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Royal Assent

Royal Assent

Helen Hunley with Jeanne SauveBecause Canada is a constitutional monarchy, the monarch's representative must approve
all Bills before they can become law. This step takes place in a ceremony called Royal Assent.

In spite of the pomp and circumstance surrounding Royal Assent, it is normally a formality.  Of course, there was a time in early British history when Kings and Queens did have to give their approval to Bills before they could become law, but they gave up that right very early in the development of parliamentary democracy. By the time of Henry VII - that is, late in the 15th century - monarchs accepted that Parliament had the right to make laws, so they approved them almost routinely. Still, monarchs and their representatives have from time to time refused Lieutenant Governor John Bowen Bills. In 1936 Alberta's Lieutenant Governor Bowen refused to grant Royal Assent to three Bills passed during William Aberhart's Social Credit government. Two of them would have interfered in federal-government controlled financial areas, while the third, the Accurate News and Information Act, would have placed restrictions on how media reported the news and was thus considered by many to be unconstitutional.

 

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Reproduced from the Teacher's Guide to the Alberta Legislature, 1993 with permission from the Legislative Assembly Office.

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