Statement by the Harper Government Welcoming Royal Assent of Bill C-53: Succession to the Throne Act, 2013

OTTAWA, March 27, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today issued the following statement welcoming Royal Assent of Bill C-53, which provides Parliament's assent to changes to the United Kingdom laws governing the line of succession:

"We are very pleased today to announce that the Government's Succession to the Throne Act, 2013 has received Royal Assent.

"When this bill is brought into force, it will provide Parliament's assent to changes being made to the laws of Royal succession that will ensure the equal status of female and male heirs and that will allow heirs to marry an individual of any faith.

"Our Government supports initiatives that ensure that the Crown remains a vital and modern institution for Canadians.  In October 2011, the 16 Realms for which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State agreed to modernize the laws governing succession.  The United Kingdom introduced legislation to make the necessary changes to the laws of succession in December 2012.

"The Succession to the Throne Act, 2013 represents Canada's contribution to this important endeavour.  The Act is in keeping with the Preamble to the Statute of Westminster, 1931, which provides that any changes to the laws governing succession require the assent of Dominion Parliaments.

IF THERE IS A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN ANY PRINTED VERSION AND THE ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THIS STATEMENT, THE ELECTRONIC VERSION WILL PREVAIL.


BACKGROUNDER


Royal Line of Succession

At the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, the 16 Realms of which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State agreed to work together on a coordinated approach to amend the rules governing the line of succession to the Throne.

Pursuant to this agreement, the government of the United Kingdom introduced legislation on December 13, 2012, that would end the practice of placing male heirs before their elder sisters in the line of succession, applicable to any child born after October 28, 2011. The legislation would also remove legal provisions that heirs marrying Roman Catholics are ineligible to succeed to the Throne.  This change would be applicable to the marriages of living heirs made prior to the Bill's coming into force as well as to all future marriages.

On January 31, 2013, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to provide Parliament's assent to the changes to the rules governing the line of succession to the Throne.  Bill C-53, the Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, received Royal Assent on March 27, 2013.

The changes to the laws of succession do not require a constitutional amendment as they are UK law and are not part of Canada's constitution. Specifically, they are not enumerated in the schedule to our Constitution Act, 1982 as part of the Constitution of Canada.  Furthermore, the changes to the laws of succession do not constitute a change to the "office of the Queen", as contemplated in the Constitution Act, 1982.  The "office of the Queen" includes the Sovereign's constitutional status, powers and rights in Canada.  The ban on the marriages of heirs to Roman Catholics and the common law governing male preference primogeniture, are not royal powers or prerogatives in Canada.  As the line of succession is determined by UK law and not by the Sovereign, The Queen's powers and rights in Canada have not been altered by the changes to the laws governing succession.

The Succession to the Throne Act, 2013 is in keeping with the Preamble to the Statute of Westminster, 1931, which provides that any changes to the laws governing succession require the assent of Dominion Parliaments.

The UK Government is seeking the agreement of the Realms for the proposed changes. The 16 Realms are the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Papua New Guinea.

IF THERE IS A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN ANY PRINTED VERSION AND THE ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THIS BACKGROUNDER, THE ELECTRONIC VERSION WILL PREVAIL.

TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired) - 613-992-4556 (Department of Justice) and 1-888-997-3123 (Canadian Heritage).
This backgrounder is available at www.justice.gc.ca and www.pch.gc.ca.

SOURCE: Canadian Heritage

For further information:

For more information, contact:

Julie Di Mambro
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

Sébastien Gariépy
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
and Official Languages
819-997-7788

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
media@pch.gc.ca


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