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LS 101 (209)
Lecture 5

LS 101 Lecture 5: Module 5 - A Brief Introduction to Canada’s Legal History

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Legal Studies
LS 101
Patrick Watson

Module 5: A Brief Introduction to Canadas Legal History The British North America Act 1867 (Constitution Act) and the Canada Act 1982: Passing of British North America Act (BNA) (now Constitution Act) let Canada become a country in 1867 The act created 2 levels of government, federal government of Canada and provincial governments and conferred different powers on each of them division of powers Federal government: create a common currency, a criminal code, create and control military, powers over trade and commerce, immigration, and divorce Provincial government: control over education, marriage, and health system Despite provincial governments creating the court system, federal governments appoint judges to superior courts Canada Act 1982 is the constitution upon which all government powers are based and prescribes how the constitution can be changed, a guarantee of Aboriginal rights, and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Federal and Provincial government have 3 branches Three Distinct Branches of Federal and Provincial Government: (1) Legislative Branch o Most powerful o Can make any laws as long they are consistent with Canadian constitution (2) Executive Branch o Includes all government branches including government agencies, boards, and commissions o Right to create rules and regulations (3) Judicial Branch o Includes courts and judges o Judges are neutral and impartial o Improper for politicians to attempt to influence a judge in making a legal decision o Courts have the power to strike down laws passed by a provincial or the federal government if the laws are judged to be unconstitutional andor a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms The Evolution of the Common Law: Law was common because it reflects the traditions and customs of the common people Judges refer to previous decisions they had made to justify their judgements and this gave rise to the use of precedents These decisions and reasons for them were written down and give rise to a body of law known as the common law Knowledge of precedents became important because ordinary people, most of who couldnt read, could not participate in legal proceedings without assistance The practice of following precedents had evolved into a relatively strict rule of law
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