Week 8;Chap 21
Chapter 21 - The Executive: Crown, PM
To classify Canada as a constitutional monarchy means that it is a democracy headed by a king or
Canada is said to have “dual executive” - the formal & largely symbolic executive powers are given
to the Queen or GG, but the effective executive is made up of the PM and Cabinet.
The concept of the Crown revolves around the head of state & can be defined as the collectivity of
executive powers exercised by or in the name of the monarch.
The Crown is not only the collectivity of executive powers, it also represents the entire state &
embodies what belongs to the people collectively – it is a metaphor for the country. This can be seen
in Crown corporations (state owned corporations) or Crown lands (state-owned lands).
3 important aspects of Parliament also reflect the existence of the monarchial system: royal assent,
the speech from the throne, and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
“Loyal Opposition” demonstrates that criticism of the govt has been legitimized and institutionalized
in the name of the Queen.
In speaking of the powers of the Crown, it is best to see them as being in the possession of the Queen
but exercised by the PM and Cabinet.
The Governor General
The Queen remains the Canadian head of state, but in her absence the governor general may perform
any of her functions and exercise any of her powers. The Canadian PM actually chooses the governor
general, who serves a term of approx 5 years.
Powers of the Crown
The Queen of Canada and governor general derive their powers, all of which are exercised according
to firmly established constitutional conventions, from 3 main sources:
1. The Constitution Act, 1867
2. The Letters Patent and
3. The royal prerogative.
Among the powers explicitly given to the Queen was the one to appoint extra senators. The 1867 act
gave the governor general the power to appoint regular senators and judges, to appoint the Speaker of
the Senate, to give royal assent to legislation, and to recommend money bills to the House of
In addition, it referred to the governor general’s power to summon and dissolve Parliament.
The prerogative powers involve the residual authority of the Crown that remains form the day when
the monarch was almost absolute.
These are unwritten powers, based on custom and convention, although some of them, such as the
right to summon an