Errol Mendes Ventures Across the Sea To Slay A New Conservative Dragon

Now that the Liberals have formed government under Prime Minister J. Trudeau for four years, Errol Mendes, Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, had to venture across the seas in search of new Conservative dragons to slay. And as so often happens in these quixotic quests, the facts of the matter prove an inconvenient impediment to achieving Mendes’ political goal. Mendes’ latest column to the Globe and Mail, Canada’s illustrious paper of record, “Boris Johnson Should Learn Canada’s Proroguing Lesson,” contains numerous factual and conceptual errors – no small feat given its short length. Worse still, the Globe and Mail has a history of printing inaccurate columns on prorogation, like its editorial from 2 August 2013 in which it lashed out against Stephen Harper’s “third” prorogation, which in fact happened in 2009.

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

Saskatchewan Needs a New Lieutenant Governor Forthwith

Standard of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan

W. Thomas Molloy, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, died in office on 2 July at the age of 78, and he was laid to rest on 13 July in Saskatoon.[1] This leaves his family and friends in mourning. And it also grinds the machinery of government in the province of Saskatchewan to a sudden halt and could potentially throw the province into chaos and leave it vulnerable to all sorts of ills. Without a Lieutenant Governor, the Legislature of Saskatchewan (which consists of the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor) can pass no laws, and the Government of Saskatchewan can promulgate no Orders-in-Council in the name of the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council and no proclamations in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.

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Posted in Confidence Convention, Constitution (Conventional), Corporation Sole, Crown (Powers and Office) | 3 Comments

Changing Canada’s Capital City: Section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867


Over the last five weeks or so, two of my closest constitutional compatriots have independently of one another brought up the same issue with me on the subject of section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867, so I thought that this wonderful nerdy serendipity called for a fun little blogpost on the subject. They certainly came to the right person for that discussion. They also brought up the issue on Twitter as well in a bit of fun about the NCC and the atrocious proposal to attach a giant radiator to the Chateau Laurier.


I first presented a paper on “Canada’s Legal-Constitutional Continuity, 1791-1867” at the “Constitution at 150” Conference at the Université de Montréal in May 2017. My journal article of the same name will come out in 2020 in the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law. In that manuscript, I made the following observation about section 16 of the Constitution Act, 1867:

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Posted in Constitution (Written), Crown (Powers and Office), History of British North America | 8 Comments

Sir John Major’s Hypocrisy on Prorogation: The Courts Have No Authority to Stop It

Spitting Image was right: John Major really does look grey in the analogue 1990s television signals.

Something about prorogation seems to bring out a toxic mixture of anger and ignorance.

Brexit and Prorogation

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, 2011 put the prerogative over dissolution as well as the established constitutional position of the Queen and Prime Minister with respect to dissolution into abeyance. This resulting inflexibility in the British constitution has made a right mess of things and prevented a natural dissolution of a deadlocked Brexit Parliament elected in 2017. And now Britain’s radical reformers have set their sights on the prerogative authority over prorogation as well.

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Posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Prorogation | 7 Comments

Alpine Madness: Austria Takes The Caretaker Convention to the Extreme

Chancellor Kurz addresses the Austrian National Council just before losing its confidence.


A series of strange events has recently befallen Austria. It began with political scandal and the collapse of the coalition government between Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party and Heinz-Christian Strache’s Freedom Party and ended a few weeks later with the President of Austria appointing a “technocratic provisional government” composed of judges and civil servants, who will now steer the ship of state as a caretaker cabinet until early elections in September. The details of what precipitated the coalition government’s collapse would have seemed outlandish prior to, say, 2016, but now seem both depressingly believable and yet still absurd. The final outcome of the political scandal has taken the caretaker convention to its logical extreme because of the peculiarities of Austria’s constitution and its provisions surrounding non-confidence, early dissolution, and government formation.

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Posted in Caretaker Convention, Comparative | 2 Comments