No Discretion: On Royal Assent and the Governor General

James Bowden's Blog


Under our system of responsible government, the Sovereign or Governor General exercises his prerogative powers on the advice of the Crown-in-Council, and his constitutional powers relating to Parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister alone. Responsible government means that “Ministers of the Crown are responsible for acts of the Crown” and responsible to the House of Commons.[1] The Sovereign or Governor General acts as a neutral figure and remains above partisan politics. The Prime Minister is the Governor General’s principle constitutional advisor, and while his government commands the confidence of the House, the Governor General must carry out the Prime Minister’s advice. Under no circumstances can the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the third opposition party, or any other government or opposition backbencher offer legitimate, binding constitutional advice to the Governor General.

The Crown-in-Parliament (Tidridge 2011, 63)

We must also situation this constitutional relationship between…

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