More Tidbits On Indirect Amendment and Dissolution by Efflux of Time

During a wonderful trip to Ireland, I took this photo of the Oireachtas on 21 August 2017, while it was undergoing renovation.

If only I had discovered these little gems in time!

Indirect Amendment

The Commonwealth Law Bulletin will publish later this year my article “‘Indirect Amendment’: How the Federal Department of Justice Unilaterally Alters the Text of the Constitution of Canada.” In the early 20th century, the Department of Justice had published consolidated versions of the British North America Acts for years, which usually compiled the complete text of every British North America Act from 1867 to the time of publication. But a senior lawyer and civil servant within the Department of Justice, Elmer Driedger, first devised an alternative which attempts to incorporate all changes into one document, a method and rationale which he called “Indirect Amendment.” The Department of Justice still employs this method today, most recently in a consolidation of the Constitution Acts, 1867-1982 published in 2013. Only in this most recent edition has the Department of Justice adopted the term “Non-Textual Amendment” instead of the original “Indirect Amendment.” Driedger died in 1985, but his legacy lives on in the foreword to these consolidations.

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

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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