150 Years On: Why don’t we get clear on where the Canadian federal distribution of legislative powers (legally) comes from?

Although I can understand the desire to explain the distribution of legislative powers simply, it is misleading, not only in informal talks but also as the Supreme Court itself too often does, to suggest this distribution is set out only in sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, or only in this Act. See e.g. Carter v Canada, para 50; Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, para 131; Reference re Securities Act, para 54.

The federative distribution of legislative competencies is effected not only by these sections, not only within Part VI of the CA 1867, and again not even only within this Act, but also in other enactments that form part of the supreme law, including the Constitution Act, 1982. Continuer à lire … « 150 Years On: Why don’t we get clear on where the Canadian federal distribution of legislative powers (legally) comes from? »

“Quasi Constitutional” Status as *Not* Implying a Form Requirement

In his post on I-CONnect, Adam Perry writes that the British cases on what are known in the UK as constitutional statutes (and in Canada as quasiconstitutional statutes) “have been very controversial in constitutional circles”, whereas, by contrast, the Canadian cases caused barely a ripple. I would like here to take up the invitation, and to throw a tiny pebble into the lake.

Elsewhere — in a chapter on whether Quebec may adopt a “written constitution” for a book building on work presented at a symposium convened at Yale by Richard Albert I incidentally develop an argument about quasi-constitutional statutes in Canada.

My main argument is that the only way to enact formal constitutional provisions thatare part of the supreme law, so that they may invalidate ordinary ones, is to use one of Canada’s special constitution-changing procedures, which are different from and more demanding than the ordinary process of enacting a statute by aexercise of ordinary legislative power. These special procedures are entrenched in sections 35.1,3843, and 4648 of the Constitution Act 1982. It is worth noting that, whereassection 35.1 is not included in Part V, titled “Procedure for amending Constitution of Canada” but is nonetheless part of that procedure, other sections which are included in that Part, among them section 45, pertaining to “laws amending the constitution of the province”, are not. To summarizemy general thesis is that, in accordance with the “unwritten” principle of parliamentary sovereignty, both the federal parliament and provincial legislatures may probably not legally bind their successors or even themselves, even by (true) “manner” or “form” requirements, the meeting of which the validity of subsequent legislation would be conditional upon. My point is that the limited range of so-called “manner and form” requirements (from ordinary legislation) that are permissible under Canadian constitutional law using ordinary legislation should be understood as statutory interpretation rules, in the sense of rules allowing actors to resolve inconsistencies between enactments of a same legislature, and not as conditions for legal validity. This is where the idea of “quasiconstitutional” statutes becomes relevant.

Continuer à lire … « “Quasi Constitutional” Status as *Not* Implying a Form Requirement »

Trinity Western: Did the Chief Justice of Canada make an illegal or questionable order?

By Patrick F. Baud and Maxime St-Hilaire

On February 23, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave in two appeals arising from the British Columbia and Ontario law societies’ decision not to accredit of Trinity Western University’s law school. Trinity Western University, a private, evangelical Christian university in British Columbia, requires students to sign its Community Covenant as a condition of admission to the law school. The Community Covenant prohibits students from engaging “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. Without the law societies’ accreditation, the law school’s graduates will not be automatically eligible to be admitted to the bar. Continuer à lire … « Trinity Western: Did the Chief Justice of Canada make an illegal or questionable order? »