Writing the Unwritten: The Officialization of Constitutional Convention in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia
Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 6, No 2 (August 2012): 365-400
36 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2013
Date Written: August 20, 2012
This article will examine first the nature of constitutional convention and constitutional principle, and second, examples of officialization of constitutional convention in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. It will focus particularly on the Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada, the British Cabinet Manual and the New Zealand Cabinet Manual. It also describes unsuccessful attempts to codify convention in Canada in 1978 and Australia in 1985. It will conclude that the officialization of constitution conventions into handbooks generally preserves the flexibility of the Westminster system and can serve as educational guidance for the media, parliamentarians, and general public; in contrast, codification would eliminate the politically-enforceable character of convention altogether by converting these political rules into justiciable law.
Keywords: constitutional convention, codification, officialization, cabinet manual, Crown
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