Rideau Hall Reveals Arrangements For Swearing In The Trudeau Ministry

Rideau Hall has finally thrown off the cone of silence. The Governor General’s website now has a page devoted to the swearing-in of the Trudeau Ministry, and it’s actually quite impressive. It features handy flowchart that outlines how the event will unfold as well as helpful factsheets that focus on particular aspects of the ceremony.

The first order of business will be the swearing-in of Trudeau himself as Prime Minister. As in Britain, members of the Canadian Cabinet must be Privy Councillors,[1] so Justin Trudeau will have to take the Oath of Allegiance and the Privy Council Oath first. Then, he will take the oath of office as Prime Minister and sign an Instrument of Advice nominating the other Ministers. The Governor General will signal his acceptance of the advice by signing the Instrument, at which point the other Ministers will be sworn in the same way as Trudeau. The only exception is the Minister of Industry, who will receive the Great Seal of Canada from the Governor General because of their role as ex-officio Registrar General of Canada. After the ceremony, Ministers will receive a commission signed by the Governor General formally appointing them to office.

The ceremony is broadly similar to the one used in the United Kingdom, though there are some minor differences. British Ministers are sworn in at an actual meeting of the Privy Council (the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada only meets on rare occasions), and most Cabinet Ministers receive seals of office from the Queen after taking the oath of office. Also, British Ministers generally don’t receive any kind of official commission.[2] But the most significant difference is that the swearing-in of Canadian Ministers is publicly broadcast, while British Ministers are sworn in behind closed doors. It isn’t even photographed. I’ve always thought this was a shame, and it’s nice that Canada publicizes the ceremony instead of keeping it hidden away.


[1] In Britain, the preferred spelling is ‘Counsellor.’

[2] In general, a British Minister’s appointment is effected by the delivery of seals and kissing the Queen’s hand. There are, however, some exceptions. The Prime Minister receives Letters Patent in his capacity as First Lord of the Treasury, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer receives two sets of Letters Patent (one as Chancellor and another as Second Lord of the Treasury).

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