-working candidates are relying on our feedback for the betterment of our community, so our duty as part of the community is to give our honest feedback. That way, they can continue doing what they strive for — and our priorities will be heard.

Our feedback can come in different ways, such as emails, word of mouth, messages on social media or even with a simple vote. I want to use my vote as a way to allow my voice to help create action within the community.

Not only will I vote for my own voice, but for the empowerment of other young voters as well. After all, how do we plan for our city to change for the next generation if we — the young voters — are not giving our honest feedback?

For more of CBC Hamilton’s municipal election coverage:

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COMMENTARY: The ‘freedom convoy’ will keep driving our politics – Global News

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The so-called “freedom convoy” that blocked Parliament Hill and several Canada-U.S. border crossings may have dispersed earlier this year, but it won’t be leaving our political conversation anytime soon. At least, not if opponents of the federal Conservative Party and their new leader, Pierre Poilievre, have anything to say about it.

The most recent polling Ipsos conducted for Global News shows why.

The party most interested in reminding Canadians about ties between the convoy and Pierre Poilievre will be the Liberal Party. Why? The Liberals are in a very difficult spot. They currently trail the Conservatives in the national popular vote by five points. The Conservatives also lead the Liberals in all regions of the country west of Quebec, with a stunning seven-point lead in seat-rich Ontario. With these numbers, if an election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would easily win a plurality of seats.

It gets worse for the Liberals.

Justin Trudeau trails Pierre Poilievre as preferred prime minister by about the same amount as the Liberal Party trails the Conservative Party on vote. Most worrying for the prime minister is how high his negatives are. Canadians who strongly disapprove of Trudeau outnumber those who strongly approve of him by a ratio of four-to-one. These negatives are also well ahead of those of Poilievre, who remains largely unknown to a significant number of Canadians.

Trudeau’s relationship with Canadians has gone through the full cycle of Ds: darling, to disappointment, to dislike. This situation will be difficult to reverse, even for a gifted politician like Trudeau.

Read more:

Poilievre overtakes Trudeau as leader seen as best choice for prime minister: poll

Further on leadership, two data points jump out of the polling on how Canadians view Trudeau and Poilievre. Trudeau leads Poilievre by 16 points on which federal leader is most likely to “be in over his head.” This is astounding given that Trudeau has been prime minister for seven years and Canadians barely know Poilievre.

As worrying for the Liberals is that Poilievre and Trudeau are separated by only two points on which leader is most likely to have a hidden agenda. In the past, this issue has proven to be an Achilles Heel for the Conservatives. Not so much for the new Conservative leader.

If the Liberals can’t count on their governing record or the strength of their leader to provide them with an advantage going into the next election, then what about their strengths on policy? Unfortunately, there isn’t much for them to work with here either.

We asked Canadians about which issues they are most focused on for the next election. The top five that came back are: health care, the economy, housing, inflation/interest rates, and taxes. Unfortunately for the Liberals, the Conservatives lead on all these issues with the exception of health care, where there is a three-way tie. Even on the sixth issue, climate, a signature issue for the Liberals, the Liberals are tied with the NDP. In other words, the policy door is closed for the Liberals too.

If the Liberals can’t count on their record, their leader, or a specific policy issue to defeat the Conservatives in the next election then how will they win a fourth mandate? This is where the convoy comes back in. The poll shows Poilievre’s support of the protesters is a potential vulnerability available for the Liberals to exploit. The Liberals are too good at running effective, disciplined, and ruthless election campaigns to miss it.


Click to play video: 'Conservatives hold 5-point lead on Liberals among Canada’s decided voters after Poilievre elected leader: poll'



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Conservatives hold 5-point lead on Liberals among Canada’s decided voters after Poilievre elected leader: poll


Conservatives hold 5-point lead on Liberals among Canada’s decided voters after Poilievre elected leader: poll

Ipsos asked Canadians the following question: “As you know, Pierre Poilievre, the new leader of the Conservative Party, expressed his support for the freedom convoy protests that occurred in Ottawa and at border crossings last year. Are you more or less likely to vote for the Conservative Party because of his stance on this issue?”

Seventeen per cent of Canadians told us they would be more likely to vote for the Conservatives because of Poilievre’s support for the truckers. Conversely, 41 per cent said they would be less likely to vote for the Conservatives due to Poilievre’s position. Most importantly though, 41 per cent said Poilievre’s stance on the truckers would have no impact on their future vote.

If the numbers on the convoy continue as they are, then this issue won’t have much influence on the outcome of the next election. That’s because 58 per cent of Canadians either support Poilievre’s position or say it won’t factor into their vote.

The Liberals will not allow this much fence sitting to continue without challenge. They will push voters to pick a side. If the fence sitters split in the same ratio (roughly 2:1 to unfavourable) as those who have already made up their minds, then the Liberals will have something to work with. That’s why they will go all in on making the truck convoy and various adjacent issues the focus of their campaign. Otherwise, they can only wait for Poilievre to make a serious error or for some crisis to change their prospects. Nearly a decade in power has left the Liberals little else to work with.

Darrell Bricker is CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

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