Of Senate Vacancies and Canada’s Constitutional Galahads

On Parliament Hill there stands a statue depicting one of King Arthur’s knights, Sir Galahad. It was erected in honour of a heroic young civil servant who perished in the Ottawa River while trying to save a cabinet minister’s daughter who had fallen through weak ice. The tragic hero was Henry Albert Harper, and the statue of Sir Galahad, King Arthur’s most virtuous knight, was meant as a testament to Harper’s selfless heroism.

Speaking of Harper and paladins of another kind, 2014 might well go down as a banner year. The recent batch of Galahads on Parliament Hill kind of have it out for this particular Harper, however. I’m talking about the lawyers who embrace the Rule of Law as their sworn cause—and the Constitution as their chivalric code. Or at least those who drop pleadings that evoke these things quite liberally.

Naturally, the first name to mind is Rocco Galati. He earned his spot in Canadian Lawyers Magazine’s “The Top 25 Most Influential” list this year in his throw down with PM Harper over Justice Marc Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. Galati won, and while he and the Constitutional Rights Centre may not have recouped much more than a few pennies on the dollar in their recent costs application, their victory in that constitutional fight still rings clear.

That tone can also be heard in the most recent campaign of BC lawyer Aniz Alani, who is getting a ton of press today around his application for judicial review of Harper’s (in)activity around appointing people to Senate seats. The Notice of Application to Federal Court was made available in a Twitter posting dated December 12 and should still be available to read here on Google Docs.

The materials call for a judicial review of PM Harper’s public statement on December 4, 2014 that he would not advise the Governor General to fill Senate vacancies, contrary to section 22 and 32 of the Constitution Act, 1867, plus constitutional and democratic principles generally. There are currently 16 vacancies.


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