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Sui Generis

Category: Aboriginal Rights

Sui generis is a latin phrase used in many different contexts and is generally used when referring to something that possesses unique characteristics that are not easily categorized. In the context of Canadian Aboriginal law, sui generis is a legal term describing the

Key Terms
Dialogue Theory

Category: Democratic Governance, The Charter

What is ‘Dialogue Theory’? ‘Dialogue theory’ is a particular thesis that describes the relationship between the legislative and judicial branches of government. Put most simply, it is the idea that “Canadian legislators are engaging in a self-conscious dialogue with the judiciary.”[1] This

Key Terms
Subsidiarity

Category: Federalism

‘Subsidiarity’ is a jurisdictional principle regarding the distribution of competence between federal and sub-federal levels of government. The leading statement of this principle is Article 5 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community (Official Journal C 340), which states that

Key Terms
Spicer Commission

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

The ‘Spicer Commission’, formally known as the Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future, was part of the Mulroney government’s efforts to lay the groundwork for the Charlottetown Accord. The Commission consisted of twelve prominent Canadians from across the country led by

Key Terms
Sovereignty-Association

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

‘Sovereignty-association’ is one manifestation of Quebec separatism. It calls for political independence and an ongoing economic partnership with Canada. Conceptualized by René Lévesque, ‘sovereignty-association’ was the centrepiece of the Parti Québécois’ (PQ) secessionist platform during the years Lévesque led the

Key Terms
Delegation

Category: Federalism

The constitutional distribution of powers (see division of powers) between the federal and provincial governments has, at times, made it difficult for either level of government to deal with certain issues.

Key Terms
Social Union

Category: Federalism

Social union is the dimension of the Canadian federation that emphasizes the social community shared by Canadians, focusing on such things as social justice, interregional and interpersonal equity, role of government in society, and the relationship between governmental provision of

Key Terms
Declarations

Category: Democratic Governance

A declaration is a statement made by a court clarifying the law, or the rights and obligations of one party to another. When a court makes a declaration, it simply ‘declares’ what the law is. It does not direct a

Key Terms
Social Charter

Category: Democratic Governance

This term is used to capture various means of constitutional recognition of the essential components of economic and social citizenship (such as rights to education, health care, an adequate standard of living, housing, and employment). Recent calls for such constitutional

Key Terms
Interjurisdictional Immunity

Category: Federalism

The doctrine of Interjurisdictional immunity is a rarely used constitutional tool that is employed to insulate the activities of one level of government from another. Thus far in Canadian case law, this doctrine has almost always been used in favour

Key Terms
Separatism

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

‘Separatism’ may generally be understood as the desire to establish a politically independent Quebec. This desire to break away from Canada and create a separate state is a contemporary phenomenon, born of the waves of social and political change that

Key Terms
Senate

Category: Democratic Governance

The Senate is the Upper House of Canada’s two-house Parliamentary system. Created by the Constitution Act, 1867, the Senate was created as a place of “sober second thought” to carefully examine legislation before it becomes law. It is made up

Key Terms
Convention

Category: Democratic Governance

A ‘convention’ is an uncodified rule of a constitution considered binding on political actors but not enforceable by the courts. The constitution of a country is comprised of both written or codified rules enforced by courts, and ‘unwritten’ rules or

Key Terms
Hays-Joyal Committee

Category: Democratic Governance

After talks among the eleven First Ministers, which commenced in 1976, failed to produce an agreement on a new Canadian Constitution, or even agreement on how to patriate (see patriation) the Constitution, the federal government announced its own unilateral proposals

Key Terms
Constitutionalism

Category: Democratic Governance

‘Constitutionalism’ is a term that is central to understanding the enterprise of adopting, interpreting and amending constitutions, including the Canadian Constitution, and yet, it is a term that is extremely difficult to define. This difficulty arises in part because of

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