The Quebec Court of Appeal will be hearing this week a case that questions the rules that govern the ascension process to the British throne. The verdict could have political repercussions in Canada according to experts.
If successful, it could require Canadian government to start constitutional negotiations, lawyers filing the case said.
Case Has Origins in 2011 Agreement Between Commonwealth leaders
The appeal has been initiated by two Université de Laval law professors who are seeking to get the law on royal succession declared as “unconstitutional”.
The issue has its origins in 2011, when Commonwealth leaders said they would modify the rules such that a woman can take over as the queen if she is the oldest heir. Earlier, the woman’s younger brother would have been chosen in her place.
The change in rules was implemented in Canada with a new law in 2013.
Law professors Geneviève Motard and Patrick Taillon however argue that the rule change actually amends the Canadian Constitution and therefore requires the consent of all of Canada’s provinces.
Taillon and Motard filed a lawsuit stating that the British parliament has lost its right with respect to legislating for Canada after the Constitution was repatriated in 1982.
The case was however dismissed by a Quebec Superior Court justice in February 2016, noting that the law did not need an amendment of the Canadian Constitution.
Justice Claude Bouchard highlighted “the rule of symmetry,” in his ruling. The rule states that any person designated as king or queen of the United Kingdom is deemed as Canada’s monarch automatically.
The appeal will be heard this week.
Law Questions Canada’s Independence From the UK
According to Taillon, the “neo-colonial” interpretation by the judge of the law had put a question on Canada’s independence from the UK.
He noted that the ability of the UK to legislate for Canada seems “to reappear” in regards to the monarchy .
If the court agrees with this stance, then the federal government would either need to
- Begin a fresh round of constitutional negotiations with the provinces which could prove to be contentious, or
- Refuse to alter the Constitution leading to the country defaulting on its obligations to the Commonwealth.
In case the new rules are not adopted, one day there could be a queen in the U.K. and a separate king for Canada, however this situation is not likely any time soon.