Native Born requirement for Canada PM?
November 29, 2007 10:49 PM   Subscribe

In America, you have to be born there to be President. Is there a similar law in Canada? Do you have to be Canadian-born to ever be Prime Minister, or just a citizen?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Law & Government (28 answers total)
 
Regarding the US, that's not a law. That's the Constitution.

Article II, Section 1.4:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Which is why it would require a constitutional amendment to permit Schwarzenegger to run.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:00 PM on November 29, 2007


Best answer: Just a citizen, we had a foreign born PM as late as John Turner in '84.
posted by Mitheral at 11:03 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Isn't the Constitution pretty much the ne plus ultra of "the law" in the U.S.?
posted by cgc373 at 11:05 PM on November 29, 2007


Your first sentence isn't 100% settled. It's still up in the air whether "you have to be born there" == "natural born" in the U.S. Some argue that a child born overseas to American parents is still "natural born."

(c.f. Wikipedia)
posted by blenderfish at 11:08 PM on November 29, 2007


I would say so, considering there's been one before.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:09 PM on November 29, 2007


Two, I thought?
posted by luriete at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2007


Response by poster: Regarding the US, that's not a law. That's the Constitution.

Ah, OK, sorry.

Just a citizen, we had a foreign born PM as late as John Turner in '84.

Thanks, I had thought that was the case (in general, I didn't realize Turner was not born in Canada), but my Googling wasn't bringing me any joy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2007


If you ever want to feel inadequate about yourself read John's Bio on wiki. Rhodes Scholar, Double BA and a Masters, Olympic track athlete, rumoured to be involved with Princess Margret, MP, Finance Minister, Prime Minister, Companion of the Order of Canada.
posted by Mitheral at 11:21 PM on November 29, 2007


The restrictions on PMs are the same as those on regular ministers. It would be more accurate to compare Canadas PM to the Speak of the House of Representatives in the USA, as they are equivalent positions. If you want to compare heads of state, then there is a restriction, just as the President must be American born, the Queen/King must be a member of the Royal Family.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:28 PM on November 29, 2007


seeing as how the Queen is the equivalent of the American President in Canada
posted by blue_beetle at 11:29 PM on November 29, 2007


Also Minister of Justice during the FLQ crisis, as I recall.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:30 PM on November 29, 2007


Turner, not the Queen.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:31 PM on November 29, 2007


Nothing to say the Queen/King must be born in any particular place, though.
posted by Phanx at 2:44 AM on November 30, 2007


Hm - never thought about this before; wonder how the wording of the constitution would hold up for someone who was not technically born "naturally"?
posted by Chunder at 4:38 AM on November 30, 2007


As in "from the womb untimely ripp'd," or what?
posted by kittyprecious at 5:20 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nothing to say the Queen/King must be born in any particular place, though.

There is a restriction on religion, though—the Canadian monarch cannot be Roman Catholic.
posted by oaf at 6:02 AM on November 30, 2007


the Canadian monarch cannot be Roman Catholic.

Yes but isn't that due to the British restriction on the monarch's religion and that the Queen is the head of the Church of England. I'm not arguing, it's just that saying that the Canadian monarch cannot be Roman Catholic sounds a bit odd. Unless there's a special extra anti-Catholic provision in Canadian law...
posted by ob at 6:20 AM on November 30, 2007


Oaf -- is there a separate Canadian constitutional restriction upon the sovereign's religion?. I wonder if the hundreds-of-years-old English law which bars succession of Catholics (and those married to Catholics!) could actually withstand EU civil rights laws if it came to be at issue.
posted by MattD at 6:23 AM on November 30, 2007


Wouldn't the Governor-General be a better comparison than the Queen, practically speaking? Are there any rules governing who can be appointed GG or is it totally at the discretion of the PM and Queen?
posted by goo at 6:43 AM on November 30, 2007


Certainly no requirement that they be Canadian born for GG, since the current one was born in Haiti.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2007


is there a separate Canadian constitutional restriction upon the sovereign's religion?

The Act of Settlement 1701 is Canadian constitutional law. It wasn't passed by the Parliament of Canada, but it's still part of the constitution.

I wonder if the hundreds-of-years-old English law which bars succession of Catholics (and those married to Catholics!) could actually withstand EU civil rights laws if it came to be at issue.

The law has already partially withstood a Charter challenge (I don't believe it was ruled on by the Supreme Court of Canada).
posted by oaf at 7:51 AM on November 30, 2007


Certainly no requirement that they be Canadian born for GG, since the current one was born in Haiti.

Indeed. Adrienne Clarkson, the previous governor general, was born in Hong Kong. The previous eight were born in Canada. The 14 before that were born in the United Kingdom, and the first three, in reverse order, were born in Italy, India, and Ireland.
posted by oaf at 8:13 AM on November 30, 2007


In Canada, all citizens are equal. The U.S. still hasn't fully embraced that idea.
posted by Dasein at 12:31 PM on November 30, 2007


Best answer: I'm no constitutional scholar, but I'm not even sure that the PM needs to be a citizen. There is no requirement that the PM be a MP; he need only be the leader of the governing party (leaving aside minority governments). For example, Turner was not a MP while he was PM. Theoretically, someone who is not a citizen could be elected leader of a party that holds a majority of seats in the House, without having stood for election themselves.

And, while the Queen/GG are the technical equivalents of the American President, the PM is clearly the functional equivalent of the President.
posted by ssg at 1:23 PM on November 30, 2007


Best answer: Just a thought: even if there were such a requirement, it would violate s. 15(1) of the Charter, which states that
[e]very individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability [emphasis added].
This is only legally permissible if it is in accord with s. 1 of that Charter, i.e., if such a violation of a constitutional right is one of "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society", which would ultimately be determined through use of the Oakes Test (were such a requirement challenged).

(And, just to be clear on one other thing: despite being neither criminal nor civil statutes, proper, constitutional statutes are very much law, at least in Canada, being the "supreme law" thereof.)
posted by astrochimp at 3:31 PM on December 1, 2007


Response by poster: Thanks, all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:54 PM on December 1, 2007


The Queen/GG problem is one of those typical Canadian Ambiguities. I was going to say something about it, but it would probably have been wrong, and the wikipedia talk page on The Monarchy of Canada does a better job of illustrating the point anyway..
posted by Chuckles at 5:49 PM on December 1, 2007


In particular, and I might still have it a little wrong, The Queen of Canada and the Queen of the UK are embodied by the same physical person, but they are different entities in law.
posted by Chuckles at 5:52 PM on December 1, 2007


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