Fixed Date Elections, Parliamentary Dissolutions and the Court

Article 4 / 13 , Vol 33 No 1 (Spring)

Fixed Date Elections, Parliamentary Dissolutions and the Court

Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, received royal assent on May 3, 2007. It provided that a general election would be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the preceding general election, thereby setting up a system of fixed election dates. It provided for the first such election to be held on Monday, October 19, 2009. However, the amended Act also stipulated that the powers of the Governor General were to be unaffected, in particular the power to dissolve Parliament at her discretion. In 2008, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, and the first general election following the amendment of the Act was held on October 14, 2008. That prompted an outcry from a number of observers, some going so far as to suggest that the new law had been infringed. An application was made to the Federal Court challenging the government’s action. The Court’s judgment refusing the application was handed down on September 17, 2009. This article looks at the issues raised by the parties and the decision of the Court.