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Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal

The Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal (2012–16) involved investigations into the housing and travel allowances claimed by dozens of Conservative and Liberal senators. Conservative senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended during the investigations. Duffy, Brazeau and Liberal senator Mac Harb were also charged with fraud and breach of trust but were either acquitted or the charges dropped. A 2015 audit of senate expenses revealed that 30 senators had been improperly reimbursed for expenses. The scandal dominated public discourse and put pressure on the Senate to establish clearer rules for travel, residency and living expenses.

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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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Citizenship

This page brings together resources on Canadian citizenship and civics. It is meant to provide readers with knowledge of how the Canadian political system came to be and how it works today. This collection is also designed to help those studying for Canada's citizenship test, or for those taking part in Historica Canada’s Citizenship Challenge program.

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Fake News (a.k.a. Disinformation) in Canada

Fake news is falsified information created with the intent of misleading people. It aims to shape public opinion by eliciting an emotional and biased response that is divorced from facts but in alignment with a particular ideology or perspective. Fake news can effectively weaponize information. It uses disinformation, misinformation or mal-information to demonize or damage a political foe, or to sow confusion and mistrust among the public. Fake news came to the fore of public consciousness during and immediately after the 2016 US presidential election, though its origins date back much further.

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The Book of Negroes

The document called the “Book of Negroes” is a British naval ledger that lists the names of Black Loyalists who fled to Canada during the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). It is also the title of Lawrence Hill’s third novel, which was published in 2007. (It was released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand under the title Someone Knows My Name.) A work of historical fiction, The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, who is captured by slave traders in Africa and brought to America. Aminata’s story illustrates the physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, religious and economic violations of the slave trade. The novel has been translated into more than eight languages and has sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide. It won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book. It was also the first book to win both CBC Radio’s Canada Reads and Radio Canada’s Combat des livres.

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Capital in Canada

In economics, capital traditionally refers to the wealth owned or employed by an individual or a business. This wealth can exist in the form of money or property. Definitions of capital are constantly evolving, however. For example, in some contexts it is synonymous with equity. Social capital can refer to positive outcomes of interactions between people or to the effective functioning of groups. Human capital refers to people’s experience, skills and education, viewed as an economic resource.

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Native People's Caravan

The Native People’s Caravan was a cross-country mobile protest that took place in 1974. Its main purpose was to raise awareness about the poor living conditions and discrimination experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada. It travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa, where the subsequent occupation of a vacant warehouse on Victoria Island, near Parliament Hill, extended into 1975. The caravan brought various Indigenous groups together in protest of broken treaties, as well as a lack of government-supported education, housing and health care. As a result, meetings between Cabinet ministers and Indigenous leaders became more frequent. The protest is remembered as an important turning point in Indigenous activism in Canada.

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National Policy

The National Policy was a central economic and political strategy of the Conservative Party under Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, and many of his successors in high office. It meant that from 1878 until the Second World War, Canada levied high tariffs on foreign imported goods, to shield Canadian manufacturers from American competition.

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Guarantee Act

Guarantee Act, 1849, conceived by Francis HINCKS and carried in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, established the principle of government assistance to railways. Under the terms of the Act, any railway more than 75 mi (120 km) long was eligible for a government guarantee on the interest of half its bonds as soon as half the line had been completed.

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French Language Services Act (Nova Scotia)

The Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress) was held in summer 2004 in Nova Scotia to mark the four centuries of French presence on the territory. Afterwards, on 1 October 2004, the Progressive Conservative government under John Hamm introduced a legislative bill recognizing the Office of Acadian Affairs. The bill was subsequently embedded into the provincial Public Service Act. The Act Respecting the Office of Acadian Affairs and the Delivery of French-language Services by the Public Service was passed by the legislature on 14 October 2004 and received royal assent on 18 October that same year.

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Treaty of Utrecht

Utrecht, Treaty of, an agreement between Britain and France concluded 11 Apr 1713 at Utrecht in the Netherlands as part of the series of treaties ending the WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION . The treaty recognized Queen Anne as the legitimate sovereign of England and officially ended French support for the claims of the Jacobite party to the British throne. 

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Enfranchisement (Plain-Language Summary)

Throughout much of Canadian history, a First Nations person would lose their Indian status if they were enfranchised. An enfranchised person is someone who has the right to vote in elections. A First Nations person who is deemed a Status Indian has certain rights and benefits granted to them through the Indian Act.

(This article is a plain-language summary of Enfranchisement. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Enfranchisement).

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Official Languages Act (1988)

The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages (see also Language Policy in Canada).

This is the full-length entry about the Official Languages Act of 1988. For a plain language summary, please see The Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain Language Summary).

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Media Bias in Canada

Bias means supporting or opposing something or someone in an unfair way, regardless of the evidence. Media bias is when information spread by media or a news outlet reflects the interests and biases of ownership or individuals of that media company. Corporations may have a clear bias for one political party or issue and may influence its media outlets to reflect that bias. Individual journalists or news outlets may favour one side of an issue and reflect that bias — consciously or unconsciously — in the way they cover stories. The fact that a majority of journalists in Canada are White can also lead to biased reporting on minority groups. People can overcome unconscious bias by thinking and talking about it, and especially by listening to people from less privileged backgrounds.

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Murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk, a 14-year-old of South Asian origin, was savagely beaten and murdered by teenaged attackers in November 1997 in a suburb of Victoria, British Columbia. The crime horrified Canadians and attracted international media attention because of the brutality of the killing as well as the youth of Virk and those who attacked her. It prompted a national conversation about teenaged bullying and racism, led in part by Virk’s parents, who became anti-bullying campaigners in the wake of their daughter’s murder.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Federal Departments of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

The federal government is responsible for the development of policies related to First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Northern communities. After Confederation, the British — who had created the first Indian Department after 1755 — transferred this responsibility to the Canadian government. Since then, different departments have been responsible for the portfolios of Indigenous and Northern affairs. There are currently two departments overseeing Indigenous affairs. Indigenous Services Canada is concerned with providing and supporting the delivery of services, including health care, child care and education to Indigenous communities. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada oversees Indigenous-government relations, such as matters pertaining to treaty rights and self-government, and the concerns of Northern communities. The department has two ministers: a minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and a minister of Northern Affairs.

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Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (part of the former Indigenous/Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or INAC) was created by the federal government in 2017 to provide and support the delivery of services such as health care, child care, education and infrastructure to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. The overarching vision of the department is to support self-determination as a means of providing Indigenous peoples with the power to deliver their own services.