Big M Drug Mart Case
Big M Drug Mart had been accused of selling merchandise on Sunday, contrary to the Lord's Day Act. On 24 April 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada found that this federal statute conformed to the federal criminal law power as found in s91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867, but was contrary to the freedom of religion guaranteed in s2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and consequently was inoperative by virtue of s52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Court held that the purpose of the Lord's Day Act was compulsory religious observance. It held the population to an ideal of the Christian religion. In the area of freedom of religion, the Lord's Day Act did not constitute a reasonable limit demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and, therefore, it could not be saved pursuant to s1 of the Charter. This statute furthermore was not in accordance with the maintenance and encouragement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians recognized in s27 of the Charter.
In this case the Court established the principle that the constitutionality of a particular statute could be determined with reference to either the purpose or the effect of the statute.