Philippe Lagassé is assistant professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on Canadian defence policy and politics, civil-military relations in Westminster democracies, machinery of government related to foreign policy and national security affairs, and the nature and scope of executive power in the Westminster tradition.
Lt.-Col. Alexander Bolt is the Director of the Directorate of International and Operational Law (DIOL) in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces (CF). He has twice deployed on international operations, in Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Section 15 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867 vests the command-in-chief of the Canada’s armed forces in the Crown. It is typically understood to bestow ceremonial or antiquated responsibilities on Canada’s governor general, but not much more. Philippe Lagassé will argue that section 15 is not merely symbolic or a vestigial; but that it rather vests the executive with constitutional powers over the Canadian military. He will further argue that the National Defence Act can only be properly understood with reference to section 15 and the constitutional powers it vests in the executive.
Lt.-Col. Bolt will use the example of overseas deployments of the Canadian Forces to reemphasize that the Crown prerogative is, in fact, the authority as the law now stands, and fall in with the argument, made by Lagassé, that this source of authority is constitutionally entrenched. In response to the characterization of that this state of affairs as illiberal, Bolt will argue that the Crown prerogative decision-making mechanism is a proper and fitting one in a liberal democracy.