Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law
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PPAL 6100 Canadian Constitutional & Administrative Law. March 2, 2009 Prof. Nergis Canefe (this class taught by Ian Greene). Introduction to Constitutional Law, the Constitution and the Legal System. Schedule for tonight : Brief Introductions Course expectations Electronic resources

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PPAL 6100 Canadian Constitutional & Administrative Law

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Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law

PPAL 6100Canadian Constitutional & Administrative Law

March 2, 2009

Prof. NergisCanefe

(this class taught by Ian Greene)

Introduction to constitutional law the constitution and the legal system

Introduction to Constitutional Law, the Constitution and the Legal System

  • Schedule for tonight:

  • Brief Introductions

  • Course expectations

  • Electronic resources

  • Discussion about readings assigned for this evening

Course expectations

Course Expectations

  • Seminar Presentations

  • Commentary on Canadian Legal System

  • Case analysis

  • Major Essay

  • Seminar participation

  • Avoid Plagiarism



  • Name

  • How does your work (current or past) relate to constitutional and administrative law?

Electronic resources

Electronic resources

  • www.yorku.ca/igreene: access to many course readings and powerpoint presentations . (There will be some handouts.)

  • http://www.arts.yorku.ca/politics/ncanefe/index.html

Introduction to public law canadian legal system preliminary observations on the law

“Adjudication” is the dispute-resolution system used in courts. Characteristics?

Law applied to facts

Judge makes final decision

Reasons presented for judgment

How is adjudication different from arbitration and mediation?

Arbitration: standards agreed to by disputing parties applied, but not usually the whole body of law

Mediation: assistance in listening, understanding, and resolving (contract)

What are "legal persons?“

People, corporations, and governments

What's the difference between negative and positive law?

Negative law: prohibited from certain behaviours (crim. law)

Positive law: positive incentive to change behaviour (tax deductions for donations to political parties)

Introduction to public law& Canadian legal system Preliminary Observations on the Law

Sources of law

Main sources of law:

statute law (laws created by legislatures)

case law (created by judges)

Other (informal) sources: Ten Commandments, Magna Carta (1215), canon law, writings of legal scholars (eg. Coke ~ 1630, and Blackstone ~ 1770), community standards (eg. obscenity cases), Hogg's Constitutional Law of Canada.

primary and subordinate legislation

ratio decidendi; obiter dicta

common = general

common law judges "find" the law

Parliamentary sovereignty or legislative supremacy. Aggregate legislature can do anything. Seven-fifty-formula; unanimity formula; some-but-not-all formula; provinces alone; feds alone.

Constitutional convention

Sources of Law

British legal tradition

Reception: All English statutes enacted prior to reception are law in Canada, unless changed in Canada.

NB & NS: 1758

Quebec: 1759: French civil law. 1763: English public law

PEI: 1763

Ontario: 1792

Newfoundland: 1832

BC: 1858

Man, Alta., Sask: 1870.

Federal gov't: date depends on when federal laws were inherited from former colonies. Eg. Quebec, 1763; Ont. 1792.

Imperial statutes remained in force until Statute of Westminster, 1931.

Development of common law courts and courts of equity.

Preamble to BNA Act: implied Bill of Rights

Barristers and Solicitors

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC); 1949.

per curiam vs. seriatim

England: specialized appeal j's; Canada: generalist appeal j's.

British Legal Tradition

Canadian court structure

Canadian Court Structure

  • ____________________________ federal appointments | Supreme Court of Canada | and administration | 9 judges | |___________________________| _____________________| | ____|___ ____|____ ________________|________ federal | | | | | | federal appointments | Tax | | Federal | | 10 provincial & 3 territorial | appointments, & admin. | Court | | Court | | courts of appeal | provincial | 27 js | | 47 js | | 128 judges | administration |______| |________| |_______________________ | | | _____________ |______ | federal | | | appointments | provincial superior | | provincial | trial courts | | administration | 829 judges | | |__________________ | | |___________________| | | | ___________ |__________ | | (All counts as of 2001) provincial | pure provincial and | appointments | territorial courts | & admin. | 984 judges | |______________________|

Important legal terms

Important legal terms

  • common law

    • stare decisis

    • adversary system

  • circuit judges: “assizes.”

  • Why don’t judges have to retire until 70 or 75?

  • County and District courts now merged with superior courts

  • judicial independence: purpose to promote judicial impartiality

    • Valente decision (1985)

      • security of tenure

      • financial security

      • judicial control over adjudicative matters

  • judicial discipline: Canadian Jud Council & prov. Jud. Councils (eg. - Hryciuk)

Judicial decision making

Trial Courts:

Improvisors (~10%)

no single process, but for most outcomes would be the same

Strict Formalists (~ 20%)

particular process followed, and always leads to the same conclusion.

Pragmatic formalists (~45%)

particular process followed (check list, shifting balance, water rising), but judges might decide differently.

Intuitivists (~25%)

“gut feeling”

Appeal courts:

Panel process different

Supreme Court of Canada

a public law court (~100)

leave to appeal (~600 apps)

Problems with justice system

for some litigants and lawyers, a game

delay in client’s interest (about half of trial lawyers)

judges limited by adversary system re control of caseflow

Role of courts: dispute resolution, prevent abuse of power, official const. philosophers, pawns in other peoples’ battles

Judicial decision-making

Appeal courts

Appeal courts

  • Minor appeals heard by a single judge in a higher court (summary conviction appeals)

  • Major appeals heard by the provincial Court of Appeal

  • Ontario has about 18 Court of Appeal judges; usually they sit in panels of 3 (sometimes 5)

  • The Federal Court (Appeal Division) has about a dozen judges; hear cases in panels of 3.

  • Supreme Court (9 judges) most often hears cases in panels of 7; sometimes panels of 5 or 9.

  • per curiam (or per coram) vs. seriatim decisions

Schools of jurisprudence

Schools of jurisprudence

  • Judicial positivism (John Austin, A.V. Dicey, H.L.A. Hart)

    • The only law that exists is the written law

    • Good judges can always interpret the positive law correctly

  • Natural law (John Locke, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin)

    • There are “higher” laws that positive law ought to emulate. These higher laws might be created by religion, logic, or ethical principles.

  • Judicial realism (Karl Llewellyn)

    • Even if judges try to be impartial, the law can never be perfectly clear. What makes judges decide the way they do?

    • Canadian Judicial realism: Sidney Peck, Peter Russell, many current scholars.

  • Critical Legal Theory

    • a branch of “critical theory,” which examines institutions from the perspective of class analysis.

Stare decisis

Stare decisis: a rigid form of doctrine of precedent

Ways around stare decisis:


Ratio is really obiter

Per incuriam

Emphasize different majority opinion


Hierarchy of courts determining application of stare decisis

SCC can choose not to follow precedent. Ont CA: policy: follow

What if conflicting precedents?

Stare Decisis

Other important terms

Other Important Terms

  • Legislation:

    • primary legislation (enacted by a sovereign legislature, i.e. Parliament or provincial legislature)

    • subordinate legislation (eg. Orders in Council, city bylaws, CRTC regulations)

    • Both are law; subordinate must be cleary authorized by primary

  • Manner and form requirements for judges to recognize a law

  • Canada’s constitution:

  • 1. Written parts

    • Canada Act, 1982 (British statute that makes CA, 1982 law and declares that no British statute will in future extend to Canada)

      b) S. 52 CA 1982: ~30 statutes and orders listed in the schedule to the Schedule to the Const. Act, 1982, most importantly the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the BNA Act; contains division of powers), and the Constitution Act, 1982 (contains the Charter and the five amending formulas)

      - Others: statutes & orders established new provinces, or amended the BNA Act.

Chapter 4 of boyd

Chapter 4 of Boyd

  • Presentation by Frank Belluardo

Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law

See “highlights on the Canadian Constitution” under “supplemental materials” on 6100 web page on /igreene

  • You need to know the bolded parts of the web document for career purposes


  • Ss. 56, 57 & 90:reservation and disallowance

  • 91.  the "preamble" to S.91 is the"POGG" clause (peace, order and good government):  It shall be lawful for [Parliament] to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada, in relation to all matters NOT coming within the subject-matters assigned exclusively to the Provinces inS. 92.  For greater certainty, Parliament may make laws with regard to matters covered by the following list.  However, this list merely provides examples, and these examples are not to be interpreted by courts as limiting Parliament's power.

  • 2.  Trade and Commerce2A.  Unemployment insurance (added in 1940)3.Unlimited taxing powers (direct and indirect)14.Currency & coinage15.   Banking24.  Indians, and lands reserved for Indians27.The Criminal Law

92 the provincial legislatures have exclusive power to make laws regarding the following

92.  The provincial legislatures have exclusive power to make laws regarding the following:

  • 92 - 2.Direct taxation10.  Local works and undertakings EXCEPT     a)  interprovincial railways & telegraphs     b)  international shipping     c)  any works that Parliament has declared are         within federal jurisdiction.  (“declaratory power”): eg. Grain elevators, local railways, canals, bridges, some mines, some factories. Used 470 times, but not since 1961.13.Property and civil rights (meaning private law) 14.The administration of justice in the province, including the establishment of all courts except the Supreme     Court of Canada and the Federal Court, and prosecution of criminal cases.16.  All matters of a merely local or private nature. 92A (added in 1982).  The provinces can regulate non-renewable natural resources, including forestry and electrical energy, and can even regulate exports.  However, the federal government can also regulate exports in this area, and federal laws are paramount.

Education and concurrent powers

Education and concurrent powers

  • 93.  The provinces control education, except that the feds can intervene to protect Roman Catholic schools in Ontario and separate schools in any province that existed at the time the province entered Confederation.

  • 95.  Agriculture and Immigration are concurrent powers (both the feds and the provinces can legislate).  If there is a conflict, the federal legislation is paramount.

Judiciary provisions

Judiciary provisions

  • 96.  The federal cabinet has the power to appoint all superior court judges in the provinces.

  • 99.  Superior court judgescannot be removed except by joint address of the Senate and House of Commons.  Superior court judges hold office "during good behaviour" to the retirement age of 75 (to protect judicial independence).

  • 100.  The salaries of superior court judges are set by Parliament, not by the cabinet (to protect judicial independence).

  • 101. Parliament may establish a Supreme Court of Canada (which it did in 1875) and other courts to adjudicate federal laws other than the Criminal Code (eg. the Federal Court, which hears federal administrative law cases, and the Tax Court.)

Other important provisions in ca 1867

Other important provisions in CA, 1867

  • 109.  The provinces own the natural resources within them.

  • 121. There shall be no customs duties or restrictions of trade between provinces.

  • 132. Parliament can make any law to implement British Empire treaties, even if the law invades provincial jurisdiction.  However, after 1931 the courts interpreted this section to mean that provincial approval is required for any non-British Empire treaty which affects matters under provincial control.

  • 133. English and French can be used in Parliament, and Canada's laws must be in both languages. Likewise, English or French may be used in Quebec's National Assembly, and Quebec's laws must be in both languages.  Either language may be used in the courts of Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Tax Court.

Ca 1982

CA, 1982

  • Ss 1-34: The Charter of Rights

  • S. 35: Aboriginal rights

  • S. 36: commitment to equalization payments, so that poorer provices can provide adequate services.

Constitutional crisis of 1981 82

Constitutional Crisis of 1981/82

  • 1867: Canada independent re its internal affairs

  • Balfour Declaration (1926) and Statute of Westminster (1931): Canada recognized as an independent state re foreign relations

  • BNA Act (1867) was an imperial statute, therefore could only be amended by British Parliament. 1926-1981: many failed constitutional conferences.

  • Victoria Charter nearly successful (1971): Amending formula would include Parliament, Ontario, Quebec, 2/4 Western provinces, 2/4 Atlantic provinces. Failed when a new gov’t elected in Alberta, and Quebec premier couldn’t get cabinet to agree.

  • Alberta suggested an alternative: Parliament, and 2/3 of provinces representing 50% of Canadian population.

Canadian constitutional amendment

In Canada, there are 5 amending formulas for the constitution:

Unanimity formula (Queen, GG, LGs, composition of SCC, senate floor rule, federal language rights, amending formulas

“some but not all” (eg. language within province, denominational school rights, change in prov. borders)

Provinces can amend own constitutions

Fed gov’t can amend its internal constitution

General amending formula (seven-fifty): the rest of the constitution (incl div of powers & Charter) can be amended with Parliament, 7 out of 10 provinces representing 50% of pop. Dissenting provinces may opt out, and get reasonable compensation if amendment affects culture or education.

Canadian Constitutional Amendment

Amending formulas more detail


  • 38-40 & 42.  The 7-50 formula.  Most of the narrow constitution, including the Charter of Rights and the division of powers in ss. 91 and 92 of the C.A., 1867, can beamended with the agreement of seven provinces representing 50% of Canada's population and Parliament.  (That is, either Ontario or Quebec must be included.)  Up to3 provinces could opt out of such an amendment.  If they opt out of an amendment which transfers educational or cultural matters to Ottawa, these provinces shall becompensated financially by Ottawa (Ottawa must give to the opting-out provinces what they are spending, per capita, on the opting-in provinces). 

  • There is a 3-year timelimit which begins with the first resolution for amendment (which could be in any provincial legislature or Parliament).  No amendment may take effect according to this procedure until at least one year after the first resolution has passed (unless all governments have passed resolutions).

7 50 formula continued

7-50 formula continued

  • No province can opt out of an amendment affecting:

  • a)  proportionate representation of the provinces in    the House of Commonsb & c)  the Senated)  the Supreme Court of Canadae)  the extension of existing provinces northf)  establishment of new provinces

Amending forumlas cont d

Amending forumlas (cont’d)

  • 41.  The unanimity formula.  Unanimous agreement of all provincial legislatures and Parliament is required for amendments affecting:

  • a)  the Queen, Governor General and Lieutenant-Governorsb)  the "Senate floor rule" (no province can have fewer MPs than Senators).c)  the use of English or French in S. 133 or the Charterd)  the composition of the Supreme Court, ande)  changes to the amending formulas.

  • 43.  The "some but not all" forumla:  Amendments which affect some but not all provinces need by approved only by the provincial legislatures affected and Parliament.

  • 44.  Parliament may amend parts of the constitution that affect only Parliament.

  • 45.  Legislatures may amend parts of their constitutions that affect only them.

U s canada comparison of constitutional amendment process

U.S.: Congress proposes amendments (2/3 of both houses)

Proposals have to be ratified by ¾ of state legislatures, or ¾ of state constitutional conventions


U.S. constitution amended 17 times in 21 decades (rate .08/year)

Canadian constitution amended 32 times in 13 decades (.23 to 1982, and 9 after) (rate .24/year)

Canada’s constitution is more flexible

Major Can. amendments:

1940: unempl ins

1951: old age pensions

1964: old age pensions broadened to include supplementary, survivors, disability (CPP)

1982: Charter and amending formulas

1983: S. 35.1: must be a constitutional conf including native peoples before native rights amended

1987-1998: 3 amendments to den school rts in Nfld

1997: den school rts Quebec

1993: equality of Fr & Eng in New Brunswick

U.S. & Canada: Comparison of Constitutional amendment process

Amendment failures


1927-1982: six failed attempts to find a domestic amending formula

1971 – Victoria charter came close

1982: success achieved after SCC decision (discussed later in course)

Meech Lake & Charlottetown Accords (discussed later)

U.S.: 6 amendments proposed by Congress but not ratified by states, including ERA (equal treatment of women in all legislation)

Impact of court decisions:

1940, 1951 amendments in Canada a reaction to court decisions

Civil war amendments in U.S. a reaction to court decisions

1918: SCUS decision led to amendment to prohibit child labour. 1938: Roosevelt threatened to “pack” court. Court overruled 1918 decision.

Amendment failures

Informal constitutional amendment

United States

Washington: cabinet advisory & responsible to president

Jefferson: declared that U.S. could purchase new territory; never challenged in court

Political parties developed without constitutional amendment

Congress assumed vast powers over economy in 1930s and 1940s


Feds assume they have power to do something under POGG, or provinces assume they have power to do something under 92(13)

After 1995, fed legislation passed to prevent cabinet ministers from proposing amendments under 7-50 without support of Quebec, Ont, B.C., 2/3 prairie provinces, 2/4 Atlantic; Quebec recognized as distinct society

Clarity Act (2000)

Was Dicey right that in the U.S., judges are supreme because they declare the constitution? Does Dicey’s analysis apply to Canada?

Informal constitutional amendment

Unwritten parts of the constitution

Unwritten parts of the constitution

1. Constitutional conventions        -Rule of law         -Judicial independence         -Responsible government         -cabinet responsible to the legislature         -Ministerial accountability         -Cabinet solidarity         -Gov Gen and Lieut Gov’s must act according to the advice of the first minister, unless that advice is unconstitutional         -The leader of the group in H of C or prov leg that can command the support of the majority of members becomes first minister and chooses cabinet.  First minister tells GG or LG when to call election, unless another group can form gov’t

2. The ratio in the judicial decisions about the meaning of the constitution (eg. the ratio in the cases we’ll be studying in this course)

Quebec and civil law approach

Codification of laws

Coutume de Paris (1580)

Confusion after 1759

Royal Proclamation (1763)

Quebec Act 1774

Codification: 1866: Civil Code of Lower Canada (CCLC)

1994: Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ)

Deductive Reasoning

Inquisitorial System (not in Quebec)

Code, la doctrine, precedent

Quebec courts:

Court of Appeal (s.96)

Superior Court (s.96)

Court of Quebec (provincial – s. 92(14))

Civil and common law approaches coming closer together

Quebec and Civil Law Approach

Stare decisis1

Stare decisis: a rigid form of doctrine of precedent

Ways around stare decisis:


Ratio is really obiter

Per incuriam

Emphasize different majority opinion


Hierarchy of courts determining application of stare decisis

SCC can choose not to follow precedent. Ont CA: policy: follow

What if conflicting precedents?

Stare Decisis

Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law

Natural Justice & Fairness

  • Natural Justice

    • Nemo judex in sua causa

    • Audi alteram partem

  • Functions of Admin. Agencies:

    • Legislative

    • Administrative

    • Executive

    • Judicial or quasi-jud.

  • Judicial review

    • Jurisdictional

    • Abuse of power

    • Natural justice

      • Jud or quasi-jud

    • Doctrine of fairness

  • Privative clauses

    • Can’t hide behind priv clause if const issue, or patently unreasonable

Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law

Rules of Statutory Interpretation (1)

  • Why are rules needed?

  • Intent of legislature

  • “reasonable person” test

  • 1.Plain meaning rule

  • 2.“golden rule”: avoid absurdity & inconsistency

  • 3.What was the mischief & remedy?

  • Specific words help explain general ones nearby

  • Express inclusion of some items implies exclusion of items not mentioned

  • Aids:

    • Interpretation statutes

    • Definition sections of statutes

Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law

Rules of Statutory Interpretation (2)

  • More Aids:

    • Context in statute

    • Other similar statutes

    • Legislative history

      • Minimal weight. Why?

  • Books on rules of interpretation, & legal dictionaries

  • French & English text

  • International conventions & treaties (sometimes)

  • Preamble (but not marginal notes)

  • Headings (except in Ontario – excluded by statute)

Ppal 6100 canadian constitutional administrative law


  • Criminal law: in favour of accused

  • Taxation law: in favour of taxpayer

  • Against alteration of common law

  • Mens rea (guilty mind), unless express absolute liability

  • Against retroactivity

  • Against ousting jurisdiction of courts

  • For crown immunity (now mostly replaced by statutes allowing suits against crown)

  • Every word is deliberate

  • Specific given precedence over general

  • More recent > older

  • Leg. did not intend drafting error (cts can correct)

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