HomeTag Archives: Constitution

Tag Archives: Constitution

A Province Cannot Shut Down anti-Abortion Expression

This summer, the Ontario government conducted consultations regarding its plan to enact “safe access zones legislation” (SAZL) modeled on British Columbia’s. I’ll give a brief background on B.C.’s law before diving into a division of powers argument against enacting such a law in Ontario. In short, I will argue that just as a province cannot enact a penal prohibition on ...

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“Watertight Compartments” Has Now Been Published

I am pleased to announce that my paper, “Watertight Compartments: Getting Back to the Constitutional Division of Powers” has now been published in the Alberta Law Review. Per the abstract: This article offers a fresh examination of the constitutional division of powers. The author argues that sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 establish exclusive jurisdictional spheres — ...

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Courts, Legislatures, and the Illusion of “Dialogue”

I.     WHAT IS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT? It has been said that Constitutions are a “mirror reflecting the national soul”[1].  While these comments were made before the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) came into effect, there is no reason to believe that the Charter, which focusses on a guaranteed set of civil liberties (Charter rights), should be any less ...

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Sorry, Electoral Reform is Constitutional

Is the Liberal plan to reform the electoral system unconstitutional? Two recent pieces published in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star suggest the answer is yes. The articles are well-written by knowledgeable individuals (respectively, a law professor and two former law clerks), but in my view their reasoning is flawed. Both pieces cite the 2014 Senate Reform Reference, in ...

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Banning “Hate Speech” is Beyond Provincial Power

Hate speech is back in the news. The Quebec government has recently tabled Bill 59, which, among other things, would prohibit “hate speech” – a term that is not defined. Anyone who “engages in or disseminates” hate speech is liable to be fined up to $10,000 for the first utterance and $20,000 for the second.   The Bill would also ...

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In Defence of Constitutional Originalism

The Globe and Mail recently reported that Bradley Miller, a former Western University law professor and a judge on Ontario’s Superior Court, had been appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Globe’s report drew attention to the following: 1. Miller has criticized gay marriage; 2. Miller has only six months’ experience as a judge; and 3. Miller is an ...

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The True American Import to Canada is the Living Tree, not Originalism

Old Supreme Court

Constitutional originalism, which holds that the meaning of the Constitution remains constant with the passage of time, does not enjoy a great deal of support Canada. It is dismissed as an American phenomenon, and a distastefully conservative one at that. The Canadian Constitution, we are told, is a “living tree” and it is therefore the responsibility of judges to rediscover ...

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Reaffirming Magna Carta

Magna Carta turned 800 this week. After eight centuries, it remains the foundational text of Anglo-American law. Borne out of a bitter dispute between King John and his aggrieved barons in the spring of 1215, the “Great Charter” scarcely resembles any modern human rights instrument. It did not grant freedom of expression and religion, or even life, liberty and the ...

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Quebec v. Canada: Constitution Cannot Force Orders of Government to Be Nice to Each Other

The Supreme Court of Canada’s March 27, 2015 decision in Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General) is an exemplary judgment in upholding the rule of law in the realm of federalism. The majority’s decision explicitly (and refreshingly) recognized that the constitution’s text is the primary source of its meaning, while also explicitly recognizing that courts are not to review ...

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Federal Government Has the Power to Dismantle the Long-Gun Registry and Destroy the Data

Last week, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court of Canada held that the federal government is constitutionally permitted to destroy the data it obtained from the former long-gun registry. Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General) is a classic federalism case that deals with Parliament’s power to regulate criminal law under section 91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867. In ...

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