1Review of Constitutional materials
-Law is neccessary to any civilized society. But one needs authority to impose one’s will on others. Legislatures in
Canada get that authority from the Constitution Act 1982.
-The Constitution Act, 1982 = the rules for running the functions of the governments and the courts of the country and of
each of the provinces. It consists of the Constitution Act, 1867 (essentially the old British North America Act, a piece of
British legislation, which was our Constitution prior to March, 1982) and the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
B.The Supreme Law
S. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 says that the Constitution Act, 1982 is the supreme law of Canada and all other laws
(or other government actions, such as an Order in Council) must comply with the Constitution.
-If they do comply, we say that they are “intra vires” (within the powers of) that level of legislature or government, and
they are enforceable.
-If they do not comply with the Constituion, they are “ultra vires” (beyond the powers of) that level of legislature or
government (government action or a delegated government action). An unconstitutional law is therefore completely
ineffective, and has no power or effect; it cannot be imposed on any one. The party on whom the government is trying to
impose its will can raise the law or action’s unconstitutionality as a defence to any action taken against it by government
or anyone delegated by the government to impose that law
C.Which Level of Government Has Which Powers - SS. 91 and 92
1. With legislation or government action, the first thing to check is whether it is intra vires (“within the powers/authority”)
of that particular le