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) | 4 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

No Prorogation: The Long Parliamentary Sessions in Canada and the United Kingdom


The 42nd Parliament of Canada and the 57th Parliament of the United Kingdom have something in common: both of these current parliaments (as of 9 June 2019) are still on their first sessions. In Canada, no one but me and perhaps 20 other pedantic nerds toiling in obscurity have even noticed that the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament started on 3 December 2015 and will end upon dissolution between 1-15 September 2019. The Canada Elections Act now specifies that the writ must last between the minimum 36 days and a maximum of 50 days and schedules the day of the election as 21 October 2019. For the first time in the history of Dominion and Province of Canada (1841-present), a majority parliament will have lived out its entire life on one session alone. When this 1st session of the 42nd Parliament ends in September 2019, it will have lived for somewhere between 1,369 and 1,383 days. The 1st session of the 42nd Parliament will thus eventually surpass the record currently held by the 1st session of the 32nd Parliament, which lasted 1,325 days from 14 April 1980 to 30 November 1983. (The 32nd Parliament had a 2nd session from December 1983 to July 1984).

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Posted in Crown (Powers and Office), Prorogation | 4 Comments