Reforming Royal Assent Procedures

By Sharon Carstairs, and others | Canadian Parliamentary Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Reforming Royal Assent Procedures


Sharon Carstairs, and others, Canadian Parliamentary Review


When a Bill has been adopted by the House of Commons and the Senate it receives Royal Assent in a ceremony conducted in the Senate chamber. Dissatisfaction with the current process of granting Royal Assent has been smouldering for nearly twenty years. Attendance at the formal ceremony is sparse and the timing is often inconvenient for parliamentarians, the Governor General and Justices of the Supreme Court. Since 1983 a number of motions, reports and Bills have proposed changes. Senator John Lynch Staunton, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate introduced several bills which generated debate but all of them died on the order paper. His latest Bill, introduced at the start of the present Parliament, once again proposed to reform the Royal Assent ceremony. Following discussion with the Government an agreement was reached whereby Senator Lynch Staunton's Bill would be withdrawn and a Government Bill with a similar objective, S-34 the Royal Assent Act, was introduced in the Senate on October 2, 2001. It was supported by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. The following article is based on testimony in that committee on October 17, and November 7, 2001. For the full transcript of proceedings see http://www.parl.gc.ca/.

Senator Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Government): On October 4, I advised the Senate that the Governor General had given her consent to our consideration of this bill. The Canadian government does not believe that Bill S-34 will have any repercussions on the royal prerogative or interest. The provisions of the bill are procedural in nature and will not change Royal Assent as such in any way.

The Bill stipulates that Royal Assent granted by the Governor General to a bill passed by the Senate and House could be signified either with a Royal Assent ceremony in the Senate chamber or by a written declaration, but Royal Assent would take place during a parliamentary session in which both houses passed the bill.

The first appropriation bill presented for assent in any session would require the formal customary ceremony, given the important and symbolic nature of supply bills.

In clause 3 there is a provision for a declaration of Royal Assent in the traditional way that would take place on at least one occasion in each calendar year. (See Editor's note).

Each House of Parliament shall be notified of a written declaration of Royal Assent by its respective Speaker or person acting as Speaker. When Royal Assent is given by means of a written declaration the act is deemed to be assented on the day on which the two houses have been notified of the declaration.

A written declaration of Royal Assent would not be a statutory instrument within the meaning of the Statutory Instruments Act. The definition of statutory instruments is intentionally broad. Anything that falls within it is subject to parliamentary review. Royal Assent in the form of a written declaration is not obviously intended to be subject to such a review.

Finally, the Bill provides that no Royal Assent is invalid simply because clause 3 has not been complied with. This provision responds to concerns about the validity of any bills or Royal Assent declared during a year in which for some reason no ceremony was held. For example, if there was a prorogation prior to any Royal Assent ceremony happening and then Parliament was not recalled during that period of time, it would question the validity of the legislation.

Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein: I have not been in favour of streamlining Royal Assent because of a very serious problem that I think inflicts the Senate, and that is its invisibility, its lack of credibility, its lack of public legitimacy and its lack of self-esteem. Whatever symbolic steps one can take to correct this deficit, are, to my mind, important. I think that we suffer from this deficit among ourselves in terms of our responsibilities as senators, but we are collaborators with the executive and with the Commons who wish that the Senate would disappear. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reforming Royal Assent Procedures
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.