Dissolution By Demise of the Crown


Last year, the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law published my piece “When the Bell Tolls for Parliament: Dissolution by Efflux of Time,” in which I highlighted a little-known means by which Parliament can dissolve automatically when it reaches its maximum lifespan – without any intervention whatever from the Crown. This is dissolution by efflux of time. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, 2011 had now made dissolution by efflux of time the norm and has put into abeyance the prerogative authority over dissolution.

In his famous treatise Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone identified that dissolution can occur through one of three ways:

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Taking Stock of 2018: Recent and Upcoming Publications

I’m pleased to report that the Commonwealth Law Bulletin has accepted and will publish at some point in 2019 my manuscript entitled “‘Indirect Amendment’: How the Federal Department of Justice Unilaterally Alters the Text of the Constitution of Canada.” This piece started as an offshoot of my research into electoral reform in 2016; I happened to have two copies of the Department of Justice’s consolidated Constitution Acts, 1867-1982 from different years and noticed that the wording of section 37 of the Constitution Act, 1867 had changed, even though the Parliament of Canada had never amended it under the Section 44 Amending Procedure. I blogged about it here on Parliamentum in 2017 before discovering how deep the well went. I’ll announce when the Commonwealth Law Bulletin publishes it. This will become my second journal article derived directly from a blog entry or a comment on this blog; the first appeared in the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law last year as “When the Bell Tolls for Parliament: Dissolution by Efflux of Time.”

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Toronto Has Always Been Thus

As so often happens, I discovered this wonderful little tidbit while reading about something entirely different.

Morison, J.L. British Supremacy & Canadian Self-Government, 1839-1854. Glasgow: James MacLehose and Sons, 1919.

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What Adrienne Clarkson Said on 3 February 2011

“I would love to have been Governor General in December 2008!” – Adrienne Clarkson, 3 February 2011.

Adrienne Clarkson, who served as Governor General from 1999 to 2005, has generated controversy over the expenses that she has incurred since leaving office under a program from 1979 designed to support former Governors General.

The National Post ran several articles on the subject and reported that Clarkson has billed at least $1,100,000 in expenses since leaving office – and possibly more. The National Post’s latest article from 5 November 2018 suggests that Clarkson might have incurred expenses in the range of $200,000 in some years. Essentially, this program appears as a line-item under the budget of the Office of the Secretary of the Governor General as “temporary help services,” but only for the fiscal years where a former Governor General has claimed at least $100,000. Some years might register no line-items because Clarkson claimed less than $100,000. Currently, there is no requirement for proactive disclosure as a matter of course. Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that the government will review the program. Even the Toronto Star opined that that the program should “ha[ve] its limits.”

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What Happens in the Assembly After the Gallant Government Falls

By James Bowden and Lyle Skinner 

Table of Contents


By Friday, November 2nd, New Brunswick will have resolved the issue of whether the Gallant Government has the confidence of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly.

In this piece, we will cover relevant precedents of minority governments which lost the confidence of the elected assembly on amendments to the Address-in-Reply to the Speech from the Throne, or otherwise, shortly after beginning a new session. These come from Canada in 1873, New Brunswick itself in 1883, Ontario in 1985, and, most recently, British Columbia in 2017. We will then apply these precedents to show what happens to both the government and the assembly and derive some general principles from them.

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