Letter to the Editor: Constitution’s rules not followed and unclear, allow for abuses of power by Prime Minister, premiers and Cabinet powers

Re: The Royals’ Secret: Heredity, Andrew Coyne, June 5, 2012, National Post

Dear Editor:

The British monarchy will always be part of the historical basis for Canada and the structure of power in its governments, and this should never be forgotten.

However, while Canada’s Constitution states that the Queen (via the Governor General and provincial lieutenant governors) has final decision-making power over most key parts of federal and provincial government operations, this power has been essentially symbolic for decades.

Unwritten rules (called “constitutional conventions”) have developed democratically to restrict the power of the royal-appointed governors to say no to an elected Prime Minister or premier when they want to pass a bill, appoint someone, call an election or shut down the legislature, even if they are abusing their powers.

These unwritten rules are very unclear (experts don’t even agree what they are) and unenforceable (according to the Supreme Court of Canada).

So it seems that steps forward for all concerned would be to change the Constitution to address the current reality and problem areas by acknowledging the British monarchy’s historical role, but also clearing up and writing down key governance rules to make them enforceable, and giving the GG and provincial governors legitimacy to enforce the rules through a non-partisan, representative appointment or election process, or (likely a better option) giving that enforcement power to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Britain, Australia and New Zealand have all written down these key rules and made them more enforceable.

Duff Conacher, Spokesperson
Your Canada, Your Constitution (YCYC) /
Votre Canada, Votre Constitution (VCVC)

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