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Article

Constitution Act, 1982

The Constitution Act, 1982 is a landmark document in Canadian history. It achieved full independence for Canada by allowing the country to change its Constitution without approval from Britain. It also enshrined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada’s Constitution, the highest law of the land. The Act was passed after a fierce, 18-month political and legal struggle that dominated headlines and the agendas of every government in the country. (See Patriation of the Constitution.)

Article

Peace, Order and Good Government

“Peace, order and good government” is a phrase that is used in section 91 of the British North America Act of 1867 (now called the Constitution Act, 1867). It offers a vague and broad definition of the Canadian Parliament’s lawmaking authority over provincial matters. Since Confederation, it has caused tensions between federal and provincial governments over the distribution of powers. The phrase has also taken on a value of its own with Canadians beyond its constitutional purpose. It has come to be seen as the Canadian counterpart to the American “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and the French “liberty, equality, fraternity.”

Article

McIvor Case

The McIvor v. Canada case was about gender discrimination in section 6 of the 1985 Indian Act, which deals with Indian status. Sharon McIvor — a woman who regained status rights after the passing of Bill C-31 in 1985 — was not able to pass on those rights to her descendants in the same way that a man with status could. In her case against the federal government, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that section 6 did, in fact, deny McIvor’s equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In response to this case, the federal government introduced new legislation (Bill C-3) in 2011 to counter gender discrimination in the Indian Act.

Article

Manitoba and Confederation

Canada’s fifth province, Manitoba entered Confederation with the passing of the Manitoba Acton 12 May 1870. The AssiniboineDakotaCree and Dene peoples had occupied the land for up to 15,000 years. Since 1670, it was part of Rupert’s Landand was controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Canadian government purchased Rupert’s Land at the behest of William McDougall, Manitoba’s Father of Confederation. No residents of the area were consulted about the transfer; in response, Louis Rieland the Métis led the Red River Rebellion. It resulted in an agreement to join Confederation. Ottawa agreed to help fund the new provincial government, give roughly 1.4 million acres of land to the Métis, and grant the province four seats in Parliament. However, Canada mismanaged its promise to guarantee the Métis their land rights. The resulting North-West Rebellion in 1885 led to the execution of Riel. The creation of Manitoba — which, unlike the first four provinces, did not control its natural resources — revealed Ottawa’s desire to control western development.

Article

Family Compact

The term Family Compact is an epithet, or insulting nickname; it is used to describe the network of men who dominated the legislative, bureaucratic, business, religious and judicial centres of power in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) from the early- to mid-1800s. Members of the Family Compact held largely conservative and loyalist views. They were against democratic reform and responsible government. By the mid-19th century, immigration, the union of Upper and Lower Canada, and the work of various democratic reformers had diminished the group’s power. The equivalent to the Family Compact in Lower Canada was the Château Clique.

Macleans

Parrott's Killer Convicted

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on April 26, 1999. Partner content is not updated.

The porch at Peter and Lesley Parrott's farm northwest of Toronto overlooks rolling hills, a lawn of scattered daffodils and a heart-shaped flower bed adorned by a weeping crab-apple tree. The tree was planted on Sept. 28, 1995 - what would have been their daughter Alison's 21st birthday.

Article

Jordan's Principle

Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle that ensures First Nations children can access the same public services as other children in Canada. Jordan’s Principle is named for Jordan River Anderson, a young Cree boy who died at the age of five after waiting for home-based care that was approved when he was two but never arrived because of a financial dispute between the federal and provincial governments. Jordan’s Principle was put in place to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.

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Hurricane Carter Saga

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on December 6, 1999. Partner content is not updated.

He was down for the count. Rubin (Hurricane) Carter had been in prison for 13 years, serving a life sentence for a triple murder he did not commit - a brutal slaying at a bar in Paterson, N.J., in 1966.

Article

Quarantine Act

Canada adopted quarantine legislation in 1872, five years after Confederation. It was replaced by the current Quarantine Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Canada and received royal assent in 2005. The act gives sweeping powers to the federal health minister to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. These powers can include health screenings, the creation of quarantine facilities and mandatory isolation orders. The Quarantine Act was introduced in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis of 2003. It was invoked in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Joudrie Not Guilty

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on May 20, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

It was nearly 48 hours since the jury had begun its deliberations - and that followed more than two weeks of complex, emotion-packed testimony. And so when it finally came, the denouement of Dorothy Joudrie's attempted murder trial in Calgary late last week seemed all the more sudden.

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Lamaze Drug Case

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on October 2, 2000. Partner content is not updated.

Eric Lamaze walks into his Toronto lawyer's boardroom looking suntanned and refreshed. Amidst the onslaught of probing questions on his drug use and expulsion from the Canadian Olympic equestrian team, the 32-year-old rider speaks calmly - even as he rocks nervously in a chair.

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Morin Inquiry Revelations

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on July 1, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

Ken Jessop leaned forward in the witness stand, stared across the courtroom at the man he once fervently believed had killed his sister - and apologized. For Jessop and Guy Paul Morin, that public admission was a cathartic moment in the grim legal odyssey that began on Oct.

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Gay Rights Bill Passes

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on May 13, 1996. Partner content is not updated.

One year ago this week, Chris Phibbs and Chris Higgins, lesbian partners for seven years, hosted a celebration at their Toronto home. "There were flowers, telegrams, balloons," recalls Phibbs. "It was as much fun as a family has ever had.

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Child Poverty in Canada

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on February 24, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

At times, the surroundings must seem grim. The white walls are devoid of decoration, except for a home-made Valentine addressed to "Maman" on the refrigerator, and twin beds are pushed together in the dining-room to create more space.