Law of Canada
The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the English common law system, inherited from being a former colony of the United Kingdom and a Commonwealth Realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The legal system is bi-jurisdictional, as the responsibilities of public and private law are separated and exercised by Parliament and the provinces respectively. Quebec, still retains a civil system for issues of private law. Both legal systems are subject to the Constitution of Canada; the federal government has jurisdiction over certain exclusive domains which are regulated by Parliament, as well as all matters and disputes between provinces. These include interprovincial transport as well as interprovincial trade and commerce; the criminal law is an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction, has its origins in the English common law. Prosecutions of most criminal offences are conducted by the provincial Attorneys General, acting under the Criminal Code. Canada's constitution is its supreme law, any law passed by any federal, provincial, or territorial government, inconsistent with the constitution is invalid.
The Constitution Act, 1982 stipulates that Canada's constitution includes that act, a series of thirty acts and orders referred to in a schedule to that act, any amendment to any of those acts. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has found that this list is not intended to be exhaustive, in 1998's Reference re Secession of Quebec identified four "supporting principles and rules" that are included as unwritten elements of the constitution: federalism, constitutionalism and the rule of law, respect for minorities. While these principles are an enforceable part of Canada's constitution, Canadian courts have not used them to override the written text of the constitution, instead confining their role to "filling gaps"; because the Constitution Act, 1867 provides that Canada's constitution is "similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom", considered to be an uncodified constitution, the Supreme Court has recognized the existence of constitutional conventions. In 1981's Reference re a Resolution to amend the Constitution, the Court provided three factors necessary for the existence of a constitutional convention: a practice or agreement developed by political actors, a recognition that they are bound to follow that practice or agreement, a purpose for that practice or agreement.
It found that, while these conventions are not law and are therefore unenforceable by the courts, courts may recognize conventions in their rulings. The Constitution Act, 1867 assigns powers to the provincial and federal governments. Matters under federal jurisdiction include criminal law and commerce, immigration; the federal government has the residual power to make laws necessary for Canada's "peace and good government". Matters under provincial jurisdiction include hospitals, municipalities and property and civil rights; the Constitution Act, 1867 provides that, while provinces establish their own superior courts, the federal government appoints their judges. It gives the federal Parliament the right to establish a court system responsible for federal law and a general court of appeal to hear appeals of decisions of both federal and provincial courts; this last power resulted in the federal Parliament's creation of the Supreme Court of Canada, which is, despite its role as supreme arbiter of all Canadian law, a creation of simple, rather than constitutional, statute.
The Constitution Act, 1982 created a mechanism by which Canada's constitution could be amended by joint action of federal and provincial governments. It created the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which grants individual rights which may not be contravened by any provincial or federal law. Acts passed by the Parliament of Canada and by provincial legislatures are the primary sources of law in Canada. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 enumerate the subject matters upon which either level of government may legitimately enact legislation. Laws passed by the federal government are announced in the Canada Gazette, a published newspaper for new statutes and regulations. Federal bills that receive Royal Assent are subsequently published in the Annual Statutes of Canada. From time to time, the federal government will consolidate its current laws into a single consolidation of law known as the Revised Statutes of Canada; the most recent federal consolidation was in 1985. Laws passed by the provinces follow a similar practice.
The Acts are pronounced in a provincial gazette, published annually and consolidated from time to time. The Revised Statutes of Canada is the federal statutory consolidation of statutes enacted by the Parliament of Canada. In each Canadian province, there is a similar consolidation of the statute law of the province; the Revised Statutes of British Columbia, Revised Statutes of Alberta, Statutes of Manitoba, Revised Statutes of Saskatchewan, 1978, Revised Statutes of New Brunswick, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, Statutes of Prince Edward Island, Consolidated Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador, Revised Statutes of Ontario, Revised Statutes of Quebec are the statutory consolidations of each Canadian province. They contain all of the major topic areas and most of the statutes enacted by the governments in each province; these statutes
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the national capital. The body consists of the Canadian monarch, represented by the Governor General; each element has its own officers and organization. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate and monarch opposing its will; the Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and the monarch or viceroy provides royal assent to make bills into law. The Governor General summons and appoints the 105 senators on the advice of the Prime Minister, while the 338 members of the House of Commons—called members of parliament —each represent an electoral district referred to as a riding, are directly elected by Canadian voters; the Governor General summons Parliament, while either the viceroy or monarch can prorogue or dissolve Parliament, the latter in order to call a general election. Either will read the Throne Speech; the most recent Parliament, summoned by Governor General David Johnston in 2015, is the 42nd since Confederation.
The Parliament of Canada is composed of three parts: the monarch, the Senate, the House of Commons. Each work in conjunction within the legislative process; this format was inherited from the United Kingdom and is a near-identical copy of the parliament at Westminster, the greatest differences stemming from situations unique to Canada, such as the impermanent nature of the monarch's residency in the country and the lack of a peerage to form the upper chamber. Only those who sit in the House of Commons are called members of parliament. Though legislatively less powerful, senators take higher positions in the national order of precedence. No individual may serve in more than one chamber at the same time; the sovereign's place in the legislature, formally called the Queen-in-Parliament, is defined by the Constitution Act, 1867, various conventions. Neither she nor her viceroy, participates in the legislative process, save for signifying the Queen's approval to a bill passed by both houses of parliament, known as the granting of Royal Assent, necessary for a bill to be enacted as law.
All federal bills thus begin with the phrase "Now, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows..." and, as such, the Crown is immune from acts of parliament unless expressed otherwise in the act itself. The governor general will perform the task of granting Royal Assent, though the monarch may do so, at the request of either the Cabinet or the viceroy, who may defer assent to the sovereign as per the constitution; as both the monarch and his or her representatives are traditionally barred from the House of Commons, any parliamentary ceremonies in which they are involved take place in the Senate chamber. The upper and lower houses do, each contain a mace, which indicates the authority of the Queen-in-Parliament and the privilege granted to that body by her, both bearing a crown at their apex; the original mace for the Senate was that used in the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada after 1849, while that of the House of Commons was inherited from the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, first used in 1845.
Following the burning of the Centre Block on 3 February 1916, the City of London, donated a replacement, still used today. The temporary mace, made of wood, used until the new one arrived from the United Kingdom in 1917, is still carried into the Senate each 3 February; the Senate's 1.6-metre-long mace comprises gold. The Senate may not sit. Members of the two houses of parliament must express their loyalty to the sovereign and defer to her authority, as the Oath of Allegiance must be sworn by all new parliamentarians before they may take their seats. Further, the official opposition is formally called Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, to signify that, though they may be opposed to the incumbent Cabinet's policies, they remain dedicated to the apolitical Crown; the upper house of the Parliament of Canada, the Senate, is a group of 105 individuals appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister. Senators served for life until 1965, when a constitutional amendment imposed a mandatory retirement age of 75.
Senators may, resign their seats prior to that mark, can lose their position should they fail to attend two consecutive sessions of parliament. The Senate is divided amongst four geographic regions: 24 for Ontario, 24 for Quebec, 24 for the Maritimes, 24 for the Western provinces. Newfoundland and Labrador, which became a Canadian province in 1949, is represented by six senators, is not part of a senatorial division. Further, Canada's three territories—the Northwest Territories and Nunavut—are allocated one senator each. An additio
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border, its capital is Ottawa, its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra, its population is urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons. Various indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century and French expeditions explored, settled, along the Atlantic coast.
As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces; this began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with Elizabeth II as its queen and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the federal cabinet and head of government; the country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, education.
It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture. A developed country, Canada has the sixteenth-highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the twelfth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index, its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. While a variety of theories have been postulated for the etymological origins of Canada, the name is now accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement".
In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village but to the entire area subject to Donnacona. From the 16th to the early 18th century "Canada" referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River. In 1791, the area became two British colonies called Upper Canada and Lower Canada collectively named the Canadas. Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country at the London Conference, the word Dominion was conferred as the country's title. By the 1950s, the term Dominion of Canada was no longer used by the United Kingdom, which considered Canada a "Realm of the Commonwealth"; the government of Louis St. Laurent ended the practice of using'Dominion' in the Statutes of Canada in 1951. In 1982, the passage of the Canada Act, bringing the Constitution of Canada under Canadian control, referred only to Canada, that year the name of the national holiday was changed from Dominion Day to Canada Day.
The term Dominion was used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces, though after the Second World War the term federal had replaced dominion. Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Métis, the last being a mixed-blood people who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations and Inuit people married European settlers; the term "Aboriginal" as a collective noun is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act 1982. The first inhabitants of North America are hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago; the Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada. The characteristics of Canadian indigenous societies included permanent settlements, complex societal hierarchies, trading networks; some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada Her Majesty's Government, is the federal administration of Canada. In Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or the Queen-in-Council. In both senses, the current construct was established at Confederation through the Constitution Act, 1867—as a federal constitutional monarchy, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block", of its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy; the Crown is thus the foundation of the executive and judicial branches of the Canadian government. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the Canadian Constitution, which includes written statutes, court rulings, unwritten conventions developed over centuries; the monarch is represented by the Governor General of Canada. The Queen's Privy Council for Canada is the body that advises the sovereign or viceroy on the exercise of executive power. However, in practice, that task is performed only by the Cabinet, a committee within the Privy Council composed of ministers of the Crown, who are drawn from and responsible to the elected House of Commons in parliament.
The Cabinet is headed by the prime minister, appointed by the governor general after securing the confidence of the House of Commons. In Canadian English, the word government is used to refer both to the whole set of institutions that govern the country, to the current political leadership. In federal department press releases, the government has sometimes been referred to by the phrase Government. In late 2010, an informal instruction from the Office of the Prime Minister urged government departments to use in all department communications the term in place of Government of Canada; the same cabinet earlier directed its press department to use the phrase Canada's New Government. As per the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982, Canada is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the role of the reigning sovereign is both legal and practical, but not political; the Crown is regarded as a corporation sole, with the monarch, vested as she is with all powers of state, at the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government acting under the sovereign's authority.
The executive is thus formally called the Queen-in-Council, the legislature the Queen-in-Parliament, the courts as the Queen on the Bench. Royal Assent is required to enact laws and, as part of the Royal Prerogative, the royal sign-manual gives authority to letters patent and orders in council, though the authority for these acts stems from the Canadian populace and, within the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited; the Royal Prerogative includes summoning and dissolving parliament in order to call an election, extends to foreign affairs: the negotiation and ratification of treaties, international agreements, declarations of war. The person, monarch of Canada is the monarch of 15 other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, though, he or she reigns separately as King or Queen of Canada, an office, "truly Canadian" and "totally independent from that of the Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms".
On the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister, the sovereign appoints a federal viceregal representative—the Governor General of Canada —who, since 1947, is permitted to exercise all of the monarch's Royal Prerogative, though there are some duties which must be performed by, or bills that require assent by, the king or queen. The government is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her privy council. However, the Privy Council—consisting of former members of parliament, chief justices of the supreme court, other elder statesmen—rarely meets in full; as the stipulations of responsible government require that those who directly advise the monarch and governor general on how to exercise the Royal Prerogative be accountable to the elected House of Commons, the day-to-day operation of government is guided only by a sub-group of the Privy Council made up of individuals who hold seats in parliament. This body of senior ministers of the Crown is the Cabinet. One of the main duties of the Crown is to ensure that a democratic government is always in place, which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet.
Thus, the governor general must appoint as prime minister the person who holds the confidence of the House of Commons. Should no party hold a majority in the commons, the leader of one party—either the one with the most seats or one supported by other parties—will be called by the governor general to form a minority government. Once sworn in by the viceroy, the prime minister holds office until he or she resigns or is removed by the governor general, after either a motion of no confidence or his or her party's defeat in a general election; the monarch and governor general follow the near-binding advice of