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Encyclopedia > Canadian federalism

Canadian federalism is one of the three pillars of the constitutional order, along with responsible government and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It means that Canada has two distinct levels of political authority, the central Canadian Parliament and ten provincial legislative assemblies. Each level is sovereign with respect to certain areas of legislative authority, while a few subjects are shared (agriculture and immigration). The United Kingdom did not follow this model when Confederation was realized, making Canada different from its mother country in this respect. Responsible government is a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. ... The Charter, signed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1981. ... The Parliament of Canada (in French: le Parlement du Canada) is Canadas legislative branch, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. ... Map of Canada Canada is a federation of ten provinces which, together with three territories, comprise the worlds second largest country. ... We dont have an article called Canadian-confederation Start this article Search for Canadian-confederation in. ...

The federal nature of Canadian constitution was a reaction to the colonial diversities in the Maritimes and the Province of Canada, in particular the strong distinction between the French-speaking inhabitants of Lower Canada (Québec) and the English-speaking inhabitants of Upper Canada (Ontario). Federalism was considered essential to the co-existence of the French and English communities. John A. Macdonald, who became the first prime minister of Canada, had at first opposed a federalist system of government. A federation (Latin: foedus, covenant) is a state comprised of a number of partially self-governing regions (often themselves referred to as states) united by a central (federal) government. ... The Maritime provinces See also Maritime province for disambiguation. ... Note: for information about Canadas present-day provinces, see Provinces and territories of Canada. ... Lower Canada was a British colony in North America, at the downstream end of the Saint Lawrence River in the southern portion of the modern-day province of Quebec. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Map of Upper Canada (orange) Upper Canada was a British territory in the Canadian province of Ontario. ... Sir John Alexander Macdonald, KCMG, GCB, QC, PC, DCL, LL.D (January 11, 1815 – June 6, 1891) was the first Prime Minister of Canada from July 1, 1867 – November 5, 1873 and October 17, 1878 – June 6, 1891. ... Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada. ...

The division of powers between the federal and provincial governments was initially outlined in the British North America Act, 1867 (now the Constitution Act, 1867), which, with amendments (in the British North America Acts and the Constitution Act, 1982), form the Constitution of Canada. The Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867, and still known informally as the BNA Act), comprises a major part of Canadas constitution. ... Amendments to the Constitution of Canada are changes to the Constitution of Canada initiated by the government. ... The British North America Acts 1867–1975 are a series of Acts of the British Parliament dealing with the government of Canada. ... The Constitution Act, 1982 (Schedule B of the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.)) is a part of the Constitution of Canada. ... The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada. ...


Distribution of Legislative Powers in the Constitution Act, 1867

The federal-provincial Distribution of Legislative Powers (also known as the division of powers) defines the scope of the power of the federal Parliament of Canada and the powers of each individual provincial legislature or assembly. These are contained in sections 91, 92, 92A, 93, 94, 94A and 95 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Much of the distribution, however, has been ambiguous, leading to disputes that have been decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and, after 1949, the Supreme Court of Canada. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) is a common year starting on Saturday. ... The Supreme Court Building in Ottawa The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal for all litigants in the Canadian justice system. ...

Unlike the United States Constitution (which awards residuary powers to the states), the Canadian constitution has created an overarching federal jurisdiction based upon the power known as peace, order and good government (in section 91). On the other hand, the Canadian constitution also created a very broad provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights. Many disputes between the two levels of government revolve around conflicting interpretations of the meaning of these two powers. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... In Canada, the phrase peace, order and good government (in French, paix, dordre et de bon gouvernement) is often used to describe the principles upon which that countrys confederation took place. ...

A quick perusal of these powers shows that while the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal law (defined in the Margarine Reference) and procedure (section 91(27)) the provinces have jurisdiction over the administration of justice, including criminal matters (section 92(14)) and penal matters (section 92(15)) regarding any laws made within provincial jurisdiction. Thus Canada has a single Criminal Code but many provincial laws that can result in incarceration or penalty. The courts have recognized that the provinces and the federal government have the right to create corporations; only the federal government has the right to incorporate banks, though provinces may incorporate credit unions which offer similar services as the federally chartered banks. Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of common law that punishes criminals for committing offences against the state. ... Reference re Validity of Section 5(a) of the Dairy Industry Act (1949), also known as the Margarine Reference or as Can. ...

In relation to marriage and divorce, the federal government's exclusive authority over these subjects (section 91(26)) has given Canada a single family law, yet the provinces can pass laws regulating the solemnization of marriage (section 92(12)) and wide variety of subjects pertaining to civil and political rights (section 92(13)) and have created institutions such as common-law marriage and civil union. The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse, which can be contrasted with an annulment which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support, child custody... Family Law was a television drama starring Kathleen Quinlan as a divorced lawyer who attempted to start her own law firm after her lawyer husband took all their old clients. ... Common-law marriage (or common law marriage), sometimes called informal marriage or marriage by habit and repute is, historically, a form of interpersonal status in which a man and a woman are legally married. ... A civil union is one of several terms for a civil status similar to marriage, typically created for the purposes of allowing same-sex couples access to the benefits enjoyed by married opposite-sex peoples (see also same-sex marriage); it can also be used by opposite-sex couples who...

Nowhere in the division of powers of the Constitution Act, 1867 is there a mention of a treaty power, reserved to the British Empire. Power for external relations was granted to Canada only after the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931. The domestic implementation of treaties, however, remains divided between the two levels of government. The British Empire was, at one time, the foremost global power, and the most extensive empire in the history of the world. ... The Statute of Westminster 1931 was the enactment of the United Kingdom Parliament (December 11, 1931) which established a status of legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the British Empire and the United Kingdom. ... 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1931 calendar). ...

Trade and commerce

Section 91(2) gives Parliament the power to make law related to the "regulation of trade and commerce." In comparison with the U.S. Constitution's approach to trade and commerce, the power given to Parliament is more broadly worded than that given to the U.S. government, but in Canada since Citizen's Insurance Co. v. Parsons in the 1880s it has nevertheless been typically read more narrowly, as some judges have felt that it overlaps with the provincial authority over property and civil rights. Parliament's authority over trade and commerce is said to include its "general" aspects, although this was an ambiguous definition until the 1980s when in General Motors of Canada Ltd. v. City National Leasing it was ruled Parliament could regulate trade and commerce if its object was to achieve something a provincial government alone could not achieve. Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed The Constitution of the United States is the supreme... A fruit stand at a market. ... Commerce is the trading of something of value between two entities. ... Citizens Insurance Company of Canada v. ... General Motors of Canada Ltd. ...

Property and civil rights

Section 92(13) gives the provinces the exclusive power to make law related to "property and civil rights in the province". In practice, this power has been read broadly giving the provinces authority over numerous matters such as professional trades, labour relations, family law and consumer protection. Property and civil rights is a term that predates the Constitution Act, 1867, and does not mean what it means today. It primarily refers to interactions between private persons. This would include the great majority of what any government would regulate, which means Parliament would be powerless if it were not for its enumerated powers in section 91 and for peace, order and good government. // Use of the term The concept of property or ownership has no single or universally accepted definition. ... The field of labor relations looks at the relationship between management and groups of workers represented by a labor union. ...

Transportation and communication

Like many other powers, transportation and communication have overlapping powers between the two jurisdictions. Section 92(10) gives the provinces power over "local work and undertakings". However, the section also excludes the provinces from undertakings related to "ships, railways, canals, telegraphs, and other works and undertakings connecting the province with any other or others of the provinces", as well as ship lines, and such works "declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more provinces." Communication is the process of exchanging information, usually via a common protocol. ... Italian ship-rigged vessel Amerigo Vespucci in New York Harbor, 1976 A ship is a large, sea-going watercraft, sometimes with multiple decks. ... The Canal du Midi in Toulouse, France. ... Telegraphy (from the Greek words tele = far away and grapho = write) is the long distance transmission of written messages without physical transport of letters, originally over wire. ...

Federalism and the Charter

In 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was brought into effect. This was not meant to effect the workings of federalism, though some content was moved from section 91 to Section Four of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mainly, the Charter is meant to decrease powers of both levels of government by ensuring both federal and provincial laws repect Charter rights. The relationship between federalism and the Charter is directly dealt with in Section Thirty-one of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section Four of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of three democratic rights sections in the Charter. ... Section Thirty-one of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a part of the Constitution of Canada, which clarifies that the Charter does not increase the powers of either the federal government or the legislatures of the provinces of Canada. ...


The relationship between Canada and the provinces has changed throughout time, with an increasing amount of decentralization taking place as years passed. Throughout the Macdonald era (1867-1873, 1878-1891), the Confederation was such that it has been described by political scientist Rand Dyck as "Quasi-Federalism". This meant that the political and judicial elites of the 19th century read the Constitution of Canada in a way that that gave the federal Parliament extensive powers that essentially made the provinces "subordinate to Ottawa." The Macdonald government's use of disallowance and reservation also reinforced the supremacy of the federal government at that time. 1873 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calaber). ... 1878 (MDCCCLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... 1891 (MDCCCXCI) was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Template:Hide = Motto: Template:Unhide = Advance Ottawa/Ottawa en avant Established: Area: 2,778. ... In Canadian constitutional law, disallowance and reservation are constitutional powers to reject any bill passed by Parliament or any legislature in Canada on the authority of the Imperial Parliament. They were also used by the federal government to veto provincial laws. ...

With the election of Sir Wilfrid Laurier came a new phase of Confederation that Dyck refers to as "Classical Federalism". This was marked by a more equal relationship between the federal government and the provinces, as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council settled several disputes in favour of the latter. The federal government also allowed its disallowance and reservation powers to fall into disuse. This style of governance continued throughout the early years of the leadership of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (although legislation from Alberta was disallowed in the 1930s). Sir Wilfrid Laurier, PC, KC, GCMG, BCL, DCL, LLD, DLitt (November 20, 1841 – February 17, 1919) was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from July 11, 1896, to October 7, 1911. ... William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, LL.B, Ph. ... Motto: Fortis et Liber (Latin: Strong and free) Official languages English Capital Edmonton Largest city Calgary Lieutenant-Governor Norman Kwong Premier Ralph Klein (PC) Parliamentary representation  - House seat  - Senate seats 28 6 Area Total  â€¢ Land  â€¢ Water    (% of total)  Ranked 6th (provinces and territories) 661,848 km² 642,317 km² 19... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

During the two world wars, Ottawa expanded its powers greatly. This was done through the War Measures Act and constitutionally justified by the peace, order and good government clause. During the First World War, Parliament increased its taxation powers by establishing income taxes. Finally, during the Second World War, the federal government convinced the provinces to transfer jurisdiction over unemployment insurance to Ottawa. There have been two World Wars, now more commonly known as World War I or First World War (from 1914 to 1918), and World War II or Second World War (from 1939 to 1945). ... The War Measures Act (enacted in August 1914) was a Canadian statute that allowed the government to assume sweeping emergency powers. ... Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ... An income tax is a tax levied on the financial income of persons or corporations. ...

Canada emerged from the Second World War with more association or cooperation between federal and provincial levels of government. This owed to the rise of the welfare state and the health care system (as the Canadian government acted to ensure that Canadians as a people had some common quality of service), to the fact that many of the jurisdictions of the two levels of government were closely related, and to the fact that this allowed the federal government to retain a great deal of control that they had enjoyed during World War II. Keynesian economics were also introduced by the federal government through this system. The period was also marked by a number of First Ministers meetings (ie., meetings between the prime minister and the provincial premiers). Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... It has been suggested that Welfare capitalism be merged into this article or section. ... Health care or healthcare is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical, nursing, and allied health professions [1]. The organised provision of such services may constitute a healthcare system. ... Keynesian economics (pronounced ), also called Keynesianism, is an economic theory based on the ideas of an English Economist, John Maynard Keynes, as put forward in his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936 in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. ...

After 1960 and Québec's Quiet Revolution, Canada moved toward a greater degree of administrative decentralization, with Quebec often opting out of important federal initiatives, such as the Canada Pension Plan (Québec created its own pension plan). As the federal government became more centralist in ideology (under the leadership of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada entered a stage of "conflictual federalism" that could be said to have lasted from 1970 to 1984. The National Energy Program sparked a great deal of bitterness against the federal government in Alberta; indeed, the federal government was also involved in disputes over oil with Newfoundland and Saskatchewan at this time. (These culminated in the addition of section 92A to the Constitution Act, 1867, by the Constitution Act, 1982; the new section gave the provinces more power with regard to these resources).[1] 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... Jean Lesage, Daniel Johnson Sr. ... Motto: Je me souviens (French: I remember) Official languages French Capital Quebec City Largest city Montreal Lieutenant-Governor Lise Thibault Premier Jean Charest (PLQ) Parliamentary representation  - House seat  - Senate seats 75 24 Area Total  â€¢ Land  â€¢ Water    (% of total)  Ranked 1st 1,542,056 km² 1,183,128 km² 176,928... Pierre Elliott Trudeau (October 18, 1919 – September 28, 2000) was the fifteenth Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ... 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The National Energy Program (NEP) was an energy policy of the Government of Canada. ... Pumpjack pumping an oil well near Sarnia, Ontario Petroleum (from Greek petra – rock and elaion – oil or Latin oleum – oil ), crude oil, sometimes colloquially called black gold or Texas Tea, is a thick, dark brown or greenish liquid. ... Newfoundland (French: Terre-Neuve; Irish: Talamh an Éisc; Latin: Terra Nova) is a large island off the northeast coast of North America, and the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. ... Motto: Multis E Gentibus Vires (Latin: From many peoples, strength) Official languages English (but legally required to provide some services in French) Capital Regina Largest city Saskatoon Lieutenant-Governor Lynda M. Haverstock Premier Lorne Calvert (NDP) Parliamentary representation  - House seat  - Senate seats 14 6 Area Total  â€¢ Land  â€¢ Water    (% of total... The Constitution Act, 1982 (Schedule B of the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.)) is a part of the Constitution of Canada. ...

The Conservative Party of Canada has since become more sympathetic to provincial demands, rising to power under prime ministers Brian Mulroney in 1984 and Stephen Harper in 2006 with agendas more favourable to greater provincial control over government programs. The Conservative Party of Canada (French: Parti conservateur du Canada), colloquially known as the Tories, is a right-of-centre political party in Canada, formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in December 2003. ... Brian Mulroney (born March 20, 1939) was the eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada from September 17, 1984, to June 25, 1993. ... Stephen Joseph Harper (born April 30, 1959) is the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. ...



  1.   Dyck, pp. 416-420.


  • Rand Dyck, Canadian Politics: Critical Approaches. Third ed. Scarborough, Ontario: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2000
  • P.W. Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada (2001)

External links

  • Canadian Federalism
  • Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism

Constitution of Canada (edit)
Constitution Act, 1867
Division of powers | Peace, order and good government | Criminal law power | Trade and Commerce clause | Works and Undertakings | Property and civil rights
Disallowance and reservation

Canada Act 1982
Constitution Act, 1982
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms | Aboriginal Rights clause | Amending formula

History of the Constitution
Royal Proclamation of 1763 | Quebec Act | Constitutional Act of 1791 | Act of Union 1840 | British North America Acts | Statute of Westminster 1931
Constitutional debate
Fulton-Favreau formula | Victoria Charter | Meech Lake Accord | Charlottetown Accord | Calgary Declaration | Other unsuccessful amendments
Interpretation of the Constitution
Pith and substance | Double aspect | Paramountcy | Living tree | Implied Bill of Rights | Dialogue principle | Inter-jurisdictional immunity

  Results from FactBites:
Federalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1680 words)
Federalism is the idea of a group or body of members that are bound together (latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head.
The earliest source of political federalism is the ecclesiastical federalism found in the Bible, especially that of the Christian Church as apostolically prescribed in the New Testament.
Although federalism was mentioned both in the drafts of the Maastricht treaty and the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, it was never accepted by the representatives of the member countries.
Federalism - Readings - Quebec History (1885 words)
Federalism is usually adopted in countries that display differences of climate, geography, religion, language, culture and economies; it is especially suited for multinational and multicultural states that wish to preserve these characteristics.
Thus, essentially, the federal system is adopted where it is felt that the preservation of the individuality and separateness of the constituent parts is as important as the preservation of the nation as a whole.
Federalism also denies the application of simple majority rule since the purpose of federations is to recognise that the rights of small units have to be acknowledged and respected.
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