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Sovereign Council

The council initially comprised the governor, the bishop, the INTENDANT and 5 councillors. In 1703 membership grew to 12, to which 4 associated judges were added in 1742. Members, usually recruited from the French gentry, were nominated initially by the governor and the bishop and later by the king.

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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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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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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 patriateand 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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Court System of Canada

The court system of Canada forms the judicial branch of the federal, provincial and territorial governments and 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 lawmaking power over the administration of justice in each province. Canada has four levels of court: the Supreme Court of Canada; the Federal Court of Appeal, and provincial and territorial courts of appeal; provincial and territorial superior courts; and, provincial and territorial (lower) courts. Each type of law court has the authority to decide specific types of cases.

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Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada is the court of last resort for all legal issues in Canada, including those of federal and provincial jurisdiction. From humble beginnings as an opaque body subject to being overruled by the British Privy Council, the court now has the final judicial say on a broad range of contentious legal and social issues, ranging from the availability of abortion to the constitutionality of capital punishment and assisted suicide.