The death of the queen will he the Québec orphan of government?

Le décès de la reine rendra-t-il le Québec orphelin de gouvernement?

Photo: Toby Melville The Associated Press
The death of queen Elizabeth II is a “little time bomb”, according to the professor at the Faculty of law of the Université Laval Patrick Taillon.

Marco Bélair-Cirino and

Dave Christmas


February 2, 2019

  • Quebec


The disappearance of the queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, could have serious repercussions on the political life of quebec. Among them, the dissolution of the national Assembly and the holding of early general elections, advance professor Patrick Taillon. Not so fast, say his colleagues Maxime St-Hilaire and Julien Fournier. Debate.

In 1982, the quebec mps abstained from specifying in the Act of the national Assembly as the legislature survives the death or abdication of the sovereign. So, the custom according to which the disappearance of the king or the queen leads to the dissolution of the Parliament could apply, suggests the professor at the Faculty of law of the Université Laval Patrick Taillon. “It is a little time bomb “, lance-t-il after being contacted by The Duty. In his eyes, the risk of a legal challenge to the legitimacy of the quebec government following the departure of Elizabeth II — who blew out 92 candles on April 22, 2018 — is real. “It seems obvious to me that someone will challenge it, either because it is ultrarépublicain, either because it is ultramonarchiste. It’s also important not to overlook the possibility that a political party has an interest supporter to raise this controversy in the aftermath of the death of the queen, ” said Mr. Taillon. And there, the consequences are serious. “

The king is dead, long live the king !

In Lower Canada, the ancestor of Quebec, the death or abdication of the sovereign leads to a de facto dissolution of the Parliament, ” says the old historian of the national Assembly, Gaston Deschênes. To remedy the situation, the mps will vote in 1829 a law that holds the legislature in place, regardless of the vagaries of royal succession, he continues. But the Act to continue the existence of the Parliament is to be penalized the following year… after an early general election rendered necessary by the death of George IV in 1830.

Nearly 40 years later, the national Assembly adopts the Act of the Legislature, article 3 of which reads as follows : “No legislature of the province, is not dissolved by the death of the sovereign ; but it will continue, and may gather, assemble and sit, proceed and act in the same manner as if the death had not occurred. “

The provision does not survive, however, not to the entry into force of the Act of the national Assembly, in 1982. “It is, therefore, to say that the obligation to dissolve reappeared, since there is nothing that prevents its application “, explains Patrick Taillon.

Professor of law, University of Sherbrooke, Maxime St-Hilaire, quebec registered his dissent. “The quebec legislator has never been competent on dissolution of parliament. In canadian law, the power of prorogation of a session and dissolution of a provincial legislature is the one of the lieutenant-governor, ” he argued in an exchange with The Duty. Moreover, article 85 of the constitution Act, 1867, enacts, in English, that the legislative Assembly of Quebec shall continue for four years “, he remarked. According to him, it is thus “improbable that this article” has been able to admit the ” dissolved by demise of the Crown “.

By specifying in the Act of the national Assembly that “only” the lieutenant-governor of Quebec may dissolve Parliament, elected officials in quebec have implicitly extended the repeal of the rule of dissolution in the event of devolution of the estate, pleads the phd in constitutional law and Julien Fournier. The intention of the legislature is no doubt for him. “It is in 1982, the Parti québécois is in power […]. There is a desire to remove any reference to the monarchy, even if only symbolic, of all the laws of Quebec, which means that it falls into a scenario where there is no provision on it. “

If he does not believe that the legitimacy of the government could be in play at the time of the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace, Mr. Fournier acknowledges, however, that the blur opens the door to a legal challenge. “Yes, it could be argue — to say that the Quebec legislature which would pass laws after the death of the sovereign no longer be validly formed. It is sure that this is an argument that can be made, to say that this rule of common law has taken effect. But I find that it is a storm in a glass of water. “

In short, a “doubt” weighs in, says professor Taillon, calling on the national Assembly to correct the shot in the middle of” a small act was passed quickly enough “. “The risks are too high for the quebec legislator is allowed to do nothing,” he says. “I remember the years where there were petitions against the prime minister Jean Charest. If the queen had died that day, maybe someone would have said : “Hey, we found a formality which is perhaps the best way to force an election.” I think that the signatories would not hold it against the opposition of the use. “

Vice-king

The national Assembly has referred the questions of Duty in the office of the lieutenant-governor, J. Michel Doyon. The director of the office of the vice-king, Jean-François Provençal, believes that the devolution of the Crown will proceed without trouble. The parliamentarians will they have to swear an oath to the new monarch ? “I think I would not. Otherwise, all machines would stop. I can not tell you in black and white. This is the impression I have because when a president of a company changes, life goes on. “

The team of the lieutenant-governor ponders over the form that will take the condolences of the nation of québec to the royal family. “You start looking at it quietly,” explains Mr. Provencal. [Elizabeth II] was still the age of 92. It is not eternal, even if his mother died at 101 years of age. That is what we want to do as a gesture ? Registers of signatures ? “

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