As a former member of the British Empire, Canada has been widely influenced by certain aspects of the English law. The Canadian parliamentary system finds its origins in the British institutions that were settled after the conquest of 1760 and more particularly with the 1791 constitutional Act of the British Parliament. In 1867, Canada inherited a federal structure mainly inspired from the American example. From four original states in 1867, this structure progressively extended to create the tenth province, Newfoundland, in 1949. Through the years, the country has learnt to develop its own legal system and though several constitutional problems were raised (such as the question of Quebec and biculturalism), Canada remains a model of parliamentarism and one of the most well established democracy.
We should therefore start with an insight into the elaboration of Canadian law. Secondly we can go on to deal with its specificity in the common-law world and finally analyze the aspect of biculturalism, which is particular (legally speaking), to Canada.
[...] ] But what are the main characters of the Canadian Constitution actually, what are its sources ? One could consider that it is obvioulsy British constitutional law in a federal system. This is true. And in fact the Preliminary of the 1867 Act states that the Constitution "is similar to that of the United Kingdom". However, Canada has achieved its own political and legal system. Canadian law is divided into two systems : the Canadian Constitutional, and the Quebec constitution, both influenced by English common law. [...]
[...] As to the common-law prinicple of the "rule of law", its transposition in the canadian constitutional context was nothing but slightly altered. Although in Great-Britain the executive powers can only be based on an act of parliament or upon commlon-law, in Canada they sometimes find their foundation on the provisions of the constitution. Concerning the legal relations between the State and the provinces, the judicial hierarchy is about the same as the American one. However there is a distinction since 1875 between the Canadian Supreme Court and the Court of the Exchequer which became the Federal Court in 1971. [...]
[...] As a matter of fact, La Charte des droits et libertés of Quebec in 1982 guaranteed the right to life to every human being (être humain) rather than every person. (the English version of the Bills of Rights was indeed, section 7 : "everyone has the rigth to life . . This mere example shows how, in a legal situation of bilingualism, the possibility of linguistic divergence is quite real. This can be particularly true in criminal law where the accused usually has got the benefit of the most favorable version. Concerning Quebec, legally speaking, the problem arised when the province refused to acknowledge the Constitution of 1982. [...]
[...] Until the creation of the Official Languages Act in 1969, statutes and constitutional amendments at the federal level were written in English and translated in French. The Canadian government adopted the recommendation of a study of the Royal Commission of Bilingualism and Biculturalism that federal statutes be drafted simultaneously in both languages. Actually this is the enhancement of the principles of the 1867 constitutional Act whose section 133 claimed the equality of French and English languages and, I quote, the fact that "the Acts of Parliament of Canada and of the legislation of Quebec shall be printed and published in both languages". [...]
[...] A few legal differences have emerged during the years as a result of constitutional adaptation, but they didn't change the nature if the system. With the recent problem of the referendum about Quebec, a strong wave of traditionalism - included concerning the law - has appeared, just like the reaffirmation of the Afrikaaner identity in South-Africa. Besides there are quite topical debates about the necessary "canadianisation" of the constitution. It means that symbolically speaking, it should not be still considered as a kind of exported British constitution. [...]
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