Constitutional Documents

The Constitution Act (1867)

The British North America Act, 1867 (The Constitution Act 1867) was enacted by the Imperial Parliament in 1867. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system.

The Act also allocated powers between the provincial and federal governments.  Thus, Section 91 lists the powers of the federal Parliament, while Section 92 lists the powers of the Provincial Legislatures. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the federal government must not make laws dealing with matters of provincial jurisdiction, and vice versa.

Some of the key areas of federal and provincial responsibility are:

Federal:

  • Management of the public debt and property
  • Regulation of trade and commerce
  • The raising of money by any mode or system of taxation
  • Postal service
  • Militia, military and naval service, and defence
  • Navigation and shipping
  • Currency and coinage
  • Banking, incorporation of banks, and the issuance of paper money
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency
  • Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians
  • Naturalization and aliens
  • Marriage and divorce
  • The criminal law

Provincial:

  • Direct taxation within the Province in order to raise revenue for provincial purposes
  • The management and sale of the public lands belonging to the Province and of the timber and wood thereon
  • The establishment, maintenance, and management of hospitals, asylums, and charities
  • Local works and undertakings
  • The solemnization of marriage in the Province
  • Property and civil rights within the Province
  • The administration of justice in the Province
  • Generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the Province.

A copy of the Constitution Act (1867) may be found here:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-1.html

 

The Constitution Act (1982)

The Consitutiion Act of 1982 — officially the Canada Act (1982) —- is essentially Canada’s constitution.  Approved by the British Parliament on March 25, 1982, and proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Queen of Canada, on Parliament Hill on April 17, 1982, the effectively makes Canada independent of the Westminster Parliament. The document contains the original statute that established the Canadian Confederation in 1867 (the British North America Act), the amendments made to it by the British Parliament over the years, and new material resulting from negotiations between the federal and provincial governments between 1980 and 1982.

The text of the Constitution Act (1982) may be found here:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/CONST_E.pdf

 

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

One of the most significant elements of the Constitution Act (1982) is the inclusion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter set down 34 rights to be observed across Canada, ranging from freedom of religion to linguistic and educational rights.

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/index.html

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/CONST_E.pdf#page=69

 

Updated 24 January 2017 at 12 h 34 min.