Federal Court Asked to Rule Against Use of Royal Prerogative to Call Unnecessary Elections
Democracy Watch and Integrity B.C. have applied to the Federal Court for a ruling on the legality of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2021 early election call. The case was filed on September 15 and asks for a ruling that would stop such calls going forward.
The Federal Court is being asked to interpret the fixed-date election provision in the Canada Elections Act in a manner that would not allow a prime minister to call an election without a non-confidence motion having been adopted by the House of Commons. In the absence of a non-confidence motion, the applicants suggest, the Governor General would have to respect the desired Federal Court ruling and decline a request for an early election as illegal.
The case argues that there was no evidence of Justin Trudeau’s government having lost its ability to govern. In a statement, Democracy Watch says, “Opposition parties clearly supported the Liberals continuing to govern, and the Trudeau government had the confidence of Parliament, when Trudeau called the election.”
Democracy Watch filed a similar case after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s snap election call in September 2008. The Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal both ruled that the law was not specific enough to enforce fixed-dates and that a constitutional convention upholding regular elections had not been established.
Court cases have also been filed against the snap election calls in British Columbia and in New Brunswick. Both provinces also have fixed-date election laws.