Courts | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Justice Systems of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

    Underlying the move toward the establishment of an independent or quasi-independent Indigenous justice system is a recognition that there are certain values and customs historically attached to Indigenous communities. In addition, the concept of an independent justice system is viewed as being consonant with the notion of the inherent right of Indigenous self-government.

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  • Article

    Administrative Tribunals in Canada

    Administrative tribunals make decisions on behalf of federal and provincial governments when it is impractical or inappropriate for the government to do so itself. Tribunals are set up by federal or provincial legislation; this is known as “empowering legislation.” Tribunals are commonly known as commissions or boards. They make decisions about a wide variety of issues, including disputes between people or between people and the government. Tribunals may also perform regulatory or licensing functions. Their decisions may be reviewed by the courts. Because they engage in fact-finding and have the power to impact personal rights, tribunals are often seen as “quasi-judicial.”

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  • Article

    Anti-Inflation Act Reference

    The Anti-Inflation Act was a temporary and extraordinary measure instituted by the government of Pierre Trudeau in an attempt to control high unemployment and inflation.

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  • Article

    Bedard Case

    R v. Bedard (1971) challenged section 12(1)(b) of the Indian Act, which concerns the rights of Status Indian women in Canada. The appellant in the case, Yvonne Bedard, took the federal government to court after losing her rights as a Status Indian because of her marriage to a Non-Status man. In 1973, before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Bedard case merged with AG v. Lavell, another case concerning gender discrimination (see Status of Women) in the Indian Act. Although Bedard ultimately lost her reinstatement claims, her case inspired future legal battles regarding women’s rights and the Indian Act, including Lovelace v. Canada (1981) (see Sandra Lovelace Nicholas) and the Descheneaux case (2015).

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  • Article

    Cameras in the Court

    Canadian courts are open to any member of the public if there is the space, if the court is near enough to them and if they can find the time to attend. For years Canadian media have argued for television camera access to court proceedings.

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  • Article

    Chaoulli v. Quebec

    Chaoulli v. Quebec (AG) was a landmark case that came before the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005. It weighed the rights of patients to seek timely care (and of physicians to provide it) against the requirements of a socialized health care system, such as in Canada. The Court determined that the human rights of patients facing long wait times for medical procedures were being violated by Quebec laws prohibiting private medical insurance. The ruling only pertains to the province of Quebec, though three Supreme Court justices determined that the same laws violated a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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  • Article

    Patriation Reference

    The Patriation Reference, formally known as Re: Resolution to Amend the Constitution, was a reference case of the Supreme Court of Canada. On 28 September 1981, the court decided that it was legal for the federal government to patriate and amend Canada’s Constitution without the consent of the provincial governments. But it also found that to do so in areas that affect provincial powers would be a breach of constitutional convention. The court’s decision concluded that such conventions are of great significance. In the words of the court, “Constitutional convention plus constitutional law equal the total constitution of the country.”

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  • Article

    Court System of Canada

    The court system of Canada forms the judicial branch of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. It is independent of the legislative and executive branches of government. The Constitution Act, 1867 provides for the establishment and operation of Canada’s judiciary, including its courts of law. It gives the federal government exclusive lawmaking power over criminal law and criminal procedure; but not over the establishment of criminal courts. It gives the provinces exclusive power over the administration of justice in each province. Canada has four levels of court: the Supreme Court of Canada; the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, as well as provincial and territorial courts of appeal; provincial and territorial superior courts; and provincial and territorial (lower) courts. Each type of court has the authority to decide specific types of cases.

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  • Article

    Defence Counsel

    Defence counsel, lawyer who advises accused (defendants in civil cases) and presents their case to the court, ensuring that clients have a fair trial. If a client is convicted, the defence counsel speaks in respect of sentence.

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  • Article

    Family Court

    Family Court, the common name of courts established by provincial statutes to administer FAMILY LAW. Judges are appointed by the provincial government.

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  • Article

    Federal Court of Canada

    The power to establish courts in Canada is conferred on both provincial legislatures and Parliament.

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  • Article

    Goods and Services Tax (Reference)

    This case was a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada that arose out of a challenge by the Province of Alberta as the constitutionality of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as enacted by the federal Excise Tax Act.

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  • Article

    Judges' Salaries (Reference)

    The main question in dispute in the reference on judges' salaries (1997) concerned the financial security of judges of provincial courts. In this case the governments of Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta had reduced the salaries of their provincial court judges without prior consultation.

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  • Article

    Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

    The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a board of the British Privy Council. It was formed in 1833. In 1844, it was given jurisdiction over all of Britain’s colonial courts. People who had been judges in high courts in Britain served on the Judicial Committee, along with a sprinkling of judges from the Commonwealth. Their decisions were often criticized for favouring provincial powers over federal authority, especially in fields such as trade and commerce. The Judicial Committee served as the court of final appeal for Canada until 1949, when that role was given to the Supreme Court of Canada.  

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  • Article

    Juvenile Justice Systems

    On 7 July 1982, Parliament enacted the Young Offenders Act (effective April 1984, some sections not until 1985), which the government claimed would bring about a long-overdue reform of Canada's juvenile justice system.

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