1	          October 1993
     3	                        King-Byng Affair
     4	          Lord Byng's position on the Constitutional
     5	          Responsibility of the Governor General
     8	                              ...edited by Marijan Salopek
    10	                  =============================
    11	Letter from Governor General Byng to Mr. L. S. Amery, The
    12	Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 30 June 1926
    14	     As already telegraphed, Mr. Mackenzie King asked me to grant
    15	him dissolution.  I refused.  Thereupon he resigned and I asked
    16	Mr. Meighen to form a Government, which has been done.
    17	     Now this constitutional or unconstitutional act of mine
    18	seems to resolve itself into these salient features.  A Governor
    19	General has the absolute right of granting dissolution or
    20	refusing it.  The refusal is a very dangerous decision, it
    21	embodies the rejection of the advice of the accredited Minister,
    22	which is the bed-rock of Constitutional Government.  Therefore
    23	nine times out of ten a Governor General should take the Prime
    24	Minister's advice on this as on other matters.  But if the advice
    25	offered is considered by the Governor General to be wrong and
    26	unfair, and not for the welfare of the people, it behoves him to
    27	act in what he considers the best interests of the country.
    28	     This is naturally the point of view I have taken and
    29	expressed it in my reply to Mr. King (text of which is being
    30	telegraphed later).
    31	     You will notice that the letter in question is an
    32	acknowledgement of a letter from Mr. King (text of which is also
    33	being telegraphed later) appealing that I should consult the
    34	Government in London.  While recognising to the full help that
    35	this might afford me, I flatly refused, telling Mr King that to
    36	ask advice from London, where the conditions of Canada were not
    37	as well known as they were to me, was to put the British
    38	Government in the unfortunate position of having to offer
    39	solution which might give people out here the feeling of a
    40	participation in their politics, which is to be strongly
    41	deprecated.
    42	     There seemed to me to be one person, and one alone, who was
    43	responsible for the decision and that was myself.  I should feel
    44	that the relationship of the Dominion to the Old Country would be
    45	liable to be seriously jeopardised by involving the Home
    46	Government; whereas the incompetent and unwise action of a
    47	Governor General can only involve himself.
    48	     I am glad to say that to the end I was able to maintain a
    49	friendly feeling with my late Prime Minister.  Had it been
    50	otherwise, I should have offered my resignation at once.  This
    51	point of view has been uppermost in my mind ever since he
    52	determined on retaining the reins of office (against my private
    53	advice) last November.  It has not been always easy but it was
    54	imperative that a Governor General and a Prime Minister could not
    55	allow a divergent view-point to wreck their relationship without
    56	the greatest detriment to the country.
    57	     Mr. King, whose bitterness was very marked Monday, will
    58	probably take a very vitriolic line against myself -- that seems
    59	only natural.  But I have to wait the verdict of history to prove
    60	my having adopted a wrong course and this I do with an easy
    61	conscience that, right or wrong, I have acted in the interests of
    62	Canada, and have implicated no one else in my decision.
    63	     I would only add that at our last three interviews I
    64	appealed to Mr. King not to put the Governor General in the
    65	position of having to make a controversial decision.  He refused
    66	and it appeared that I could do no more.
    68	Source:
    69	     Public Archives of Canada, Byng Papers, Letter from Governor
    70	General Byng to The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 30
    71	June 1926.
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