The Canadian Constitution Foundation has been granted intervenor status in a novel case headed to the Ontario Court of Appeal about the power of the executive to override the will of the legislature. We are intervening in this case to defend constitutionalism and to ask the court to clarify when executive authority is overstepping its bounds. The case is Canadian Christian College v Ontario Post Secondary Quality Assessment Board and the King.

The dispute arose out of the decision by the Ontario legislature to pass legislation that allowed Canadian Christian College (CCC) to call itself a university and give it the power to grant Arts and Science degrees. CCC is run by Charles McVety, who is a political ally of Premier Ford. The legislation created a political controversy because of the relationship between Ford and McVety, and because of the history of offensive statements made by McVety, as well as questions about the financial dealings between the CCC and McVety.

In May 2021, 5 months after the legislation had passed and received Royal Assent, the Ontario Post Secondary Quality Assessment Board issued findings that CCC was “not ready” for the term university or for expanded degree granting. In reliance on these reports, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities refused to proclaim the legislation into force. He made this refusal using a commencement provision in the legislation, which confers statutory discretion on the executive to bring validly enacted legislation into force. In the intervention, the CCF is arguing that a commencement provision like the one at issue in this Appeal only grants the executive the limited power to determine when to bring legislation into force, not whether to bring it into force at all.

CCC is arguing at the Court of Appeal that by refusing to proclaim the legislation into force, the Minister appropriated a power to himself that belonged to the legislature. In essence, the appeal raises the fundamental question of whether a commencement provision can authorize the executive to never bring legislation into force, unless it expressly so provides.

The CCF is represented in this case by Sujit Choudhry and Jesse Hartery.

August 17, 2023: CCF pleased by decision clarifying that cabinet cannot decide a law will never come into force

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Constitutionalism & Rule of Law: Canadian Christian College v Ontario

CCF Launch: May 18, 2023
Status: Closed
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