Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lots of scholars of late have been calling for codifying some of the unwritten rules of our Canadian version of the Westminster system.
Dan Gardner suggested in his column feltthat codifying constitutional conventions in a cabinet manual would be "a Proper Tribute to Layton. But the cabinet manuals in the United Kingdom and Zealand were about the entire political system and parliament as a whole, not one man. My friend James Bowden and his colleague Nick MacDonald, graduate students in Ottawa, have uncovered that Canada already has a cabinet manual, called the Manual of Official Procedure, from 1968. This should become part of the discussion."

The Manual of Official Procedure of the Government of Canada
Posted on 2011/10/18 by James W.J. Bowden

Three consecutive minority parliaments from 2004 to 2011 renewed interest in the creation of a cabinet manual describing the unwritten rules, or constitutional conventions, that underpin Westminster parliamentarism. The United Kingdom just established its Draft Cabinet Manual in 2010, with a final version to follow soon, and New Zealand has long relied on its Cabinet Manual, now on its 8th edition as of 2008. In 2011, the Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, the Public Policy Forum, and the Canadian Bar Association produced reports recommending that constitutional conventions be codified in a Canadian cabinet manual. They focused on conventions relating to the formation of governments, the governor general’s reserve powers (particularly on prorogation and dissolution), and the principle of restraint (as known as the caretaker convention).

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