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Voting in Early Canada
Before Confederation, elections were rowdy, highly competitive and even violent.
On 14 April 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Daniels v. Canada that the federal government, rather than provincial governments, holds the legal responsibility to legislate on issues related to Métis and Non-Status Indians. In a unanimous decision, the court found that Métis and Non-Status peoples are considered Indians under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 — a section that concerns the federal government’s exclusive legislative powers. Recognition as Indians under this section of law is not the same as Indian Status, which is defined by the Indian Act. Therefore, the Daniels decision does not grant Indian Status to Métis or Non-Status peoples. However, the ruling could result in new discussions, negotiations and possible litigation with the federal government over land claims and access to education, health programs and other government services.
R. v. Powley was a legal case concerning Métis hunting rights in Canada. In 1993, the province of Ontario charged Steve and Roddy Powley with illegal hunting. The Powleys disputed their conviction, arguing that the Aboriginal rights enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 protected their hunting rights as Métis people. The case concluded in 2003, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Powleys were, in fact, exercising lawful Métis hunting rights. The Powley case established criteria on who can legally qualify for Métis rights. It outlined 10 specific criteria, known as the Powley Test, which applies to Métis communities across Canada. The case also clarified that the Métis are a distinct people, separate from First Nations and Inuit peoples in Canada. Some legal experts believe the Powley case might lead to expanded Métis rights, including harvesting and fishing rights and possibly self-government.
NATO: Canada's First Peacetime Military Alliance
On 4 April 1949, in the auditorium of the State Department on Washington's Constitution Avenue, the foreign ministers of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and eight other countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty.
Senate: Canada's Best Think Tank
As the Chrétien government prepared a new Speech from the Throne in which poverty would be a major theme, the Ministers, Members of Parliament and government planners working on the speech could have done worse than to turn to the famous 1971 Report of the Special Senate Committee on Poverty.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier: the Politics of Compromise
Laurier led the country for 15 years — the longest uninterrupted term for a Canadian prime minister — with a policy of systematic compromise.
The Last Voyage of the Karluk
On January 11, 1914, Vilhjalmur Stefansson's flagship, Karluk, was crushed and sunk by the tumultuous, rumbling ice of the East Siberian Sea. Not an auspicious start for an invasion, but that is exactly what it turned out to be.
Ken Taylor and the "Canadian Caper"
When Ken Taylor arrived in Iran for his first ambassadorial posting, he had no reason to expect anything but a serene time as a promoter of Canadian business and trade. Instead, he ran headlong into the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian Revolution.
Editorial: The Canadian Flag, Distinctively Our Own
On 15 February 1965, at hundreds of ceremonies across the country and around the world, the red and white Maple Leaf Flag was raised for the first time. In Ottawa, 10,000 people gathered on a chilly, snow-covered Parliament Hill. At precisely noon, the guns on nearby Nepean Point sounded as the sun broke through the clouds. An RCMP constable, 26-year-old Joseph Secours, hoisted the National Flag of Canada to the top of a specially-erected white staff. A sudden breeze snapped it to attention.
André Laurendeau and the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
On July 22, 1963, Prime Minister L. B. Pearson announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism under the direction of André Laurendeau and A. Davidson Dunton.
Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot) and Treaty 7
A few days before September 12, 1877, Blackfoot and Stonies began arriving at Blackfoot Crossing on the banks of the Bow River in southern Alberta. The two were old enemies and camped on opposite sides of the river. Later in the week they were joined by the Blood and Piegan.
A federal order-in-council is a statutory instrument by which the governor general (the executive power of the governor-in-council), acting on the advice and consent of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, expresses a decision. In practice, orders-in-council are drafted by Cabinet and formally approved by the governor general. Orders-in-council are not discussed by Parliament, and do not require legislation by Parliament, before being implemented.
Fred Christie Case (Christie v York)
The Fred Christie Case (Christie v York, 1939) is a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada that allowed private businesses to discriminate on the basis of freedom of commerce. In July 1936, Fred Christie and two friends went to the York Tavern attached to the Montreal Forum to have a beer. The staff refused to serve them because Christie was Black. Christie sued, eventually bringing his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the York Tavern was within its rights to refuse to serve people on the basis of race. The case reveals an era of legalized racism, while its facts hide the subtle ways that racism operated in early 20th-century Canada.
The Union Nationale was a Québec political party founded in 1935 and dissolved in 1989. The party won six provincial elections between 1936 and 1966.
The Quebec Act, 1774 (Plain-Language Summary)
In 1759, the British defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham. Soon after, the British took control of Quebec (see also The Conquest of New France.) The Quebec Act of 1774 was passed to gain the loyalty of the French who lived in the Province of Quebec. The Act had serious consequences for Britain’s North American empire. The Quebec Act was one of the direct causes of the American Revolution.
(This article is a plain-language summary of The Quebec Act, 1774. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Quebec Act, 1774.)
In contrast to patriotic songs, which are broad in appeal and generally avoid controversy, political songs usually display intense partisanship and relate to specific events or situations, such as elections, strikes, unemployment, racism or discrimination. They vent grievances and scorn, often through satire, and are meant to boost morale and rouse support.
Meech Lake Accord
In 1987, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to win Quebec’s consent to the revised Canadian Constitution. The result was the Meech Lake Accord. It was an agreement between the federaland provincial governments to amend (change) the Constitution. The Accord proposed strengthening provincial powersand declaring Quebec a “distinct society.” The Accord was never put into effect. Political support for it unravelled in 1990. Many Québécois saw the Accord’s failure in English Canada as a rejection of Quebec. Support for separatism soared in Quebec and led to the 1995 Quebec Referendum.
Editorial: Baldwin, LaFontaine and Responsible Government
The Baldwin–LaFontaine government of 1848 has been called the “great ministry.” In addition to establishing responsible government, it had an incomparable record of legislation. It established a public school system and finalized the founding of the University of Toronto. It set up municipal governments and pacified French-Canadian nationalism after a period of unrest. Responsible government did not transform Canada overnight into a fully developed democracy. But it was an important milestone along the road to political autonomy. Most importantly, it provided an opportunity for French Canadians to find a means for their survival through the British Constitution. The partnership and friendship between Baldwin and LaFontaine were brilliant examples of collaboration that have been all too rare in Canadian history.
Editorial: The Death of the Meech Lake Accord
On a Sunday evening, 3 June 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the ten provincial premiers marked the third anniversary of the Meech Lake Accord at a dinner in the architectural splendour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) in Hull, Quebec.