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Canadian Law and Order: The Courts

By 21.07.2010

By ADAM CHAPNICK

To an outsider, the structure of the Canadian judiciary is just as complicated as the legal challenges it faces every day. The British North America Act of 1867 granted the federal government jurisdiction over criminal law but left the provinces with the primary responsibility for the administration of justice. So the provinces run the federal courts, but the judges in those courts are appointed by the federal government.

To confuse matters further, the provinces also have their own courts, and in this case they appoint the judges themselves.

The final court of appeal in Canada is the Supreme Court. It replaced Britain’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1949.

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The Public Service and the future of Canada

By 14.07.2010

By ADAM CHAPNICK

When analysts call Canada an administrative state, they’re usually referring to the size and structure of the Canadian public service. What began in the 19th century as a relatively small organization characterized by political patronage appointments has evolved to become the largest single employer in the country. 

Big, yes, but critics often exaggerate the size of the public service by confusing it with the public sector – the more than three million Canadians who work for organizations that receive much of their funding from one or more levels of government.

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In 63 years, 6.5 million have become Canadian citizens

By 07.07.2010

By ADAM CHAPNICK

Canada’s first official citizen, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, did not become “Canadian” until 1947 when he was 72 years old. Between 1867 and 1946, there was no such thing as Canadian citizenship. By law, Canadians were British subjects who lived in Canada. 

It was only after the Second World War, an event that made Canadians more conscious than ever of their country’s independent identity in the world, that Mackenzie King initiated, and saw through, the implementation of the Canadian Citizenship Act.

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Democracy in Canada: Elections and Voting

By 30.06.2010

By ADAM CHAPNICK

Canada’s first federal election was hardly democratic. Voting in 1867 was limited to upper class, male, British subjects. There was no secret ballot and no law to govern campaign contributions. Those who were eligible to vote might not have seen or heard from the party leaders (there was no radio or television to broadcast debates), and there were no opinion polls to tell them how their preferred party seemed to be doing across the country. Results of the election would not have been known for several days and newspapers would not have had complete stories until after that.

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The Charter – part of how Canada defines itself

By 23.06.2010

By NORMAN HILLMER

In the early 1950s, working in the historic East Block of the Parliament Buildings, Pierre Trudeau’s lifelong preoccupation with Canada’s constitution took root. Three decades later, as the country’s prime minister, Trudeau remodeled the Canadian constitution and embedded into it an explicit guarantee of the rights and freedoms of all citizens. That was the Constitution Act of 1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – the most important part of the framework of rules under which Canadians are governed. 

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The Canadian Constitution finally came home in 1982

By 09.06.2010

By NORMAN HILLMER

In 1867, when British colonies in North America united into a single country, the British Parliament issued a birth certificate, the British North America (BNA) Act. The BNA Act was a constitution for the new Canada, setting out the basic structure of government and law, and making it explicitly clear that the Canadian parliamentary system would be based on British principles. Great Britain was the mother country, the model on which Canadians expected their new state to grow and develop.

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The Senate is an important branch of government

By 02.06.2010

By NORMAN HILLMER

Senator Serge Joyal loved the place where he worked, but he realized that Canadians did not. Appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1997, he discovered that it was “likely the least admired and least well known of our national political institutions”. Most Canadians thought that the Senate was “an outdated relic that had outlived its usefulness”. It attracted little interest from the media, scorn from the public, scant respect from elected politicians, and next to no curiosity from scholars.

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No time to slow down for Dr. Audley James

By 26.05.2010

By RON FANFAIR

To say that 73-year-old Bishop Dr. Audley James is a busy man is an understatement.

Two Saturdays ago, he presided over five weddings, delivered the keynote speech at the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario’s (SCAGO) annual gala then hopped on a red eye flight to Trinidad & Tobago to attend a four-day conference.

On his return, he headed straight to the headquarters of Revivaltime Tabernacle Ministries Inc. which he established 30 years ago to attend rehearsals for celebrations marking the church’s anniversary, which were held last weekend.

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The role of Governor General is central to our democracy

By ed 19.05.2010

By NORMAN HILLMER

In December 2008, at the height of the most explosive political crisis in Canada since the Quebec referendum of the mid-1990s, Governor General Michaëlle Jean had to decide whether the Conservative government of Stephen Harper would live or die. For a moment, the Governor General stepped to the centre of Canadian political life.

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