An Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne

The Conservatives have now tabled the legislation that will, in the words of the official news release, “end the practice of placing male heirs before their elder sisters in the line of succession” and “remove legal provisions that render heirs who marry Roman Catholics ineligible to succeed to the Throne.”

James Bowden and Philippe Lagasse argue this is a constitutional change that requires provincial consent.

According to s. 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, any amendment to the “office of the Queen” requires the unanimous consent of Parliament and the provincial legislatures. Arguably, the succession to the throne touches on the office of the Queen because the Crown is a corporation sole…

Of course, admitting that succession falls under s. 41(a) invites all sorts of unwanted political complications. It would allow any provincial legislature to block or slow a change to Canada’s rule of succession, and there is one particularly antimonarchical provincial government that might see this as a perfect occasion to create controversy.

The government argues otherwise.

The changes to the laws of succession do not require a constitutional amendment.  The laws governing succession are UK law and are not part of Canada’s constitution. Specifically, they are not enumerated in the schedule to our Constitution Act, 1982 as part of the Constitution of Canada.  Furthermore, the changes to the laws of succession do not constitute a change to the “office of The Queen”, as contemplated in theConstitution Act, 1982.  The “office of The Queen” includes the Sovereign’s constitutional status, powers and rights in Canada.  Neither the ban on the marriages of heirs to Roman Catholics, nor the common law governing male preference primogeniture, can properly be said to be royal powers or prerogatives in Canada.  As the line of succession is therefore determined by UK law and not by the Sovereign, The Queen’s powers and rights have not been altered by the changes to the laws governing succession in Canada.

Meanwhile, British Labour MP Paul Flynn is proposing an amendment to the legislation in the British House that would allow for the possibility of a royal same-sex marriage.

MPs are being urged to consider what would happen if a gay king or queen had a child through artificial insemination or adoption. Labour MP Paul Flynn is tabling an amendment to the succession to the crown bill which would allow the child of a monarch in a civil union to become heir to the throne – even if they do not share the same royal bloodline.




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An Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne

  1. Seems unlikely anyone will object to this.

  2. I generally don’t disagree with any of this… except perhaps the last phrase. The “even though they do not share the same royal bloodline” bit kind of undermines the whole notion of succession itself, which could introduce some very practical and legal problems.

    Is a monarchy even possible without bloodline succession? I’m not sure. I think if we are going to do that you might as well create a republic with all the problems and benefits that brings. (To be clear, I think the constitutional monarchy has certain advantages and disadvantages over republicanism as well, and I generally prefer the Westminster system to all others).

    • Certainly our modern understanding of ‘monarchy’ is challenged by non-bloodline succession. But monarchy has evolved considerably over the years, and there are many historical examples of non-traditional paths to the throne, such as the legitimization of ‘bastard’ claimants (William the Conqueror was originally known as William the Bastard, for instance).

      I’m not sure of any recent examples of adopted children becoming monarchs.

      However, there was a vibrant tradition in Republic and Imperial Rome of adoption. Many emperors came to the throne after being adopted by the current emperor. This was the case with the “Five Good Emperors,” for instance.

      • William wasn’t adopted or legitimized….he conquered.

        The Queen is the progeny of war lords.

        • Yes, the throne of England itself is founded on conquest by the Angles, Saxons and Danes. I guess us moderns would consider conquest a non-traditional path to the throne ;) William did have a legitimate claim to the throne of England, so he wasn’t just an out-of-left field conqueror.

          • Oh there have certainly been zigs and zags….if you want to be technical, the Queen of England is a German married to a Greek. LOL

          • Moreover, they are actually second cousins once removed!

          • Well, Victoria and Albert were first cousins.

        • True, there has been several hiccups in the succession. But the thing that all of those hiccups have in common is that an irregular succession generally involved instability around that succession.

          • 1066 wasn’t exactly a hiccup.

      • I’m not saying that it is impossible, but it certainly makes the claims for legitimacy a little bit weaker. It might also put pressure on the Royal Family to “adopt” whomever is most appropriate, influential or popular for the position. This has its benefits and disadvantages as well.

  3. the harper goverment foriegn policy at its best ! smoke and mirrors. 600 billion dollar deficet and counting..

    • correction,just checked the deficet clock,it now sits at 605 billion and still going kaching ! kaching ! the biggest lottery in this country of canada, is to get elected the goverment of the day.

  4. Equal succession for women? Roman Catholics?! I can hear the rabble gathering on the cobble stones as we … oh wait it’s not 1830, never mind.

  5. I wonder if the Cons will amend the Constitution when they introduce their legislation making Harper King For Life.

    Nah, not likely…it’ll just be buried somewhere in an omnibus bill.

    • Don’t be ridiculous, the non-King-for-life legislation CLEARLY isn’t meant to apply during a minority.

      • How do you know already what’s entombed deep within the Con’s next omnibus bill?

        • To be honest, are we sure it wasn’t included in the last one? I certainly haven’t read the whole thing.

  6. So the Cdn Tories introduce a law which has no effect what so ever unless the British Parliament introduces a similar law! I guess we got their permission What a stupid non-story.

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