Proroguing Parliament: A Matter of Convention

Public Law Review, Vol. 20, p. 100, 2009

8 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009

See all articles by Bradley W. Miller

Bradley W. Miller

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law; James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

Date Written: August 18, 2009

Abstract

In Canada in late 2008, the government successfully fought off an attempt by the opposition to defeat it weeks after a general election. The main weapon in its arsenal was its request that the Governor General prorogue Parliament for two months. The actions of the Governor General in granting the request to prorogue, rather than sending the Prime Minister back to face Parliament, brought longstanding questions about the role and authority of the Governor General back into the public eye.

In this comment, which was originally presented at a roundtable at the University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law, addressing the role of the Governor General, I examine the nature of the Governor General’s reserve powers and obligation to act on constitutional advice. I argue that, in the current Canadian climate of successive minority governments, the qualifications for the Governor General must be rethought. The predominant purpose of the office must once again be to police the conventions of responsible government. The Governor General must enjoy the political legitimacy that that allows her to confront a Prime Minister in defence of Parliament, and to exercise independent judgment of the constitutionality of the advice that she receives.

Keywords: constitutional convention, governor general, prorogue, reserve powers

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Miller, Bradley W., Proroguing Parliament: A Matter of Convention (August 18, 2009). Public Law Review, Vol. 20, p. 100, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1457130

Bradley W. Miller (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law ( email )

London, Ontario N6A 3K7 N6A 3K7
Canada
519.661.2111 (80038) (Phone)
519.661.3790 (Fax)

James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University ( email )

Bobst Hall
83 Prospect Avenue
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States

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