A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (June 2020 – August 2020)
Cameron, Scott. “Policy Forum – Independent platform costing—Balancing the interests of the public and parties.” Canadian Tax Journal / Revue fiscale canadienne 68 (2): 491-504, 2020.
- This article provides an evaluation of the design of independent election platform costing in Canada, as established by the Parliament of Canada Act and the operating decisions of the parliamentary budget officer. The author compares the balance struck between serving the interests of the public and the interests of political parties in Canada with the balance struck in the Netherlands and Australia. Although Canada’s legislation is tilted in favour of serving political parties, in practice the costing culture that evolved during the 2019 general election raised the level of debate and produced an amount of information comparable to what would be expected of a service designed to favour the public. The article concludes with a discussion of options for expanding the policy-costing service for future elections. Translation below
Chaplin, Steven. “The Attorney General Is Not the Legislature’s Legal Advisor.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 14 (1): 189, June/juin 2020.
- …there is no circumstance under which an Attorney General should be considered the legal advisor to a legislature in this country. To so consider the office is to blur the separation of powers in Canada, and to undermine the independence of legislatures (including the House of Commons and the Senate)…
Collignon, Sofia, Rüdig, Wolfgang. “Harassment and intimidation of parliamentary candidates in the United Kingdom.” The Political Quarterly 91 (2): 422-29, April–June 2020.
The use of political violence to attain political goals has long been a source of concern. Once thought to be exclusive to countries with high levels of general violence, recent evidence suggests that harassment and intimidation of political elites in the UK is more widespread than previously thought. Using data from the 2017 general election candidate survey, the authors find that four in every 10 candidates experienced at least one type of harassment. Evidence suggests that women and young candidates are more likely to suffer from harassment and intimidation. The authors conclude by formulating an agenda for future research, focussing, in particular, on the perception of harassment and the effect of harassment on political careers.
Cottrill, Ed. “When Is executive lawmaking constitutional in Canada?” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 14 (2) : 383, July/juillet 2020.
- …the amount of law created by the executive, following the expansion of the administrative state in the first half of the twentieth century, now ‘vastly exceeds’ that created by the legislative branch.
Hall, B. Thomas. “Taming the power to prorogue parliament.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 14 (2): 415, July/juillet 2020.
- …the UK Parliament has not been the only legislature to experience an abuse of the power to prorogue. Canadians will remember that Governor General Michaëlle Jean prorogued their Parliament from December 4, 2008, until January 26, 2009, on the advice of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the purpose of avoiding a vote of no confidence…this paper follows up on the 2009 incident by taking a new look at the power of prorogation in Canada to determine whether it can be restrained by an Act of Parliament so as to reduce the opportunities for a Government to abuse that power…
Hoult, Coin. “Inclusion of provincial governments as ‘third parties’ in federal campaigns.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 14 (2): 345, July/juillet 2020.
- Elections are a key part of our democratic system, one in which we expect all players to be bound by the same rules. However, strict adherence to the rules is not sufficient to be considered ‘democratic’ – there is an issue of adherence to the rule of law, which we see when there is a conflict between law and politics. This article seeks to address a new issue pertaining to third parties that arose in the context of Canada’s 2019 general election from a political law perspective.
Mancini, Mark. “The non-abdication rule in Canadian constitutional law.” Saskatchewan Law Review 83 (1): 45-84, 2020.
- Delegation of legislative power from Parliament to other actors in the federal government, what scholars refer to as lateral delegation, runs rampant in Canada. Independent agencies wield legislative power and are insulated to a certain degree from political influence. While functional concerns often motivate delegation of this sort, that does not mean that it is formally consistent with the organizing principles of the British Westminster parliamentary tradition, of which Canada is a part…
Morris, R.M. “The Crown in Canada – The next coronation.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 14 (1): 19, June/juin 2020.
This article looks back at the 1953 Coronation, considers what coronations are now for, and speculates about the next one…
Robson, Jennifer, Jarvis, Mark. “Policy Forum – Public costing of party platforms—Learning from international experience.” Canadian Tax Journal / Revue fiscale canadienne 68 (2): 505-15, 2020.
- Canada has now experienced one federal election under a new regime of platform-costing by the parliamentary budget officer. Other countries, with considerably more experience in this regard, have adopted rather different approaches to public costing of party election promises. Discussion of any amendments to Canada’s approach should be informed by that international experience. Specifically, some other countries have more clearly articulated the obligations of government departments in platform costing and managed the pressures that come with doing detailed, technical analysis under the time constraints of the writ period. Translation below
Russell, Meg, and Serban, Ruxandra. “Why there is no such thing as the ‘Westminster model’.” The Constitution Unit blog: 7p, August 5, 2020.
- Practitioners and academics in comparative politics frequently refer to a set of ‘Westminster model’ countries which are similar in some way. But in a new article, summarised here, the authors show that definitions of the ‘Westminster model’ tend to be muddled, or even absent, and that its meaning is far from clear. Insofar as defined political attributes are linked to the ‘model’, key countries associated with it now lack many of those attributes. The term has hence become increasingly outdated, leading the authors to suggest that it should now be dropped.
Wilson, R. Paul. “The work of Canadian political staffers in parliamentary caucus research offices.” Canadian Public Adminstration / Administration publique du Canada Forthcoming/À venir, 2020.
- Since 1970, recognized political parties in the Canadian House of Commons have received funding for caucus research offices. Staffed by political partisans, research offices provide policy, communications, research and administrative support to party leaders and their parliamentary caucuses. This research note examines the evolving organization, work and function of these offices. It demonstrates, first, that the tendency towards centralization, evident in Canadian politics for decades, is clearly reflected in research offices’ primary support for leaders rather than individual caucus members. Second, research offices are integral to parties’ strategic communications and marketing efforts, and this, especially in government, often eclipses their policy contribution. Third, while the government party views caucus researchers as a useful supplement to public service and ministerial office resources, opposition parties rely heavily on their caucus research offices as their dominant source of staff capacity. Translation below