September 28, 2022

La Ronge Northerner

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Elizabeth II 1926-2022 | An automatic “change of government” in administration in Canada

(OTTAWA) As solemn and historic as the passing of Queen Elizabeth II may be after 70 years of reign, little changed Thursday in terms of Canada’s reign.

Posted at 4:55 p.m.

Under the constitution, the sovereign is officially Canada’s head of state, regardless of who holds that position at any given time, says Philippe Lagasse, an associate professor of international affairs at Carleton University and an expert on the role of the Crown, known as “Westminster.” “Parliamentary System.

Therefore, the succession to the Queen’s eldest son, Charles, is automatic, without interruption to governing bodies in his name – or to statutes, oaths and other legal documents issued in his name.

“This change does not require any action on the part of Canada,” Professor Lagasse said. The saying, “The Queen is dead, long live the King!”, is as true here as in England. »

Professor Lagasse recalls that “in common law”, the Queen and the King are “a single legal person” because the Crown is known as a “personal legal person”.

“This means that, in their official capacity, the legal personality of the Queen (or) the King does not change when different natural persons are in office. All legal documents and instruments issued in the Queen’s name or referring to the Queen are automatically applicable and considered issued by the (new) King. »

It recalls the oath of allegiance to the Crown required in many situations, including as a member of Parliament, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces or a Canadian citizen. “So there is no need to ‘re-swear’ or ‘re-sign’,” said Mr. Lagasse says.

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Parliament need not be dissolved

But it wasn’t always like that. In the past, the death of a monarch automatically dissolved parliaments sitting in his name in the United Kingdom and its colonies, including what became Canada, and called elections.

The ‘dissolution by devolution of the Crown’ states that ‘it is the sovereign to summon Parliament personally, and so a Parliament must die with the King or Queen who summoned it’. James Bodden, the recognized authority on these matters, wrote in an April 2021 post on his academic blog “Parliament”. .

The practice actually reflected “the old medieval position of the Crown”, Mr Bowden recalled, as parliaments rarely sat and were only summoned by the monarch when necessary. This apparently became “impractical and disruptive” in modern times, when parliaments began to sit regularly and the monarch’s role became more ceremonial.

Dissolution by devolution of powers to the Crown was abolished in England in 1867, and Canada’s newly formed Confederation Parliament followed suit in its first session that same year, Bowden said.

Today, Canada’s Parliament Act expressly states at the outset that “a devolution of powers by the Crown shall not operate to suspend or dissolve Parliament, which may continue to function as if there had been no devolution”.

Similarly, the citizenship oath was changed to swear allegiance to the Queen and “her heirs and successors”, apparently removing the need to swear the oath again to a new monarch.

Quebec had to hurry

All provinces and territories have adopted similar rules. However, in its eagerness to remove references to the monarch from the law governing the National Assembly in 1982, Quebec also removed a provision that expressly stated that the Assembly was not automatically dissolved upon the death of the sovereign.

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Historians and constitutional experts have sounded the alarm, arguing that the queen’s death could plunge Quebec into a general election — and that laws passed after her death would be nullified. The Quebec government tabled a bill in March 2021 to correct the mistake, and a “law respecting the devolution of powers of the Crown” was finally adopted in June 2021 — still 15 months before the Queen’s death.

While government business in Canada continues unhindered, Mr. Lagasse recalls. For example, the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, which includes all current and former ministers, must meet when a new monarch ascends the throne. The Governor General, the representative of the Crown in Canada, must also issue a proclamation about the new monarch.

“However, it should be noted that this move only confirms what has already happened in law,” said Mr. Lagasse said.

There is a specific protocol surrounding the official period of mourning, which the Governor General’s office declined to discuss in advance.