The Role of the Crown in Ontario’s Legislature and Political Life

The Role of the Crown in Ontario’s Legislature and Political Life

The role of the Crown is portrayed by official sources as just a historical role and today, as a mere ceremonial role to give the impression that in Ontario we have rule by the people. This is not, in fact, the case. What is made to appear as rule by the people is in fact, rule by narrow private interests hidden behind the façade called “the Crown.” Everyone is subject to those decisions even though they play no part in setting the agenda or taking the decisions. Theirs is just to implement that agenda – put up and shut up. 

Here is the description of the role of the Crown on the website of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:

58. For each Province there shall be an Officer, styled the Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the Governor General in Council by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada.

Representing the Crown

Canada is a constitutional monarchy with The Queen as Sovereign and head of state. In Ontario, the Lieutenant Governor is The Queen’s representative. In Canada’s system of parliamentary democracy, the head of state (commonly called the Crown) holds supreme power on behalf of the people and lends it to be exercised by the Government of the day.

Responsible government

The foundation of Ontario’s democracy is “responsible government”, which simply means that:
– The Executive (Government) is responsible to the Legislature for its advice
– The Crown acts upon formal advice

The Government (Premier and Cabinet ministers) is formally appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and advises on the use of the Crown’s authority according to law and is accountable to the elected Legislative Assembly for its decisions and actions while in office.

Provided the Government enjoys the “confidence” of the Legislative Assembly, its advice is invariably accepted and legitimized by the Crown. If the Government loses a confidence question raised in the Legislative Assembly, then it must either resign, making way for a new Government to be appointed, or submit to the will of citizens in a general election.

The Lieutenant Governor holds regular meetings with the Premier, during which she has the right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn on government matters. If either the Lieutenant Governor or the Premier is not available to meet, they may speak by phone. These meetings, as with all communications between the Lieutenant Governor and the Government, remain confidential in order to promote an open and productive exchange of views.

Powers and responsibilities

In Ontario, the Lieutenant Governor exercises the powers of the Crown, which derive from the written constitution, the common law including the royal prerogative, and statute law. These powers are similar to those of The Queen and Governor General with regard to Parliament and the federal government, and are exercised according to constitutional convention (political rules of the constitution).

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