The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
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News

The Swearing-In of a New Ministry

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The Ministry is the executive arm of government that formulates and supervises the carrying out of all government policies. It is composed of members of the Privy Council, who are invited by the prime minister to oversee the administration of government departments or ministries of state, and ministers without portfolio.

When the Office of the prime minister becomes vacant, it is the constitutional role of the governor general to take the initiative to find a successor who would have the confidence of the House of Commons and to commission him or her to form a government.

When a prime minister is defeated or decides to resign from office, he or she indicates his or her intention to resign to the governor general. In the case of a prime minister informing the governor general of his or her wish to retire and to resign from office, the governor general, in accepting the resignation, may seek the prime minister's advice as to a successor. The governor general then decides who is in the best position to command the confidence of the House of Commons, and invites that person, during a meeting at Rideau Hall, to form a government. If the governor general's invitation to form a government is accepted, a time and a date are agreed upon for the swearing-in of the new Ministry. The formal resignation of the outgoing prime minister, which also covers that of ministers, is submitted to the governor general very shortly before the swearing-in of the new prime minister.

The Oath of Office is administered to the prime minister designate by the Clerk of the Privy Council at the commencement of the swearing-in ceremony. The prime minister, the governor general and the Clerk of the Privy Council sign the Privy Council Oath Book. If the prime minister designate is not a member of the Privy Council (Privy Councillor) he or she will be sworn in as a member of the Privy Council before the Oath of Office is administered.

The Instrument of Advice recommending the appointment of members of the Ministry is signed by the prime minister and presented to the governor general for signature.

Ministers who retain the portfolio held under the previous administration are not re-sworn. They are presented to the governor general by the prime minister.

Ministers-designate who are privy councillors and who are changing portfolios subscribe to their respective oaths of office in front of the Clerk of the Privy Council before being presented to the governor general by the prime minister.

Each minister-designate who is not already a privy councillor is called in order of precedence (the date of first election to the House of Commons or appointment to the Senate) to subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance, the Oath of the Members of the Privy Council and Oath of Office, before being presented to the governor general by the prime minister. (When a large number of new members are being admitted to the Privy Council, the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of the Members of the Privy Council may be taken as a group before individually being sworn into office.)

A new category of members of the Ministry, secretaries of State, was added in November 1993. Secretaries of State are not members of the Cabinet. They are sworn in as a group, taking the Oath of Allegiance, the Oath of the Members of the Privy Council, and a general Oath of Office.

The Queen is informed by the governor general of the acceptance of the resignation of a prime minister and the swearing-in of a new prime minister and members of the Ministry.