Government of Canada – September 14th
Topic 3: The Formal Executive Crown and Governor General
The Crown and its Representative, the GG: Dignified or Efficient Parts of the Political
The crown/monarch doesn’t really have much power in our
government. GG has residual powers, largely symbolic, dignified – is
the GG just a rubber stamp?
Executive power – declaration of executive power in the queen:
Section 9: the executive government and authority of and over Canada
is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the queen.
Legislative power – constitution of parliament of Canada. Section 17:
there shall be one parliament for Canada, consisting of the queen; an
upper house styled the senate, and the House of Commons.
Original role of the monarch: head of state. 1947 – almost all but one
of the powers of the monarch were delegated to GG. PM not the head
of state, just head of the government – arguably “defacto.”
Significant checks were GG, not as rep of the queen, but as imperial
officer, officer of the British government.
o Canada was a colony in 1867, British government was
concerned that as a colony, Canadians may enact public
policies that would conflict with their laws. Constitution act,
1867, 55, 56, 57, state that if the GG believes that a law passed
by Parliament is in conflict with British public policy, then the
GG can refuse to give royal assent.
o GG can refuse to sign a law for a long time – Power of
reservation* send it to Britain to ask colonial secretary to
submit it to the government, which the queen can then
o Representative and Official of the British government
o “Canadianizing” the office of the GG – Balfour Declaration
o Canada and UK colonial relationship - rep and official found
between in 1867 between lieutenant governors and federal
government. Suggest we took this model of an imperial
relationship and morphed it into a relationship between the
federal government and the provinces.
o King/Byng Affair. King was about to be voted out of
government, went to GG and asked for Parliament to be
dissolved. GG didn’t allow this, King resigned and leader of
Conservative formed a government. Minority government and
defeated, election was eventually held. King ended up winning
majority government. GG was correct in denying the election.