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

See all articles by James Bowden

James Bowden

Parks Canada; Carleton University

Nicholas MacDonald

Carleton University

Date Written: August 20, 2012

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bowden, James and MacDonald, Nicholas, Writing the Unwritten: The Officialization of Constitutional Convention in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia (August 20, 2012). Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law 6, No 2 (August 2012): 365-400, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282833

James Bowden (Contact Author)

Parks Canada ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
Canada
819-420-9237 (Phone)

Carleton University ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
613-878-8684 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.parliamentum.org

Nicholas MacDonald

Carleton University

1125 colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada

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