POLSCI 1G06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Minority Language, Amen, Supreme Court Act

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The Canadian Constitution
Outline the bedrock principles of a state
Establish relationships between levels of government
Relationships between citizens and government
Technically speaking, not a single document- it is made up of a number of different
components- some written, some unwritten
1. The Constitution Act, 1867 (Formerly British North America Act, 1867)
Lays out many foundations of Canadian state, it is silent on others
Brief on executive power and the judiciary (nothing explicit on PM, nothing about
Supreme Court either)
Very little explicit protection of individual rights (unlike US Bill of Rights)
Doesn't contain any express provisions by which it can be amended
2. Amendments to Constitution Act, 1867 (most by British parliament, some by Canadian
3. British Statutes and Orders in Council
E.g. Statute of Westminster, 1937
4. Organic Canadian Statutes
Supreme Court Act
Indian Act
More general rules that bind governments- not just about day to day issues- they're
more important
5. Constitution Act, 1982
Signed by every province except Quebec- it's bound by it but they still didn't sign it
It's in this that we find the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
6. Judicial Decisions
Usually included as part of the constitution because they "clarify or alter the meaning
of the Constitution"
Constitution in practice is subjective- judiciary determines what the constitution
actually means- they can create and take away rights, based on interpretation
7. Constitutional Conventions
Non-written part of the Constitution
Conventions- long established practices considered to be binding upon present and
future government
They're not "enforceable by the court" though- even while the courts may recognize
their existence
-They define the basic nature of the state and the distribution of political power, so
Constitutions are subject to constant political pressure
-There are 3 primary political tensions that have driven constitutional change in Canada
1. The role of the provinces in amending the Constitution
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