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Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Decisions

Category: Democratic Governance

Courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada have multiple judges deciding together on the same case. Sometimes there can be more than one decision included in the case. […]

Articles | Teresa Holmes, Student Researcher | July 27, 2020
They’ve Got No Strings: Separation of Powers, Judicial Independence, and the Rule of Law in the Meng Wanzhou Case

Category: Democratic Governance, Constitutional Issues

The official stance of the Chinese Embassy in Canada is that the “Meng Wanzhou case is by no means an ordinary judicial case, but a serious political incident.”[1] In 2018, […]

Articles | Teresa Holmes, Student Researcher | July 16, 2020
Alberta’s Bill 10: The Return of the King(s)?

Category: Democratic Governance, Constitutional Issues

Shocking headlines such as, “Ministers as Kings – Alberta’s Bill 10 a dangerous overreach”[1], and “Alberta’s Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law”[2], raise concerns about the […]

Key Terms
Living Tree Doctrine

Category: Democratic Governance

The “living tree” doctrine refers to a method of constitutional interpretation that allows for Canada’s Constitution to change and evolve over time while still acknowledging its original intentions.[1] The doctrine achieves a balance between two seemingly contradictory goals: predictability and flexibility.

Key Terms
Judicial Review

Category: Democratic Governance

In Canada, as well as in many other constitutional democracies, there are two types of ‘judicial review’ – judicial review on administrative acts, and judicial review on the constitutionality of legislation. Both types of ‘judicial review’ are based on the

Key Terms
Judicial Independence

Category: Democratic Governance

Introduction The judiciary is one of three branches of government in Canada: executive, legislative and judicial. Each of these branches has responsibilities rooted in Canada’s Constitution and history. Judicial independence is foundational to the constitutional role of the judiciary. Courts must be

Key Terms
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

From 1867 until 1949 the ‘Judicial Committee of the Privy Counsel’ (JCPC), a British institution, served as Canada’s highest court of appeal. Ottawa abolished appeals to the JCPC in 1949. Until then, the Supreme Court of Canada was subordinate, not

Key Terms
Victoria Charter

Category: Democratic Governance, The Charter, Federalism

The ‘Victoria Charter’ refers to a package of changes to the Canadian Constitution that was debated by Prime Minister Trudeau and the provincial Premiers in Victoria in June 1971. The Victoria Charter’s key elements touched the following subjects: fundamental freedoms

Key Terms
Unwritten Constitutional Principles

Category: Democratic Governance

This article was written by a law student for the general public. Introduction The Constitution is Canada’s supreme law. The rules written in the Constitution are superior to all other laws in the country. However, it may be surprising to

Key Terms
Suspended Declaration

Category: Democratic Governance

When a court declares a law to be unconstitutional it is ‘struck down’ and thus, is no longer enforceable. As that law no longer exists, an intolerable gap in the law can sometimes be created. This occurred in 2015 when

Key Terms
Supreme Court of Canada

Category: Democratic Governance

The ‘Supreme Court of Canada’ is the final court of appeal in constitutional (and other) cases. It also provides advice on constitutional questions when asked to do so by the federal or provincial governments as it did, for example, in

Key Terms
Supremacy of Parliament

Category: Democratic Governance

This article was written by a law student for the general public. Democracy is known as “government by the people”. Representative democracy acknowledges that it is impossible to have every decision made by multitudes of individuals, and it therefore creates

Key Terms
Dialogue Theory

Category: Democratic Governance, The Charter

What is ‘Dialogue Theory’? ‘Dialogue theory’ is a particular thesis that describes the relationship between the legislative and judicial branches of government. Put most simply, it is the idea that “Canadian legislators are engaging in a self-conscious dialogue with the judiciary.”[1] This

Key Terms
Spicer Commission

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

The ‘Spicer Commission’, formally known as the Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future, was part of the Mulroney government’s efforts to lay the groundwork for the Charlottetown Accord. The Commission consisted of twelve prominent Canadians from across the country led by

Key Terms
Sovereignty-Association

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

‘Sovereignty-association’ is one manifestation of Quebec separatism. It calls for political independence and an ongoing economic partnership with Canada. Conceptualized by René Lévesque, ‘sovereignty-association’ was the centrepiece of the Parti Québécois’ (PQ) secessionist platform during the years Lévesque led the

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