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Minority Governments in Canada

A minority government exists when the governing party does not hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons (or provincial legislature) but is still able to command the confidence of the House. Minority governments also exist at the provincial level and in Yukon, but not in Northwest Territories or Nunavut, which do not have political parties and are governed by consensus governments.

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Constitution Act, 1867

The Constitution Act, 1867 was originally known as the British North America Act (BNA Act). It was the law passed by the British Parliament on 29 March 1867 to create the Dominion of Canada. It came into effect on 1 July 1867. The Act is the foundational document of Canada’s Constitution. It outlines the structure of government in Canada and the distribution of powers between the central Parliament and the provincial legislatures. It was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867 with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.

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Stinchcombe Case

The Supreme Court delineated, in the Stinchcombe case (1991), the legal parameters of a full and complete defence, as guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This had the effect of eliminating the legal uncertainty surrounding the disclosure of evidence by the Crown.

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Tran Case

The Tran case (1994) was the first in which the Supreme Court dealt with the right to an interpreter. Tran was accused of sexual assault. At trial, he was assigned an interpreter because he spoke neither French nor English.

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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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Foreign Investment

Foreign Investment in Canada is both direct (made to manage and control actual enterprises) and portfolio (made only for the interest or dividends paid, or the possible capital gain to be achieved). The amount of both types is very large, with the consequence that a considerable amount of the Canadian economy is controlled by foreigners.

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Socialism

Socialism is a political doctrine that criticizes the existence of social, economic and political inequality in society. Seeking to lessen class inequality, socialists call for a redistribution of power from the affluent owners to the working class.

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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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Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizenship was first created in 1947 by the Canadian Citizenship Act. Today's version of the law says both Canadian-born and naturalized citizens are equally entitled to the rights of a citizen, and subject to the duties of a citizen. In 2014, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act brought about the first significant amendments to the Citizenship Act since 1977. However, these changes were repealed or amended by legislation passed in 2017.

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Internment in Canada

Internment is the forcible confinement or detention of a person during wartime. Large-scale internment operations were carried out by the Canadian government during the First World War and the Second World War. In both cases, the War Measures Act was invoked. This gave the government the authority to deny people’s civil liberties, notably habeas corpus (the right to a fair trial before detention). People were held in camps across the country. More than 8,500 people were interned during the First World War and as many as 24,000 during the Second World War — including some 12,000 Japanese Canadians.

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Senate of Canada

The Senate is the Upper House of Canada’s Parliament. Its 105 members are appointed and hold their seats until age 75. The Senate’s purpose is to consider and revise legislation; investigate national issues; and most crucially according to the Constitution, give the regions of Canada an equal voice in Parliament. The Senate is a controversial institution. It has long been regarded by many Canadians as a place of unfair patronage and privilege. An unresolved debate continues about whether it should be reformed into an elected body accountable to the voters, or abolished.

Macleans

Tobin Wins Election

It is the morning after his convincing win in Newfoundland's general election and, at first, Brian Tobin insists that he is too tired to speak at length to a battery of journalists who have questions about his plans for the province.

Macleans

Canadians Underwhelmed by Tax Cuts

When it comes to taking care of personal finances, Bohdan Dolban, 32, and his wife, Mary, 35, are about as good as it gets. His job as a sales representative for a Toronto packaging company and hers as a systems analyst give them a family income of about $85,000, and every cent is put to good use.