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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Key Terms
Delegation and Devolution

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

The distribution of powers (see division of powers) between the federal and the provincial governments under our Constitution has, at times, made it difficult for either level of government to […]

Key Terms
Declarations

Category: Democratic Governance

A declaration is a statement made by a court clarifying the law, or the rights and obligations of one party to another. When a court makes a declaration, it simply […]

Key Terms
Social Charter

Category: Democratic Governance

This term is used to capture various means of constitutional recognition of the essential components of economic and social citizenship (such as rights to education, health care, an adequate standard […]

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