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Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Plain-Language Summary)

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) started working in 2008. It was a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). The IRSSA recognized the suffering and trauma experienced by Indigenous students at residential schools. It also provided financial compensation (money) to the students. The TRC performed many tasks. It created a national research centre. It collected documents from churches and government. It held events where students told their stories. Also, it did research about residential schools and issued a final report. (See also  Reconciliation in Canada.)

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was officially launched in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). Intended to be a process that would guide Canadians through the difficult discovery of the facts behind the residential school system, the TRC was also meant to lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation across Canada.

This is the full-length entry about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For a plain language summary, please see Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Plain Language Summary).

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Nova Scotia and Confederation

Nova Scotia was one of the four founding provinces of Canada. It joined New BrunswickOntario and Quebec in Confederation on 1 July 1867. However, this was mainly because Confederation delivered the Intercolonial Railway to the Maritimes, and because of the efforts of Sir Charles Tupper. His government passed approval for Confederation in the colonial legislature despite popular opposition. (See Confederation’s Opponents.) Confederation was met with mass protests in the colony. Joseph Howe led a two-year effort to repeal the union. (See Repeal Movement.) But Howe finally decided he could do more to help his province by working inside the federal government. He joined the federal Cabinet in 1869.

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Gradual Enfranchisement Act

The Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869 was a legislative measure passed by the government of the new Dominion of Canada. It attempted to control, regulate and assimilate Indigenous peoples (referred to as “Indians” in the Act) in the country. This legislation followed An Act for the better protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada of 1850 and the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857, passed by the Province of Canada (formerly Upper and Lower Canada). It preceded the Indian Act of 1876.

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Indian Agents in Canada

Indian agents were the Canadian government’s representatives on First Nations reserves from the 1830s to the 1960s. Often working in isolated locations far from settler communities, Indian agents implemented government policy, enforced and administered the provisions of the Indian Act, and managed the day-to-day affairs of Status Indians. Today, the position of Indian agent no longer exists, as First Nations manage their own affairs through modern band councils or self-government.

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War Measures Act

The War Measures Act was a federal law adopted by Parliament on 22 August 1914, after the beginning of the First World War. It gave broad powers to the Canadian government to maintain security and order during “war, invasion or insurrection.” It was used, controversially, to suspend the civil liberties of people in Canada who were considered “enemy aliens” during both world wars. This led to mass arrests and detentions without charges or trials. The War Measures Act was also invoked in Quebec during the 1970 October Crisis. The Act was repealed and replaced by the more limited Emergencies Act in 1988.

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Baltej Dhillon Case

In 1991, Baltej Singh Dhillon became the first member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police permitted to wear a turban — as part of his Sikh religion — instead of the Mounties' traditional cap or stetson. Dhillon's request that the RCMP change its uniform rules triggered a national debate about religious accommodation in Canada.

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Indigenous Treaties in Canada

Indigenous treaties in Canada are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Most of these agreements describe exchanges where Indigenous nations agree to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for various payments and promises. On a deeper level, treaties are sometimes understood, particularly by Indigenous people, as sacred covenants between nations that establish a relationship between those for whom Canada is an ancient homeland and those whose family roots lie in other countries. Treaties therefore form the constitutional and moral basis of alliance between Indigenous peoples and Canada.

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Deschênes Commission

The Deschênes Commission (officially known as the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada) was an independent commission of inquiry established by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Its purpose was to investigate accusations that alleged war criminals from the Second World War had found refuge and were living in Canada. The commission took a broad approach to its mandate, investigating war crimes as well as crimes against humanity. While war crimes had already been established as a specific kind of crime after the Second World War, crimes against humanity were not as clearly described, and therefore did not have a clear and defined punishment structure. The outcome of this report was to formalize crimes against humanity and create that framework. Specifically, the Criminal Code was amended so that war crimes would be offences under Canadian law regardless of Canada's involvement in said war. A two-part final report was completed and delivered at the end of 1986. The first part concluded that alleged Nazi war criminals were residing in Canada, but also that Canada lacked the legal means to prosecute those individuals. The second part of the report—that concerned with allegations against specific individuals—remains confidential.

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Immigration Policy in Canada

Immigration policy is the way the government controls via laws and regulations who gets to come and settle in Canada. Since Confederation, immigration policy has been tailored to grow the population, settle the land, and provide labour and financial capital for the economy. Immigration policy also tends to reflect the racial attitudes or national security concerns of the time which has also led to discriminatory restrictions on certain migrant groups. (See also Canadian Refugee Policy.)

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Opposition Party in Canada

An opposition party is a political party that does not win enough seats in a general election to form a government. The elected members of that party instead serve in the legislature as the opposition. An opposition party criticizes and challenges the governing party, with the goal of improving legislation and forming the government in the next election. The opposition party with the most seats is called the Official Opposition or His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. This title emphasizes that the party remains loyal to the Crown even as they oppose the governing party. The leader of the opposition party with the most seats is called the leader of the Opposition.

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Leader of the Opposition

In Canada, the leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest political party sitting in opposition to the federal government. In other words, it is the party with the second-largest number of seats in the House of Commons. The formal title is “Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.” This title reflects the Westminster system of government found in many Commonwealth countries whose political roots can be traced to the United Kingdom. The current leader of the Opposition is Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre.

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Conservative Party

The Conservative Party was the founding political party of Canada, governing for the first 29 years after Confederation. Since then, the party has not been as electorally successful as its rival Liberals. The Conservatives have had periods in power and long periods in opposition. The party has been most successful when it was able to assemble a national coalition of anglophone conservatives from the West and Ontario, and nationalists from Quebec. The party is currently led by Pierre Poilievre.