Conseil privé du Roi pour le Canada
|Legal status||Advisory body|
|List of current members|
The King's Privy Council for Canada (French : Conseil privé du Roi pour le Canada), sometimes called His Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council (PC), is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs. Practically, the tenets of responsible government require the sovereign or his viceroy, the governor general of Canada, to almost always follow only that advice tendered by the Cabinet: a committee within the Privy Council composed usually of elected members of Parliament. Those summoned to the KPC are appointed for life by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister of Canada, meaning that the group is composed predominantly of former Cabinet ministers, with some others having been inducted as an honorary gesture. Those in the council are accorded the use of an honorific style and post-nominal letters, as well as various signifiers of precedence.
The Government of Canada, which is formally referred to as His Majesty's Government, is defined by the Canadian constitution as the sovereign acting on the advice of the Privy Council; what is technically known as the King-in-Council , sometimes the Governor-in-Council, referring to the governor general of Canada as the King's stand-in, or as the Crown-in-Council. The group of people is described as "a Council to aid and advise in the Government of Canada, to be styled the Queen's Privy Council for Canada", though, by convention, the task of giving the sovereign and governor general advice (in the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, this is typically binding ) on how to exercise the Royal Prerogative via Orders in Council rests with the Cabinet—a committee of the Privy Council made up of other ministers of the Crown who are drawn from, and responsible to, the House of Commons in the Parliament. This body is distinct but also entwined within the Privy Council, as the president of the King's Privy Council for Canada customarily serves as one of its members and cabinet ministers receive assistance in the performance of their duties from the Privy Council Office, headed by the clerk of the Privy Council.
While the Cabinet specifically deals with the regular, day-to-day functions of the King-in-Council, occasions of wider national importance—such as the proclamation of a new Canadian sovereign following a demise of the Crown or conferring on royal marriages—will be attended to by more senior officials in the Privy Council, such as the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada, and other senior statesmen; while all privy councillors are invited to such meetings in theory, in practice the composition of the gathering is determined by the prime minister of the day. The quorum for Privy Council meetings is four.
The Constitution Act, 1867 , outlines that persons are to be summoned and appointed for life to the King's Privy Council by the governor general, though convention dictates that this be done on the advice of the sitting prime minister. As its function is to provide the vehicle for advising the Crown, the members of the Privy Council are predominantly all living current and former ministers of the Crown. In addition, the chief justices of Canada and former governors general are appointed. From time to time, the leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition and heads of other opposition parties will be appointed to the Privy Council, either as an honour or to facilitate the distribution of sensitive information under the Security of Information Act , and, similarly, it is required by law that those on the Security Intelligence Review Committee be made privy councillors, if they are not already. To date, only Prime Minister Paul Martin advised that parliamentary secretaries be admitted to the Privy Council.
Appointees to the King's Privy Council must recite the requisite oath:
I, [name], do solemnly and sincerely swear (declare) that I shall be a true and faithful servant to His Majesty King Charles III , as a member of His Majesty's Privy Council for Canada. I will in all things to be treated, debated and resolved in Privy Council, faithfully, honestly and truly declare my mind and my opinion. I shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to me in this capacity, or that shall be secretly treated of in Council. Generally, in all things I shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do for His Majesty.
Provincial premiers are not commonly appointed to the Privy Council, but have been made members on special occasions, such as the centennial of Confederation in 1967 and the patriation of the constitution of Canada in 1982. On Canada Day in 1992, which also marked the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn appointed eighteen prominent Canadians to the Privy Council, including the former Premier of Ontario David Peterson, retired hockey star Maurice Richard, and businessman Conrad Black (who was later expelled from the Privy Council by the governor general on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper). The use of Privy Council appointments as purely an honour was not employed again until 6 February 2006, when Harper advised the governor general to appoint former member of Parliament John Reynolds along with the new Cabinet. Harper, on 15 October 2007, also advised Governor General Michaëlle Jean to appoint Jim Abbott.
On occasion, non-Canadians have been appointed to the Privy Council. The first non-Canadian sworn of the council was Billy Hughes, prime minister of Australia, who was inducted on 18 February 1916 at the request of Robert Borden—to honour a visiting head of government, but also so that Hughes could attend Cabinet meetings on wartime policy.Similarly, Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom, was inducted during a visit to Canada on 29 December 1941.
Privy councillors are entitled to the style The Honourable (French: L'honorable) or, for the prime minister, chief justice, or certain other eminent individuals, The Right Honourable (French: Le très honorable) and the post-nominal letters PC (in French: CP). Prior to 1967, the style The Right Honourable was only employed in Canada by those appointed to the Imperial Privy Council in London, such persons usually being prime ministers, Supreme Court chief justices, certain senior members of the Canadian Cabinet, and other eminent Canadians. These appointments ended under Lester Pearson, though the traditional style remained in use, limited to only prime ministers and chief justices. In 1992, several eminent privy councillors, most of whom were long-retired from active politics, were granted the style by the governor general, and, in 2002, Jean Chrétien recommended that Herb Gray, a privy councillor of long standing, be given the style The Right Honourable upon his retirement from parliament.
According to Eugene Forsey, privy council meetings, primarily meetings of the full cabinet, or the prime minister and senior ministers, held with the governor general presiding, were not infrequent occurrences in the first fifteen years following Confederation.One example of a privy council meeting presided over by the governor general occurred on August 15, 1873, in which the governor general of the day, Lord Dufferin, outlined "the terms on which he would accede to a prorogation of Parliament" during the Pacific Scandal. During his term, the Marquess of Lorne put an end to the practice of the governor general presiding over privy council meetings, other than ceremonial occasions.
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King had the Privy Council convene in 1947 to consent to the marriage of Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) to Philip Mountbatten, per the Royal Marriages Act 1772. The princess' father, King George VI, had offered an invitation for Mackenzie King to attend when the Privy Council of the United Kingdom met for the same purpose, but the prime minister declined and held the meeting of the Canadian Privy Council so as to illustrate the separation between Canada's Crown and that of the UK.
The council has assembled in the presence of the sovereign on two occasions: First, at 10:00 am on Thanksgiving Monday of 1957, at the monarch's residence in Ottawa, Rideau Hall. There, Queen Elizabeth II chaired a meeting of 22 of her privy councilors—including her consort, by then Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whom Elizabeth appointed to the Privy Council at that conference—and therein approved an Order in Council.Two years later, the Privy Council again met before the Queen in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to confirm the appointment of Georges Vanier as governor general. There was originally some speculation that the coming together of the sovereign and her council was not constitutionally sound; however, the prime minister at the time, John Diefenbaker, found no legal impropriety in the idea, and desired to create a physical illustration of Elizabeth's position of Queen of Canada being separate to that of Queen of the United Kingdom.
A formal meeting of the Privy Council was held in 1981 to give formal consent to the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.According to a contemporary newspaper account, the conference, on 27 March at Rideau Hall, consisted of 12 individuals, including Chief Justice Bora Laskin, who presided over the meeting, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, several cabinet ministers, Stanley Knowles of the New Democratic Party, and Alvin Hamilton of the Progressive Conservative Party. There, all gathered were informed of the prince's engagement, nodded their approval, and then toasted the royal couple with champagne. David Brown, an official in the machinery of government section of the Privy Council Office, told The Globe and Mail that, had the Privy Council rejected the Prince of Wales' engagement, none of his children would have been considered legitimate heirs to the Canadian throne, thus setting up a potential break in the unified link to the crown of each of the Commonwealth realms, in contradiction to the conventional "treaty" laid out in the preamble to the 1931 Statute of Westminster. Following the announcement of the Prince of Wales' engagement to Camilla Parker-Bowles, however, the Department of Justice Canada announced its decision that the Privy Council was not required to meet to give its consent to the marriage, as the union would not result in offspring that would impact the succession to the throne. Prince Charles was himself appointed to the council on 18 May 2014.
The most recent formal meeting of the Privy Council was on September 10, 2022, for the proclamation of the accession of King Charles III.
The prime minister of Canada is the head of government of Canada. Under the Westminster system, the prime minister governs with the confidence of a majority the elected House of Commons; as such, the prime minister typically sits as a member of Parliament (MP) and leads the largest party or a coalition of parties. As first minister, the prime minister selects ministers to form the Cabinet, and serves as its chair. Constitutionally, the Crown exercises executive power on the advice of the Cabinet, which is collectively responsible to the House of Commons.
The governor general of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently King Charles III. The King is head of state of Canada and the 14 other Commonwealth realms, but he resides in his oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom. The King, on the advice of his Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to carry on the Government of Canada in the King's name, performing most of his constitutional and ceremonial duties. The commission is for an indefinite period—known as serving at His Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the usual length of time. Since 1959, it has also been traditional to alternate between francophone and anglophone officeholders—although many recent governors general have been bilingual.
The monarchy of Canada is Canada's form of government embodied by the Canadian sovereign and head of state. It is at the core of Canada's constitutional federal structure and Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The monarchy is the foundation of the executive (King-in-Council), legislative (King-in-Parliament), and judicial (King-on-the-Bench) branches of both federal and provincial jurisdictions. The king of Canada since 8 September 2022 has been Charles III.
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and is composed of three parts: the King, the Senate, and the House of Commons. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate rarely opposing its will. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and may initiate certain bills. The monarch or his representative, normally the governor general, provides royal assent to make bills into law.
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada. Chaired by the prime minister, the Cabinet is a committee of the King's Privy Council for Canada and the senior echelon of the Ministry, the membership of the Cabinet and ministry often being co-terminal; as of November 2015 there were no members of the latter who were not also members of the former.
The style and title of the Canadian sovereign is the formal mode of address of the monarch of Canada. The form is based on those that were inherited from the United Kingdom and France, used in the colonies to refer to the reigning monarch in Europe. As various Canadian territories changed ownership and then the country gradually gained independence, the style and title of the monarchs changed almost as often as the kings and queens themselves. The mode of address currently employed is a combination of a style that originates in the early 17th century and a title established by Canadian law in 1953.
The government of Canada is the body responsible for the federal administration of Canada. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown is the corporation sole, assuming distinct roles: the executive, as the Crown-in-Council; the legislature, as the Crown-in-Parliament; and the courts, as the Crown-on-the-Bench. Three institutions—the Privy Council ; the Parliament of Canada; and the judiciary, respectively—exercise the powers of the Crown.
The government of Ontario is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of Ontario. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown—represented in the province by the lieutenant governor—is the corporation sole, assuming distinct roles: the executive, as the Crown-in-Council; the legislature, as the Crown-in-Parliament; and the courts, as the Crown-on-the-Bench. The functions of the government are exercised on behalf of three institutions—the Executive Council; the Provincial Parliament ; and the judiciary, respectively. Its powers and structure are partly set out in the Constitution Act, 1867.
The commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces exercises supreme command and control over Canada's military, the Canadian Armed Forces. Constitutionally, the command-in-chief is vested in the Canadian monarch, King Charles III. Since the Letters Patent, 1947 were signed by King George VI, the governor general of Canada – presently Mary Simon – executes most of the duties of the sovereign, including in his role as commander-in-chief; consequently, the governor general also uses the title Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces. By protocol, the title used within international contexts is Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
In Canada, a lieutenant governor is the viceregal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, King Charles III. On the advice of his or her prime minister, the Governor General of Canada appoints the lieutenant governors to carry out most of the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at His Excellency's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Similar positions in Canada's three territories are termed Commissioners and are representatives of the federal government, not the monarch directly.
The history of monarchy in Canada stretches from pre-colonial times through to the present day. Canada's monarchical status began with the establishment of the French colony of New France in the name of King Francis I in 1534; although a previous claim was made by England in the name of King Henry VII in 1497 when John Cabot made landfall in what is thought to be modern day Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Through both these lineages, the present Canadian monarchy can trace itself back to the Anglo-Saxon period and ultimately to the kings of the Angles and the early Scottish kings. Kings and queens reigning over Canada have included the monarchs of France, those of the United Kingdom, and those of Canada. Canadian historian Father Jacques Monet said of Canada's Crown: "[it is] one of an approximate half-dozen that have survived through uninterrupted inheritance from beginnings that are older than our Canadian institution itself."
By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, Canada's monarchy operates in Ontario as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. As such, the Crown within Ontario's jurisdiction may be referred to as the Crown in Right of Ontario, His Majesty in Right of Ontario, the King in Right of Ontario, or His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario. The Constitution Act, 1867 leaves many functions in Ontario specifically assigned to the sovereign's viceroy, the lieutenant governor of Ontario, whose direct participation in governance is limited by the constitutional conventions of constitutional monarchy.
By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, the Canadian monarchy operates in Newfoundland and Labrador as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. As such, the Crown within Newfoundland and Labrador's jurisdiction is referred to as the Crown in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador, His Majesty in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador, or the King in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Constitution Act, 1867, however, leaves many royal duties in Newfoundland and Labrador specifically assigned to the sovereign's viceroy, the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, whose direct participation in governance is limited by the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy.
By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, Canada's monarchy operates in Alberta as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. As such, the Crown within Alberta's jurisdiction is referred to as the Crown in Right of Alberta, His Majesty in Right of Alberta, or The King in Right of Alberta. The Constitution Act, 1867, however, leaves many royal duties in Alberta specifically assigned to the sovereign's viceroy, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, whose direct participation in governance is limited by the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy.
By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, Canada's monarchy operates in Manitoba as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. As such, the Crown within Manitoba's jurisdiction is referred to as the Crown in Right of Manitoba, His Majesty in Right of Manitoba, or the King in Right of Manitoba. The Constitution Act, 1867, however, leaves many royal duties in Manitoba specifically assigned to the sovereign's viceroy, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, whose direct participation in governance is limited by the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy.
The monarchy of Canada forms the core of each Canadian provincial jurisdiction's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government in each province. The monarchy has been headed since September 8, 2022 by King Charles III who as sovereign is shared equally with both the Commonwealth realms and the Canadian federal entity. He, his consort, and other members of the Canadian royal family undertake various public and private functions across the country. He is the only member of the royal family with any constitutional role.
The relationship between the Canadian Crown and the Canadian Armed Forces is both constitutional and ceremonial with the King of Canada being the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces and with the King and other members of the Canadian Royal Family holding honorary positions in various branches and regiments embodying the historical relationship of the Crown with its armed forces. This modern construct stems from Canada's system of constitutional monarchy, and through its 500 years of monarchical history. The role of the Canadian sovereign within the Canadian Armed Forces is established within the Canadian constitution, the National Defence Act, and the King's Regulations and Orders (KR&Os) for the Canadian Forces. This relationship is symbolically represented today through royal symbols such as crowns on military badges and insignia, coats of arms, royal portraits, and the grant of the royal prefix to various military units and institutions.
The association between the Canadian Crown and Indigenous peoples in Canada stretches back to the first decisions between North American Indigenous peoples and European colonialists and, over centuries of interface, treaties were established concerning the monarch and Indigenous nations. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada have a unique relationship with the reigning monarch and, like the Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand, generally view the affiliation as being not between them and the ever-changing Cabinet, but instead with the continuous Crown of Canada, as embodied in the reigning sovereign. These agreements with the Crown are administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and overseen by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
The Government of British Columbia is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of British Columbia. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown is the corporation sole, assuming distinct roles: the executive, as the Crown-in-Council; the legislature, as the Crown-in-Parliament; and the courts, as the Crown-on-the-Bench. Three institutions—the Executive Council (Cabinet); the Legislative Assembly; and the judiciary, respectively—exercise the powers of the Crown.
The Government of Quebec is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of Quebec. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown is the corporation sole, assuming distinct roles: the executive, as the Crown-in-Council; the legislature, as the Crown-in-Parliament; and the courts, as the Crown-on-the-Bench. The powers of the Crown are exercised on behalf of three institutions—the Executive Council (Cabinet); the National Assembly; and the judiciary, respectively.