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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

Key Terms
Secession

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

‘Secession’ is best understood as a process. It culminates when one geographic part of a sovereign state itself becomes a state with full sovereign powers. To do this, the government of the seceding state must exercise effective control over the

Key Terms
Governor in Council

Category: Democratic Governance

Whenever a piece of Canadian legislation, such as the Constitution, mentions the ‘Governor in Council’ this refers to the Governor General acting by and with the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.[1] In practice, this means the Governor General acting on advice given by federal

Key Terms
Rule of Law

Category: Democratic Governance

‘The ‘rule of law’ is mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1982. It refers to no one single idea, but to a cluster of ideas. It is a term often associated with the English legal scholar Albert Venn Dicey

Key Terms
Constitutional Rights

Category: Democratic Governance

Constitutional rights are the most highly guaranteed freedoms within a legal system. In Canada, constitutional rights can be exercised by individuals or groups against the government, or by one level of government against another; either way, constitutional rights are always

Key Terms
Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person

Category: The Charter, Legal Rights (Sections 7-14)

This article was written by a law student for the general public. Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our right to “life, liberty, and security of

Key Terms
Fundamental Freedoms

Category: The Charter, Fundamental Freedoms (Section 2)

Fundamental Freedoms are basic political liberties required in a democracy. In general, they guarantee that an individual can act, think, be, or do without government interference unless a law says otherwise.[1] Fundamental Freedoms are found in section 2 of the Canadian

Key Terms
Constitution Acts

Category: Democratic Governance

The ‘Constitution Acts’ are a set of statutes enacted by the Imperial Parliament, beginning with the Constitution Act, 1867 ((U.K.), 30 & 31 Vict., c. 3, reprinted in R.S.C. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5), and culminating in the Constitution Act, 1982 (being Schedule B to the Canada

Key Terms
Reservation and Disallowance

Category: Federalism

Reservation’ and ‘Disallowance’ are often confused, since both derive from the practices of the British colonial empire, but they are actually distinct terms. Historically, ‘reservation’ was the practice whereby a colonial governor, rather than giving or refusing assent to a

Key Terms
Concurrency

Category: Federalism

‘Concurrency’ refers to the allocation of responsibility for a subject matter of legislation to both the federal and provincial levels of government. Concurrent allocation of responsibility arises from the fact that the powers assigned to the federal Parliament and provincial

Key Terms
Reference re Quebec Secession

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

The Reference re Quebec Secession ([1998] 2 S.C.R. 217) is the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada that addresses the constitutionality of a hypothetical unilateral declaration of independence by the province of Quebec. Two related sets of events led to

Key Terms
Colourability

Category: Democratic Governance, Federalism

Colourability is a concept that goes against Canadian federalism because the Constitution has assigned certain powers to the federal jurisdiction under section 91 and to the provincial realms under section 92.[1] It occurs when either the federal government or any of the provincial

Key Terms
Fulton-Favreau

Category: Democratic Governance

Efforts to find anamending formula for the Canadian Constitution began in 1927. The question was studied extensively over the next thirty years but no agreements were reached. In 1960 E. Davie Fulton, Minister of Justice in the government of John

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