How the royal baby gave us a constitutional crisis - Macleans.ca
 

How the royal baby gave us a constitutional crisis

Why the royal succession law matters


 

The government of Quebec is apparently set to join a legal challenge of the royal succession law that was quickly passed before the royal baby was birthed so as to end the practices of placing male heirs before elder females in the line of succession and rendering heirs who marry Roman Catholics ineligible.

Philippe Lagasse explained the problems with the bill for us in February.

Canada’s most monarchist government in decades has just dealt a serious blow to the Canadian Crown. In an effort to quickly enact changes regarding royal succession, the government has introduced a bill that undermines the concept of a truly independent Canadian Crown, the foundation of Canadian sovereignty. Equally troubling, the government claims that altering succession to the throne does not require a constitutional amendment. In making this argument, the government has overlooked the very nature of the Crown in law and the Canadian constitution. However commonsensical the proposed changes to the law governing succession may be, such a cavalier approach to the Crown, to the foundation of sovereign authority of and in Canada, merits scrutiny.

… it is worth discussing what might happen if we accept the government’s argument that succession is only a matter of British law and that changes to the rules of succession do not require a constitutional amendment. The most obvious consequence of the government’s position is that Canadian republicans will have been proved right: the Crown is an inherently British entity and Canada cannot claim to be an independent state until our ties to the House of Windsor are cut or we become a republic. The government’s view would also mean that Canada would effectively cease to be a constitutional monarchy if the United Kingdom decided to become a republic. The concept that underlies Canada’s entire system of government, the Crown, could be dismantled by another country.

In the summer issue of the Canadian Parliamentary Review, Paul Benoit and Garry Toffoli of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust argued that the bill was insufficient and a constitutional amendment was required, while Rob Nicholson, justice minister at the time, defended the government’s legislation.


 

How the royal baby gave us a constitutional crisis

  1. My partner works with autistic kids and I was wondering what would happen if our future king was born with autism. Presumably they wouldn’t let him rule but I wonder what the succession rules say about mental illnesses.

    • They don’t say anything specifically, but there have been monarchs that were skipped for various reasons, including massive unpopularity and being a child. I wouldn’t assume either of those precedents would apply, but the option to skip, if necessary, is available.

      • I was thinking of George III and wonder how situation would be handled today.

    • Heard of Mad King George? Should the future king or current queen be incapable of performing their duties parliament would name a regent. Unlike the monarchies of Belgium and The Netherleands, the British monarchy is not optional. The queen will not wake up one day and decide, I’ve had it, Charles shall be King. I abdicate. Only parliament can permit her to abdicate, and I mean all parliaments of the realm, as was done with Edward VIII. The law adopted for that occasion (His Majesty’s Abdication Act 1936) pertained only to Edward VIII himself and his possible descendants and in the end had to be given royal assent by himself ! The last piece of legislation Edward VIII signed was his abdication.

      • If i remember correctly, Prince of Wales was not made regent for long time until shortly before his father’s death, George III ruled for decades while he was experiencing mental problems.

        Autism would be recognized within 18 months to 2 years after birth and then arrangements would have to be made.

        • Autism is curable.

          What happens if the Queen has a stroke or gets Alzheimers?

          • Charles would be regent until her death.

          • She has said she doesn’t know herself.

          • I know a person with autism who, with the help of absolutely fantastic parents, has been able to live a good life, get a solid education and a good job.

        • Indeed George III ruled for decades with mental problems. His son was regent for nearly ten years.

  2. It’s obviously a moot point, for the moment, but wouldn’t the most Canadian way of reform be to wait until there’s actually a first-born girl and then get the law changed through a Charter challenge based on s. 15?

    I mean, an epic court case loses some of the pomp of the matter, but still! Canada in action!

  3. EVERYthing gives us a ‘constitutional crisis’. We enjoy them. It’s probably the only reason why we have a constitution in the first place.

    NOW we’re fretting over something at least 25 years down the road.

    • Your comment about 25 yrs down the road – what would happen if our future King is gay and wants to marry a guy in 25 yrs.

      Constitutional crisis or will society be ok with two kings on throne?

      • The Queen recently gave royal assent to marriage between persons of the same sex. But it is an excellent question, particularly their ability to produce an heir. They were a lot more careful about the privacy of William and Kate but I recall that Diana before her marriage was examined by a doctor who determined that she should be able to carry a child.

        • Royal assent does not mean the Queen approves, buckingham palace was quick to point that out. Assent just means it passed both sides of the House….it doesn’t effect the monarchs position.

      • There have been gay kings before….they just couldn’t legally marry in England.

        And the King [direct heir] always takes precedence…the woman he marries is queen but secondary. If a king married a man the same thing would happen. The spouse would be secondary.

        Elizabeth…a female direct heir …..is Queen. Philip is Prince Consort. Secondary.

        Since gays can have children there is no problem with future direct heirs.

        • Gays can certainly have children but so far they can*t carry one in their womb, and it still takes female egg and male sperm. But who knows maybe one day Jean Drapeau will be proven wrong.

          • We have surrogates, 3 parents, and a trans in the US is male but has a uterus and has children.

          • I think the Act of Settlement states that the monarch shall join with the Church of England. I don’t think the Church of England marries gay couples. The state here, and in the UK, defines civil marriage.

            ” a marriage between a same sex couple may only be solemnised in accordance with: Part 3 of the Marriage Act 1949 (which allows civil marriage ceremonies in register offices or on approved premises such as hotels”. (wiki on the new law in the UK)

          • The church of England is banned from performing gay marriages. Other churches can do so.

          • Yes, but the King of the UK must join with the Church of England according to the rules of succession.

          • He doesn’t ‘join’ with it….he is the head of it!

          • Meaning must join in marriage within the Church of England for the marriage and the descendants from that marriage to be recognized as heirs to the throne. Meant to keep out catholics and illegitimate children.

          • Hence the confusion over Charles status.

          • Oh yes, Charles status is not crystal clear. But his children’s status pose no problem.

          • He’s the Head of the Church he doesn’t join it. Being a member of the Royal family means your part of it……..the sovereign is the Head of the Church.

          • The Queen is head of the Church of England, guess you know her opinion of homsexuals.

          • ?? Probably half of them are gay….as are the Queen’s staff.

  4. Quebec has major infrastructure issues with crumbling bridges and roads, it has high unemployment, corruption in the highest offices in Montreal, a war on minorities and english-speaking people that is leading to a brain drain. Head offices and the wealth they create continue to move out of Quebec. And one of the most important things coming out of Quebec is a constitutional issue? ARE THEY NUTS? No wonder the Province is in trouble. This is what these people focus on. Wow.

    • Sorta like Alberta.

      • True – but we aren’t complaining about constitution issues

        • Equalization payments? The Charter?

          • The Senate?

    • Diversion technique.

      • Attacking Quebec was a diversion from UK succession laws.

        • No one really listens to Quebec……they have been crying for 100 years…people stopped listening long ago.

          • Mmm yeah, they listen. It’s important.