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Lecture 2

45-214 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Macmillan Bloedel, Subject-Matter Jurisdiction, Supplemental Jurisdiction

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2140
Emmanuelle Richez

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September 16, 2015
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Constitutionally unlimited:
criminal or civil
public or private
federal or provincial
Areas of controversy
Creation and review of administrative tribunals
Criminal trials
Family Law
→ Landmark decisions protecting s.96 courts subject matter jurisdiction:
Toronto v. York (1938)
Effectively “froze” s.96 jurisdiction at its 1867 level.
Reference Re Residential Tenancies Act (Ontario) (1981)
Provinces wishing to invest in decision-making authority in provincial tribunals have to pass
at least one prong of a “test” developed by the Supreme Court of Canada:
Historical Inquiry: The commission or tribunal will not be exercising functions that
s.96 courts have historically done
Judicial Function: Adjudicating disputes in a fair and impartial manner will not be a
core function of the commission or tribunal? The commission would act in a judicial
Institutional Setting: The commission's or tribunal's function as a whole is not only
adjudicative Will the proposed commission or tribunal have solely judicial function or
will it have other functions as well?
→ can an administrative tribunal do these things or are these reserved for a s.96 court?
Only if they meet one of these criteria ^ (one of the three)
→ In this case, where Ontario lost, they did not meet these criteria.
McEvoy v. Attorney General for New Brunswick et al. (1983)
With regard to s96 courts. “parliament can no more give away federal constitutional powers
than a province can usurp them.”
Wanted to create s.92 unified criminal courts (they would have the jurisdiction to handle all
criminal cases which would take away some criminal law jurisdiction from s.96 courts)
MacMillan Bloedel v. Simpson (1995)
Addition of the principle of “core jurisdiction” to the Reference Re Residential Tenancies
Act test.
S.96 courts' “core jurisdiction” cannot be taken away without a formal amendment to the
→ to summarize, s.96 trials courts usually possess the following 5 exclusive jurisdictions:
→ civil cases involving large sums of money, where they are the main courts (except in certain
cases involving the claims against the government)
→ the most serious criminal trials, usually involving a jury (murder cases being the most
→ review of provincial administrative tribunals (except in Quebec)
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