HomeTag Archives: doctrine

Tag Archives: doctrine

Has the Supreme Court Moved Beyond the “Living Tree”?

One of the first things law students are taught is that our Constitution is a “living tree.”  The Supreme Court has said that the living tree doctrine, which holds that our Constitution must be capable of evolving to meet new social realities, is “one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation” (See Reference Re Same Sex Marriage, at ...

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The Charter and Canada’s New Political Culture: Are We All Ambassadors Now?

On January 6, 2017, The Honourable Glenn D. Joyal, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, gave the keynote address at the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference. The title of this stimulating and eloquent address was “The Charter and Canada’s New Political Culture:  Are We All Ambassadors Now?” Chief Justice Joyal discussed the roots of ...

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The Comeau Decision is a Welcome Example of Serious Doctrinal Analysis

Constitutional law and alcohol are forever linked. Many famous distribution of powers cases giving rise to new federalism doctrine were about alcohol. It should not be a surprise that we can now add another case to the list. R. v. Comeau, coming out of the New Brunswick Provincial Court, is a novel judicial meditation on Canadian federalism, specifically regarding the ...

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Reaffirming the Case for Constraint: A Reply to Léonid Sirota

Leonid Sirota has written two excellent articles in response to my essay, “The Case for a Constrained Approach to Section 7.” I am grateful for these pieces, firstly, because Mr. Sirota takes the view that my position is “largely misguided,” meaning that he endorses at least some of my views (though perhaps I am channelling Lloyd Christmas a bit on ...

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The Supreme Court is Eroding the Bedrock Principle of Stare Decisis

There is an uneasy tension at the heart of Canada’s legal system between the inherent conservatism of our legal principles and the inherent liberalism of the actors tasked with applying them. Traditionally, Supreme Court of Canada decisions were final and binding on lower courts. Today, by the courts’ own doing, this bedrock principle is being eroded. Last week, Ontario’s highest ...

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The Case for a Constrained Approach to Section 7

This article will appear in the upcoming edition of Law Matters, a publication of the Canadian Bar Association Introduction The consensus in the academic community when it comes to interpreting the Charter is that more is better. There is little debate that the Charter is a “living tree,” such that its meaning must “evolve” over time so that it “accommodates ...

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Constitutional Originalism is a Canadian Staple

Few legal concepts have been so little understood yet so much vilified as originalism has been in Canada. Adam Dodek has said that “originalism” is a “dirty word” on this side of the Canada-U.S. border. Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Canadian jurists, including former Supreme Court judges, took to the media to remind us that originalism has no ...

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Substantially Incontestable: Discriminatory Wills and the Future of the Public Policy Exception

Should racist wills be void on public policy grounds? This issue has arisen in a number of cases over the last couple of years, most recently in Spence v. BMO Trust Company  [“Spence“]. In that case, the deceased disinherited his daughter and the daughter alleged that her disinheritance was motivated by racial animus. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the ...

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Justice Miller’s First Major Decision May Surprise His Critics

In December, I questioned the common thought that lawyers, scholars and judges who promote judicial restraint and the rule of law should be called “conservative”. I cited Justice Grant Huscroft of the Ontario Court of Appeal simply applying accepted common law principles to lead to what appeared to be a “progressive” result in the employment law case of Michela v. ...

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Justice Stratas on the Decline of Doctrine

Justice David Stratas of the Federal Court of Appeal gave an excellent talk at the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference on January 8, 2016. The title of his keynote address was “Reflections on the Decline of Legal Doctrine.” It can be viewed here. The address focussed primarily on constitutional and administrative law. In Justice Stratas’s view, judges and academics ...

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