The Fixed-Date Election Law: Constitutional Convention or Conventional Politics?

Robert E. Hawkins


On September 17, 2009, Justice Michel Shore of the Federal Court of Canada refused a request from Duff Conacher and Democracy Watch, applicants, to declare "that a constitutional convention exists that prohibits a Prime Minister from advising the Governor General to dissolve Parliament except in accordance with Section 56.1 of the Canada Elections Act."1 That section, known as the "fixed-date election law," received Royal Assent on May 3, 2007. The court application was triggered by Prime Minister Harper’s September 7, 2008 request to Governor General Michaëlle Jean asking her to dissolve Parliament and call a "snap" election. The resulting election, held on October 14, 2008, returned another Conservative minority government, albeit a stronger one.

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