CRIMES – INTERACTIVE MODULE
A. Jurisdiction to enact criminal law (injury to the public)
In our federation which level of government has jurisdiction to enact criminal law? What is the
Federal level of government has jurisdiction to enact criminal law – under S.91 of the
Canada Act (1867).
A law enacted by a level of government acting beyond their constitutional powers set out in s.91
&92 of the Canada Act 1867 will be ruled __________ultra vires_______________________.
This was originally the only meaning of “unconstitutional” in Canada. Now there is another
meaning as well, namely
Contradicts the Charter or the Constitution.
Further, the Federal Government cannot enact criminal legislation on any topic or issue.
Justice Rand in Margarine Reference Case (1949)(SCC), stated that a criminal prohibition must
be enacted “with a view to a public purpose which can support it as being in relation to criminal
law” (such public purposes include public peace, order, security, health, and morality”).
e.g. RJR MacDonald Inc. v. AG of Canada (1995) SCC Issue: Did the Federal Government act
within the scope of its criminal law power when it banned the advertising and promotion of
tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Control Act, S.C. 1988, c.20.
What would not be within the scope of criminal law power?
• Lap-dance example – no touching while performing acts – it is not proper criminal
law (to do with public health, but not in the same way as smoking).
• Not getting a business license.
• If it doesn’t create the stigma of criminality then it probably wouldn’t pass the test
– you wouldn’t see the person committing the crime as a criminal.
What are the most important criminal law statutes, both substantive and procedural?
Criminal Code of Canada, Youth Criminal Justice Act – covers ages 13-18, if you commit
a crime while
under 13 then you cannot be charged and your parents are not liable (may be locked up
Child Welfare Act for very short amounts of time or even taken away from their parents.
Drugs and Substances Act. Canada Evidence Act. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Provinces are responsible are responsible for the “administration of justice” which includes the
prosecution of criminal offences.
There is also a division of power for incarcerated people
1 Provinces can enact “quasi-criminal offences” under section 92 of the BNA Act – property
and civil rights in the province and generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the
province. The constitution also allows imposition of punishment to enforce provincial law.
Name some provincial offences.
Carelessness. Motor Vehicle Act – speeding, cell use, no license, parking, etc. Food
Safety Act, Liquor Control and Licensing Act. Business regulations. You can still be
fined, but they are small fines and small terms of imprisonment – all summary conviction
offenses (under $1000 and 6mths time)
By virtue of judicial interpretation of the various provisions of s. 92 it is clear that a number of
other critical matters fall w