The Dominion of Canada in 1897

Political Map of the Dominion of Canada, 1897

My thesis supervisor Rand Dyck gave me a copy of Handbook on Canada, an anthropological compilation published in 1897 by the British Association for the Advancement of Science. This book groups together various authors who had written on Canadian natural history and political history, including an early report from the Geological Survey of Canada and one of John George Bourinot’s essays on Canadian political institutions. The front matter includes this detailed fold-out political map of the Dominion of Canada, as it then existed.

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Posted in History of British North America | 1 Comment

Repealing a Statute While the Legislature Is Prorogued: Henry VIII Sleeper-Cell Clauses in Ontario

The Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law has just come out with its latest issue in which a short article of mine appears.

Also, I’ll have to find out whether David Bowden and I are related.

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Posted in Articles, Crown (Powers and Office), Prorogation, Separation of Powers | Leave a comment

Lawyers Despise the Notwithstanding Clause – Which Shows Why It Is Good

Marie Henein, probably now the most famous and prominent defence attorney in Canada, has written an open letter to Premier Ford in The Globe and Mail which corroborates the argument that I put forward here on Parliamentum yesterday: the Notwithstanding Clause has come to seen as unconstitutional in the British sense of the word despite being part of the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

In a gleefully patronizing tone, Henein admonishes Ford for not understanding Canada’s system of government and accuses him of having supplanted the rule of law with a form of personal rule worthy of a Latin American caudillo, eastern European autocrat, or a Stuart king.

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Posted in Constitution (Written), Notwithstanding Clause, Separation of Powers | 5 Comments

Some Parts of the Constitution Are More Constitutional Than Others


The constitution cannot be unconstitutional. It follows therefore that one part of the constitution cannot be used to strike down or nullify another part of the constitution. This tautology, fittingly, sounds very obvious and simple – yet it still bears repeating with respect to the Constitution of Canada, a confounding Cherub (like that in the Book of Ezekiel) composed of disparate, even contradictory, parts that ought not fit together yet must fit together and reconcile with one another.

On 10 September 2018, Justice Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck down the provisions of the Better Local Government Act reducing the size of Toronto City Council by half and using the federal and provincial electoral districts as the basis for the City of Toronto’s new wards, as unconstitutional; Premier Ford, in turn, announced that the government will introduce a bill re-acting these provisions under the Notwithstanding Clause. This recent controversy has brought to the fore an interesting and perhaps unique feature of Canadian constitutionalism: all parts of the Constitution of Canada are constitutional, but some parts are more constitutional than others.

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Posted in Amending Formulas, Constitution (Conventional), Constitution (Written), Notwithstanding Clause, Separation of Powers | 1 Comment

Politicos No Longer Give the Fixed-Date Elections Law a Second Thought

Robin Sears, a New Democrat now of the Earnscliffe Strategy Group and a look-alike of Franklin D. Roosevelt, has joined with Susan Delacourt, Chantal Hebert, and Andrew Coyne in musing about or overtly calling for an early dissolution and snap election. It’s telling that Sears doesn’t even mention the fixed-date election law at all in his column; he presumes its constitutional and political irrelevance — and quite reasonably so.

Canadian columnists have come a long way in ten years.

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Posted in Dissolution, Fixed-Date Elections | Leave a comment